Most of the positional pieces are there for the future of the Nats!

Winning is fun. Consistently winning usually brings visions of the postseason. The Washington Nationals are now 4-wins from exceeding their win total from 2010. That number is significant to hold ownership accountable in this offseason. For those who do not remember, Ted Lerner, in the offseason after 2010 made the most significant free acquisition in team history when they signed Jayson Werth to a 7-year contract with a 9-figure payday. It set the baseball world into a frenzy that the narratively branded Nats were not cheapos.

We are at a similar juncture again as we were in 2010. The differences are the Nats are desperately in need of ace starting pitching while their positional situation is encouraging. They do not need a Werth in the outfield — rather his equivalent at the front of the starting rotation. Finding that player is not the issue, it is the financial commitment to signing that player.

“We’re all in. … Just like we did the last time with Werth [in free agency], at the right time, we will be back in the free agent market again. … Trust me, nobody wants to win more than me.”

— Lerner said before this season

This is where you have to put your money where your mouth is. Message to Mark Lerner: It is the right time. Get back into the free agent market and sign that ace!

For anyone wondering if Lerner is all the way in, you can read the words of general manager Mike Rizzo who was front and center for several interviews last week.

“I have never seen our ownership group, Mark [Lerner] especially, more engaged and more focused on this baseball team and winning another championship then they are right now.”

“The narrative that they got one-foot in and one-foot out, could not be in my world, could not be more over-blown and miss-characterized.”

“Because believe me, he’s into it. They’re all into it. They watch every game, every inning, every pitch, and I know this for a fact.”

“They are extremely focused in on bringing us another World Championship and I think they are, in my mind, that they are never been more focused on being here and owning this team and winning then right now.”

— Rizzo on his Sports Junkies weekly radio appearance last week

The normally soured Washington Times journalist, Thom Loverro, seems to have a similar view that the Lerners have both feet back in, and are not selling any time soon. Nobody knows for sure since someone could morph into a potential buyer out of nowhere.

Sure, offer $3 billion USD to the Lerners with no stipulations and they would probably sell. But nobody seems ready to do that with the MASN and revenue impingements that still face this team.

“We are once again hard at work to build a championship contender in D.C. We now believe we have the beginnings of a roster filled with promising young players and exciting prospects at nearly every position.”

“While we once talked about winning World Series rings for our baseball-loving fathers, Mike’s family and ours now look forward to winning even more rings for our children and grandchildren — and, of course, for every other Nationals-loving fan and family everywhere. We are excited about our future.”

— Lerner said last week when Rizzo’s contract was extended

There is a lot of promise in the future. Acquire an ace that pushes back MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, and Jake Irvin to the 2-3-4 in a starting rotation, and Patrick Corbin as the placeholder for Cade Cavalli. The addition by subtraction is removing Trevor Williams from the starting rotation. Getting that ace is a key to a much better 2024 season as well as beyond.

We are just 190-ish days from setting the 2024 Opening Day roster — and only 77-days until the 2023 Baseball Winter Meetings on December 4th in Nashville, Tennessee. Circle that on your calendar. Rizzo will be in Scottsdale, Arizona on November 7 in the GM meetings, and hopefully he is there to relax. There are no star-studded veterans to trade, and just some excess arms if someone wants Corbin or Williams. Trading off top prospects for a starting pitcher like he did for Gio Gonzalez after the 2011 Winter Meetings was a blockbuster win for the Nats. None of the pieces Rizzo traded were Top-100 prospects. Could he replicate a trade like that? Probably not.

The Arizona Fall League roster should be revealed any day, maybe some promotions today, and hopefully more clarity on the future. The calendar is less than two weeks to the end of the 2023 regular season. Just a dozen games remaining.

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