The Washington Nationals were preseason favorites to win the 2018 World Series. Instead, the team finished with a disappointing 82-80 record and missed the playoffs. This offseason the team has decided to retool and compete in 2019 despite losing key free agents. Here is a rundown of what the Nationals have done so far.
Washington’s front office started off the offseason by signing former St. Louis Cardinal reliever Trevor Rosenthal and trading for Miami Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough.
Rosenthal hasn’t pitched in a game since 2017 due to having Tommy John surgery. The front office wasn’t fazed by this and signed him to a one year contract with a conditional option for 2020. Rosenthal will be paid seven million with clauses throughout the contract that can allow for him to be paid up to $30 million. These kick in if Rosenthal can become the teams closer and finish game routinely. In his seven-year career, Rosenthal has a 2.99 ERA, with 121 saves and 435 strikeouts. In 2014-2015, Rosenthal finished with back to back 45+ save seasons. Washington is hoping he can return to form and help form a two-headed monster with Sean Doolittle.
Washington also bolstered the bullpen by trading international slot money for Barraclough. In 2018, Barraclough went 1-6 with a 4.20 ERA, 10 saves and 60 strikeouts. It was a down year for the 28-year-old due to control issues, but he still offers upside with a high strikeout rate.
Washington was able to the best free agent pitcher on the market in Patrick Corbin. Corbin signed a six-year, $140 million contract. The 29-year-old was able to capitalize off his career year in where he set career records in strikeouts, WAR and ERA. Last year with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Corbin went 11-7, with a 3.15 ERA, 246 strikeouts and a WAR of 4.6. Corbin joins Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and recent free agent signing Anibal Sanchez, to form one of the best pitching rotations.
Washington then traded workhorse Tanner Roark to the Cincinnati Reds to free up room in their budget. They used this extra money to sign Anibal Sanchez. Last year with the Atlanta Braves, Sanchez went 7-6, with a 2.83 ERA and 135 strikeouts. Sanchez was able to revive his career with Atlanta after suffering through injuries and demotions to the minors from 2014-2017 with the Detroit Tigers. He will be reunited with Kurt Suzuki, who Washington signed earlier this offseason.
From 2017-2018, Washington’s catchers finished with negative WAR according to Baseball Reference. The front office dedicated the offseason to upgrade the position so they traded for Yan Gomes from the Cleveland Indians and reunited themselves with Kurt Suzuki.
Gomes is one of the best defensive catchers in the league and came over as the Indians attempted to cut back on the payroll. In 2018, Gomes hit .266 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs. He is known for his pitch framing as well as his offensive prowess and will help an already elite pitching staff. Gomes has one year left on his contract with an option for 2020. He will split time with Kurt Suzuki and will provide a huge upgrade over Matt Wieters.
Kurt Suzuki signed a two-year contract after a stellar two years with the Braves. Over the past two years, Suzuki belted 31 home runs and accumulated a 4.9 WAR. Last season Suzuki hit .271 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs as he split time with Tyler Flowers. Suzuki’s veteran presence helped lead a very young Braves squad win their first division title since 2013. He will help provide an offensive spark as well as keeping Yan Gomes well rested.
Washington decided to find a placeholder while prospect Carter Kieboom develops in the minors. They signed Brian Dozier to a one year, $9 million contract. Dozier is coming off a disastrous 2018 where he spent time with the Minnesota Twins and Las Angeles Dodgers. He hit .215 with 21 home runs and 129 strikeouts. He battled a bone bruise of his knee that affected his performance. Washington is hoping he can return to his former self in where he hit 42 and 34 home runs in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Dozier will be an upgrade in the field over Daniel Murphy and can help provide a powerful spark that will be missing from Bryce Harper’s absence.
Are they finished?
The team has fixed their most glaring needs and the only question remains if they will resign Bryce Harper. Harper still remains unsigned and the team has stayed in the hunt. If Harper resigns, Washington will be once again one of the teams to beat in the National League. But even if he doesn’t, Washington has become the favorite in the loaded NL East.
Feature Image From MLB.com.
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