Ranking Every 2024 Nationals Offseason Signing So Far

The Nationals are entering another rebuilding year, making an array of under the radar moves. Out of the 14 most notable off-season additions as of February 13th, here is how I would rank them so far.
GM Mike Rizzo and Manager Davey Martinez
GM Mike Rizzo and Manager Davey Martinez / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

In another year of the Nationals rebuild, the offseason has been, well… pretty boring. Without high expectations, this was expected. Mike Rizzo made it clear what he planned to do: add a left-handed power bat, sign an infielder to man down third base and sign a couple of arms for depth in hopes for potential pieces to be flipped at the deadline.

I hate to say it, but one team that is doing exactly what Washington should be doing is the New York Mets. Additions like Luis Severino, Sean Manaea, Harrison Bader, Jake Diekman, and Shintaro Fujinami, all to team-friendly deals, not only helps them in 2024, but they are all win-win situations. The Mets can catch lightning in a bottle by either making an unlikely playoff push, trading any of them for prospects at the deadline, or locking them up to long-term deals if they choose.

All in all, the Nationals most notable additions are:

Three players to Major League contracts: 3B/2B/OF Nick Senzel, RP Dylan Floro, and OF/1B Joey Gallo.

Ten players to Minor League contracts with invites to Spring Training: OF/2B Travis Blankenhorn, 1B/OF Juan Yepez, 1B Lewin Díaz, SP/RP Robert Gsellman, RP Richard Bleier, RP Adonis Medina, RP Luke Farrell, RP Stephen Nogosek, and RP Luis Perdomo, OF/DH Jesse Winker

And finally, selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft: INF Nasim Nuñez.

That is fourteen “notable” transactions in a year that the Nationals should be primed for bargain hunting. Not only should they do this as they vie to reach contention status in 2025, but to potentially make additions to a farm system lacking depth. I am not sad, but it is fair to be disappointed as I am not juiced by any of these moves.

As I digress, let’s rank these additions as of February 13th, 2024 from worst to best.

14. OF/2B Travis Blankenhorn

Travis Blankenhorn
Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

Every year since 2019 there are a couple of players that are the poster boys for a miserable Nationals season. In 2020 it was Patrick Corbin, in 2021 it was Brad Hand, in 2022 it was well, everybody, and in 2023 it was another battle between Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl, with the wildcard candidates of Blake Rutherford, and Travis Blankenhorn.

Blankenhorn has a career .785 OPS in the minors, with a .877 OPS and 23 home runs last year in the Nationals farm system. He has not translated any of that success to the majors in limited opportunities, with a career OPS+ of 60 in only 68 plate appearances across 4 seasons. Blankenhorn is fine for depth, but he is one of the last guys I want to see end up on the major league roster this year.

13. SP/RP Robert Gsellman

Robert Gsellman
Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The Mets had a rotation of aces. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Noah Syndergaard. Steven Matz even showed some promise, and with a 22-year-old Robert Gsellman wowing fans in 7 starts in 2016, allowing only 12 earned runs in 44 2/3 innings for a 2.42 ERA and 2.63 FIP, fans had a lot to be excited about. Well, we all know how it turned out for most of them, including Gsellman.

Other than a decent name and decent hair, Gsellman has been bad since that 2016 season, when he was even on the field which is rare. He has spent the last two seasons in Japan, even spending some time in the minors there last season, putting together an ERA near 5 along with an 11.3% walk rate and 14.7% strikeout percentage. Pass.

12. 1B Lewin Díaz

Lewin Diaz
Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

I understand the Nationals being DESPERATE for power. It is feeble to have Lane Thomas and CJ Abrams being two of your biggest power threats, with Dominic Smith spending regular time as your cleanup hitter. That led Rizzo to sign Lewin Diaz, a first baseman with raw talent, but never coming close to putting it together.

Díaz received a lot of chances with the Miami Marlins and flashed some unbelievable power and a good glove, but has posted a terrible .181/.227/.340 slash line for a 54 OPS+ (once again, as a first baseman), in 343 big league plate appearances. He put up decent numbers in AAA last season bouncing around between multiple organizations, but if this is the best we can do to platoon with Joey Meneses, this is sorry.

