What is the Nationals Long-Term Solution at First Base?

With James Wood, and other top prospects on the cusp of the Major Leagues, many positions look to be locked up long-term, besides first base. What are some potential solutions to fill this hole?
Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers
Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

I am a simple guy. I have my routine, I love my family and friends, I work my job, and I have a slight obsession with the Washington Nationals. When times are good, my mood is noticeably different, as I look forward to watching my Nats every night. When times are bad, which they obviously have been for a while now, I dread watching them.

During those good times, the thoughts of the future get tabled, but during those bad times, better days in the future are all I can think about.

I am a big believer in the minor league system, which was a bold statement just a couple of years ago, but I have been pleasantly surprised with the minor league pitching development, along with the takeoff of James Wood and Dylan Crews catching fire.

It would be naïve to believe every one of our prospects is set to pan out, but as I wrote last week, the future of our starting rotation looks bright. On top of that, the outfield looks locked down with James Wood, Dylan Crews, then others that could fill in the third spot like Jacob Young, Robert Hassell III, and Lane Thomas. Catcher is locked down, although it will never be a strength, with the combination of Ruiz, Millas, and Adams. The middle infield should be set for the future with Abrams and Garcia Jr., with Brady House or Trey Lipscomb having a decent path to being at least a solid everyday third baseman in the future.

The future roster construction seems viable, with more spots to fill in free agency especially regarding depth, with a glaring hole for some much-needed power at first base. Yohandy Morales seemed like a steal in the draft last year and got off to a terrific start last season, but he is at least a couple of years away, with Fangraphs and others recently raising questioning his hit tool. I was a believer and was willing to give Joey Meneses a longer leash than most, but his days are clearly numbered. I am also a believer in Joey Gallo more than most, but I know he is not even close to a long-term solution.

With this being said, let's evaluate three top-of-the-line acquisitions for the Nationals to sign to be a long-term solution at first base.

Rhys Hoskins (Opt-out after the 2024 Season)

Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins
Milwaukee Brewers v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Although I am not as big of a Hoskins fan as some Nationals seem by their constant recruitment efforts, Hoskins is a player with legit power who is still only 31 years old and has a career 126 wRC+. He is a bad defender, is streaky at times, and provides nothing on the base paths, but he can mash and could provide a much-needed spark to the Nationals lineup. His peak fWAR was in 2022 at only 2.4 due to these defensive limitations that have only gotten worse after the injury, but I would not be mad at all if Rizzo decided to give him a 2 or 3-year deal in the $50 million range.

Ryan O’Hearn ($7.5 Million Team Option for 2025)

Ryan O', Hearn
Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

O’Hearn has completely revived his career in Baltimore, being a baseball savant page darling, ranking in the top 10th percentile across baseball in categories like k-rate, expected on-base percentage, and expected slugging percentage. Formerly a top prospect in the Royals system, he was one of the worst players in the majors from 2019-2022, registering -2.4 fWAR with a wRC+ in the ’60s in 298 games. He has amassed 2.6 fWAR in Baltimore in 160 games, hitting 22 home runs, and spending time at first base, DH, and even the outfield. The Orioles will likely pick up the team option, but with a crowded roster they could be looking to trade O’Hearn, and he would be a perfect fit in Washington. Its almost sad to think about he was in the same position as Dom Smith after the 2022 season, and, well, we all know how that turned out.

Christian Walker

Christian Walker
San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks / Norm Hall/GettyImages

Walker has been one of the most consistently good under-the-radar players since 2022, putting up 9.8 fWAR in 380 games while smacking 81 home runs. Walker is also one of the best, if not the best, defensive first basemen in baseball, winning back-to-back gold gloves, and is on track to win another one this season. It took a while for Walker’s career to take off, but he has now more than proved himself and will be a free agent entering his age 34 season. If the Diamondbacks are looking to get younger, Walker could fit in Washington on a lucrative deal.

Now I am probably dreaming here, but Rizzo has an opportunity to make an impactful aquisition for one of these three guys without breaking the bank. Upcoming free agents Pete Alonso and Paul Goldschmidt were left off this list due to the unlikelihood of them joining Washington, along with Alonso being overrated in my eyes and Goldschmidt’s days well behind him.

If the last few years have shown anything, it is that the Nationals will go the cheap route and sign a guy like Carlos Santana or Rowdy Telez to a 1-year contract, but Hoskins, O’Hearn, and Walker would be great solutions to put us back into contender status.