It’s a new year, which means soon we will be getting a new year of Nationals baseball. There is obviously plenty to improve upon for this franchise for 2023 and beyond, but we’ll outline some of the bigger resolutions we want to see for this upcoming season. The goal is obviously to become competitive again, but for our Nationals New Year’s resolutions, we’ll focus more on process goals than long-term goals.
1. Improve Player Development
I’ve said this before – I do think the Nationals have already taken steps to accomplish an improved player development staff and improve results. But I do not want them to just settle for a middle-of-the-road player development system. I want them to be leading the pack and cutting edge, especially with the new youth movement we find ourselves in. We won’t be competitive again with just one or two prospects reaching their potential. We need several of these prospects to be contributors, which does take time, but let’s make sure we’re doing everything possible to support them.
2. Better Ownership
Now this could be achieved in multiple ways. If the Lerners do ultimately decide to keep the team or just sell a minority stake, that is fine. However, let’s get the active Lerners, not the sit idly by while this team dissolves into nothingness like we’ve gotten the past couple of years. I am not anti-Lerner, but I am anti-bad ownership. The Lerners have at times been one of the best, but also at times been one of the worst. If they stay, be active and support this franchise.
The other possibility is obviously a sale of the franchise. It could be Ted Leonsis. It could be someone else entirely. But if we do get new ownership, same rules apply: be active and support this franchise.
3. Have an Active Trade Deadline
I think this is where the Nationals have struggled during Mike Rizzo’s tenure. When it has been a clear buy deadline, they typically added a decent reliever or two. Sometimes it has worked well, sometimes it hasn’t. When it has been a clear sell deadline, they might sell some pieces but don’t sell all, or they don’t maximize the return. The 2021 deadline was better, as the Nats effectively traded away everything that wasn’t nailed to the floor, but they sold short on Max Scherzer and Trea Turner by asking the Dodgers to take on some of Scherzer’s deferred money instead of getting better prospects in return. And of course they did well in the Juan Soto trade in 2022, but that was the only trade they made.
Whatever the deadline looks like, I just want them to be active. You have a plethora of prospects now, so you could always swap prospects as well if there’s a pitching prospect you prefer and are willing to part with an OF prospect for instance.
4. Embrace the Youth Movement
In other words, let the kids play. There will be growing pains, but support the young guys by being patient with them and giving them all the tools, resources, analytics, guidance, etc. to help them grow and succeed. We don’t need a Nelson Cruz or Alcides Escobar taking away at-bats and hindering any consistent playing time. Let the kids play and embrace how fun this team can be.