Signing Greinke would cripple multiple future moves. And Bourn, a speed and defense center fielder, isn’t worth a $75 million-or-more risk.
Leave some roster elbow room. Let Christian Garcia get a shot as a starting pitcher in spring training. Allow flexibility for Rendon or Skole, a 230-pound lefty hitter with 119 RBI in ’12, to push their way into the big leagues like Moore did last year. Don’t block youth.
All this seems sensible. But everybody has fantasies. The Nats’ dream is that LaRoche actually re-signs — but for the two-year deal that is almost certainly as far as they’ll go. Davey and wife Susan just sent the last of their 40 Thanksgiving relatives packing, including “nine rug rats.” The Boog Powell Weber grill is finally at rest. Now, all Davey wants for Christmas is a “yes” from LaRoche.
“Adam’s a cowboy. I just bought a quarter of a steer from him. My house is full of LaRoche beef from Kansas,” Johnson said. “Ranchers don’t need a whole lot of money. He’s got his own corn and grass to feed ’em. I know cattle can jump fences, so that might need fixing. But he’s slaughtering ’em so fast that fences won’t cost much.
“How much feed do you need to buy? Another $25 million ought to do it. What does he need three or four years [on a contract] for? Let’s go, man.”
If the Nats’ willingness to do less than many expected has a familiar ring, it should. It’s of a piece with the Strasburg shutdown: The Nats operate on the rock-solid, or stubborn, belief that their long-term player development strategy will pan out. They think ’12 provided 98 reasons not to change.
So, Johnson is already planning for a possible LaRoche-less future with no other blockbuster moves. Werth “has the leadoff mentality. He’s into it,” Johnson said. “Besides, he always likes to see lots of pitches.”
As for a new cleanup man, “trust me, Harper thinks he should hit fourth and bat .400,” Johnson said. “That’s the best stroke I’ve seen in a long time.”
Davey expects a couple of Rizzo surprises before Viera. But, regardless, he’s planning “to ride off into the sunset and all that” with the horses he has now. “We made a giant leap but inexperience got us at the end. We’ll be better because of it next year. We’ve still got some goin’ to do.”
If hindsight shows that Johnson’s sunset trip actually needed the help of a $100 million free agent, then his ’13 ride may not be so pleasant. But, after having Lasik surgery on his left eye in a few days, he plans to see it all 20/20.
“For my last year at least I’ll be able to see it when these umpires screw up,” he said.
Or maybe he wants a crystal-clear view of one last October.
For Thomas Boswell’s previous columns go to washingtonpost.com/boswell.