If you accept the conventional wisdom that the Nationals will go into 2012 with an outfield of Michael Morse, Jayson Werth and a third flychaser to be named later, then who is your designated fourth outfielder? There are many candidates for the gig, but choosing one depends upon your criteria for the position.
Shortly after taking over as skipper, Davey Johnson requested a right-handed bat off the bench with "hair on his chest" who could hit the big fly ball. Soon after, Jonny Gomes was acquired from the Reds. He got some outfield reps - adequate in the field, strong throwing arm - and some pinch-hitting appearances. He struck out a lot and batted only .204 in a Washington uniform. He's a potential free agent and the club will have to decide whether to offer him arbitration. He's a contender, but not high on the list.
Laynce Nix had a terrific first half with the Nats, hitting .274 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs in 215 at-bats. He fell off considerably in the second half, but was hard-hit by some nagging injuries. An adequate fielder capable of the occasional circus catch, he was extremely popular with his teammates. He, too, would need to be re-signed.
Roger Bernadina can play all three outfield positions, and he's got a little pop in his bat. The club sees him as more of a corner outfielder, though, he doesn't embarrass himself in center. As opposed to Nix and Gomes. He also has some foot speed and can steal a base if need be.
Rick Ankiel can flat out play some center field, and is also above average on the corners. No one throws better than Ankiel from the outfield, and he'll hit the occasional home run, as well. He's also the oldest of the quartet mentioned here, at 32.
Of the four, only Gomes bats from the right side, and he has the most obvious power, averaging 24 home runs every 162 games. He's also the least skilled defender.
I believe that Ankiel is the current leading candidate, based upon his superior defensive skills. His experience is also a plus, since I believe the Nationals value the steady hand of a veteran who's been in a couple of pennant races. It's Johnson's call, and from all appearances, he seems to like all 4 players, so whatever happens at the winter meetings and spring training will tell the tale.