I've seen quite a bit of talk in the wake of Stan Kasten's resignation about how the decision might affect payroll for next year, since Kasten was a persistent advocate for a more aggressive approach toward signing players. And it's very possible that Kasten made his decision to leave knowing that the team's approach probably wouldn't change dramatically.
But I don't think the news that Kasten is leaving will drastically change how the 2011 payroll will look.
Remember, whatever plans the Nationals have for next year, they've been making them knowing for almost a year that Kasten would leave. His departure isn't news to the Nationals; it's only news to those outside the organization, who found out through the team president's announcement yesterday.
If they don't sign Adam Dunn, the Nationals have his $12 million contract coming off the books; plus Cristian Guzman ($8 million), Willie Harris ($1.5 million) and Miguel Batista ($1 million). Matt Capps ($3.5 million) and Brian Bruney ($1.5 million) also won't be there, and the Nationals have paid their $1 million buyout to Austin Kearns.
They could save themselves $2 million by not picking up Adam Kennedy's option, and more cost savings are available if they non-tender Scott Olsen or Chien-Ming Wang. All told, the Nationals have around $25 million tied up for 2011, plus arbitration awards and salaries for players with less than three years of service, compared to this year's Opening Day payroll of $66.275 million.
There's plenty of wiggle room in there for the team to add some pieces, and I'd guess general manager Mike Rizzo will be arguing for a more aggressive approach to free agency and trades this offseason. I don't think Kasten's departure will change the course of what the Nationals have planned, though, simply because those plans have been formulated with the knowledge Kasten won't be there.