Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and President Stan Kasten believe the biggest need for the Nationals this offseason would be adding veteran presence to the pitching staff. Manager Jim Riggleman referenced guys like Vicente Padilla and John Smoltz as targets, but they have latched on with contending teams.
While a pitcher like John Lackey would put fans in the ballpark, he may be out of their price range. A second-tier guy like Jason Marquis, who has been apart of a few championship-caliber teams, might be a better option. Marquis has 14 wins with the Rockies, with 84 strike outs and a 1.27 WHIP.
It would be beneficial to Stephen Strasburg if he wasn't forced to carry the rotation in his rookie season. A guy like Marquis, or maybe Randy Wolf would be able to take some of the pressure off of him.
What if the Nationals went the trade route? Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster could be moved. While he has three years left on his contract, the Cubs could move him for prospects.
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The Nationals are seeking a long-term veteran starter and if they were willing to take on a portion of the salary, there could be a match. Dempster is making a little over 13 million dollars for the next three years, the third year being a player option. If the Cubs were to take a small portion, perhaps 4-5 million dollars a year, the Nationals would only have to pay Dempster 8-9 million dollars annually, a good price for a veteran arm who won 17 games in 2008.