Washington Nationals 2013 Off-Season Preview

Strengths:  The Washington Nationals have an excellent base on which to build upon.  Bryce Harper is a legit middle of the order bat, and rookie Anthony Rendon has a chance to be something special at either third or second base.  The top of the rotation is as good as any in baseball with Steven Strasburgh, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmerman.

Weaknesses:  The Nationals fell victim to injury and poor pitching in the bullpen in 2013.  Denard Span is an excellent defensive center fielder, but offers just about nothing offensively.  Jason Werth showed signs of being a really good baseball player again, but he is completely inconsistent when it comes to staying healthy.  Ryan Zimmerman is the big question mark for this team.  He is a constant injury risk, and at times showed signs of the yips when throwing the ball from third base.  His future might be at first base, which would allow Rendon to move back to his natural position of third, but leave a hole at second and an asset in Adam LaRoche on the bench.  The Nationals also do not have a quality nor long term answer at catcher.

Off-Season Needs: The first need is to get this team healthy.  In terms of external help, the Nationals should go after a catcher.  They have not been shy about spending money for key free agents, so look for them to be a big player in the Brian McCann sweepstakes, but if they miss out, they could go after Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  They also need to add a pitcher or two to the back end of their rotation.

2014 Projection: It is easy to fall back into the mindset leading into the 2013 season and anoint the Nationals as World Series favorites, and while that is not where I would put them, they certainly have a shot to make it there.  I believe they are the second best team in the NL East, right behind the Atlanta Braves, and have a great shot at getting a Wild Card berth. 

You can follow Shaun Kernahan on twitter @shaunkernahan, add him to your network on Google, and like Shaun on Facebook.

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