Rizzo and Nationals Lower Payroll, Set For Big Spending in 2011

Following up on William Yoder’s piece on Nationals spending, according to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com, the Washington Nationals could be poised for a big off-season—Only it’s next off-season. In 2011, the team will actually have a lesser payroll than they did in 2010, which, actually if you look at it, is no surprise.

The team lost Adam Dunn to free agency when he signed with the Chicago White Sox for four-years and $56 million. Dunn had just finished a two-year $20 million deal with the Nationals, so there is a big chunk of payroll right there.

They will also not be bringing back Cristian Guzman or Adam Kennedy, both established veterans.

Dunn was replaced with Adam LaRoche, who signed for two-years $16 million, which is a significant pay cut. The team did not feel it Dunn was worth $56 million at the time his contract talks came up.

In fact, every time the Nationals attempted to add payroll, they were passed over or could not get it done. Jorge De La Rosa, who was being courted by the Nationals at one point, resigned with the Colorado Rockies. The Nats did not land Cliff Lee, as he signed with Philadelphia and Zack Greinke said he did not want to go to Washington and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

There were preliminary talks with Carl Pavano, but those have seemingly fizzled and it will be a long shot for the team to get anything done with the Minnesota Twin.

Matt Garza will also not be coming to Washington this coming season, as he will be donning Chicago Cubs blue and spending breezy afternoons in the ivy at Wrigley Field.

So you see, the team did not add any payroll. They thought about it, they considered it, they even tried it, yet, they were not able to do so. Washington claims it is ready to spend, but did not make a lot of big-time splashes this off-season, outside of the Jayson Werth signing, which by the way is a great example of a team OVER-spending.

However, next year, the team will be gaining even more cap flexibility. The Nationals will be shedding the contracts of Jason Marquis ($7.5m), Ivan Rodriguez ($3m), the ageless wonder Livan Hernandez, Chien-Ming Wang and Rick Ankiel, who all combine to make $3m, if you don’t include Hernandez’s pension, 501k and Social Security checks. So the team will have a lot of flexibility this coming off-season, and considering Stephen Strasburg will be recovered from arm surgery and Bryce Harper a year closer to the big leagues, that might be the time to make to right moves to turn this team into a contender.