If you were still thinking the Washington Nationals might acquire veteran infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist from Tampa Bay to fill their need at second base, that dream seemed to end with today's trade which sent Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Rays to the Oakland A's in return for catcher John Jaso and prospects Daniel Robertson (SS) and Boog Powell (OF).
Of course, sources told both Washington Post beat writer James Wagner and FOXSports.com's bow-tied reporter Ken Rosenthal in recent weeks that the Nationals looked into Zobrist and came away convinced that the cost of acquiring the Rays' 33-year-old super-utility man was too high.
So with Zobrist crossed off the potential target list, who's left for the Nationals to pursue this winter if they aren't willing to go ahead with Danny Espinosa at second base in D.C. in 2015?
There are a number of Cuban free agent infielders out there like Jose Fernandez, Hector Olivera and Yoan Moncada (who, due to his age, would seem like more of a long-term investment rather than a 2015 starter), all of whom the Nationals have reportedly scouted?
Will Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo enter the international market again to find an everyday option at second?
Can a team that expects to compete for a postseason berth take a risk that one of those players' skills will translate to the Majors?
Former Nationals' GM and current MLB Network Radio host and ESPN analyst Jim Bowden threw more names out there in an article yesterday in which he suggested what the missing link was for each National League team.
Missing link all NL teams: http://t.co/tgA62vkxbK— Jim Bowden (@JimBowden_ESPN) January 10, 2015
For Washington, Bowden writes, "... second base is still the team's remaining hole."
Zobrist was on Bowden's list of possible solutions before the deal, as were Cleveland infielder Jason Kipnis, veteran Kansas City infielder Omar Infante, and Minnesota's Brian Dozier.
Kipnis signed a six-year/$52.5M extension last March, then went from +4.4 fWAR, a .284/.366/.452 line, 36 doubles and 17 HRs in 149 games and 658 plate appearances in his second full season in the majors in 2013 to a .240/.310/.330 line, 25 doubles and six home runs in 129 games and 555 plate appearances in a +1.0 fWAR campaign as a 27-year-old in 2014.
Infante, 33, signed a 4-year/$30.25M free agent deal with the Royals in December of 2013, then followed up on a .318/.345/.450, 24 double, 10 HR, +3.1 fWAR season with the Detroit Tigers with a .252/.295/.337, 21 double, six home run, +0.5 fWAR season with Kansas City.
Dozier, 27, is coming off a .242/.345/.416, 33 double, 23 HR, +4.6 fWAR campaign in 156 games and 707 PAs in his second major league season with the Twins. He's arbitration-eligible for the first time after the 2015 season, and though there has reportedly been a lot of interest in the infielder this winter, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported last month that Minnesota is, "very reluctant to move" their homegrown, '09 8th Round pick.
Of course, the Nationals could always just go with defense-first, affordable old Danny Espinosa at second base in 2015... or Dan Uggla?