- Russell Branyan
Branyan would be an excellent fit on the Nationals' current roster, giving them a true first baseman, backup to Ryan Zimmerman, and a left-handed thumper whom they could platoon with Elijah Dukes and Josh Willingham by sliding Adam Dunn back and forth between first base and the outfield. And in the event that the Nationals find a trading partner for Willingham or Rizzo finally does away with Dukes (as he's clearly always intended to), they'll need someone.
Branyan has always had great power and patience, and for years he's been underrated by GMs paying too much attention to his strikeouts. Last year, finally given a full time job by Jack "would have been a better choice than Rizzo" Zduriencik, Branyan pummeled righties to the tune of .267 / .363 / .542. He faded in the second half, but based on his overall track record, there's no reason to think he won't repeat his overall 2009 line this year.
- Johnny Damon
Well, Damon overestimated the market for his services (badly) and now he's in a position where he might have to just take what he can get. I've even heard he might just retire if no one offers him a starting job, which seems crazy. As for the second part, he'd be the second best player on the team on day one, so make room. He walks, he hits for power, some of the metrics say he declined last year in the field and he can't throw, but I'll argue with anyone who doubts he'd be a significant upgrade over Willingham or Dunn in left. He could be flipped for prospects at mid-year or would be an automatic type-A free agent going into 2011.
I wouldn't want them to block Dukes, but Rizzo's already probably decided to non-tender Dukes after next year anyway. Regardless, assuming Damon can be had on a discounted one-year contract between $5 and $7 million, just make room. Trade Dunn. Trade Willingham. Whatever. This would be a massive bargain to make the team better, so just do it.
- Braden Looper
Looper is one of the few remaining pitchers who may be able to fill that need. He basically has two key selling points: 393.6 innings over the last two years, and he'll be cheap. But he's extremely hittable, and the team will lose most of the games he starts. Still that's better than reading about Stephen Strasburg going down to Birmingham after pitching through pain a la Jordan Zimmermann.
- Jarrod Washburn
- Chien-Ming Wang
- Joe Beimel
- Kiko Calero
- Chan Ho Park
- Russ Springer