Two years ago, the Washington Nationals were in a very different situation when they approached the 2019 trade deadline. In the thick of the Wild Card race in the NL and making some noise around the league. During the 2019 trade deadline, Rizzo and Co acquired two bullpen pieces to help boost the much-needed help in the bullpen. One reliever didn’t last a game, the other one panned out to be the pitcher who recorded the last out in Game 7 of the World Series to capture the franchise’s first-ever World Series. (Hey, we might be even saying goodbye to Hudson this week also..)
Fast forward two years, as we approach the 2021 MLB trade deadline, the Nationals face a course they aren’t at all familiar with the uncertainty of the future.
Forget about the team for a second, heck, Washington Nationals Fans are also not sure what is going to happen this week, it all could be an interesting adventure, and most likely going to be one filled with emotions that is for sure.
Going into the week, here are some of the storylines that I will be watching out for:
- Max Scherzer: IF the Nationals are going to trade Max Scherzer who will he be pitching for at the end of the week, and what prospects are the Nationals going to receive in return. Will the prospects that were acquired for the two time Cy-Young award winner help address the positions that the Nationals need to start to build on for the future. How will Scherzer be remembered? How will this trade affect his upcoming free-agency. Will the Nationals even make an offer to bring him back and retire as a National. Back to the prospects for a second: who would have thought that pitching might be an area of need, however, with Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge headlining the pitching prospects in the minor leagues, maybe the team needs to start to focus on other areas of need such as infield and outfield. Talking about the infield …
- The Carter Kieboom situation: Well, I think that we are at the end of the line to wait for Carter to develop into the Nationals third baseman that they need. Reports have surfaced that Keiboom was called up from Rochester and met the team in Baltimore. Is he ready? Will we see Keiboom in a Washington Nationals uniform at third base for the rest of the season so that Rizzo and Co can finally make a decision what to do with Kieboom. I personally think that if the Nationals do in fact become a fire-sale and the team limping towards the end of the season, Keiboom needs to play every day so that a decision can be finally made on the third baseman. OR could the Keiboom call up be a tryout for another team? (Related Article: Is Carter Kieboom’s time with the Nationals coming to an end?)
- Stephen Strasburg- Yeah Stephen Strasburg, oh man, where to start? After reports surfaced that Strasburg felt some discomfort in his neck after his latest throwing sessions and is now seeking additional specialists to figure out what’s wrong. Either way, the Nationals need to make a decision about the 2019 World Series MVP. If the Nationals go into sell off mode this week, does or should even Strasburg come back this season? The answer might be no. Will we experience Part 2 of the Strasburg Shutdown? Is that the right thing to do? Can or will Strasburg ever return to what he was during the 2019 season and postseason? (Related Article: What Should the Nationals Now Do with Stephen Strasburg)
Either way, the Nationals, and fans are about to experience something that hasn’t happened yet to this team and that is a course into the unknown. Who knows how the decisions that are made this week are going to affect the team not only in the short term but more importantly in the long term, we will not know for years to come but maybe for fans (or at least myself), there might be some sort of relief and hopefulness that whatever happens this week, that the team can now focus on improving and planning for the future.
Does the Nationals front office, especially Mike Rizzo, have some sort of plan to start a quick rebuild process and be playoff contenders in a quick time?
There will be a lot of emotions that are going to fill people’s timelines or news feeds or both, but one thing is for sure, no matter what happens this week, there is one emotion that I am going to overcome and that is disappointment and disbelief that after reaching the pinnacle the Nationals have quickly returned to the middle/bottom of the mountain and as fans, there is a new mountain to get to the top. I am disappointed and in disbelief that as fans, we only got to see one magical season with Scherzer and Strasburg. I am in disbelief that the Nationals have quickly gone into a rebuilding process or whatever the next few years look like. Is this the way that baseball teams are going to operate moving forward? Win a championship, two years later re-build time?
No matter what happens this week, one thing is for sure, the 2019 Washington Nationals is the past and now we need to focus on the future.
When we eventually will look back at this season one has to wonder where did the wheels come off the rails? Was it the crush of injuries that the Nationals experienced? Was the team actually built to win a World Series Champions?
There will be plenty of time to wonder is ownership ready to make a serious commitment to signing Juan Soto and Trea Turner to long-term deals? However, before those questions are answered, there is just one question that needs to be answered right away, and that is what is the actual direction of this team? Hopefully, this week we will get some clarity from that question this week.