Dec 12, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Ten days ago, the Nationals needed a starting pitcher. They needed a left-handed bench bat. And they sorely needed a left-handed reliever.
Then came the trade for Doug Fister. Then came the signing of Nate McLouth. And after Wednesday’s trade for Jerry Blevins, general manager Mike Rizzo could take comfort knowing he had now addressed his club’s three biggest needs before mid-December.
“We think that we have kind of accomplished what we set out to do when the season ended in ’13,” Rizzo said. “We had an offseason plan in place, and we’ve accomplished the things that we have set out to. We feel good about that.”
The Nationals haven’t always been so efficient when it comes to the Hot Stove League. Rizzo had been thwarted in previous offseasons in attempts to bolster his starting rotation or bullpen, and his club often went into January (or even February) with significant holes still unaddressed.
But as the Winter Meetings wrap up today, the Nationals’ projected Opening Day roster appears nearly to be set.
Sure, Rizzo could still add a veteran backup to catcher Wilson Ramos. He could acquire another bench bat or middle infielder to compete with Danny Espinosa and Tyler Moore for playing time.
But if the season began today, the Nationals absolutely would be comfortable heading north with a 25-man roster constructed solely from parts already in the organization.
“We’re very happy with the group we have,” Rizzo said.
What would that Opening Day roster look like? Here’s where things stand at the moment…
CATCHERS (2): Wilson Ramos, Jhonatan Solano/Sandy Leon
INFIELDERS (6): Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Tyler Moore
OUTFIELDERS (5): Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Nate McLouth, Scott Hairston
ROTATION (5): Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ross Detwiler
BULLPEN (7): Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Jerry Blevins, Craig Stammen, Ross Ohlendorf/Tanner Roark, Xavier Cedeno/Ryan Mattheus
That’s not a perfect roster. None ever has been. But it’s a roster that would stack up with any in baseball and probably would have fewer question marks than nearly any other club in the sport.
More important, it’s a roster built by Rizzo to mesh with Matt Williams’ managerial style. Williams wanted quality players on his bench who could give starters regular days off. He wanted a deep bullpen that included a lefty of Blevins’ caliber and multiple long-relief options like Stammen, Ohlendorf and Roark.
Rizzo not only managed to address those needs. He did it well before the Christmas shopping spree goes into high gear.
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