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Nov
11

Washington Nationals Prepare To Be Active In MLB Rule 5 Draft

In case you hadn’t realized it, the Washington Nationals are a rebuilding franchise.

As a result, they’ve made roster moves over the last couple days to free up roster space for younger players as during next month’s Winter Meetings, the MLB will conduct its Rule 5 draft.

The Nationals will have the No. 1 pick.

Usually an annual tradition, the Rule 5 draft was skipped last season amidst the league’s labor negotiations – the same travesty that resulted in a condensed Spring Training and late start to the regular season. Since the Nationals haven’t selected a player in the Rule 5 draft since 2010 (likely a result of them being playoff contenders for most of the time since, so every roster space was precious), perhaps a crash course on what the Rule 5 draft is might be in order.

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Aug
28

Nationals Mailbag No. 2: MASN and Some Other Minutiae...

Since we’ve hit another point where there isn’t much “news” as I would define it for the Nationals, we’ve opened up the mailbag again.

While ownership-related questions have continued to pop up, we’re pleased to see that there is still interest in Washington’s on-field product. It’s a reminder that even in a season when the team has little hope for anything other than the No. 1 overall draft pick, there are plenty of story lines and reasons to keep tuning in.

Let’s dive into it!

Give us a primer on the MASN deal and the likely paths forward (or lack thereof) – Justin R. (@young_jred on Twitter): We’ll start with this question, since it’s the one that’s been the most on my mind. In fact, I’ve circled around it in some of my recent writing.

Keep in mind that Peter Angelos and the Orioles own the MASN television contract. A new owner would likely ramp up MASN negotiations, but a new owner does not automatically make the contract void.

Enter Ted Leonsis into this discussion.

As we’ve discussed, he and Monumental Sports & Entertainment are acquiring NBC Sports Washington. That’s the network that currently broadcasts (among other programming) Wizards and Capitals games, both of which are franchises that Leonsis owns.

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Aug
25

Three Big Things All Nationals Fans Should Be Following...

Despite how monotonous the 2022 season has felt, Wednesday was a very interesting day for the Washington Nationals.

They announced that their top pitching prospect will be making his major debut later this week, announced that one of their best starters would be skipped in the rotation, and had big news in the hunt for a new owner of the franchise.

Cavalli is Coming

After spending a few more months in Triple-A Rochester than he probably needed to, No. 58 overall prospect Cade Cavalli has earned a promotion to the big leagues. His first start for the Nationals will come at home on Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds.

Ever since he was drafted in the first round in 2020, the spotlight has been on the right-handed flamethrower. Aside from the brief period when Josiah Gray first joined the team from the Dodgers, Cavalli has been Washington’s highest-touted pitching prospect, and for good reason.

Cavalli boasts three pitches in his arsenal that scouts consider significantly above average, topped off by a fastball that sits in the high-90s and touches triple digits.

Cavalli sped through the low ranks of the minor leagues, but struggled initially at the Triple-A level – as expressed in his 7.30 ERA for Rochester in six starts last season.

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Aug
17

Five Finalists For New Ownership Of Nationals Have Emerged

With every decision or organizational failure that the Nationals have committed this season, we’ve stated that fans should wait for one thing before jumping to conclusions: a new ownership group.

Michael B. Kim

Although there still isn’t a clear frontrunner, many of the names we’ve heard have emerged as true contenders to purchase the franchise.

Owen Poindexter of Front Office Sports has reported that among at least five parties expected to place a bid by the end of this season are Ted Leonsis, Larry Lucchino, Josh Harris, Michael B. Kim and Stanley Middleman.

One of the key findings in the report was that the Nationals are estimated to be valued at $2 billion, just shy of the $2.4 billion that Steve Cohen purchased the Mets for nearly two years ago. Additionally, the Angelos family is exploring selling the Orioles.

Now back to the candidates! As the owner of the Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics among other local sports teams, Leonsis is someone who most of this fanbase is very familiar with. We also discussed Lucchino – and his potential link to Theo Epstein – nearly three months ago. At their heights, Lucchino and Epstein were co-running operations for the Boston Red Sox during the 2000s. Currently, Lucchino is the chairman of the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox, while Epstein is a consultant for Major League Baseball, but both are openly interested in jumping back into leading a big league franchise.

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Aug
17

Robert Hassell III Headlines Updated Nationals Prospect Rankings

Whether you view acquiring minor league talent as the ideal way of building your major league roster or as a method of stockpiling assets towards making trades for established major leaguers, the last couple days should’ve grabbed your attention.

Tuesday, MLB Pipeline and ESPN both updated their MLB prospect rankings. We’ve talked about how the additions of outfielder Elijah Green and the players received in exchange for Juan Soto have elevated the Nationals farm system into the top 10 – and perhaps the top 5 – in the sport. But we now also have a better sense for how individual players stack up against each other and might be prioritized as time goes on.

