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With holes to fill and money to spend, Nationals prepare for winter meetings
And so, any trade with the Rays would likely include shortstop Ian Desmond, who emerged as a team leader and a promising talent in his rookie season. It might also take Zimmermann, which would seemingly defeat the purpose of adding a new pitcher to improve this year's rotation.
l At first base, the Nationals already had begun strongly considering other options. But the certainty that Dunn will no longer play in Washington will help them move on. "We know we've got a hole to fill there," one Nationals source said. "If Adam was going to leave, it's good that it happened now."
At the general manager meetings, Rizzo said he does not expect the Nationals to fill first base with an internal candidate, such as outfielders Michael Morse or Josh Willingham. The most likely candidates to replace Dunn at first base are Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche. The Nationals, according to a source, may also kick the tires on Lance Berkman, a switch-hitter with an above-average glove who hit 14 home runs with a .368 on-base percentage last year.
While the Nationals need to find someone to play first, they could try to match Dunn's offensive production from elsewhere on the field.
l This may sound like a pipe dream, but some people within the organization are pushing for the Nationals to pursue Carl Crawford, an ideal free agent. Crawford will be 29 next year, still in his prime. He is a four-time all-star, a reigning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger who hit .307/.337/.495 (average/on-base/slugging) last season.
Crawford has reportedly already met with the Boston Red Sox, and the Los Angeles Angels are also said to have keen interest in him. He will probably be the most expensive free agent of this winter.
Do the Nationals have a great chance at signing him? No. But a better question, especially following Dunn's departure, and with the money at their disposal, is one perfectly suited for this time of year: Why not try?