If Nats desire another infielder, plenty of options remain

Whether the Nationals were ever seriously interested in DJ LeMahieu isn't clear, but here's what is clear: They were never going to match the six-year, $90 million offer the veteran infielder reportedly accepted from the Yankees on Friday.

Look, LeMahieu would've been a great fit for the Nats. He could've led off or batted second, creating an elite 1-2-3 trio with Trea Turner and Juan Soto. He could've played third base or second base, helped out at first base, or played some combination of all three in both the short and long terms. He would've been a major boost for the club both at the plate and in the field.

But the Nationals just weren't going to make that kind of financial commitment for a guy who would've been viewed as a luxury addition as opposed to a necessary one.

Truth be told, the time to sign LeMahieu was two years ago when much of the market wondered if his gaudy numbers were merely the product of Coors Field. The Nats needed a second baseman entering 2019. On Jan. 10, they signed Brian Dozier for $9 million. One day later, the Yankees signed LeMahieu for two years and $24 million.

Castro-Throws-Gold-Sidebar.jpgDozier, while undoubtedly a positive influence in a World Series-winning clubhouse, disappointed on the field and barely played in the postseason. And because he was on a one-year deal, the Nationals needed a second baseman again last winter. They wound up signing Starlin Castro to a two-year, $12 million contract. The former Cub, Yankee and Marlin, of course, played in only 16 games before breaking his wrist and missing the rest of the 2020 season.

Castro may yet prove a good pickup if he's healthy and plays well this season, but in the end, the Nats spent $21 million over three years for Dozier and Castro while LeMahieu proved he's one of the best pure hitters in the sport in the Bronx and twice finished in the top four in American League MVP voting for $24 million.

It's all moot now. And the Nationals aren't going to complain about winning a World Series the way they did it. But the question still remains: Are they looking to add another infielder this winter?

General manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Martinez have talked up Carter Kieboom while simultaneously leaving the door open for someone else to replace the 23-year-old in their lineup. Who might that someone else be? Several candidates remain available.

Justin Turner, Jake Lamb, Tommy LaStella, Marwin González, Kolten Wong, Daniel Descalso and Enrique Hernández are free agents. Kris Bryant and Eugenio Suárez might be available in a trade.

Each costs varying amounts of money and/or prospects. And Rizzo might not feel like any are worth the cost, not after he already added Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber and just saw Turner and Soto's salaries get a huge boost via the arbitration process.

But if there's still doubt within the organization about Kieboom's ability to live up to his potential, there certainly are plenty of options out there just waiting to be contacted.

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