I've been spending some time looking at the Nationals' projected payroll for 2011 this morning (detailed breakdowns are available at Cot's Contracts and Baseball Reference). The short of it: The Nationals are going to have plenty of money to make a splash this winter.
They've got $29.15 million committed to seven players - Ryan Zimmerman, Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez, Yunesky Maya, Ivan Rodriguez, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper - and they have another seven who should go to arbitration this winter.
Let's assume the following salaries for those seven players: Josh Willingham ($6 million), John Lannan ($2.5 million), Sean Burnett ($1.1 million), Wil Nieves ($800,000), Michael Morse ($800,000), Alberto Gonzalez ($700,000), Jesus Flores ($600,000) and Chien-Ming Wang (we'll call it a $1 million contract, plus incentives, settled before arbitration).
Those arbitration figures are rough estimates, but they'd put the Nationals at $42.65 million. Estimate another $5.5 million for 11 players who could fill out the 2011 Opening Day roster at pre-arbitration levels, and the Nationals would be at $48.15 million.
They had a payroll of $66.275 million on Opening Day 2010, and there's almost no way the Nationals would fill their 2011 roster with 25 players currently under their control. So they'd have at least $18 million to add players for 2011 without increasing payroll.
And let's get crazy and say they add a couple free agents - one for $15 million, and another for $10 million. That would only put the payroll at roughly $72 million (adding those contracts and subtracting a pair of minimum salaries).
From what I've heard from a number of baseball people, the Nationals intend to make a splash this winter. They certainly appear to have the financial flexibility to do so.