3 Areas the Nationals Should Improve Their Depth Before Spring Training

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals
Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I appreciate how active the Nationals have been this offseason given the circumstances. With ownership who want to sell, but won't get close to asking price, but still won't fully reinvest or recommit to the franchise, it can be extremely difficult for a front office to execute their vision properly. That being said, Mike Rizzo and company have done a fine job operating within the extremely tight budget to fill areas of need, particularly in the outfield. I don't know if any of the signings they have made will truly move the needle for the team, but with the new MLB draft lottery rules preventing the Nationals from picking any higher than 7th in 2024 after they will be selecting 2nd in this year's draft, the Nationals seem to realize it is worth their while to give it their best shot this season. So if that is the idea, then there are still a few areas the Nationals should add depth to prior to the start of the season.

1. Starting Pitching

Patrick Corbin
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

They added Trevor Williams and have been rumored for some time to still be exploring options, but the Nationals really need some starting pitching depth. Stephen Strasburg should not be counted on this season and Patrick Corbin has been the worst pitcher in baseball since 2020. After that, you have your young trio in Gray - Gore - Cavalli, but they'll likely try to limit their innings early on. They're also unproven so who knows what you'll get. You do have the newcomer Williams, but he has been a reliever the past several seasons. Paolo Espino and Erasmo Ramirez can't cover everyone.

While it won't be a big splash signing, especially this late into the offseason, the Nationals have been very active in the spring training invite market in recent years, particularly with Starting Pitching. Most recently the Nationals signing Anibal Sanchez to a spring training invite and he ended up making several quality starts down the stretch. The Nationals should continue to take flyers in this market to build up some depth at the position in AAA in the event pitchers struggle or get hurt. They had 15 different pitchers make a start last season.

One name I would love to see the Nationals add is Joe Ross. I am biased as I have always been a fan, but he will cost next to nothing and has a ton of familiarity with the organization.

2. Catcher

Keibert Ruiz
Cincinnati Reds v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages

This does not have to do with Keibert Ruiz, who is a stud, but more so it pertains to Riley Adams and the backup catcher spot. Ruiz will once again handle the lion's share of the workload at Catcher, but he likely won't play in more than 120-130 games. That means the Nationals will still need to AT LEAST cover 40-50 games, which is a good chunk of playing time.

The Nationals only recently got younger at the position. For years they were depending on guys like Yan Gomes, Kurt Suzuki and Matt Weiters. It wasn't perfect, but it was fine. Veteran catchers also bring a ton of experience and knowledge to pitching staffs, and the Nationals now find themselves with a young and inexperienced staff. Adding a guy like Roberto Perez or Kevin Plawecki for experience and depth would not be a bad move. It also lets Riley Adams get some everyday work in AAA after really struggling last season.

3. High Upside Power Bat

Joey Meneses
Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins / Bryan Cereijo/GettyImages

This is kind of a broad pick, but the Nationals just don't have much power in their lineup. They might have anyone reach 25 home runs, let alone 30. And with all due respect to Joey Meneses, the idea of a sophomore 31 year old leading the team in home runs is pretty indicative of the power potential in the lineup.

Again, it is January so you won't find any bonafide plug-and-play power guys, but there are still a few. you can take chances on. High upside usually comes with a low floor, so adjust your expectations accordingly, but you never know when you'll find lightning in a bottle and get a resurgent season from a player looking for a fresh start. Someone like Mike Moustakas, who had 35 home runs in 2019, or Jesus Aguilar, who had 23 home runs in 2021 and 19 last year, or even a reunion with Luke Voit wouldn't be crazy. They might be worth a shot to help balance out this lineup. They certainly have asked more for less before.