For players living in the U.S., three days notice to get to Spring Training camps is much easier than those needing international flights from the Dominican Republic and especially from Venezuela.
Today, big league camps officially open for all 30 of the MLB teams. Dozens of good free agents remain unemployed like Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant, Kenley Jansen, Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, and Trevor Story, to name just a few.
The Washington Nationals have 39 players slated to check-in today as the non-roster invitees are already in camp. Sure, there is uncertainty on one roster player, Seth Romero, who reportedly is dealing with a legal matter back in Texas on drinking while driving. While innocent until proven guilty, the Nationals still have a decision to make on him.
Yesterday, the Nats reportedly signed Steve Cishek, a sidearm reliever to the roster on a one-year deal. Expect general manager Mike Rizzo to sign some more free agents in the next week or two. All of big league camp will be condensed into just two dozen days to finalize a roster for Opening Day on April 7 in Washington D.C.
Notably missing at camp is Ryan Zimmerman, who officially retired in mid-February. He had been part of every camp since 2006 in Viera, Florida. So yes, this camp will feel very different. Also, there won’t be Max Scherzer or Trea Turner who were both in camp the past seven years. Few pieces remain from the Nats’ World Series team from less than three years ago, and the key piece, Juan Soto, will be asked over and over if he will stay after he confirmed he already rejected the third richest contract in MLB history at $350 million. Then you have the 2019 World Series MVP, Stephen Strasburg, who is recovering from Thoracic Outlet Surgery.
There is so much uncertainty with this 2022 Nats team. Rizzo says they are retooling, but the team really doesn’t know what tools they have in their shed besides Soto who has three years of team control remaining if he decides to head to free agency.
Beyond Soto, nothing seems certain. And that’s what makes this camp so intriguing. Will Carter Kieboom get penciled in for another season as a presumptive starter? Can Partick Corbin be good again? Can Strasburg pitch? Can Will Harris pitch? Who will start in centerfield? Who will be the team’s closer?
Manager Dave Martinez has been handed a team that will lose more games than it should win in 2022 according to every ranking service. From 2012 through last year, Fangraphs had projected winning seasons for the Nats and in actuality that was accurate until 2020. Not only has this been difficult on Rizzo and Martinez, the fans have to endure this uncertain future. Rizzo has vowed that this will be a short retool, but will it?
The answers to the future are not written until time has been etched into the history books, and in this case, those are known as the boxscores.
Hope springs eternal.