Photo by Laura Peebles for TalkNats
With a current 40-man roster large enough to field a team for 2021, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo can now embark on his off-season journey of building a better mousetrap. Putting together talent is subjective based on the eye of a scout who excels at piecing intricate puzzles together. You cannot force the wrong piece in place or the puzzle does not work. Rizzo has learned through excruciating trial and error that players with immense side like Elijah Dukes or even Jonathan Papelbon can seamlessly fit into his clubhouse. Continue reading
Mike Rzzo and Davey Martinez have a lot of work ahead of them: Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats
“Next year STARTS NOW” was how the tweet read from the Washington Nationals official Twitter feed moments after the last out was recorded in the World Series last night which advanced the clock officially to the off-season. The free agency clock has started and teams now have an exclusive 5-day window to negotiate with their own free agents. There might not be one of them that the Nats are interested in keeping unless some very deep discounts are available. Continue reading
Few people gave the Tampa Bay Rays a chance in this 2020 World Series against the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. It was billed as a David versus Goliath, and if nothing else, Tampa has put up a good fight to get the series to a 2-to-2 tie. But the Dodgers pulled away in Game 5 with a win to make tonight’s game an elimination game. Continue reading
Last year, free agency went better than projected for several players like Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon who all cashed in on their Powerballs and each pocketed well over $200 million. COVID-19 threw a wrench into the cog that spins the wheels of business in the middle of Spring Training 2020. The season was disrupted, and most teams never allowed fans in the stands. Continue reading
MLB has been building up Mookie Betts as the hero, but he went 0-5; Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats
The stage was set for Randy Arozarena to walk-off on Goliath, but they walked him to pitch to Brett Phillips who had not notched a hit in a month. Who? Brett Phillips. Best known for his Arnold Horshack laugh than his plays on the field. Known for being the other player in the Josh Hader trade. Known for his whiteboard signs in the ALCS when he was not on the Tampa Bay Rays roster. Known for a dance-off on a day-off with his teammates after the Rays beat the Yankees to advance to the World Series. Now known as the only non-Dodgers player to ever hit a walk-off winner with 2 outs in the 9th inning while trailing in a World Series game. Phillips now joins Kirk Gibson and Cookie Lavagetto as the only players to ever accomplish that feat. Continue reading
Juan Soto bear hugs his hitting coach after the final game of the season; Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats
When you are the youngest National League player to ever win a batting crown, you must thank your hitting coach. That is exactly what Juan Soto did with a bear hug that lifted hitting coach Kevin Long off the ground after the final game of the 2020 season as the 21 year old batted an impressive .351 with an MLB leading 1.185 OPS.
As the offseason started quickly for a Washington Nationals team that missed the playoffs, news broke that the team was going to have a coaching staff shakeup. There were headlines from other media that Kevin Long would not be returning. Our sources told us that was not necessarily the case. KLong, like all the coaches, are Nationals employees through October 31. Often, coaches are given permission to look around to seek other opportunities, and we were told that is what Long did. Continue reading
Soto pitching BP in Spring Training; Photo by Craig Nedrow for TalkNats
The Washington Nationals have clear priorities for next year, and we took a deep dive into a Top-1o. We kind of rolled more names into the list, and sure, things changed quickly when manager Dave Martinez opted to make changes on his coaching staff.
Today as you know, the Nationals extended the contract of Josh Harrison as he was technically still under team control and as such was not a free agent. Also in the previous two weeks, the Nationals DFA’d several players making the roster much more streamlined.
Not originally a Top-10 priority, but it is up there on the list, the Nats must add a new hitting coach to replace Kevin Long unless the team comes to terms with KLong which seems like a long-shot at this point. This week they named Jim Hickey as the new pitching coach. The team will also need to name a new third base coach after the parting of ways with Chip Hale.
So here is the updated original Top-10 priorites:
Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats
As we work in priority order, we look at what we set as the third priority for this Washington Nationals team which is the spot that Anibal Sanchez held in the starting rotation during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. For Sanchez, he had a very good 2019 season for the Nats, but then struggled for most of his 2020 starts and finished with a 6.62 ERA. His $18 million team option with a $6 million buyout will almost certainly be declined and bought-out, leading to a large vacancy for the team to fill heading into the 2021 season.
The list of priorities has limits with regards to budgetary spending, player availability, and team philosophy. There is always the possibility that the team could try to fill the spot internally which is not optimal, but in these times of budgetary constraints and limited revenue, filling the spot externally is not a given, although we believe the team should look into the free agent market for a candidate who would upgrade the rotation. Continue reading
Blake Treinen is in the World Series; Photo by Rich Schultz of Getty Images
This World Series roster has many players with ties back to the Washington, D.C. area, and at the top of the list is Blake Treinen who made his debut with the Washington Nationals in April of 2014 at twenty-five years of age. Treinen redeemed himself with a scoreless relief appearance in Game 7 of this NLCS, and was saved by a Mookie Betts catch over the wall to rob Freddie Freeman of a home run. Treinen’s bullpen teammate Adam Kolarek who most will remember from his LOOGY appearances in last year’s NLDS against Juan Soto. The lefty reliever was so nasty, and Kolarek played his college ball right around the corner at the University of Maryland. Fortunately in the decisive Game 5 of last year’s NLDS with Kolarek available, it was Kershaw who faced Soto instead of Kolarek and of course Soto smashed the game tying home run to pin a blown save on Kershaw. Oh, the little things.
On the Tampa side, they also have a player who came from the University of Maryland in Brandon Lowe. Lowe was the offensive star for the Rays this year before a kid named Randy Arozarena emerged. Lowe, and his Tampa Bay Rays’ teammate Hunter Renfroe both played summer college ball for the Bethesda Big Train wood bat league in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League. Renfroe was so dominating as the league MVP that he moved up in pre-draft projections and was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 1st round (13th overall) of the 2013 MLB June amateur draft. Renfroe was scouted as a 5-tool prospect, but the Padres decided to trade him to Tampa who loves outfielders like Renfroe.
Maybe the most glaring Dodgers connection is in their front office as Stan Kasten was the original architect for the Lerner’s Washington Nationals ownership group. Kasten, who is now the President of the Dodgers, created “The Plan” for the Nationals back in 2006. With the lack of top prospect talent in the Nats’ farm system, he preached slow and steady wins the race, and with a depleted farm system and a small fanbase, he was 100 percent correct as painful as it was. Ironically, the Nats won a World Series after Kasten departed with his original plan paying dividends, and the Nats won that ring before Kasten’s Dodgers.
Of course there are other front office people that Kasten took with him from the Nats when he took his spot in Los Angeles, and paybacks were just made when the Nats hired Jim Hickey from the Dodgers.
The Dodgers go into this World Series as heavy favorites.
Photo by Andrew Lang for TalkNats
With Paul Menhart‘s spot as the pitching coach available, it did not take Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez an extended period to fill that spot. Reportedly, Martinez will go with a pitching coach he was very familiar with from their shared time in Tampa Bay with the Rays (2008-2014), and the Nats made it official today. Jim Hickey, 59, was on the short-list of names mentioned as a possibility. He was a former Minor League pitcher who transitioned to coaching. Continue reading