Owner: Mark Lerner, net worth $6.6 billion.
World Series Titles: 2019.
Greatest Player: P Max Scherzer.
Division: NL East
Payroll: 22nd, $77,608,095.
2022 Result: 55-107, last place.
General Manager: Mike Rizzo.
Manager: Dave Martinez, 59; Record: 321-387, 1 World Series Title.
Home Field: Citizens Bank Park, capacity, 42,792.
Key Additions: The additions, Nationals fans hope, arrived in the form of prospects acquired from the Great Post-World Series Championship Purge. Nationals fans would be wise to invest in a program and get to know players such as pitchers MacKenzie Gore and Cade Cavalli
Key Losses: Exhale Nationals fans. The years of key losses are over for now. Lerner reportedly is looking to sell the team. He did oversee the building of the franchise’s lone World Series title, but since 2019, the idea of a successful season in Washington has been to finish above the Marlins. Washington had the worst record in baseball last season. How’s that for losses?
Key Injury: Once of the best pitchers in baseball in recent years, the future of Stephen Strasburg remains in serious question. The MVP of the 2019 World Series run underwent thoracic outlet syndrome in which doctors removed a rib and two muscles. He really hasn’t pitched in three seasons, and it doesn’t seem possible he’ll pitch this season – if ever again.
“We’re not ruling out that [he could pitch for the Nationals again],” Rizzo told reporters. “So we’re hoping that he progresses to a point where he starts throwing and then builds up in a throwing program and starts pitching for us.”
Prospect alert: There is so much to like about James Wood but maybe the best way to sum it up is athleticism. The 6-7, 240-pound outfielder bats lefty, throws righty and was a basketball star before focusing on football. Ranked as the No.17 prospect was one of the key chips Washington received from San Diego in the Juan Soto deal.
Jake Irvin, 25, was the club’s fourth-round draft choice in 2018 and there was a lot of optimism over the 6-6, 225-pound pitcher. The pandemic and Tommy John surgery curtailed his move to the big club. But he’s expected to make his Major League debut this season.
Scouting Report: The Nationals went all in, and it paid off. Then they paid the price.
After winning the franchise’s lone World Series title in 2019, the bill came due. Washington traded away star after star – Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Juan Soto.
The bottom (hopefully) came last season when the Nationals finished with the worst record in baseball (55-107) with a run differential of -252, also the worst. Anyone who watched the Nationals win it all in 2019 know that baseball is alive and well in the nation’s capital and there are more than enough fans to support the Orioles and Nationals. Imagine if the two met in the World Series – Congress wouldn’t get anything done for a few weeks.
GM Mike Rizzo, who is in the final year of his contract for a franchise that is being sold, believes this is the year the Great Tradeoff pays off. Josiah Gray, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Matt Scherzer/Trea Turner deal acquitted himself well last season going 7-10 with a 5.10 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 148 innings.
Keibert Ruiz, who also came over in that deal, seems to be the long-term answer at catcher. Shortstop CJ Abrams – see the same deal! – has shown breathtaking defensive skills but needs to pick it up on the other side of the line.
“I see that the plan is taking place. It’s taking root,” Rizzo said. “I think this is a big year for us to move forward with the plan … and getting us the pieces that it takes to put a championship caliber club on the field. I think that I see what is needed to do that.”
Over/Under Wins: 60.5, 5th place in NL East.
BetBasics Best Bet: O.K., that over/under prediction is an eyesore, but one must go back to the big picture: What if most, if not all, of those prospects from the Padres and Dodgers show they’re legit Major League talents? Isn’t that more important than whether the Nationals avoid posting the worst record for a second straight season. Only Oakland (59.5 wins) is projected to lose more games.
So, we’ll play along. We think the Nationals, understanding they play in the same division as the Braves, Mets, and Phillies, will top 60.5 wins. We’ll even push it to 63.5 and see if the Nationals can overtake the Reds and/or Pirates in the N.L.
Regardless, we’re going to keep our eye on the Nationals. It would be a real thrill to watch a young team begin to step forward on our watch.