The Washington Nationals just announced that on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, the team will play an exhibition game at Nats Park called the Nationals Futures Game featuring top prospects. Those great Minor Leaguers will play against current Nationals players on their MLB roster in a 12:05 pm first pitch.
Until the Winter Meetings start, there really is little to write about when your team is not making big moves. Maybe today will be the day for the Washington Nationals. Maybe not. In the meantime, BleacherReport did a prediction on every team’s starting lineup for Opening Day of 2024 which is now exactly four months away from March 30, 2024 in Cincinnati.
The Winter Meetings begin on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, and the last time the Washington Nationals were in that city for the Winter Meetings was back in 2015. Turn-back-the-clock to that time in 2015, and the Nats had just hired Dusty Baker to replace Matt Williams. The Nats were the talk of the town at those Winter Meetings, and were shopping for a second baseman — eventually signing Daniel Murphy.
As we move past Thanksgiving, most teams have not added new acquisitions to their MLB roster, and the Washington Nationals are one of them. There is a lot of work to get done to get to a Spring Training roster, and general manager Mike Rizzo has less than 80-days to get there. We wait for any news that can move the Nats up from the 68.4 wins that FanGraphs is projecting today with that ghastly 22.3 WAR number.
Baseball usually goes into a Thanksgiving hibernation as it gears up for the Winter Meetings late next week in Nashville, Tennessee. But never be surprised if a signing or trade happens. Rumors broke over Thanksgiving last year that Jeimer Candelario was headed to the Washington Nationals. Not every deal gets dragged out. What might be big for consumers and their Black Friday shopping obsessions — does not necessarily translate to baseball. The Winter Meetings is about as close as you can come to Black Friday frenzy — without the bargain sale prices.
The Washington Nationals came into the off-season with nine arbitration-eligible players — and with a few signings, and a a couple of DFA’s, the team is in a position today to move forward with all of their four remaining players who are arb-eligible and will receive tender offers, if they do not agree to firm salaries before that, for the 2024 season.
The Washington Nationals selected four Rule-5 eligible pitchers for the Nats 40-man roster with DJ Herz being an obvious move along with Mitchell Parker who emerged this week as a near-lock. General Manager Mike Rizzo also added RH reliever Zach Brzykcy who is rehabbing from a UCL surgery as well as RHP Cole Henry who is working his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
While all four names were debated over the past few weeks, the biggest surprise per a source is that the Nats could not come to terms with Dominic Smith, and he was DFA’d much like Luke Voit was a year ago. Smith was arbitration-eligible and might have earned about $4.3 million if he took this to an arbitration hearing. Much like Voit last year, Rizzo was not going to chance it and per a source tried to negotiate a deal under $3 million, which obviously did not happen. Also, RHP Cory Abbott was DFA’d, and Andres Machado requested Unconditional Release Waivers to pursue an opportunity in Japan.
Shortly afterward all of the aforementioned roster moves, the Nats also announced that arb-eligible outfielder Victor Robles and reliever Tanner Rainey both came to terms on one-year deals. That gives the team cost certainty with both. It doesn’t guarantee that Robles isn’t traded, but this probably also means he won’t be a DFA. We are waiting on dollar figures for both. Sources told us that if Robles did not come to a contract resolution, he would have met the same fate as Smith.
Tomorrow is “Rule 5 day” to add any eligible players, that a team wants to protect, to their 40-man roster, and Friday is the non-tender deadline. For the Washington Nationals, they should have a clear path to the Rule 5, and the tougher decisions are on the non-tender deadline.