The GM meeting just started, and winter meetings are coming up, and with it, one of the most exciting parts of the offseason. There are usually quite a few trades between now and the middle of December. The Nats have needs at starting pitching, regardless of whether or not they sign a free agent. They currently don’t know who’s starting at first. And if they have thoughts of moving guys from OF to first, they might want someone out there, not to mention the fact that they still haven’t figured out who is their full time starter at CF.
Of course, the Nats aren’t one player away from winning a pennant, so they aren’t going to trade away all of their blue chip prospects. Not that they have a ton. Here are a few guys that might be considered “buy low” candidates. Some of them are lower buys than others, but none would require trading Stephen Strasburg.
Dan Uggla – He’s the source of quite a few rumors these days, but the Nats have a second baseman, assuming Espinosa is their answer there. And Uggla is only under control for one more season. Well, there are plenty of reasons why they’d still want him. Uggla recently denied an extension attempt from Florida, and may be had cheaply. Also, the Nats may not be convinced that Espinosa is ready. Uggla is a below average defender at second base, but that would probably end up translating him quite a good defense first baseman. Meanwhile, Uggla is a lock to have an OPS over .800, and 2 out of the last three years it’s been around .875. He can hit like a first baseman (not the best of them, but better than the worst) and probably field better than most.
Grady Sizemore – There aren’t rumors specifically about the Nats here, just the Indians may be up for dealing him. What’s amazing is that only 2 seasons ago, in 2008, he hit .268/.374/.502 with 33 HR and 38 SB, all while playing CF. He was 10th in the MVP voting, but many analysts said with position factored in, he could have easily been a top 5 player in the AL. Since then, he’s suffered from debilitating injuries that have him hitting .239/.328/.410 over the last 2 seasons. He’s owed $7.5M next season, with a club option for 2012. Certainly a buy low candidate, but would the Nats want him? I think he’d be worth a shot to anyone with money. He was one of the best players from 2005-2008, and hits enough to play a corner if he can’t handle CF. But if he’s healthy and can hit, he has the potential to be the best center fielder in the game. He’s still only 28, and his numbers show that he can still take a walk and hit with power (the ISO of .171 during the last two years is pretty impressive to me). The Nats still don’t have a long term option at CF, unless Bernadina steps up, so it may be worth taking a high risk/high reward change on Sizemore.
Joba Chamberlain – He may not be a total buy low candidate, but the Yankees have stated that he’ll be in the bullpen next year. If he’s not in the rotation, the Yankees don’t value him as much as someone else might. So he could be a “technically” buy low candidate, although the Nats would have to give a real prospect. Enough of that, though, let’s talk about why they’d want him. I laid much of this out a few weeks ago, but here’s the recap. He strikes out a ton of guys, doesn’t walk many or give up many homers, and his league average ERA was based on very poor luck rather than league-average pitching. Advanced metrics such as FIP suggests he pitched very well. The Nats need starting pitching, and he’s still young. The just-turned 25 year old still is under control for 3 more seasons, so that should make him even more interesting.
Carlos Beltran – The Mets may be looking to move him, as he’s missed about half the season in each of the last 2 years, and he’s going to make $18.5M in the final year of his contract. The Nats, again, could be looking for someone reliable to put out in CF. Beltran isn’t the fielder he once was, which may turn off management. But then again, he can probably hit better than most other options, so if someone from the OF gets moved to 1B, Beltran could fit well in a corner. His tenure with the Mets hasn’t always been pretty, but his .864 OPS over those 6 seasons is impressive.
Nick Swisher – Why would the Yankees want to move the guy who had the 2nd best OPS on the team? Well if they do go after a Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth, they will have too many outfielders. And moving Swisher, who is making $9M next year with a $10.25M option for 2012, may make more sense than moving Brett Gardner. Gardner is one of the best OF defenders in the league, doesn’t even go to arbitration until after next season, and had an OBP is .383 this season, allowing him to steal 47 bases and score 97 runs – while 58% of his PAs were in the 8th or 9th spot in the lineup. Enough about Gardner though, we’re talking about Swishalicious. He is a lumbering outfielder in appearance, but the numbers show that the last two years he was only slightly below average, with an UZR/150 of -1.8 this year and -2.9 last year. Meanwhile, he has power and gets on base. The last 2 years he’s had an OPS of .870 and hit 29 HRs in each season. He could be a significant addition to the team, and play a corner outfield spot or first base. He’s another guy that may not be super cheap, ok maybe he doesn’t belong on the “buy low” post at all, but whatever, I think he could be available and an interesting pickup.