Nats have plenty of competition in NL

Nats have plenty of competition in NL
December 12, 2012, 9:00 am
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As much as the Nationals have been lauded in recent weeks for assembling a roster that is positioned as well as any in baseball to contend for a World Series title both now and in future seasons, it should be pointed out Washington is going to have plenty of competition to reach the Fall Classic out of the National League.

All around the NL, teams have been bolstering rosters and positioning themselves to compete for a championship in 2013. The Nationals are hardly alone.

The Dodgers have received as much attention this winter as anyone, and for good reason. Behind a new, deep-pocketed ownership group that includes Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten, L.A. is handing out nine-figure contracts like candy canes at an office holiday party.

The Dodgers already added high-priced players like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Hanley Ramirez last summer. They had previously re-signed Matt Kemp to a $160 million extension. And now they've added the biggest pitching prize of the offseason: Zack Greinke, who cost a mere $147 million.

Lump all those mega-contracts together, and the Dodgers have dished out a grand total of $741 million to only six players.

Does that guarantee late-October baseball at Chavez Ravine? Not at all. But general manager Ned Colletti, thanks to the financial support of his bosses, has done everything in his power to give his team a legitimate chance.

Neither are the Reds guaranteed of anything, but GM Walt Jocketty has done an equally impressive job taking a roster that won 97 games this season and making it even better.

Two weeks ago, Jocketty bolstered an already deep and talented bullpen by signing free agent Jonathan Broxton to a three-year deal. Then last night, he was integral in completing a much-discussed, three-team blockbuster trade that will bring outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and infielder Jason Donald to Cincinnati, sends outfielder Drew Stubbs and right-handers Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw to Cleveland and ships shortstop Didi Gregorius, lefty Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson to Arizona.

The end result: The Reds now have a top-flight leadoff hitter in Choo to set the table for a potent lineup that already includes Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. They've also got enough bullpen depth to at long last convert flamethrower Aroldis Chapman into a starter.

Again, there are no guarantees. But Cincinnati sure looks like a potential powerhouse.

We can't forget, of course, the Giants and Cardinals, who merely own the last three World Series titles between them and have every reason to believe they'll be in the thick of things once again in 2013.

Nor can we forget the Nationals' two chief rivals in the NL East: a Braves club that played extraordinarily well during the second half of last season and added B.J. Upton to its lineup this winter, and a Phillies squad that's still loaded with talent (albeit aging talent) and just added one of the best pure hitters in the game in Michael Young.

The point isn't to suggest the Nationals aren't still the best team in the league, or at minimum on the short list for that title.

But they are far from the only club in the NL that has bolstered itself so far this offseason and positioned itself as a legitimate contender in 2013.