You have to hand it to the Washington Nationals, a team that has done a nice job of positioning itself for the future. After bottoming out in 2008, the Nationals ended up with the No. 1 overall pick in back-to-back years and were able to select right-hander Stephen Strasburg and right-fielder Bryce Harper, two once-in-a-generation prospects. After another bumper crop in the 2011 draft that featured a number of elite college players, such as Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin, Matt Purke and Alex Meyer, it looked as though Washington would be poised to contend by about 2014 or so.
However, sometimes the future comes more quickly than one might expect. Not only are the Nationals closer to contending than it might appear, they seem to know it. ESPN's own Rumor Central has not only kept tabs on the Nationals trying to trade for Oakland Athletics left-hander Gio Gonzalez, but is also monitoring the Nats and their pursuit of free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
While it often makes sense to methodically build toward a championship window a couple of years down the road with a homegrown core, the current baseball landscape is such that the Nats could put a contending team on the field in 2012 -- and for years to come -- if they can land both Gonzalez and Fielder. That's why it's time to go all-in for the duo. Here are five reasons.