"The day after the end of the World Series marks the unofficial beginning of the offseason and the official start of free agency, which means it's decision time for Major League clubs. For the Nationals, it also means one very important thing: a little contractual freedom.According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Nationals only have roughly $28 million committed in player salaries right now, which of course is before arbitration. It remains to be seen what the Nationals' budget will be for 2010, but I imagine that the number will be somewhere in the $50-$60 million dollar range.
Beginning Thursday, players with expiring contracts and at least six years of Major League service time have a 15-day window to file for free agency. During that time, the team that player ended the 2009 season with has exclusive negotiation rights. After that, they are free to sign with any team.
For the Nationals, that means the $10 million Dmitri Young made in two injury-riddled seasons will be off the books, and so will the $10 million club option for Austin Kearns they almost certainly won't pick up -- instead opting for the $1 million buyout."
If that's the case, then could the Nationals make an impact on the free agent market? Maybe, but doubtful. The last thing I would expect the Nationals to do is to spend a boatload on any one free agent, but if Adam Dunn showed us anything last year, we shouldn't count out the Nats just yet, especially given how many decent free agents there could be this offseason.
With that said, the Nationals need to address their glaring needs in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. I understand that the Nationals are building for the future through the draft, but there is only so many 100+ loss teams that Nationals fans will be able to stomach before they are completely turned off to the team. The Nationals need to show the city some improvement in 2010 if they want to begin to establish a fan base and a legacy of winning.
In addition, there are a few things the Nationals need to do before diving into the free agent market:
1. Extension for Josh Willingham?
2. What to do with Scott Olson?
Finally, I'd love to see the Nationals take a chance on a pitcher like Todd Wellemeyer or Brett Myers, two pitchers who have injury concerns, won't be terribly expensive, would not cost the Nationals draft picks, and have high upside.
Any other suggestions?
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