District On Deck Writers Answer Four Questions Before Spring Training

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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Brad Hand
Closing pitcher Brad Hand #33 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the ninth inning of Game Two of the American League Wild Card Series against the New York Yankees at Progressive Field on September 30, 2020, in Cleveland, Ohio. The Yankees defeated the Indians 10-9. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

What move stands out to you the most?

James: We knew the Nationals were going to be in the market for some power bats. Although I was hoping for the Nationals to acquire Gary Sanchez in a trade with the Yankees, I wasn’t surprised they decided to go with a lesser-known catcher (Alex Avila) and have Yan Gomes handle the majority of the duties. Jon Lester was a nice pickup and a much needed addition to the backend of the rotation.

All this to say, the addition of Brad Hand stands out the most to me. Having already invested a lot of money in the bullpen, general manager Mike Rizzo decided to spend another $10.5M on Hand. This stands out because the Nationals could have gotten by with Daniel Hudson and Tanner Rainey as their closers. The move is beneficial because it takes Hudson out of high leverage situations, something he was not keen on pitching in before, and defines a few other roles.

If memory serves, the Nationals bullpen has been a weak point in recent years. This year, the bullpen may be the strength.

Ben: The Kyle Schwarber move, in my opinion, is the make-or-break deal of the offseason for the Nats. Schwarber hasn’t quite lived up to the hype after his excellent 2016 World Series, but there is still a lot of upside in his bat, and with a change of scenery and maybe some help from Kevin Long, Schwarber may benefit from a tweak or two.

Max: The Brad Hand signing takes the cake for me. With all of the holes Rizzo had to fill, I was convinced there was no shot the team would splurge on a reliever. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong when Rizzo signed the veteran to a one-year deal. Since 2016, Hand has been one of the best lefty relievers in the game. 

Hand offers the bullpen a shutdown lefty option and has plenty of closer experience. Now Dave Martinez has another deadly weapon at his disposal.

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