The Nationals aren't expected to be major players in this year's free agent market, given their entire starting lineup is under contract and most of their pitching staff is expected to return. With the Nationals, however, crazier things have happened.
Few people predicted they would sign Jayson Werth three offseasons ago, Edwin Jackson before the 2012 season or Rafael Soriano last year. Mike Rizzo and the Nats have shown they aren't afraid to go after the big names.
The biggest name of all this winter in MLB free agency is Robinson Cano, the All-Star second baseman who has spent all nine years of his career in pinstripes with the Yankees. Though the Nats aren't likely to be seriously involved in the bidding war for Cano, it can't be ruled out.
A new report, in fact, has the Nationals linked to Cano. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has ten teams that may be interested in the ex-Scott Boras, now Jay-Z client, and one of them is the Nats.
Heyman acknowledges the Nats are happy with Anthony Rendon at second base for now, especially with the defensive resurgence of Ryan Zimmerman at third base. That leaves little room for Cano, unless they want to demote Rendon for the meantime.
But the biggest reason the Nats are unlikely to be legitimate players in the Cano sweepstakes is money. They aren't at the top of the league in terms of highest payrolls, but several of their best players will be looking for extensions in coming years. In the short-term that could mean deals for Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, for instance.
Cano is also looking for a deal as long as ten years. Even if it isn't quite that long, it could affect the Nats' ability to re-sign guys like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, when they are allowed to test the market.
The money they would spend on Cano would also make it more difficult to replace Adam LaRoche after the 2014 season, and considering they have no future first baseman in the organization at the moment, they will likely need to use free agency when the time comes.
Would Cano make sense on paper for the Nats? Maybe. Would they be able to afford him in the longrun? Probably not.