Washington Nationals: Three Biggest Off-season Needs
By Max Rayman
Off-season Need #2: Add Another Middle Of The Lineup Bat
Despite the team trading away what felt like half the roster, the offense down the stretch was surprisingly effective. Over the last two months of the season, the offense ranked first in the NL in OBP (.348) and walks (252), and was third in batting average (.258), and hits (506). Getting on base wasn’t the problem, it was driving in runs and hitting for power. Since August 1, the offense was sixth in the NL in OPS (.762), eighth in RBIs (252), ninth in SLG (.415), and tenth in homers (63).
After trading away Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner, the team lacked a consistent power threat not named Juan Soto or Josh Bell. Luckily for Washington, the upcoming free-agent market is littered with power bats, highlighted by Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Nick Castellanos, Anthony Rizzo, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Kyle Schwarber, and Freddie Freeman.
It is highly unlikely Washington will sign anyone attached to a qualifying offer, so that rules out over half of the top options. With most of the National’s top pitching prospects at least two years away, it will be interesting to see how much the front office wants to spend. Something else to keep an eye on is that is widely assumed that the universal DH will be part of the game starting next season, due to the ongoing CBA negotiations.
With that said, a reunion with Kyle Schwarber would be the dream scenario. After a slow start, because the slugger was recovering from COVID, Schwarber hit his stride in June. He smashed 16 homers in an 18 game stretch and provided stability at the leadoff spot. He was flipped to Boston at the deadline and in 41 games, he hit .291, with seven homers, 18 RBIs, and an OPS of .957. Due to his breakout year, Schwarber is in line for a massive payday and Boston would be unwise to let him leave.
A cheaper option would be the Braves Adam Duvall who has a mutual option for next season. Duvall might not be able to hit for average anymore, but he finished tied for fourth in the majors in RBIs (116), while also adding 38 homers. Traded from Miami to Atlanta at the deadline, Duvall was key in the Braves turnaround, hitting 16 homers and 45 RBIs, while posting a .800 OPS in 55 games. Unfortunately, he doesn’t walk much, only drawing 35 free passes while striking out 174 times. However, adding a 30+ homerun threat would help take this offense to the next level.