Nationals: A Perfect Plan For The 2020-2021 Off-Season Part 2

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Sean Doolittle #63 of the Washington Nationals celebrates in the locker room after defeating the Houston Astros in Game Seven to win the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros with a score of 6 to 2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Sean Doolittle #63 of the Washington Nationals celebrates in the locker room after defeating the Houston Astros in Game Seven to win the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros with a score of 6 to 2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Corey Kluber
ARLINGTON, TEXAS – JULY 26: Corey Kluber (28) of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the top of the first inning at Globe Life Field on July 26, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Washington’s strength has always been their starting rotation and instead of searching through the bargain bin for a fifth starter, the Nationals should set their eyes on Corey Kluber. Kluber is the definition of high risk, high reward due to his injury history. Over the last two years, he has only thrown 36.2 innings, with 35.2 innings coming in 2019. His most recent setback was a torn teres major muscle. While his recent injury histroy is a major red flag, Kluber is still a two-time Cy Young winner, who as recently as 2018 went 20-7, with a 2.89 ERA, 222 strikeouts, and a FIP of 3.12.  With Washington, Kluber won’t be leaned on to lead the rotation and would provide some much-needed depth for the backend of the rotation. Due to his 2019 and 2020 seasons being cut short, a one-year prove-it deal would be the ideal situation, allowing for Kluber to build back his reputation as a top-end starter.

If Washington doesn’t want to roll the dice on Kluber, Charlie Morton recently had his option declined by Tampa. While Morton has been mulling retirement, he made it clear he wants to return to Tampa. If he does indeed hit the free-agent market, Morton has stated in the past that he wants to play on the east coast. Over the past few seasons, the soon to be 37-year-old has proven himself as one of the best pitchers in the league. He took a step back this season, seen by his 4.78 ERA. But in 2019 he finished third in AL Cy Young voting, going 16-6, with a 3.05 ERA, 240 strikeouts, and a 2.81 FIP. Morton is also known for being lights out in elimination games, mainly winner take all games. In three winner take all starts, Morton is 3-0, while only allowing one run.

Morton’s pricetag and desire to stay in Tampa could rule the Nationals out. Other names to keep an eye on include Taijuan Walker, Masahiro Tanaka, Jon Lester, and Jake Odorizzi.

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