The 2021 season can be categorized as a huge disaster; I think that other adjectives can be used, but since this is a family-friendly site, let’s use “disaster” as the adjective that I will use. But it’s time to start looking forward instead of looking backward. If I was the GM for the Washington Nationals, here are the five tasks that would be on my to-do list for the offseason.
Task #1: Continue to sign and develop prospects and develop the farm system
Now that we are officially in a “reboot” mode, the Nationals need to continue signing and developing prospects to ensure fresh talent is in the pipeline. In the most recent midseason Baseball America’s rankings, the Nationals farm system moved from last in the MLB to 23rd place, which can be considered progress. (Thank you, LA Dodgers) Normally, a team with four Top 100 Prospects would rank significantly higher than this, but the gulf between the top prospects in the Nats system and the rest is massive.
Nationals farm now ranks 23rd… but while there is a drop off it is not immediately after these 4. Rutledge is on other top 100 lists, Cruz was on this site’s top 5 international prospects, Lara was top 10, Antuna and Henry certainly aren’t part of any massive falloff.
The Nationals must continue to develop prospects to ensure long-term success. It is possible to have a strong farm system and continually be contenders in Major League Baseball. It shouldn’t be an either-or.
Task #2: Make a real effort to sign Juan Soto Long Term
There have already been many articles about how the Nationals should lock up Soto as soon as possible or if the young superstar will even accept an offer to stay with the Nationals. However, if I were the Nationals GM, I would make this my highest priority for the offseason. If it were me, I would walk right into the Lerner’s office at Nationals Park (or wherever it is) and make sure that the team makes an offer to Soto that he can’t refuse and make him a Washington National for life.
Juan Soto brings so much more than just great offensive talent and defense; and is the perfect player to lead the Nationals into a new era that they are currently on. Sometimes, money can’t buy everything, but heck, the Lerner’s should go out of their way to find a contract that will lock up Soto for the foreseeable future.
Despite how much it will cost to retain Soto is a once-in-a-lifetime generational talent and should be invested in it. The team was lucky to sign with the Nationals as an international free agent in 2015, so let’s stop fooling around and ensure that Soto stays a National.
Task #3: Sign a solid third baseman or shortstop
With Trea Turner now hanging out in LA, the Nationals need a replacement at shortstop, and the jury is still out on Carter Kieboom at third the left side of the infield is full of gaps. The Nationals need to address this issue, either through free agency or by bringing up additional prospects. Unfortunately, Carter Kieboom isn’t the long-term answer at third base, as there are many issues both on the field and at the plate; let’s hope that Rizzo and Co learned their lesson from this past offseason.
In terms of filling the void at shortstop, I do not necessarily see the Nationals grabbing a high-profile player in free agency. However, there are some good shortstops in this free-agent class, such as Jose Iglesias. As an All-Star in 2015, Inglesias could also play third base, and this year has a batting average of .269 and an OPS of .688
Task #4: Improve the Starting Rotation
Who would have thought that this would have been something that needs to be addressed? The Nationals have always been known to have top pitching; however, with Scherzer un-likely to return to Washington D.C, Corbin struggling, Strasburg not being able to stay healthy, and now Joe Ross on the IL and might need Tommy John surgery the Nationals are left with some major holes in the rotation. The Nationals should be focused on filling the gaps in the rotation until some of the pitching prospects get called up (i.e., Cavalli, etc…)
Some of the pitchers who the Nationals should look into for the upcoming year should include Marcus Stroman (31), Zach Davies (28), Eduardo Rodriguez( 28). With one of these additions to the rotation and hopefully seeing Strasburg return for an extended amount of time and Corbin returning to his 2019 form, the Nationals could have a powerful and young rotation that has always been the hallmark of the Nationals.
Task #5: Figure out what to do with Strasburg and Corbin
These are some of the two biggest question marks and situations that the Nationals need to figure out. Both Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg aren’t going to be traded or released due to the massive contracts they have signed, so the Nationals need to figure out something. I know that it is crazy to have these two starting pitchers be placed in the bullpen, and I know people might think that I don’t know what I am talking about, which might be a bit true. However, with Strasburg’s health issues, and we can all agree Corbin has been a disaster two years in a row, the bullpen might not sound too crazy of an idea.
During the 2019 post-season run, the Nationals did use Corbin and Strasburg in relief, and it was successful, so why not? Seriously. Many think that too much money would be invested into the bullpen, but what options do the Nationals have?
Maybe pushing these two pitchers into reliever roles for just a month or two might help them gain some necessary confidence (in Corbin’s case) and keep Strasburg healthy longer.