Over the past few years, Washington GM Mike Rizzo made splashes in the offseason by signing pitchers to long term deals that will strengthen the Nationals’ starting rotation. However, this offseason, we have only seen Mike Rizzo sign players to one-year contracts, which have left us wondering what’s the catalyst for this change in strategy?
We came up with a couple of ways to interpret these moves.
One way to interpret these moves is that Rizzo believes that once this year is over, the “window” to win with this top-ranked pitching staff is closed. This makes sense as it is the final year of Max Scherzer’s seven-year contract and there is no guarantee he’ll return. Could we start to see some of Washington’s pitching prospects, like Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge, get a chance to perform at the Major League level and prove they can fill a spot in the rotation? Does this mean that the Nationals will shift their focus to other areas of organizational need after this season?
Another way to interpret this offseason’s moves is that Washington is avoiding long-term, large financial commitments to extend such star players as Trea Turner and Juan Soto while also staying under the threshold for the competitive balance tax. Are Mike Rizzo and the gang hoping that Carter Kieboom becomes the player they think he is when the Nationals drafted him, and therefore not have to worry about filling another infield spot? If not, there is a free agent from Chicago available next offseason who plays third base and is pretty darn good. However, if Kieboom becomes the player they hoped, the Nationals will then have much more financial flexibility to sign Turner and Soto to long term deals and build for the future.
Either way, during the upcoming season or next offseason, the number one priority for the Nationals must be making a significant effort to lock up these players to long-term deals.
Trade Deadline Deals
Another way to interpret all these one-year signings is to add assets that would serve as trade bait at the deadline? While we haven’t even finished the offseason, it’s way too early to discuss mid-season moves. However, thinking three moves ahead has always been a strength of Rizzo. While we don’t necessarily believe that this is the thinking or the want, signing some veterans to one-year deals and then trading them away if the Nationals are out of the playoff picture could yield prospects to start rebuilding Washington’s depleted farm system.
No matter what Mike Rizzo’s thinking (and only he knows), this season will be a critical year for the Washington Nationals and the team’s future.
Buckle up Nationals fans because baseball is back and it’s going to be a hell of a ride. We can’t wait!
(Edited by: Jonathan)
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