When regular season success is as hard to come by as it has been for the Nationals over the past few seasons, it's important to take advantage of every opportunity to improve your roster; and the offseason is obviously the best time to do that.
What that means exactly remains to be seen. It could mean re-signing Adam Dunn, or inking his replacement. It could also mean getting the front line starter the organization has said it wants to obtain this Winter. The bottom line is that the team has consistently said that they would like to add difference-making talent to the roster this winter, and according to Mark Zuckerman, they'll have the resources to do so.We'll start with the Nationals payroll from last year as a point of comparison. On Opening Day last year the Nats had a payroll of about $66 million. One would assume that adding talent to the roster means expanding that payroll. Zuckerman runs down the entire roster and concludes that the Nationals will have a lot of money to spend if they even just want to match that total.
At the moment, the Nats only have about $47 million committed to payroll for 2011.
Which also means this: Even if they re-sign Dunn to a contract that pays him $15 million next year, they'd still only be looking at a total payroll of $62 million, down $4 million from last year's number.
You also have to consider that as of this moment, all the evidence suggests that the Nationals probably won't be bringing Dunn back into the fold. That means nearly $20 million to spend if they want to reach last year's total, and $33 million to play with to get to the $80 million figure that Zuckerman speculate the Nationals might be targeting.
That's plenty of money to sign a good starting pitcher as well as some talent to fill out the rest of the roster. If they choose to, the Nationals have all the resources to improve their roster considerably for the next season.