With only days left in 2021, it’s time to finally close the books on the 2021 season, and boy am I thankful for that. While we are still waiting to hear from Ryan Zimmerman on what his next moves are for the future and wondering how the new up and coming prospects are going to fit into the “re-tooling” or whatever we are calling this time, the 2019 Washington Nationals feel like a distant and lifetime ago. The Washington Nationals 2021 season saw the departure of even more fan favorites from the 2019 World Series team and the birth of a new age here in Washington D.C.
If you look at the 2018 and the 2019 Washington Nationals rosters, currently there are only seven players left from that team: Juan Soto; Victor Robles; Andrew Stevenson, Auston Voth, Stephen Strasburg, Erick Feede, and Joe Ross. That is incredible to think of all that turnover. Is it due to the fact the Nationals built an older team to win a World Series and through trades, retirements, and free-agent signings elsewhere that the 2019 team is just a distant memory and pictures that hang on a lot of our walls in our offices, basements etc…
Is the turnover a symptom of something greater going on across the league? While we will never really know the answer to that question, however, one thing is for sure 2021 marked the end of something and the start of something new.
There are a lot of questions that are going to need to be answered in the weeks, months, and seasons ahead, but at the end of the day, were the results of 2021 really a surprise? I personally, do not think so, and here is why. During the 2020 offseason, the Nationals front office signed free agent players to one-year deals and no long-term deals. Was the intention of the front office during the offseason to sign players at a bargain rate and then if things go south easily be able to trade them off to teams in playoff contention?
Was the front office ever really interested in competing during the 2021 season? Or was it the plan to always tread water and then unload those players at the trade deadline and always start a re-build? There is only really a handful of people who would be able to answer that question, and we may never know the real answer, but part of me feels like the treading water option was always the plan.
Related Article: What’s the Plan for the 2022 Season? Simple, Make Juan Soto want to Stay
So what’s next in 2022? What’s the plan going forward? How can a fan base which has become so accustomed to winning on the field come to grips with the tough reality of some hard sledding ahead? How do an organization and fans measure success that is still evaluating players all around the baseball diamond? Will the new CBA finally give Nationals ownership the courage and the ability to ensure that Juan Soto never hits free agency? What will happen to its last big free agent signings: Strasburg and Corbin, more importantly, Strasburg?
There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and the answers might not be answered this upcoming season (whenever it starts), but watching the team navigate through finding the answers should be interesting to watch and one of the best storylines in Major League Baseball and an underrated one at best. Yes, there are a lot of other interesting storylines to focus on around baseball, and a lot of those storylines do focus on another NL East team that plays in Queens, New York, however, I think that the story of the new Washington Nationals is going to be a fun, annoying at times, hard to stomach, frustrating or however you want to describe, but one that I am glad to be able to write about. I hope that you will come along with me for the ride!
So, here’s to 2022 and New Beginnings.