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Nationals Offseason: What To Expect On The Verge Of Free Agency

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The Nationals are standing on the verge of an offseason that will go a long way in defining the future of their franchise. They have an opportunity to build on some of the flashes they showed last season, and continue on their path towards contending in the N.L. East.

There are two major storylines to follow as the team heads towards the free agency period; How will they handle the Adam Dunn situation? And, will they find the front of the rotation starting pitcher that they have said they are looking for? John Heyman of Sports Illustrated has updates on both fronts in his free agency preview.

We'll talk about the pitching first, particularly the biggest prize of the free agency period, Cliff Lee. Heyman predicts that Lee will ultimately follow the money train to New York an join the Yankees, but lists the Nationals among a list of potential suitors. I'm not sure it would even be considered a consolation prize, but if the Nationals really do put in a bid that at least forces Lee to pause, it has to be seen as a small victory. This team has shown in the past that they don't really want to spend a lot of money, so if they pursue the biggest free agent on the market and make a serious run at him, hopefulyl it is a positive sign of things to come.

Heyman also touches on Adam Dunn's potential landing spot, and it's starting to become more and more evident that he won't be playing in Washington next year.

The fielding-challenged Dunn should really consider the American League (and the White Sox and A's are among teams that may show interest), but he is said by friends to much prefer the NL. The Cubs aren't out of the question for him with his incumbent Nationals more likely to seek a plus-defender for first base, such as Carlos Peña.

If they can get him at a reasonable price, Pena would be a pretty decent replacement for Dunn; even if his batting average leaves a lot to be desired.

We'll have updates on the Nationals offseason and how they are progressing through free agency in this StoryStream as they become available.