Mike Rizzo and the Nationals should take notes from the rest of the D.C. sports world if they want to have a quick turnaround.
After dominating the 2010s, Washington has finally fallen from grace and started a rebuild. Bad contracts, letting key players walk in free agency, and being unable to fix the bullpen has doomed the old core and led to the recent firesale. No longer the pride and joy of D.C. sports, the Nationals can learn a thing or two from their counterparts.
Washington Football Team: Extend Core Players Early
Once the laughingstock of D.C. sports and the NFL, the Washington Football Team has seemed to finally turn a corner. Under Head Coach Ron Rivera, the Team is fresh off of a division title and is currently the seventh seed in the NFC. Since arriving at the start of the 2021 season, Rivera has overhauled the locker room and has started to weed out selfishness and players with a weak work ethic.
In the old regime under President/General Manager Bruce Allen, Washington continued to lowball their kept players and would place the franchise tag or lose them in free agency. Kirk Cousins comes to mind. After two straight career years, the front office continued to lowball Cousins and after franchise tagging him twice, he left for greener pastures. Washington has been in QB turmoil since he was allowed to walk.
But under the current regime, the front office has begun signing their core players early. This past off-season, star tight end Logan Thomas and team captain Jonathan Allen sign respective three and four-year contract extensions.
The Nationals need to extend Juan Soto so he doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. It won’t be cheap, but the Nationals front office needs to extend him before another player resets the market. He isn’t the only one that needs to be extended. Josh Bell was one of the most productive first basemen last season and only has one year left on his contract.
Losing him will push the rebuild window back even further.