2B or not 2B?
That is the question ... at least for the next six weeks or so.
The club has made nice moves in the offseason to secure a pair of front-line starters, a pair veteran catchers, solid bullpen arms and a familiar backup first baseman.
But what about a starting second baseman?
The Nationals continue to look around at veteran impact second basemen to add to the mix of Wilmer Difo, Howie Kendrick and Carter Kieboom (down the line). The best-case scenario is to get a second baseman who can demonstrate power in the middle of their lineup and be an everyday option. Then the Nats can slide Difo into a utility role.
MLB.com reports the Nats have talked to representatives of DJ LeMahieu, Josh Harrison, Jed Lowrie and Marwin Gonzalez.
Gonzalez can play shortstop, left field and first base. He can also provide some pop in the lineup. With the potential loss of slugger Bryce Harper, the Nats need a bat that can hit home runs. Gonzalez has 64 homers the last four seasons with the Houston Astros.
LeMahieu is also coming off a season in which he hit 15 homers and provided 62 RBIs for the Rockies. Before you attribute that production to the altitude of Coors Field, know that 11 of those 15 homers came on the road. LeMahieu can also play third base.
Lowrie seems like a logical option because you can bet president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo has reached out to his good friend Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s to ask about Lowrie and what he can bring to the table.
Lowrie can play all infield spots. He hit .282 away from the cavernous Oakland home ball field, .250 at home. The 34-year-old was an All-Star last season, hitting 23 homers with 99 RBIs.
Harrison also has been getting buzz in a possible connect with the Nats, according to a recent tweet by Jon Heyman.
Josh Harrison, very good super utility player with plus 39 DRS at 2B/3B, has interest from Nats, Reds, Rangers, Giants, Brewers, with Yanks, Phils, Dodgers potentially in play, depending on the big guys-- Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 27, 2018
Harrison, the two-time All-Star, has played his entire career with the Pirates. His best year was 2014, when he hit .315 but was limited to 97 games. He has played second base, third base and the outfield.
It doesn’t seem like Asdrúbal Cabrera will be a consideration, as he was a stopgap measure his first time around with the Nats in 2014.
Brandon Phillips is intriguing. He was a candidate to come to D.C. before the Nats signed Daniel Murphy. But he is 37 years old and would be entering his 18th season, played only nine games last season for Boston and won’t come cheap.
31-year-old Brian Dozier is an option with seven seasons under his belt with the Twins and then 47 games with the Dodgers last year after a trade. He hit 21 homers last season, but had only a .215/.305/.391 slash line.
Other potential second baseman free agent options: Logan Forsythe, Brad Miller, Sean Rodriguez and Neil Walker.
ESPN senior writer Buster Olney reported that the free agent market still has 200 players available. Only six players have signed deals that were for more than two seasons. It seems that a lot of the signings that take place in the near future may be one-year deals with a reentry into the free agent market come next offseason.
But you have to expect Rizzo to make a splash with an attention-grabbing everyday second baseman, considering all the time and money the Nats have invested to put together a roster that has the ability to make a run at getting the team back to the playoffs in 2019.