11. RP Richard Bleier

Jacob Stallings, Richard Bleier, Ryan Blakney
Miami Marlins v New York Mets / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Not a fan at all of this guy. First off, guys with a last name spelled all funky like this is a red flag. Second, he seems like a grumpy old man.

Bleier is known for putting up decent numbers even though he has an awful strikeout rate, until the tires fell off in Boston last year. After putting up a 3.06 ERA from 2016-2022 with a groundball rate of over 50%, he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox late last season, with an ERA over 5 and an uncharacteristic 5 home runs allowed in 30 2/3 innings. To be fair, I would not dislike this signing as much if not for his antics and our terrible infield defense. I will take Robert Garcia and Jose A. Ferrer over him any day of the week.

10. RP Luke Farrell

Luke Farrell
Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

Sigh. I just want guys with upside and Farrell is probably not one of them.

Luke Farrell put up an ERA of 5.56 in the White Sox AAA system last year, with a below-average 20.1% strikeout rate. He has had a cup of coffee at the Major League level, pitching in 69 games from 2017-2022 with the Royals, Reds, Cubs, Rangers, and Twins striking out 107 batters in 102 2/3 innings with a 5.00 ERA and 5.25 FIP and walking 4.7 batters per nine. Depth is depth.

9. RP Stephen Nogosek

Stephen Nogosek
New York Mets v Oakland Athletics / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Below-average pitcher, coming off a down year, but man oh man is that mustache a thing of beauty. Here is another example of signing a guy for depth and depth purposes only, with little upside.

Nogosek has been known to be extremely inconsistent at the major league level with the New York Mets, showing flashes but never consistently putting together solid innings. Nogosek has pitched in 33 games from 2019-2023, with a 5.02 ERA in 57 1/3 innings. At least he can be stretched out if needed.

8. RP Luis Perdomo

Luis Perdomo
Seattle Mariners v San Diego Padres - Game Two / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Now this is a signing I can get behind. Although Perdomo has a sinker that sits in the mid-90s, he does not strike guys out but gets a ground ball rate of over 50% in his sleep.

Perdomo began his career as a starter in San Diego before injuries and poor play led him to become a full-time reliever. He put up a good season in 2019 before struggling in 2020, later landing in Milwaukee in 2022. Perdomo sports a career ERA of over 5 but has shown at times he can thrive as a reliever, and is coming off a stellar year in Japan. Cannot hate taking a flyer on that.

7. INF Nasim Nuñez

Nasim Nunez
St. Louis Cardinals v Miami Marlins / Mark Brown/GettyImages

Selecting a position player from the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft is never a good idea. Nuñez is a glove-first middle infielder, with a projected role similar to what Ildemaro Vargas did last season. Even though Nuñez is an upgrade, Vargas is still on the roster as well, so I would not be surprised to see him become a Michael Chavis 2.0 and barely see action while taking up a roster spot next year.

I do not hate this pick, but it is not that hard to ask for a player with a higher potential to hit in the Rule 5 draft. Nuñez slashed .225/.341/.286 with 52 steals in the Marlins Double-A affiliate last year, showing why FanGraphs has his hit tool at 30/80 and power at 20/80. Nuñez is fine for depth and the baserunning is intriguing, but it is hard to love picking a guy with a .061 ISO and 79 wRC+ in Double-A last year.

6. 1B/OF Juan Yepez

Juan Yepez
Kansas City Royals v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

If there is a silver lining to this signing, the St. Louis Cardinals are not the best at recognizing talent before they leave the organization. Adolis Garcia, Randy Arozerena, Luke Voit, Lane Thomas, and the list goes on. Could Juan Yepez be added to this list?

Let me give you a short answer. Probably not. Yepez showed some flashes with 12 homers in 2022 playing only 76 games, but posted a 49 OPS+ in 28 games last season. Yepez also struggled in Triple-A last year after putting up fantastic numbers in 2021 and 2022. Yepez should start the year in the minors but may deserve a shot, especially if he regains his form in previous seasons.

