2023 Stats: 184 IP, 4.88 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 204 K, 33 GS
I do want the record to reflect that I would prefer the Nationals pay up for an established starter such as Blake Snell, Marcus Stroman or Aaron Nola, but they need to add a starting pitcher regardless.
While the Nationals hit a home run with Jeimer Candelario, they could not have whiffed more on the Trevor Williams experiment. If they are smart, or want to salvage any part of that contract, Williams will be a low leverage reliever and swing-man, spot-starter for the Nationals instead of a mainstay in the rotation. Add in the fact that Patrick Corbin has been the worst pitcher in baseball over the past three seasons, and quality starting pitching is sorely needed.
Knowing the Nationals' recent tendencies, they will look for a tier 2/3 starter in Free Agency. Enter: Lucas Giolito.
A piece in the infamous Adam Eaton trade, Giolito departed Washington in 2016 and has had an up and down career ever since. All things considered, however, there has been much more good than bad. Many fans will remember how badly Giolito struggled after being traded to the Angels last season, and later claimed by the Guardians, but it is important to remember that Giolito had a 3.79 ERA in 121 innings prior to the trade. More than that, he is still just 29 years old. You would be taking a flyer on an arm with plenty of mileage left as opposed to a 35 year old pitcher you hope has a little more left in the tank.
With Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore and seemingly Jake Irvin as set pieces in the rotation, and Cade Cavalli working his way back from Tommy John surgery, adding Lucas Giolito could give the Nationals a young, formidable rotation.
I think it would be smart to just give Giolito a one year deal for similar reasons to Rhys Hoskins. The Nationals would need to spend slightly more in order to do so, but should be able to get him for one year, $12M.
Projected AAV per Spotrac: $11.8M