At 71-91 this past season, it is safe to say that the Nationals exceeded expectations. When it was all said and done, they were basically just as close to a playoff spot (12 GB) as they were to the worst record in the National League (13 GB), the spot they held just one season ago. And while this isn't the ultimate measure of success, it does show that this team might be closer to really competing than many expected, thanks in large part due to the expanded playoffs. This year alone we saw both a 5 seeded team and a 6 seeded team, one that only won 84 regular season games, make the World Series. With a competitive offseason and hitting on key moves, the Nationals could find themselves in the Wild Card conversation.
But before we talk Wild Card, we need to talk offseason. The Nationals have historically been strong in Free Agency, but not so much since their 2019 World Series title. Now that they have some life and a foundation from which they can build upon, we might finally see them return to their spending ways. It is not a guarantee with the team technically still up for sale and ownership seemingly checked out, but we can hope.
As far as targets, we do still need to temper expectations. Believe me, I would love Shohei Ohtani or Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but that is not the Nationals' style and unfortunately I do not expect either to rep the Curly W anytime soon. However, there are valuable pieces to be had that are within the Nationals perceived budget, similar to how they struck gold with Jeimer Candelario and Stone Garrett last season.
Here's my personal wishlist for the Nationals this offseason: