Signing Werth was a bold move. It was completely necessary in the short run, potentially stupid in the long run, the kind of move Nats fans had never seen. Take a step back from the madness of the deal and all it did was replace Dunn in the lineup. Oh, ok it helped the defense but defense is... well not overrated... how about "more variable than can be planned for in a season". You sign a guy for his offense you can be pretty sure of what he's going to contribute in that first year. You sign a guy for his defense and well it depends on a lot of stuff he can't control so maybe he'll be awesome and maybe he'll just be ok in year one. Over the course of the contract it should even out, and if he's good you should get overall good defense for those multiple years combined but in one single year it's difficult to count on "win-changing" defense.
Werth will help make the Nats better than Dunn would have but not necessarily next year. The most likely scenario for next year is simply breaking even. If you didn't notice the Nats weren't exactly in a position where breaking even in talent gained/lost would put them in the playoffs. Rizzo has figured out how to make sure the Nats don't get worse. Now he's got to figure out how to make the Nats better. It seems like he's working on it, but what exactly can he do?
Assuming the Lee deal plays out like everyone thinks it will, the Nats are left with the likely combination of signing one more bat and trading for a pitcher. It's going to be difficult to do that without treading water offensively. Josh Willingham, an affordable known commodity, is likely gone in any deal. Losing him and signing a Laroche or Pena is probably a wash. The pitcher the Nats would get in return then would have to be awfully good to make a difference in their talent level next year.
I suppose instead of those retreads the Nats could sign a Beltre (like Natsfanboylooser notes in a vague, please don't read anything into it, rumor) or better yet a Crawford but is that even possible? It seems unlikely with the money committed to Werth that the cash will also be there for one of these guys, but hey, we all probably thought the Werth money wasn't there. That kind of signing would allow for the Nats to make a deal and still end up better next year at the plate.
Of course there is just signing a pitcher but you are going to have to overpay for Pavano, who has a long history of injury issues, is hitting 35 and is going to be expensive. Carl is a win in the next two years signing, nothing more. After that there is little left, and certainly no #1s...unless you count Webb, but like Carlos Pena at first, that's a gamble move that could pay off or could crap out. The Nats need a more security than that by itself going into next year.
I suppose Rizzo could wow us with a bunch of smart little trades and signings but it seems more likely that in order to be secure that the Nats will improve severely next year they either need another BIG signing, like a Lee, or Crawford, or they need to make a steal of a deal for a #1 pitcher. That is if being much better next year is the goal. If it's 2012 they are aiming for, with Strasburg returning and Bryce likely appearing, well then they can sit pat - but that seems like a waste of a year now doesn't it?
Update: Would you want the Nats to go 7 for Lee? It's a game changer - but still maybe not enough... probably gets the Nats to around .500, then it would be up to that first base signing and how the young guys develop. 2012, the Strasburg/Bryce year though becomes VERY interesting.