There's been a lot of rumors surrounding Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher recently, and one of them will likely be traded before Spring Training, though I don't really think that's necessary. However, if we were to trade say, Xavier Nady, I think it would be a good idea to trade for a center fielder. The Nationals have a known interest in Nady, and they also have a troubled outfielder named Elijah Dukes. Dukes has had a lot of problems off the field in his career, and they were all pretty serious. However, his upside is enormous. He won't hit for a great average, but it won't be Adam Dunn bad, and he also walks a lot (15.3% walk rate), with good pop (.209 career IsoP). He is a plus defender at the corners, but I'm not sure how well he can play center, but he shouldn't be unbearably bad, and if he lives up to his offensive potential it will be well worth it. Just what is that offensive potential? In roughly half a season last year, he put up an .864 OPS and a .382 wOBA at just 24 years old. At age 30, Xavier Nady put up similar numbers: an .867 OPS and a .374 wOBA.
This move also solves a future problem. Dukes is under team control for another five years, while Nady will leave after next year. In 2010, Dukes can shift over to right, with Swisher in left (I'm not sure but I think Dukes has a better arm) and AJax in center. So instead of competing with probably five or six other teams for a thirty year-old Matt Holliday or re-signing an aging Johnny Damon, we can just use our young stud outfielder in right.
However, there are plenty of caveats to this move. First of all, would the Nats do it? Dukes's trade value is slightly deflated because of his legal troubles, but I don't know how low it is in the eyes of Jim Bowden. To be honest, I really don't know if we could get Dukes + for Nady, or if Bowden would even take a straight-up swap seriously. Second, there's Dukes' aformentioned legal troubles. I ussually don't care at all if a guy has been arrested or has had other problems, as long he plays well, I like him. But Dukes might be a different story. He has been arrested four times, has five children with four women, and threatened to kill his wife and child. Last year, the Nationals hired an ex- police officer to follow him around and keep him out of trouble, and he had no problems last year. So it is possible he has turned a corner. I mean, Josh Hamilton has done it, why can't he? So what we have to do is weigh the potential for an offensive monster who plays good D (once we move him to a corner) against the possibility that he goes back to his old ways and ends up struggling to stay on the field. What do I say? I say if a Nady-Dukes swap is availible straight up, do it. If we have to give up Swisher instead, I would want some more from the Nats. What do the rest of you think.