The Washington Nationals declined the options of four players recently, and scores of fans are left picking up the pieces preparing for another year.
With the season the Washington Nationals had, we knew these moves were coming. With the respective seasons the four players in question put together which helped lead to the season the Nationals had, these moves were not surprising.
As we scrolled through our Twitter feed the updates began to flood in. Adam Eaton, club option declined. Anibal Sanchez, club option declined. Howie Kendrick, club declined their part of a mutual option. Same for Eric Thames.
Just like that, four players jettisoned to free agency, three of which were members of the World Series team a year ago.
The business part of the game says this was the right move for the Nationals to make. Rather than paying these four a combined $33M, the Nationals will only be on the hook for $6.75M in buyout money. With these four moves the team freed up a lot of space to go out on the free agent market and get younger, more productive, talent.
As fans, we are left waiting and wondering whose player shirt we will buy next, because our Eaton jersey is going on eBay. Whose novelty shirt will we have the opportunity to acquire, because our This is Howie Do It shirt is not relevant anymore.
Adam Eaton hit .320 and drove in six runs during the World Series last year. He hit 15 home runs and stole 15 bases during the regular season. In 2018 he had a batting average of .301. He contributed. This is what I’ll remember, not his injury plagued tenure or his futile hitting performance of 2020. Some will say, the Nats gave up Lucas Giolito for this guy, but I’ll remember the ring he helped bring to DC.
Anibal Sanchez was 11-8 with a 3.85 earned run average last year, making 30 starts. I’ll remember the no-hitter he took into the eighth inning of Game 1 during the National League Championship Series. Others will call him out for having a 6.62 ERA and failing to pitch six innings in ten of his eleven starts this year.
Will we ever forget Howie Kendrick flying around the bases after hitting either of his home runs last postseason? The go-ahead grand slam against the Dodgers or his go-ahead shot against the Astros, which propelled the Washington Nationals to their first World Series title.
Eric Thames wasn’t around for the playoff run of 2019, though didn’t we have high expectations for this power hitting, hulk of a man?
Baseball is a baseball, as fans we understand this. When we endure ourselves to players for days on end during baseball seasons, win or lose, injury or not, we get attached. Even though we know these moves are the right thing to do to help the team, they do tug at our feelings, knowing we won’t see our players in the same regard moving forward.
Every team goes through this cycle during this time of year. A fire sale of sorts. Whether it is non-tenders, declined options, or designated for assignments, rosters change.
We’ll have a new crop of players to cheer for and fall in love with next spring. This is the reality of the business of baseball.