Starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez is one of the fresh faces at Nats camp this spring. Photograph by Keith Allison.
SP Gio Gonzalez
The Nats didn’t land the splashy free-agent bat that some expected. Instead, they traded for a pitcher. And hey, who needs a fat first baseman when you can acquire one of the league’s best young lefties? “Nat Gio” is 26, and coming off of an all-star season in Oakland. The Nats gave up a lot to get him, but it’s worth it to have a number-two starter locked up for the duration of his prime.
And Gio has already endeared himself to local fans. So far, he’s rocked the red at a Caps game, hailed the Redskins on local radio, and complained about the traffic (probably). He even posed for a picture with Rex Grossman. I’m not certain that helps, but it’s something.
SP Edwin Jackson
The Nats’ most notable free-agent signing has traveled a long road through Major League Baseball. He was one of the top prospects in baseball as a 19-year-old Dodger. Nine years and six teams later, he’s found himself in Washington. Jackson reportedly turned down multi-year offers to pitch here on a one-year, $11 million contract. If he can put together a strong season with the Nats, he could cash in on a big contract next year.
Jackson should be a solid fourth starter behind an excellent front three. He’s not exciting, but he is a solid professional who can eat up about 200 innings in a season. That—and Scott Boras’s representation—will get you $11 million.
RP Brad Lidge
Once upon a time, he was one of the most untouchable pitchers in baseball. Then he gave up two memorable ninth-inning home runs in the 2005 postseason, and things kind of fell apart for a while there. At this point in his career, he’s a guy the Nats can call on to get meaningful outs before handing the ball off to eighth-inning maestro Tyler Clippard.
3B Mark DeRosa
OF Mike Cameron
Veteran depth, with an emphasis on veteran. DeRosa (36) and Cameron (39) were both alive for the fall of Saigon. If either guy gets extended playing time, then something has gone horribly wrong.