For the past few winters following their signing of Jayson Werth, the Washington Nationals have been mentioned as a team that could go out and make a splashy move, coming out of nowhere and making a big signing or trade. Of course the Nationals have proven many wrong as they have consistently made smaller moves since the acquisition of Werth, though the addition of Gio Gonzalez, in hindsight, could be considered a big move now though it was criticized at the time.
Washington has made more second or third tier moves since the Werth and Gonzalez acquisitions, bringing in Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren to “solidify” the back end of their rotations and adding bench and bullpen pieces. Of course, as we know now, Jackson and Haren did not work out, both finishing their brief D.C. tenures with ERAs north of four and with losing records. Rather than signing big names to bloated contracts, Washington gave second tier pitchers an opportunity to prove their mettle, and when they did not Washington was able to let them move on rather than hoping for a bounce back in year two or three in those contracts, a la Werth who has rebounded nicely from a horrid 2011.
This offseason, reports have already surfaced that the Nationals are looking to add an “elite starter” to their rotation, and they do have the prospects to swing such a deal. They have already been connected to the Detroit Tigers, who have told teams they are going to trade either Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello. Washington matches up nicely for Scherzer, who was GM Mike Rizzo‘s final first round pick as Arizona scouting director, and with Detroit’s need for bullpen help and probably another catcher with the steady regression of Alex Avila, a trade would seem like a no brainer.
With the question mark that is Ross Detwiler‘s back injury, Washington may need to try and fill more than one rotation spot this winter, something they are more than capable of doing. Washington could go out and acquire a Scherzer or someone of his caliber, and then they could go out and sign a low risk, high reward starting pitcher like a Roy Halladay. Halladay had his season cut short because of a shoulder issue in 2013 and has not had an ERA below 4.49 since 2011 when he won 19 games. Halladay, who has won 15 games the past two seasons, could be had with a one-year deal loaded with incentives and would be a great veteran influence on Washington’s young rotation. Plus Washington probably will not part with both Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark this winter, so one of them, along with Detwiler, could step in if Halladay’s health problems continue.
Washington probably will add to their rotation this winter, especially with their subpar 2013, which should be the exact reason why they cannot stand pat. With that in mind do not be surprised if Washington decides to add more than one starter; after all, you can never have enough pitching.