The Nationals Need More Power From First Base

After a poor offensive showing in 2023 from the First Base position, the Nationals need to find more power through free agency.
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This past year was one of the worst offensive seasons by a Nationals' First Baseman in a long time, and maybe in franchise history. Dominic Smith only hit 11 home runs in over 500 at bats. Many first basemen around the league had fewer at bats and still produced more home runs. Joey Votto, for example, hit 14 home runs in less than HALF of the at-bats that Smith had. An upgrade should not be too hard to find, but who will it be?

My top pick and probably a lot of other people's top pick would be to sign free agent Rhys Hoskins, who sat out all of the 2023 season after tearing his ACL in Spring Training. Hoskins would most likely double the power potential from the 2023 season for First Base. However, his defense leaves something to be desired (which doesn't bother me a ton) and there are a number of other teams interested in him as well, which leads me to believe that he won't be signing with Washington. Interested teams include the Cubs and Giants, among others. I don't see why he would sign with Washington given that the Cubs and Giants are closer to contention and will probably be willing to give him more money. Regardless of where he signs, it will probably be on a one-year deal.

My second pick is more controversial. I want Joey Votto. Votto is now 40 years old but I think that he still has something left in the tank. Although he batted a paltry .202 this past season, he still had 14 home runs in only 208 at bats. Defensively, Votto is also a better option than Hoskins and will also be cheaper. If he comes into the year fully healthy, I think the Nationals could get some good production and may even be able to flip him at the trade deadline. His veteran leadership will be good for our younger players and his popularity will put fans in the seats. He would definitely be signed for a 1 year deal because of his age and overall lower production last season.

My third and final pick for the Nationals' First Base position is C.J. Cron. Cron is another player who had less than half of the at-bats as Dominic Smith and yet still hit more (1 more) home runs. Cron had some great years with the Rockies and I think would be a great deal for the Nationals. Cron did play in a hitters park but I think he would be good for 20-30 home runs given a full season at first base, like he did during his time in Detroit which has a notoriously pitcher friendly ballpark. Defensively, Cron is a decent fielder and can DH as well.

Other options for First Base include Brandon Belt or Jared Walsh, among others, but I personally don't think the Nats will go for them. There is not really anyone in the minors who is ready and I don't want to trade for a First Baseman given that we have some good talent in the minor leagues. Yohandy Morales will probably be ready towards the end of 2025 or maybe sooner if he continues his good play from 2023. Morales didn't play much first base in the minor leagues last year but why keep him at third when Brady House is most likely going to be Third Baseman of the near future? Trey Lipscomb is another minor league option at first base. Lipscomb can play any of the infield positions and played 15 games at the position last year. His defense was superb with a 1.000 fielding percentage in limited action. Lipscomb's home run potential might be better than Dominic Smith but not by a whole lot, so he is better suited elsewhere. I would rather Morales be the First Baseman of the future.

In-house options could be Joey Meneses or Riley Adams if Davey Martinez would ever give him a shot to play first base. I think that these options are a last resort should the Nationals not sign any First Basemen this offseason.

At the end of the day, I would really like to see Rhys Hoskins given a one year deal with a team option for 2025. It's not the end of the world if this doesn't happen given that the Nats are still most likely a season away from truly competing again, but seeing more of an effort from the Front Office would go a long way.