Next in line for my new plan for the Nats is Third Base. Follow along with the series here.
Best combination of idealistic and realistic candidates: Ryan Zimmerman, Mike Morse and Willie Harris
Third base is the one sure thing in the system. Ryan Zimmerman, when healthy, is (and will be) the starting third baseman, period. The competition here is for the backup position. I believe the Nats will carry 2 "backups" in Morse and Harris. Morse has the ability to play the corners in the infield and outfield so I bet he'll stick around and Harris has traditionally been the go-to-guy when Zimmerman gets a day off. Like I said yesterday, Davis hasn't hit well enough at AAA to make me think he can make the jump to the Majors and Casto lost his power and plate discipline in AAA this year.
Sleeper Pick (from the organization): Cristian Guzman
If Zimmerman gets injured for an extended period of time, I could see the Nats shifting Guzman to 3rd, starting Desmond at SS and playing Gonzalez and Harris at 2B in the meantime. Besides that, I don't see anybody new making a push to the backup 3B spot. Joel Guzman is a slight possibility, but I bet he'll depart as a minor league FA after the year.
There really aren't many backup-types in the free agent market, so I could only really see the Nats going out of the organization to pick up a backup if it were a utility player like Figgins or Carroll.
2009 production by Nats third basemen to date: .297/.368/.517, 27 HR, 97 R, 90 RBI
2010 projection: I still think we haven't seen the best to come from Zimmerman, but for now, let's be conservative and say the 2010 3B production is 10% worse than this year's. That's still 24 HR, 87 R and 80 RBI through September 2...pretty darn good.
A list of the Nats currently under contract can also be found at Cot's.
The latest projected Elias Rankings (for Type A/B Free Agent purposes) can be found at MLB Trade Rumors.