It's no secret that the Washington Nationals have employed plenty of talent over the last 10 years. From Jayson Werth to Bryce Harper to Juan Soto, there's seemingly always been superstar talent taking the field for Washington each night. However, this is the first year where you could argue that to not be the case.
So, we here at District on Deck decided there was no better time to take a stroll down memory lane and look back at the top 5 free agent acquisitions and trades that the Washington Nationals have made in the last 10 years.
1. Max Scherzer
There's no other place to start besides Max Scherzer. In January 2015, Scherzer agreed to a 7yr, $210M deal with the Nats. Two seasons after earning his first Cy Young award with the Detroit Tigers, Scherzer made the move to Washington to round out a quite formidable rotation that included Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister and Joe Ross. How formidable were they? Only Fister finished with a W-L% under .500.
Over his 6.5 year tenure with the Nationals (traded to LAD during final season of contract), Scherzer recorded a 92-47 record, posting a 2.80 ERA and a total of 1,160 strikeouts in 189 appearances with Washington, per StatMuse. In 2016 and 2017, Scherzer earned back-to-back Cy Young awards to bring his career total to three, and also appeared in 6 more All-Star games.
Want to relive a piece of Scherzer's dominance? Take a trip down memory lane as you watch this clip from May 2016, when Scherzer struck out 20 (!!!) Detroit batters.
Arguably the best pitcher in Nationals history, Max Scherzer undoubtedly deserves the top spot on this list.
2. Daniel Murphy
In the 2016 offseason, the Nationals inked All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy to a 3 year, $37.5M contract. Shunning the Mets after 7 seasons, Murphy didn't skip a beat when he joined the Nationals, earning back to back trips to the All-Star Game, two Silver Sluggers, and also finishing as the runner up in the 2016 NL MVP race, finishing only behind Kris Bryant of the Cubs, and beating out Corey Seager of the Dodgers.
In that same 2016 campaign, Murphy led the league with a career high 47 doubles, a .595 slugging percentage, and a .985 OPS. He set personal career highs in home runs, triples, and RBIs that season too. All around, it was Murphy's best season in the majors, and helped the Nationals to a NL East Division clinching season.
While his time with the Nationals may have been relatively short, Murphy still made a sizable impact with his franchise, a stint that will likely be remembered as the best of his 12 year career.
3. Howie Kendrick
When you think about the brightest stars that have ever donned the Curly-W on their jersey, Howie Kendrick probably doesn't make the list.
Howie Kendrick never made the headlines for his nightly stats. When he first signed with Washington, he wasn't the type of player to strike fear into the eyes of the opponents and their fans; he never hit more than 18 home runs in a season. However, in 2019, the legend of Howie Kendrick (the sole reason why he's on this list) was born.
Every Nationals fan will remember his legendary Game 5 Grand Slam in the 2019 NLDS against the Dodgers in LA, capping off an incredible comeback with their backs against the wall. And later that same postseason, his Game 7 Home Run in the 2019 World Series, a pitch headed for the dirt clobbered to deep right field in Minute Maid Park, banging off the foul pole to give Washington a 3-2 lead in the 7th inning. Although this took place coming up on 4 years ago, Nats fans can still remember how integral of a piece he was in that 2019 playoff run, and they still love him for it. For that reason
4. Gio Gonzalez
Acquired by the Nationals via trade two days shy of Christmas 2011, Gio Gonzalez became a steady part of the Nationals rotation. In his 6.5 year tenure with Washington, Gonzalez only recorded one season with a W-L% under .500; averaging .389 in 2018 before he was traded to Milwaukee.
Gio's best year with Washington was his first, where he led the league with a staggering 21 wins, earning himself his second straight trip to the All-Star Game, and played well enough for 3rd place in the NL Cy Young voting.
While his time with the Nationals isn't one that will be remembered for years to come, it is still worth noting and appreciating the steady hand and delivery of Gio Gonzalez, a rock of the Nationals' rotation for 7 years.
5. Doug Fister
Doug Fister was a big part of the Nationals' 2014 NL East winning campaign. Acquired in a trade that sent Steve Lombardozzi to the Tigers, Fister came into Washington's rotation and immediately made an impact, posting a 16-6 record with an ERA of 2.41, the best amongst the starters.
In that 2014 campaign, he finished 8th for the Cy Young award. Out of the 6 teams that Fister pitched for in his 10 year career, he logged his highest win percentage (.618) with Washington.
(All statistics referenced in this article are courtesy of statmuse.com & baseball-reference.com)
Honorable Mention: Jayson Werth
If this list had been "Greatest Nationals Free Agent Signings of All-Time", Werth would have easily made the list. Werth was fantastic as a National, and was a staple of the lineup and a fan-favorite for all 7 years that we donned the Curly W.
The reason that Werth did not make this list was not by his performance, however, the fact that he signed with Washington in 2011, two years before the cut-off date for this list.