Josh Bell checks off one more priority on our #Nats list in a Christmas Eve present!

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-10 at the end of September. Sure, things changed quickly when manager Dave Martinez opted to make changes on his coaching staff. If we re-did the original list we would have more names to add and different priorities today as things changed, but the original list has been close to Rizzo’s blueprint. Sure, we didn’t have Sam Clay as an acquisition target for a lefty in the bullpen, but the early moves match up well to what we saw as priorities.

Today as you know, the Nationals traded Will Crowe and one of their top pitching prospects, Eddie Yean, for Josh Bell who we have had as a top priority from the start.

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. 

So here is the updated original Top-10 priorites:

        • #1 Pick up manager Dave Martinez‘s option for 2021. While some want a long-term contract, ownership might want to wait for that. Davey has earned his 2021 season at the very least.  
        • #2 Extend Trea Turner for the long-term. That would entail buying out his last two years of arbitration and the first 4-7 years beyond that. Once that is done, general manager Mike Rizzo will know what he has to spend in free agency.
        • #3 get a righty bat for the lineup behind Juan Soto. Unless you want Soto walked 150+ times next year, you need a deterrent. Putting a name to a face, someone like Marcell Ozuna would fit the need especially if the NL has a DH next year or Soto shifts to rightfield. There will be many names that will emerge after non-tenders as well as trade candidates as that batter could be a third baseman and not necessarily a corner outfielder. Now with the addition of Josh Bell, he could be that batter after Soto in the lineup as Bell is a switch-hitter.
        • #4 a 4th starting pitcher in the rotation to add a good arm in Anibal Sanchez‘s spot for the 2021 rotation. One name that fits is Kevin Gausman. There will be others as we covered yesterday: THE LIST IS LONG! 
        • #5 the team needs to upgrade the catcher defense while adding a bat who can drive in some runs too. James McCann is a free agent who won’t cost J.T. Realmuto money. Of course if the Nats don’t get Ozuna, they could shift cash to Realmuto who might solve all needs as he could hit behind Soto. This would be a long-shot of course, and the Nats could just settle for a low-cost backup at catcher who is a good defensive catcher.
        • #6 an upgrade at first base has been needed for years. From 2014 to 2020 with the exception of 2017, the Nationals have been near the bottom of offensive production at first base. One suggestion is a “change of scenery” trade for Josh Bell. That could make sense and cost mid-level prospect(s) as Pitt looks to lessen their payroll. Bell has two years of team-control remaining. Because Bell is a switch-hitter, he could be the bat behind Soto and fill that need in the #3 priority. 
        • #7 Extend Josh Harrison now and build a bench around him and Andrew Stevenson.  
        • #8 Make the difficult decisions to non-tender Michael A. Taylor, Roenis Elias, and Javy Guerra. Decline the options of Eric Thames, Anibal Sanchez, Howie Kendrick and Adam Eaton. It is time as difficult as it must be. If you can trade Taylor before the non-tender deadline to Houston, go for it. Also, there could be the opportunity to bring back some of these players on “team friendly” deals. 
        • #9 the analytics group and scouts have to fix Victor Robles. He came into the season bulked up and standing up on the plate and had early success. Then he was hit on the wrist and backed off the plate like he did last year and his offensive stats spiraled downwards. Get him that “Thames” armor, step back up to the plate where you’re successful and protect your arms and wrist and hands with extra padding/armor.
        • #10 the team will need a lefty reliever and that could be a player from within the system like Matt Cronin or possibly Roenis Elias who should be non-tendered if you don’t extend him on a market rate 1-year deal. It won’t be Sam Freeman since he had TJ surgery. It is also possible that Sean Doolittle re-signs on a market rate deal. There will also be some good minor league and major league free agents available. 

        Yes, it is going to be difficult to part ways with so many players who were part of the success of the 2019 World Championship team. The Nats got real old right in front of our eyes. The team has a chance to get younger, more athletic, better defense, and actually create some flexibility with the payroll. There of course will be roster competition from players like Jake Noll, Luis Garcia, and Carter Kieboom. After the Josh Bell acquisition, the Nats payroll is up to $167 million approximately.


    The Josh Bell acquisition had a great impact on the WAR than his projected team WAR of +0.9 because before his acquisition, the first base position was a negative WAR at -1.1. Now the Nationals are at almost 83 wins as projected by FanGraphs. A few more impactful acquisitions and this team will be looking like a playoff team.

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