The photo above was taken of Mike Rizzo at the Nats WinterFest. Rizzo had just said, “We like the team we have.” Many Nats fans in attendance let out a spontaneous giggle as we knew when Mike Rizzo says those words he is nearly done —but— never satisfied. Minutes later, Rizzo looked down at his phone and smiled. He was giddy all day, and you could understand why given that his Nationals roster was almost complete except for some tweaks. Rizzo’s actions speak louder than words. Days after Rizzo appeared at that Winterfest, he signed Matt Adams to a one year deal.
Rizzo knew that his new manager Dave Martinez just needed to write up his 2018 line-up card exactly as the Nats’ April 22nd 2017 line-up card read — verbatim. Four of the Nationals five starting pitchers were set in stone with Cy3 Max Scherzer, All-Star Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, and Gio Gonzalez. Even the bench and bullpen were almost complete before Davey Martinez was named as the Nationals manager.
For Nationals fans, many wanted to see the Nats bring back Jayson Werth, Adam Lind, Howie Kendrick, Brandon Kintzler and Matt Albers. Many others wanted to see the Nats add new upgrades to the starting rotation and to the catcher position.
After signing Matt Adams, Brandon Kintzler and Howie Kendrick, the roster looks complete — but Mike Rizzo is never satisfied. Money and the competitive balance tax could be a consideration as every dollar spent on new acquisitions would carry a 30% surcharge if the Nats are indeed over the tax threshold.
Bob Nightengale of the USA Today wrote yesterday after the Kendrick signing, “It could be the Nationals’ last major free-agent signing unless one of the marquee starting pitchers’ asking price drops, the Nationals say, filling out their rotation.”
Mike Rizzo could still acquire Matt Albers. He could still upgrade the catcher’s position with J.T. Realmuto or a free agent catcher like Alex Avila. He could still sign a starting pitcher from this list — or Mike Rizzo can just say “no” which just is not in his DNA. If money was not an issue, you could see the Nationals making a splash with a big name free agent. With the tax threshold this season set at $197 million, that money does not go as far as you would think when you have about $113.2 million already tied up in Boras players plus the player benefit cost puts the Boras tax basis closer to $120 million.
The Nats ownership could also agree to sign another Scott Boras client as they have been known to do in the past late in January or even in February as they did last year with Wieters.
Right now the Nats have potentially 10 players for 7 bullpen spots.
7. A.J. Cole
9. Shawn Kelley
10. Wander Suero
A.J. Cole could be the 5th starter. Glover/Suero could go to AAA. That gets you to 7.
— TALK NATS ⚾ (@TalkNats2) January 16, 2018
What does the roster look like today?
- Max Scherzer RHP
- Stephen Strasburg RHP
- Tanner Roark RHP
- Gio Gonzalez LHP
- A.J. Cole RHP/Erick Fedde RHP/Tommy Milone LHP/Edwin Jackson RHP
Starting Position Players
- Adam Eaton LF LH
- Trea Turner SS RH
- Bryce Harper RF LH
- Anthony Rendon 3B RH
- Daniel Murphy 2B LH / Wilmer Difo 2B SH / Howie Kendrick 2B RH
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B RH
- Michael Taylor CF RH
- Matt Wieters C SH
- Sean Doolittle LHP
- Ryan Madson RHP
- Brandon Kintzler RHP
- Koda Glover RHP / Shawn Kelley RHP / Wander Suero RHP
- Enny Romero LHP
- Sammy Solis LHP
- Matt Grace LHP / A.J. Cole RHP
- Pedro Severino C RH
- Matt Adams 1B/LF LH
- Wilmer Difo IF/LF SH
- Brian Goodwin OF LH
- Howie Kendrick IF/LF RH
The Nationals roster is looking very good as you can see. With the Kendrick acquisition, the Nationals 40-man roster is full. Fangraphs is still estimating the Nationals at a 91-71 Won/Loss record in the standings with a 45.6 team WAR after the Kendrick acquisition.