The Nats will need a 1st baseman in 2013. Hell, if LaRoche is crashing out they could need one next year. Why did they seemingly have no interest in Abreu? Should they have?
What we know of Abreu
Supposedly 26. Hit .453/.597/.986 33 HRs, 93 RBI in 2010-2011. .394, 35 homers following year. .382 with 13 homers (much shorter seasons - still led league) last season. Has acquitted himself well ( 9 for 25 with a walk, double, 3 HRs, 9 RBI) in the WBC. Fielding is considered a minus. No speed to speak of.
Why no interest
The cost was going to be high - As international scouting gets better the costs for these guys go up because they aren't seen as much of a gamble. Cespedes was 4/36. A few months later Puig was 7/42. Darvish got 5/56. Chances looked good Abreu would top that, which would set the Nats up for having 60 mill for 4 players (Zimm, Werth, Gio being other 3) going through 2016, which may hurt resigning ability for players such as Desmond and ZNN (let alone nailing down Stras, Bryce, Ramos)
Counterpoint : So? Money shouldn't be an object if you really want to win. Remember - THERE IS NO MONEY BUCKET. Teams can spend what they want. Owners are generally incredibly wealthy (the Lerners are) Therefore money should not be a concern, in my opinion. That doesn't mean you sign stupid deals, but pay a little more? Sure.
Might Need 1B free to move Zimmerman there if throwing problems continue.- Zimm seemingly cleared up his issues by years end but he's seemingly done that before too. If he gets another bout of the yips, they may want to move him to a spot where his throwing won't be an issue. No DH means that's 1B
Counterpoint : I hate the yips too but I can swallow them if it means having a good hitting first baseman. Good hitting 1B are harder to find that good hitting 3B. Overall I don't see how moving Zimm off 3rd makes the team stronger. Can the Nats find a 3B or 2B (if they domino Rendon to 3B) that can hit better than LaRoche has (let's say .260 with 25 homers)? I doubt it.
They like the prospects coming up - Tyler Moore has seemingly done all he can in AAA and there's a feeling he still might "get it" at the major league level. They were enthused with the development of Matt Skole prior to his injury. Someone currently in a different position like Zach Walters might also get a shift over. Or maybe a Goodwin or Souza will develop and push the aging in the field Werth over to first.
Counterpoint : The door is closing on Moore and most of the Nats hitting "prospects" are guys that should be coming into their own at the majors right now. Souza (early April), Skole (late July) and Walters (early Sept) all turn 25 next year. Their chance to surprise and make an impact is currently on the clock. Goodwin at 23 all next year, is a better bet to have big impact but also not ready yet. In other words, I don't like the prospects coming up.
You can always get a shorter term bargain like with LaRoche - why sign someone for 6 years when you can sign someone for 2. First base is generally considered the easiest position to play. (Movie Ron Washington : "It's incredibly hard") Why not take a chance and stick a Victor Martinez or Aramis Ramirez there in 2015? Or a Chase Headley?
Counterpoint : See LaRoche. You get what you pay for. These guys could be fine or could drop off the cliff with injury or age. If they do well next year they'll be costly. If they don't they'll be cheap but you'll be betting on a bounce back from a 35+ player. Or in Headley's case a guy coming off 2 sub-optimal years.
They have another plan - Trade? Bryce at first? Who knows.
Counterpoint : None
What do I think
I don't know. If this were a year later I'd possibly do it. We don't really see power dropoffs so he's going to hit ~30 homers a year. Even if you take Cespedes' average in 2013 to be a fair representation (I kind of do), Abreu was a better hitter and would hit a little better. Even if that's .250 and 25 you are essentially getting LaRoche again for LaRoche money, with mostly upside potential on those numbers. The question of course is the fielding. Is he bad or is he terrible? I can't answer that. If it's the latter than he really belongs in the AL where he can just hit. He's Adam Dunn esque which means he likely won't age well. Done at 30, halfway through the contract is a distinct possibility.
Still the Nats want to WIN NOW so who cares about down the road. Why not this year? Well because I don't think they can unload LaRoche and I don't think they want to just not play LaRoche. Since Abreu bats right I can see a platoon like situation which wouldn't work well for anyone... I just see a mess honestly. Also I still don't trust the Lerner's to aim for that Top 5 payroll like I feel they should. (#2, #4, and #5 are still in the playoffs right now). I think they'll be content to say "Top 10" and have that be enough. That means they'd use Abreu as an excuse to not re-sign ZNN or Desmond both of which I think they should.
I don't know. I see how it could work, but I'd only be in for it if I thought we'd see that scraping 200 mill payroll, and I don't think that will happen.