Washington Nationals: Free Agent Profile Kris Bryant
In the middle of the lockout, it is time to take a look at another free agent profile. Next up is 2016 NL MVP, Kris Bryant.
The Nationals offense is in dire need of another power bat because outside of Juan Soto and Josh Bell, the lineup lacks production. Keibert Ruiz and Luis Garcia are seen as potential building blocks, but both need to fully prove themselves. Carter Kieboom has yet to establish himself while Victor Robles has struggled since his impressive 2019 season.
Despite all the turnover and uncertainty in the lineup, they still thrived in certain aspects. From August 1 to the end of the season, the Nats offense ranked first in OBP (.348) and BB% (11.1%) and were ninth in batting average (.257). They excelled at getting on base, but struggled at capitalizing and in the power department, ranking 16th in RBIs (252) and 21st in homers (63).
To speed up the rebuild, the Nationals should look at locking up another building block. Enter Kris Bryant. The Nationals and Kris Bryant have been tied to each other for what has felt like an eternity (since 2019). Washington and the Cubs continued to discuss a potential trade, but the Nationals always balked at the asking price.
After years of trade rumors, the Cubs found a new home for their MVP, shipping him to San Francisco at the 2021 trade deadline. In 51 games with the Giants, Bryant hit .262, with seven homers, 22 RBIs, and an OPS of .788.
He was key in helping the Giants finish with the best record in baseball and he kept it going into the playoffs. Against the Dodgers in the NLDS, Bryant went 8-17, with a homer, and two RBIs.
Only 30, Bryant would be an excellent source of protection for Soto in the lineup. In his seven seasons In the league, Bryant hit .278, with 167 homers, 487 RBIs, and an OPS of .880. Not counting the shortened 2020 season, he has hit 25+ homers in five of his six seasons. His 2021 wRC+ of 123 would have been second-best on the Nats behind only Soto.
Defensively, Bryant can play first, third, and all three outfield positions, but is more suited to be a corner outfielder at this point of his career. Bryant’s versatility would be a huge upgrade for a Nationals team that has question marks at third and left.
Keep in mind, Bryant is arguably the top bat on the market that isn’t attached to the qualifying offer. Meaning, Washington wouldn’t have to forfeit any draft picks if they signed him. Yet, signing him wouldn’t come cheap, with MLBTR predicting Bryant to sign a six-year deal worth $160 million.
Juan Soto stated that he will only sign an extension if he believes the Nationals are set up to win. Signing Bryant is a great way to start.