Washington Nationals already made biggest splash of offseason
We are in the midst of a labor stoppage. The players and owners are not seeing eye to eye, and they have shut things down for the time being. Prior to the lockout, the Washington Nationals made their first big splash of the offseason (yes, stated tongue in cheek), by signing infielder Cesar Hernandez.
While the New York Mets have thrown insanely amounts of money at anyone who will sign a contract, and the Miami Marlins have spent $53M on Avisail Garcia and traded for Joey Wendle, the Nationals have spent $5M on two aging middle infielders. Even the Atlanta Braves have opened the checkbook to bring back Charlie Morton.
Spending money is one thing the Nationals aren’t going to do this offseason. General manager Mike Rizzo has said the team is going to wait and see what the new collective bargaining agreement is before making moves, but the fact is, the $4M Hernandez received may be the creme de la creme of the Nats offseason shopping spree.
As the rest of the National League East continues to improve, the Nationals seem content on playing cheap.
In 2020, the Nationals thought they could run back the same crew as the World Series winner and be okay. Didn’t happen. In 2021, the Nationals put some power bats around Juan Soto and were hoping for a healthy Stephen Strasburg. Didn’t work out. In 2022, the game plan will be to make up a lineup as cheap as possible and pray for pre-injury Strasburg to reappear.
While the Nats are on the hook for the salaries of Stras (healthy or not) and Patrick Corbin, they aren’t obligated to much else. Will Harris (and his horrendous contract) and the aforementioned Hernandez will drop off the books at seasons’ end. Aside from the arbitration eligibles, that is it for guaranteed contracts this season.
For the Nationals to have some sort of competitive play in 2023, they need to stick to cheap, one year contracts for 2022. Grab a couple retread arms off the open market for the bullpen. Guys who you can add miles to their arms without having to burn out the arms of guys who’ll be contributors down the road. Instead of focusing on a power bat, pick up a guy or two who can get on base at a relatively good clip. Get a Jon Lester type (who isn’t Jon Lester) for the back of the rotation, and call it a day.
Nationals fans can’t be naive enough to think Rizzo is going to spend money on the 2022 season. Let the Mets throw away the dollars, the Braves spend on Freddie Freeman, the Marlins wishful think, and the Phillies toil. As for the Nats, Cesar Hernandez is as good as it’s going to get this winter.