The Nationals have a surplus of infielders. They do not have a pressing need at second base, and there are a few key players on their roster that will be getting very expensive very soon. But adding the best available player would be a positive for every team in baseball. That includes Washington.
There are several reasons for them to move in another direction this winter. But The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore has formed a pretty solid case for the club to sign Cano in an effort to prioritize the present. In the article, he provides four arguments against the signing and his respective counterarguments. No matter which side of the argument you lean toward, there's no disputing the fact that Cano would immediately make the Nationals a better team.
Only three players logged innings for the Nats in 2013 -- Anthony Rendon, Danny Espinosa, and Steve Lombardozzi. Those players combined for 0.2 fWAR. Cano, on the other hand, was worth 6.0 fWAR without any help in New York. If you take those figures literally, Cano would've been enough to make Washington a playoff team last year. At 86-76, they finished just 4 games behind the Wild Card-winning Cincinnati Reds.
Of course, there are dozens of factors that make those numbers nontransferable. And WAR is far from being dogmatic. Cano is clearly an incredible hitter, and he's an above average second baseman. But he wants $310M. So that's kind of a roadblock, even for the Yankees. The Nationals ownership has the resources to bring Cano in, but he's not likely to stay productive throughout the life of a 10-year deal. He's already 31 years old, and the last few $200M+ contracts haven't exactly been harbingers of good hope for future mega-contracts. But, those players have proven to remain tradable despite their massive deals, so that could play into the team's assessment of such contract.
But Cano is likely to put up elite numbers for at least the next two or three seasons. And if the Nationals were able to win a championship with his help, wouldn't it be worth it?
The team could use several different strategies to tailor their roster for Cano. The most ideal scenario would be trading first baseman Adam LaRoche, but since he's coming off of a below-average season and is due $14M for 2014, that might be difficult. If they did manage to find a buyer for him, they could move current third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to first and slide Rendon over to his natural position at third. Another option would be packaging Rendon with other players to acquire an elite starter like David Price -- if you're going all-in, why not? GM Mike Rizzo has been adamant about keeping Rendon, but if he were to shop his young infielder, there would be many interested parties on the trade market.
Ultimately, Washington is a longshot to sign Cano. But that doesn't mean he isn't their best option to take them to the next level.
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