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Jayson Werth and Michael Morse will definitely be part of next year's lineup.
So it would stand to reason that the No. 1 area the Nationals will need to address this winter is a significant offensive upgrade.
Except, that probably won't be the case.
Scroll through the Nationals position by position, and it becomes pretty clear they're already set for 2012 in at least six of eight spots, possibly seven...
CATCHER: Wilson Ramos is firmly entrenched as the starter. The only question is who will back him up next season.
FIRST BASE: Adam LaRoche is expected to be 100 percent healed from shoulder surgery, and team officials have said he'll have a job waiting for him.
SECOND BASE: Danny Espinosa, though he's had trouble raising his batting average, has done everything else well and is seen as a cornerstone player for this franchise moving forward.
SHORTSTOP: Ian Desmond's standing is less secure than others, but the Nationals remain high on his defense, his clubhouse leadership and his potential to hit with experience. There's still a chance he could be traded, with Espinosa moving to shortstop and Steve Lombardozzi taking over at second base, but that's not necessarily Plan A from the franchise's perspective.
THIRD BASE: Ryan Zimmerman. 'Nough said.
LEFT FIELD: With LaRoche returning to first base next season, Michael Morse figures to move back to the outfield. Long-term, he could end up back at first base -- especially once Bryce Harper arrives, perhaps next summer -- but one way or another, his stout performance this season ensures he'll be somewhere in the lineup in 2012.
CENTER FIELD: The only position on the diamond that is legitimately up in the air heading into next season. It's no secret Mike Rizzo has been searching for a leadoff-hitting center fielder, and he certainly attempted to acquire one before the July 31 trade deadline. Look for Rizzo to continue the pursuit over the winter, either via trade or free agency.
RIGHT FIELD: Love him or hate him, Jayson Werth has this spot locked up for quite some time.
So, there really isn't much wiggle room for Rizzo and Co. as they try to reshape the roster during the offseason. They'll be aggressive in their pursuit of a center fielder, and perhaps they'll do something in the middle infield, but there's not really much else they can do that wouldn't involve moving either one of their high-paid, established veterans or one of their promising young regulars.
Here, then, is what the Opening Day 2012 lineup could very well look like...
CF "Speedy McOnbase"
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Michael Morse
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
C Wilson Ramos
Eventually, Bryce Harper figures to enter the mix. He'd probably be in left field, with Morse back to first base and LaRoche traded.
The question is: Is that lineup good enough for the Nationals to contend in 2012? What do you think?