5. 3B/2B/OF Nick Senzel

Nick Senzel
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

Senzel was a consensus top 10 prospect before making his debut with the Reds in 2019, putting up great numbers in the minors after being the second overall pick in the 2016 Major League draft out of Tenessee. He never flashed a ton of power, but his hit tool seemed like he would be a great fit for the Major League roster. Even with plenty of chances, he never put it together.

It is always worth it to take a flyer on a guy like Senzel, but I was much more confident in a Candelario signing that we did last year. Jeimer proved at the major league level he could get it done, and we snagged a bargain coming off a down year. Senzel has never proved he can do it at the major league level, with a career slash line of .239/.302/.369 in 1366 plate appearances. His career high for home runs was 13 last season in 104 games at a very hitter-friendly ballpark, putting up well below-average fielding numbers as well. Senzel may benefit from only focusing on third base this year, but I do not love the signing.

4. RP Adonis Medina

Adonis Medina
New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Pretty sad to say my prayers were answered when Rizzo signed a guy with a career 5.35 ERA at the major league level but here we are. Medina has electric stuff, but injuries and inconsistency have led him to drop from a top-100 prospect to off the radar. Medina could be a guy that puts up solid numbers for us next year.

Medina struggled as a starter before being converted to a full-time reliever, pitching with the Mets in 14 games in 2022 with bad numbers but good peripherals. Medina struggled last season in Japan as a starter but has put up decent numbers in the Dominican Winter League this winter, posing him for a shot at a relief role next year. Medina has wicked stuff but needs to learn how to miss more bats and allow fewer walks. I really like the upside here.

3. RP Dylan Floro

Dylan Floro
Texas Rangers v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

It was honestly surprising to see Floro sign with the Nationals this early in the offseason, giving them a much-needed back-of-the-bullpen veteran reliever. Floro is coming off a rough 2023, but I expect him to put up solid numbers next year.

Although I will always remember Floro the most for giving up a dramatic grand slam to Gerardo Parra when he was on the Dodgers in 2019, he was a very solid reliever from 2016-2022 with 5 different teams, throwing 277 1/3 innings of 3.15 ERA and 3.11 FIP ball. He limits walks and has a good ground ball rate, struggling in 2023 to a 4.76 ERA largely due to an unlucky .401 BABIP. His FIP was 2.96 faring better than his career average, and he struck out 23.4% of batters while only walking 6.9%. Good signing that may net us a prospect at the deadline.

2. OF/DH Jesse Winker

Jesse Winker
Milwaukee Brewers v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

It's a beautiful feeling to be excited about a signing. As I wrote about the Jesse Winker signing, the former all-star had a terrible 2022 but could be primed for a bounce back. It is truly shocking that he had to settle for a minor league deal, and with the lack of potential other than the bat, Winker will need to really hit well to be a great player again.

Winker's sprint speed is in the same category as Sandy Leon and Rowdy Tellez, he has a below-average glove and is coming off a negative fWAR season where he hit 1 home run in 61 games as a primary DH. It was his second invaluable season in a row, with questions raised about his character while also dealing with nagging neck and back injuries. So why am I so excited? This guy's upside is through the charts. I dive into more details about it in my article linked above, but Winker was the 6th best hitter in baseball from 2020-2021, and if he is healthy, he could be an absolute stud.

1. OF/1B Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo
Texas Rangers v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

For the first time all offseason, a signing made me feel something. Gallo is notorious for his high strikeout rates with his raw power, coming off a couple of bad seasons, and a lot of his numbers trending in the wrong direction. I fully accept that watching Gallo may drive me to put my head through the wall, but I am also hopeful he can regain a fraction of his former all-star form.

Gallo has a good outfield glove, and can also play a solid first base. He struck out a mind-boggling 42.8% of the time last season, batting only .177 but with an on-base percentage of .301. His slug was also at .440, leading to an above-average 104 wRC+. Although he is frustrated, his 2023 .741 OPS would have been third on the Nationals last year behind Jeimer Candelario and Lane Thomas. Gallo hit 21 homers in 111 games last year, hitting 38 as recently as 2021. Gallo will strike out and probably hit below .200 while maybe having only 50 hits, but his raw power and former all-star status put him as my favorite Nationals signing of the 2024 offseason so far.