Coming off a disappointing 83-79 season, the Washington Nationals approach a critical year in their window of contention. The offseason was one of change, as a new manager steps in, and several key players from the recent run of postseason appearances have moved on. The Nationals swooped in late last offseason to sign ace Max Scherzer, but were not able to pull in any of the biggest free agents in this year’s class. Still, solid moves were made to help shore up a bullpen that ultimately led to the downfall of Matt Williams.
New manager Dusty Baker takes over a team that should still have its eye on a World Series berth. Though the Nationals are far from the mortal lock to reach the Fall Classic that many viewed them as last season, solid additions were made to bolster the roster. This offseason will ultimately be remembered for the additions the Nationals were unable to make. Big names like Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Darren O’Day, and Brandon Phillips were all courted aggressively by the Nationals, but none will play in the Federal City this season.
Handing out grades for this Nationals’ offseason is tricky. On paper, the additions the team was able to make should help fuel a return to the postseason. Assuming a return to health for key players like Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman should ease the sting of missing out on the blockbuster names. The pursuit of all those free agents seemed half-baked in the first place, and the Nationals still have a good team. Pursuing corner outfielders that do not really fit the teams needs seemed like a reach at best, and when it’s all said and done, the Nationals are probably better off not having landed a Cespedes or an Upton.