Nats ready for shutdown to pay off

With a full season of Stephen Strasburg, the Nats are the team to beat

Updated: December 28, 2012, 9:35 AM ET
By Jeff Sullivan | FanGraphs

Recently, there has been chatter that the Boston Red Sox are talking to free-agent Adam LaRoche. LaRoche is still out there, unsigned, and the Red Sox might yet choose to end their courtship of Mike Napoli. For much of the offseason, it has seemed inevitable that LaRoche would re-up with the Washington Nationals, probably for a two-year contract with a third-year option. Such a deal would free up the Nationals to trade Michael Morse. If LaRoche goes away, Morse might just replace him at first base. Therefore, the Nationals' offseason isn't yet entirely settled. But here's the kicker: No matter what happens at first, the Nationals still project to be the best team in baseball.

[+] EnlargeStephen Strasburg
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesStrasburg fanned 11.1 per nine innings in 2012.

Projected 2013 standings are nothing but projected 2013 standings, they're educated guesses. And, as evidenced by the fact that LaRoche (among other big names) is still unsigned, there are still some key moves to be made. That said, the Nats won 98 games last year, which was the most in baseball, despite the fact they voluntarily stopped using their best pitcher with a month left in the season. They were severely criticized for shutting down Stephen Strasburg, but it's time for that decision to pay off.


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