Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Howie Kendrick, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Hudson, Brian Dozier, and Asdrubal Cabrera, and Matt Adams are free agents. In an ideal world, the Washington Nationals keep the bulk, if not all of the aforementioned players.
At the same time, there’s a strong chance that some of them are playing elsewhere in 2020, meaning general manager Mike Rizzo has to be on the lookout for potential replacements. Here are five cost-effective free agent targets for the World Series-champion Nationals.
The entire right side of the 2019 Nationals infield is on the open market, and Kipnis would be a savvy pickup.
Kipnis’ defense is the premier aspect of his game. He’s a vacuum at second base, turns double plays with ease, and has a highlight reel of pretty snags. Kipnis and Trea Turner would be a killer double-play duo.
While he has hit below .250 in each of the last three seasons, Kipnis has pop in his bat. From 2018-19 he totaled 35 home runs and 140 RBIs while missing some time due to injury. His left-handed bat would also provide some balance to the Nationals’ right-handed heavy order. Given the chance for him to start from the get-go, as well as his injury history, a two-year, $18 million deal should serve both parties well.
Furthermore, the Nationals need a first baseman next season. Moreland fits the bill.
Moreland has quietly been an efficient and dangerous bat for the Boston Red Sox over the last three seasons. He hits for power, is a hard-hit machine, and a difficult out. Last season the first baseman recorded an .835 OPS and totaled 19 home runs and 58 RBIs in just 91 games.
Like Kipnis, Moreland’s left-handed bat would add balance to the Nationals offense. He’s also a steady presence at first base, scooping bad throws and stretching out for groundballs. A two-year, $16 million deal nicely compensates the veteran first baseman and gives the Nationals a sturdy force at the corner infield position.
Major League Baseball is a slugfest; teams want to hit home runs now more than ever, and Gyorko likes doing as such.
Gyorko is known for his ability to hit the long ball. From 2015-17, he totaled 66 home runs. He also brings defensive versatility to the table, as he has played third and second base, as well as shortstop on a consistent basis throughout his career. That element of Gyorko’s game bodes well in a world of double switches.
Over the last two years injuries and limited roles with the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers hindered the infielder’s ability to make a profound impact and garner consistency. A one-year, $4 million deal gives Gyorko a chance to land on his feet and for the Nationals to see if he can be their answer at the hot corner for the foreseeable future.
If history tells us one thing about the Nationals it’s that they’re willing to pay for starting pitching, and Hamels would be a perfect short-term signing.
Hamels is 35. He’s not an overpowering left-hander at this stage of his career. On the other hand, he’s exceptional at getting hitters to bite on his off-speed pitches, not giving into hitters, and evading trouble. Last season he posted a 3.81 ERA across 27 starts with the Chicago Cubs.
Hamels has made 17 career postseason appearances, 16 of which have been starts where he has recorded a 3.41 ERA. He’s money in the clutch and would add to an accomplished starting rotation that has its fair share of postseason experience. The Nationals will likely have to fork over eight figures per year to get the southpaw to sign on the dotted line, and per an interview with MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki, Hamels would be willing to sign with a contender on a short-term deal. A two-year, $26 million deal should do the trick for both sides.
The Nationals need more arms in their bullpen, especially ones that provide versatility. Well, hello there, Collin McHugh!
Over his last three years with the Houston Astros, McHugh spent time in the starting rotation and out of the bullpen. He found sustained success in 2018 as a reliever, recording an astonishing 1.99 ERA across 58 appearances. From 2014-16, he was a reliable force on the rubber every fifth day.
McHugh is adept at striking out hitters, throwing a difficult slider, and answering the call in whatever role he’s assigned. He could serve as a flex starter, backend reliever, or long reliever — if manager Dave Martinez has a short leash on a young starting pitcher such as Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, or Austin Voth, who are all candidates to round out the team’s starting rotation in 2020. Washington needs long-term fixtures, and McHugh likely wants a permanent home. A three-year, $15 million deal is reasonable.