Two-thirds of the Washington Nationals future outfield is in NY

Coming soon to Nationals Park will be outfielders James Wood and then Dylan Crews. Both are currently teammates with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings after Crews was promoted officially on Tuesday. They were teammates last year in Double-A Harrisburg to finish the season, and then both were NRI teammates this year in Spring Training. There is a good chance that both will finish the season as teammates on the Washington Nationals roster. They will make up two-thirds of the Nats’ future outfield.

The other one-third of the Nats future outfield looks to be Jacob Young, and that is kind of like his defense where two-thirds of the earth is covered by water and the other one-third by Young. His center field defense has been so good — it looks like he will force Wood to right field and Crews to left field which is actually good because those spots are less demanding on the body. Of course you have Lane Thomas who would rotate in as an outfielder and DH. The 2025 season marks the final season of team control of Thomas.

Part of the problem is that Thomas has not been good on catching balls within his range based on the Statcast OAA model that he misses 6 percent of the balls that an average fielder should catch. The eye test backs that up. Thomas has been getting poor reads and his saving grace has been his cannon arm to limit the damage. It would make sense to have Thomas take the bulk of the DH duties and be the fourth outfielder.

By solving the three outfield spots and the DH spot, that would leave just five starting spots remaining. Third base is waiting for Brady House to arrive in 2025, and Nick Senzel is still under team control for the 2025 season. On top of that, the Nats are getting a long look at rookie Trey Lipscomb who is a top defensive player who must improve his offense.

At shortstop, that is CJ Abrams spot, and he will have four years of team control remaining after this year. He is a key contract extension candidate. He’s done a good job at the lead-off spot with Young in the No. 9 spot of the batting order.

For second base, Luis Garcia Jr. has really stepped up in defense, and just needs to continue to improve with his offense. Garcia is under team control for three years after this season. He just turned 24 years old last month.

First base is the black hole in the Nats’ future. On one hand, the team drafted Yohandy Morales in the 2023 draft. A first round talent who slid to the early second round, the Nats have converted Morales to first base — but he has had a poor start to his Double-A season then got hurt in late May. The Nats have been linked to the top first baseman, Nick Kurtz, in this year’s draft that is less than four weeks away. The other option is the free agent market with both Christian Walker and Pete Alonso set to hit the open market. But one more first baseman name might be emerging: Juan Soto. Yes, Soto suffered a strained forearm cause by throwing baseballs. That ailment caused Bryce Harper to get TJ surgery after the 2022 season. Could Soto go the route of becoming a first baseman? Would you want him as a free agent?

That leaves just the catcher position which has been the weakest spot for the Nationals this year. Keibert Ruiz will most likely continue to be the team’s No. 1 catcher because there just are not upgrades out there. The key might be the find a better No. 2 behind Ruiz — and also coach Ruiz up so he can improve.

What does this September 2024 lineup look like for the Washington Nationals:

  1. Abrams SS
  2. Thomas DH
  3. Wood RF
  4. Crews LF
  5. Garcia 2B
  6. Meneses 1B
  7. Senzel 3B
  8. Ruiz C
  9. Young CF

What could the Opening Day 2025 lineup look like for the Washington Nationals:

  1. Abrams SS
  2. Crews LF
  3. Soto 1B
  4. Thomas DH
  5. Wood RF
  6. Senzel 3B
  7. Garcia 2B
  8. Ruiz C
  9. Young CF

Ah yes, we can all dream. Chances are slim to get Soto — but then again, one team will get him, and few have the open payroll like the Washington Nationals.

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