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Tyler Moore likely will be the top right-handed bat off the Nationals' bench.
But a quick glance at the Nationals' roster confirms it: Davey Johnson almost certainly already knows who will be part of his five-man bench come Opening Day.
Injuries, of course, can always throw the best-laid plans out of whack. But let's assume for the sake of argument the Nationals' stable of position players emerges healthy from spring training. Under that assumption -- plus the assumption Michael Morse is traded at some point -- it's clear which five players will come off the bench:
-- Chad Tracy
-- Steve Lombardozzi
-- Roger Bernadina
-- Tyler Moore
-- Wilson Ramos
There really aren't any question marks related to that group. Tracy is the pinch-hitting specialist, re-signed for another season after leading the majors with 11 pinch-RBI in 2012. Lombardozzi is the utility infielder, fresh off a solid rookie season. Bernadina is the fourth outfielder and designated speedster off the bench. Moore, who also enjoyed a solid rookie year, is the top right-handed bat. And Ramos figures to open the season as Kurt Suzuki's backup catcher, at least until he proves his surgically repaired knee is 100 percent, at which point the two could split the job.
What's not to like? Each projected bench player brings a specific skill-set to the table, whether it's Tracy's calm presence during a key at-bat, Lombardozzi's versatility and fundamentally sound play, Bernadina's sheer athleticism or Moore's serious offensive pop.
And each proved adept at handling a reserve role last season (with the exception of Ramos, who was the everyday catcher until he tore his ACL in May).
Though Tracy got most of the credit for his production off the bench, he was far from alone. Nationals pinch-hitters collectively sported a .288 average (tops in the majors), a .367 on-base percentage (second in the bigs) and .420 slugging percentage (third-best in the league).
Lombardozzi hit .308 with a .379 on-base percentage as a rookie pinch-hitter, Bernadina reached at a healthy .359 clip and Moore's seven pinch-RBI ranked seventh in the majors despite the fact he ranked 33rd in plate appearances.
It's Moore's advanced offensive skills in spite of his lack of experience that helps make the prospect of trading Morse more palatable. Sure, the Nationals would love to have a proven bat like Morse's coming off their bench, but Moore should be able to offer nearly as much production at one-fourteenth the cost ($500,000 vs. $7 million).
The risk, of course, is the possibility of a significant injury to one of the Nationals' everyday players, particularly first baseman Adam LaRoche or corner outfielders Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. Morse would clearly be a more-proven, long-term replacement for any of those stalwarts than Moore, but that's a risk general manager Mike Rizzo seems willing to take.
With no obvious holes in their lineup and regulars who shouldn't need more than the very occasional day off, the Nationals are less worried about building a bench full of capable starters and more concerned with giving Johnson the best possible options for in-game changes.
In that regard, it's hard to argue with this quintet. It's got power, speed and the ability to get on base. It's got two left-handed hitters, two right-handed hitters and one switch-hitter. It's got veterans and young guns.
And, with the calendar still reading only January 15, it's already been assembled in full.