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Nationals likely to start Jayson Werth in center field

Dec 29, 2011, 11:17 AM EDT

Jayson Werth

Washington has been searching for a long-term answer in center field since the middle of last season, but after once again coming up empty in their attempts to trade for a veteran general manager Mike Rizzo indicated that he’ll put the search on hold until next offseason.

Rizzo noted during an interview with MLB Network Radio that “the 2013 free agent class at center field is much stronger” and the Nationals can get by with Jayson Werth in center field for now.

Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post notes that Michael Bourn, Grady Sizemore, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino, Melky Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, and Angel Pagan are among the players who may be available as free agents next winter, at which point the Nationals’ corner outfielders will likely be Werth and top prospect Bryce Harper.

Of course, those plans could change in a hurry if Werth proves incapable of handling center field defensively at age 34 (and with just 97 career starts at the position) or one of the Nationals’ previous trade targets (Denard Span of the Twins, for example) becomes available at a lesser price.

  1. seanmk - Dec 29, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    as an everyday cetnerfielder, probably not. Part time sure he’d be fine.

  2. Old Gator - Dec 29, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    It’d be interesting for the stat geeks to come up with an answer to how much he gets paid for every ball that carries over his head.

  3. akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc - Dec 29, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    He wasn’t *awful* in CF in 2011. 3.0 uzr/150 in 151 innings. Yes I know uzr fails with small sample sizes so you have to take that with a grain of salt.

    I guess the Nats direction depends on how quickly they think Harper can come up; if he breaks camp with the team (with the severe financial penalty that comes with guaranteeing a 4th arbitration year) then the issue is a lot clearer; Harper has been playing CF at times in the minors and could switch back and forth with Werth between CF and RF. If the Nats decide to hold Harper til late June, they’ve got more than a couple of outfielders on minor league contracts that could serve as stop gaps (Mike Cameron being the leading candidate). Not the best alternative (since Cameron really can’t hit anymore) but serviceable.

    One unspoken possibility; get a one-year RF solution like J.D. Drew, a veteran looking to regain some value on a one-year deal, have him start til Harper is ready, then flip the veteran mid-season to clear room. This gives the team some insurance if Harper struggles to open 2012 in the minors or gets hurt, and could give us a bit more offensive production.

  4. thetruth1313 - Dec 29, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    I wondered what happened to Edge when he left the WWE. Hes going to be playing centerfield for the Nationals!

  5. explosionsauce - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Don’t usually post here on on the baseball blog but that guy looks like a Geico caveman.

    • shaggytoodle - Dec 29, 2011 at 3:12 PM

      You beat me to it, I was going to say its amazing that he has all that money and stil has to do commercials with Orakpo.

  6. dcfan4life - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Whenever Harper comes up can prove curious as how different the Nationals lineup will be. Right now Michael Morse plays left. If they bring up Harper and sign a new center fielder, where is Morse gonna play. The Nats made it clear there going with Laroche at first but Michael Morse was there best overall hitter last year. Laroche is in the last year of his contract though. Like i said, with such a good young team there are a lot more questions than answers.

  7. proudlycanadian - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    I have this vision of the Nationals signing Prince Fielder and starting him in center field. It would be a sight to behold.

    • MightyMoonWorm - Dec 29, 2011 at 1:53 PM

      On the bright side, he may just be able to bowl down the walls in order to steal some home runs without leaving his feet.

    • deepstblu - Dec 29, 2011 at 4:56 PM

      I used to have visions like that, until I stopped eating the moldy rye bread.

  8. tjg25 - Dec 29, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    Is that the dude from the Geico commercials?

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