The offseason isn’t quite upon us yet. For most teams, however, it is already all about 2015.
That of course includes your Chicago Cubs, as they were eliminated from the post season about 5 years ago.
Yet, a team that has enjoyed a ton of success recently, the Washington Nationals, could hold many cards to not only the Cubs offseason, but also the entire market in general.
The Nationals have some big decisions to make. Despite all their recent success, they still haven’t been able to break through the wall built by the Cardinals and Giants. That said, they could they be looking at making some big moves this winter.
For starters, I’ve heard today that the Nats have made some serious overtures to extend their young stud pitcher in Jordan Zimmerman, all to no avail. Could this development have Washington entertaining the idea of dealing one of their best pitchers?
Zimmerman, 28, is set to become a free agent in 2015 and would be quite the addition to the riches of impact arms that will be available this winter along with Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, and Cole Hamels.
It has also been suggested to me that the Nationals could very well enter the Lester derby themselves. They could be a major player, as Lester apparently is keen on the thought of pitching in the NL for a team that has opportunity to win now.
Getting back to Zimmerman, any return from the Cubs would likely start with Addison Russell. Now, I’m certain the Cubs would listen to such a deal, but only if Zimmerman were to agree to an extension first. You aren’t going to give up a potential cornerstone like Russell without getting a player under control back. It doesn’t sound like Zimmerman wants to pass up the windfall he could be facing shortly.
The Nationals also happen to have a $9 million club option on centerfielder Denard Span. We have mentioned on several occasions the Cubs’ desire for a left-handed-hitting outfielder who can hit near the top of the order and get on base regularly. Span (.355 OBP) would be an ideal fit if he were to become available.
I’m told the Nats haven’t made a commitment internally either way on what to do with their lead-off man at this time. Washington could end up picking up the option and then still turn around and deal Span. He had a terrific year, but outfielder Michael Taylor could be viewed as a younger, cheaper alternative.
The Cubs very much see the Nationals as a parallel for the overhaul they have undergone these past 3 seasons but now it appears the two teams are reaching a point of convergence.
In fact, their offseason plans may actually cross paths soon.