3 Mistakes from this Offseason and How the Nats Can Still Fix Them
Considering the place the Nationals organization is in right now, it can easily be agreed upon that they have had a relatively good offseason up this point. The moves being made haven't been questionable or made the fans wonder where this organization was headed or if they even had a plan. Mike Rizzo's free agent signings have all been guys that could either find their stride and become a part of the core heading into the future or players that could become valuable trade deadline assets to strengthen the farm system. Even with that being said, this offseason hasn't been perfect, as there are still holes on this roster that can be mended with names still on the free agent market. Here are three mistakes from this offseason that can still be fixed before spring training starts.
1. A Left Handed Reliever
There can never be enough bullpen depth on any major league baseball team, and the Nationals are very familiar with that. There is arguably nothing more valuable to a 'pen than an elite left handed reliever. A left handed reliever that can always be relied on to get lefties out is a manager's best friend. Unfortunately, Davey Martinez currently doesn't have that luxury. The only left handers on the current roster are Matt Cronin and Jose A. Ferrer, two young pitchers with no major league experience. Fan favorite Sean Doolittle will join the Nats in West Palm Beach on a minor league deal with an invite to camp, but with age and injuries hitting him, he hasn't been the same guy he used to be. While the potential may be there, the lack of experience and uncertainties on how all these guys will perform create question marks around that area of the bullpen. With that being said, Andrew Chafin fills that need perfectly and remains on the free agent market. We've already discussed Andrew Chafin is a potential free agent target for the Nats, but he's not the only left hander available. If the Nats aren't willing to match his asking price, they could elect to go with someone like Matt Moore or Jose Alvarez. While they might not be premier left handers in today's game, they fill the Nationals need and could always perform beyond expectations.
2. A Reliable Power Hitter
When looking at how the Nationals lineup is currently constructed, it's quite clear there isn't really much power throughout. According to FanGraphs, Joey Meneses is projected to lead the team in home runs with 27, but there is need for questioning if Meneses can repeat the insane run to which he finished 2022. Jeimer Candelario and Lane Thomas follow Meneses, as they both sit with a projection of 18 home runs. It isn't hard to come to the conclusion that they need more consistent power in that lineup, and several free agents can fit that need. Franmil Reyes is a beyond perfect fit for the Nats, as someone with his resume can easily find his power stroke and become an extremely huge deadline piece. Gary Sanchez remains a free agent and would supply the Nats with not only potential pop, but be a veteran backstop behind Keibert Ruiz. Miguel Sano, Rougned Odor, Jurickson Profar, and Tyler Naquin are all free agents that could add some much needed pop to this Nationals lineup.
3. Starting Pitching Depth
The Nationals need starting pitching depth and they need it bad. Adding Trevor Williams was a good start, and bringing on Chad Kuhl on a minor league deal is a continuation of that good start, but it isn't quite enough. It's never certain how many innings you'll get out of Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin has had quite the rough past few years, and the rest of the current rotation are young arms that shouldn't be expected to pitch a full season's worth quite yet. Combining all these factors leads to the need to add depth to this area of the Nationals roster. I highlighted three specific starters the Nats should look into, and while those three are the best left on the market, there are other names that are still worth the look. Dylan Bundy and Michael Pineda aren't elite arms, but are veterans that will get the job done and eat up innings for this Nationals team. Any of those five arms would be great additions by Mike Rizzo heading into spring training.
Mike Rizzo has been impressive this offseason, making additions that can somehow be meaningful to the Nationals organization in a number of ways. The additions overall have been a very strong start, but there is still work that can be done. Any of these moves would have a warm welcome in the nation's capital, so let's hope Mike Rizzo can work some magic and add one or more of these players as we gear up for the 2023 baseball season.