Bill Ladson of MLB.com reported tonight that former Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Doug Davis has an interest in playing for the Washington Nationals. However, Davis told Ladson that Washington is not interested in signing him. That is, not until they sure up their defense up the middle at least:
"Davis, 34, played with the D-backs this past season and went 9-14 with a 4.14 ERA. Local reporters were told at the Baseball Winter Meetings that the Nationals had interest in Davis.
"I'm [willing] to go anywhere and hopefully be a difference maker for a team that needs to make a turnaround and be successful," Davis said. "On my part -- of course -- [there's interest]. For them, because of the signing of Jason Marquis, it kind of put them in a bind [to spend] money for starting pitching. They had to address other problems.
"Possibly, when they find a second baseman, they can come back around to their starting pitching. Of course, I'm up to talking with anybody right now. Things are kind of going slow for me because I'm fifth or sixth down the line [when it comes to] starting pitching."
Ladson also points out that the Nationals are currently attempting to court veteran second baseman Orlando Hudson, but says that his asking price is likely too high.
Rizzo is smart to try and sure up his defense up the middle. As we found with Nyjer Morgan last year, defense in the middle of the field is key, and at this point both Ian Desmond and Cristian Guzman are question marks.
Guzman has posted a negative UZR at short for the fourth consecutive season (-2.1, -1.4, -3.4, -2.3) and it is yet to be seen if he will be receptive with a move to second base. The move across the infield should serve Guzman well as he will have less space to cover and an above average arm at the position. The move would also raise his value in 2011 when he becomes a free agent, so you would think he would embrace the move.
Desmond on the other hand is known to be a strong defensive shortstop but his readiness to be an everyday major leaguer is in question. The 24-year-old shortstop struggled early in his career but blossomed last season. While the Nationals hope he's ready to be a full time big leaguer, it would be naive to not have a contingency plan.
One option up the middle not named Orlando Hudson might be Felipe Lopez. Yes, that name may surprise you as we had already cast him off previously after disappointing performances from 2006-08, but the Nationals are under new leadership and Felipe appears to be a reformed player. Defensively, Lopez is the best second baseman available after posting a career UZR of 5.1 at the position, and a 7.8 mark last season.
At the plate Lopez produced a line of .310/.383/.427, .356 wOBA, 116wRC+.