Washington Nationals: Five biggest storylines for the 2018/19 offseason
By Blake Finney
The rotation needs attention
The Washington Nationals rotation had its moments in 2018, but on the whole, it was one of the main reasons the team missed out on the playoffs. They’ll need to add to the rotation in some form over the next few months.
The only sure thing next season is Max Scherzer, who came off yet another Cy Young caliber season in 2018. The rest is all in question.
You can plug Stephen Strasburg in at number two, but who knows how long he can stick there without getting injured. Tanner Roark had two really good stretches, but it was surrounded by being far too hittable.
These two should be in the rotation most of the way, but the team will need backup plans.
The last two spots will be up in the air. In an ideal world, the team will go out and acquire a top-end type starter that can essentially be what Gio Gonzalez was in 2017.
Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel come to mind as the top arms in free agency, assuming Clayton Kershaw doesn’t hit the market. But the team may need to fill that need via a trade, to keep the costs down. Perhaps Michael Fulmer could be an option, or even Jose Berrios if the team is willing to part with big-time prospects.
Then the front office needs to whether to roll with what they have or bring in a low-cost veteran as they did with Jeremy Hellickson. The Nats had a cavalcade of young starters come through, but none impressed for an extended stretch.
Erick Fedde, Jefry Rodriguez, Austin Voth, and Kyle McGowin all started games and flashed at least a little promise. If one of them can grasp the opportunity with both hands and impress in the spring, they could win the job.
However, when the dust settles in free agency, the Nationals could pounce on a proven player on a minor league deal. Derek Holland, Clay Buchholz or Tyson Ross may fit that mold and could step in if the young arms falter.