There's been lots of talk so far this offseason about some big-name free agents on the Nationals' radar (see: Buehrle, Mark; and Oswalt, Roy) but they can't address all of their needs via the high-priced market.
There are plenty of bargains to be found, if general manager Mike Rizzo knows where to look. In other words, stay away from Nordstroms but don't be afraid to browse through TJ Maxx. Rizzo might come away with high-end quality at discount prices.
So in the spirit of this ultimate shopping weekend, we present a few potential bargain free agents the Nationals might want to consider this holiday season...
REED JOHNSONOutfielder2011 stats: .309.348.467 in 111 games with Cubs
2011 salary: 900,000
Comment: Johnson has always been an underrated player, a high-OBP guy who plays stellar defense at all three outfield positions and is willing to accept just about any role. Plus, he's a lifelong Redskins fan and perhaps might be interested in moving a bit closer to FedEx Field.
ENDY CHAVEZOutfielder2011 stats: .301.323.426 in 83 games with Rangers
2011 salary: 1.25 million
Comment: This name will ring a bell to longtime Nationals fans, who remember Chavez failing to hold onto the starting center field and leadoff job in the spring of 2005 (and ultimately getting traded for Marlon Byrd). Endy has come a long way since and was a key contributor to the AL-champion Rangers this year. He's also a stellar defensive outfielder who runs well and would be a nice piece to bring off the bench.
TREVER MILLERLeft-handed reliever2011 stats: 3.80 ERA in 48 games with Cardinals, Blue Jays and Red Sox
2011 salary: 2 million
Comment: A veteran reliever with a strong track record for getting left-handed batters out, Miller also has considerable experience pitching in the postseason (1998-99 with the Astros, 2008 with the Rays, 2009 with the Cardinals). He's allowed only 24 percent of inherited runners to score throughout his 13-year career.
LIVAN HERNANDEZRight-handed starter2011 stats: 8-13, 4.47 ERA in 29 starts with Nationals
2011 salary: 1 million
Comment: OK, so he wasn't so great for the Nats this season, and it appears they're going to assemble a rotation that includes at least five starters better than him at this point. That said, there are few pitchers in baseball who provide more for the money than Livo. He loves D.C. and is willing to re-sign here for a minimal salary. And he's a great insurance policy in case one of the higher-priced starters gets hurt.