Presumed Plan : Ryan Zimmerman will play 3rd. Some combination of Lombardozzi and a signee or rookie will back him up as the Nats say bye to Chad Tracy.
Reasoning on Presumed Plan
: Next year will be the 9th year Ryan Zimmerman will be the Nats 3rd baseman. (9th! I'm so old!) That's a long time at a position that is hard to fill. Offensively, the days of dreaming that Ryan would be an elite hitter are probably over but his current level (.281 / .348 / .464 ~ 25 homers a year) is more than acceptable. It's a clear step behind the best offensive 3rd basemen (Wright, Beltre, Longoria, Cabrera... ok several large steps behind him) but its a clear step ahead of the rest of the pack. He's a top 5 guy with little chance to be top 3, but little chance to fall out of the top 10. Defensively he spent the better part of 2013 getting over a yips problem which ended up hurting his range as he tried to compensate by playing shallower. This seemingly resolved over the last couple of months
Lombo - because see last few of these.
Problems with Presumed Plan : Ryan is trending down a bit average wise. His fielding issues seem to come and go, so I doubt we've seen the last of them. His injury past is worrisome as he hasn't played a full season in 5 years. Rendon is better suited for 3rd and might have more of a chance to blossom in his natural position.
:I like Lombo least of all at 3rd base back-up because I think we can get more of an offensive threat here to back up Zimm. Plus he's busy filling in at 2nd and SS so we'll need someone else just in case the Nats get two injuries at the same time
My take : The Ryan plan is good. The average issue is something to look at but the the league is trending down so it's not as bad as it seems. His injury history is some concern but in 3 of the last 4 years he's missed 15-20 games. It's more than you'd like but it's not going to derail a season. One major injury since 2008? I can take that chance. As for the fielding, you just got to take it as it comes. He's a Top 3rd baseman. Sure maybe not in the discussion of the best overall anymore but still tons better than what you can find on the street these days. Rendon can get used to 2nd. If he can hack it the Nats need him more there.
Who for a back-up? You're going to have to lean one way with these 3B/1B guys and I think LaRoche will need the platoon guy, so I still advocate the Jeff Baker idea from 1B. He'd be a pretty bad 3B though. If you are looking more at 3rd base guys who can hack it at first, Chavez would be ideal but he hits too well to be looking for a pure back-up role and this ain't gonna be a platoon (also as a lefty doesn't help out LaRoche). Youkilis would be an interesting long shot grab. A good PH possibility with nice patience, and the bench role might keep him healthy. Mark Reynolds would provide righty pop which would allow you to keep Tyler Moore off the roster.
Outside the Box Suggestion : For the sake of getting it done with, the hanging mostly in the box idea of Zimm to 1st, Rendon to 3rd, and sign Cano gets the play here. The reasoning in obvious. Cano is an huge offensive talent that gives the Nat the superstar bat they may be lacking (we'll see if Bryce explodes or Werth keeps it up). That also provides the Nats with a true upgrade from LaRoche as opposed to the "maybe we'll get more offense" other options floated around in LaRoche sits scenarios. And Cano is a good defender, right now. Of course the contract Cano will eventually sign is the sticking point but if money's no object, luxury tax be damned, this plan is the clearest path to success in 2014 and the few years after that.