Already over a month into their offseason, the Nationals haven't given many answers or even signs as to their plan for 2013. Will they re-sign Adam LaRoche? Sign a top free agent? We're still waiting.
One theory that has perhaps been overlooked, and what Nats fans may fear, is if the Nationals did nothing at all. That is to say they didn't even sign LaRoche and just rolled with the players they already have under contract. This would mean slotting either Tyler Moore or Michael Morse at first base and looking to their minor league system for re-inforcements.
While the Nationals' recent history would suggest they will not sit this offseason out, a recent story in The Washington Post says it's possible.
“I’m not pushing for anything. I don’t have a wish list. There’s nothing I think we have to go hog wild about this winter. We’re going to be strong next year. If we don’t do anything, we’ll be fine.
“Our payroll might go down,” he said, half-joking.
Rizzo had this to say about why this year could be different:
“In past winters, we’ve jumped out quickly” with signings, he said. “This time around, we don’t have any pressing needs. We’ll probably see where the landscape is after the winter meetings."
Davey later suggests the Nats are offering a two-year deal to LaRoche and that could be the final sticking point. He also suggests indirectly that the Nationals' offer is $25 million for those two seasons. The 33-year-old first baseman is likely looking at his final shot for a big free agent deal and just finished a career year.
If LaRoche chooses to leave for a bigger deal somewhere else, the Nationals would have a hard time replacing what he did for them in 2012. Not only was LaRoche their most consistent offensive player, he was also a Gold Glove player on defense. Moore and Morse would both provide adequate defense at first base, but a drop-off would certainly be noticed. Both players are also solid offensive players, but Moore is inexperienced and Morse is injury prone.
LaRoche is also the biggest free agent prize at the first base position this offseason and it's not even close. In order to find a replacement for him outside of the organization it would likely mean a trade. Then they would be selling off some of the depth they are counting on helping them improve next season.
The Nationals have money to spend and could try and improve in a lot of areas this offseason. They could also stand pat and roll with what they already have. It still sounds like they want to sign LaRoche, but as their comments suggest, anything could happen.