How We Got Here

Entering this season, two players (starting pitcher Cade Cavalli and shortstop Brady House) were viewed as consensus top 100 prospects in the league – the general baseline for what constitutes a likely productive, everyday major league starter. Beyond them and perhaps pitcher Cole Henry, the organization boasted few potential, ideal big league contributors.

Selecting Elijah Green with the No. 5 overall pick in the First-Year Players Draft – and rightfully so, in our opinion – provided an easy boost to the system, but that took place fivefold in the Soto trade. In exchange for the generational hitter, the Nationals added five outstanding prospects (although two of them have graduated from official prospect status) that could absolutely become core pieces of their next contending roster – which I opined, in a recent podcast episode, will likely come in 2025, although there’s a chance that they’ll become a .500 team as soon as 2024.

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Aug
14

Nationals Continue Search for Serviceable Starting Pitching

It’s no mystery that the Nationals, who have struggled in many areas throughout 2022, have lacked the quality starting rotation that often carried them from 2012-19.

Lately, however, the situation has snowballed with no obvious solution in sight.

Washington has collectively tossed one quality start (six innings with three or fewer earned runs allowed) since the All-Star break. Patrick Corbin has allowed six runs without getting out of the first inning in two of his last three starts, and the rest of the rotation has also tossed bad outings than good ones since the break.

We all knew that the beginning of the post-Juan Soto era would probably be ugly, but that had more to do with losing two very solid – if not elite – hitters than pitching woes.

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Aug
03

Preller Proves To Be Rizzo’s Padre At Trade Deadline

If you asked me entering this season who the Nationals were likely to trade at this year’s deadline, I would’ve spewed off a somewhat extensive list of names. Some of them materialized, while many of them did not.

I would’ve never included Juan Soto, though.

Yet here we are, with Soto and Josh Bell both heading out west to San Diego, adding to a lineup that already includes Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.

The struggles of the team, combined with Scott Boras once again puffing out his chest in contract negotiations, arguably severed the long-term relationship between Soto and the Nationals. After their camp rejected a 15-year, $440 million new contract, it became clear that reaching free agency was inevitable and a priority for Soto and Boras – and we’ve all seen how risky that game is.

Given these financial demands and poor overall outlook for the franchise, it wasn’t too difficult to understand that the Nationals should start fielding offers on Soto – mostly to just do their due diligence.

But to pull the trigger still sounded far-fetched.

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Aug
02

It Was Only A Few Years Ago That Everything Looked So Bright...

I don’t know why, but it seems the universe is punishing me.

Well, the sports universe is.

I came to this conclusion thinking back to 2016. Virginia Tech football had a new coach in Justin Fuente and the Hokies went 10-4, including a big comeback at South Bend to beat Notre Dame, and an even bigger comeback in a bowl game against Arkansas. VT was down 24-0 at halftime and still won.

This new guy could be OK, I thought.

That same year the Washington Redskins were coming off a 9-7 year where they made the playoffs and Kirk Cousins had everybody saying “you like that?” There was a Sunday night in late November where Cousins threw for 375 yards and Washington kicked Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers all over the field.

Things were coming together for this favorite team too.

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Apr
03

Since Nats Fans Have Time On Hands, Try Making THIS

Since Nationals fans have some time on their hands waiting for the team to play their first game – and they’ve eaten all the hot dogs and snacks they had planned to use last Thursday – here’s a chance to go big while trying to create some ballpark food at home.

The last time I was at a game in person was the 2019 World Series, and while that first home World Series game – as well as the other two – were all losses, a dish my wife brought back from the concession stand was a win. As you see to the right, it was a basket of tater tots covered in pulled pork barbecue. The pic is of my wife’s meal, where she even added Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Being a purist, I just had the BBQ and tots.

I realize pairing meat and potatoes has been around since the beginning of civilization, but it never occurred to me to put these two together and it was outstanding. I’ve made it a few times at home, and I’ve discovered you can change the personality of the dish easily by just changing the sauce. One time I’ve done a sweet barbecue sauce, another time I’ve used buffalo wing sauce or Old Bay hot sauce, and there was a time I just ate it without sauce. Same texture, much different taste.

So since we can’t be at Nats Park to pay the concession stand $20 for this dish, here’s how to spend $10 and recreate the dish for yourself and about a dozen friends. I tried to take a picture of every step of the way, and it’s in the slide show below. What I’m explaining should match up to a slide, so if you’re a visual person who must see me stabbing the pork shoulder with my steely knife, the slideshow is for you.

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Jul
30

Bells Are Ringing: Many Nats Could Be On The Move

All season, we’ve discussed how the Nationals would likely soon flip a handful of their best players for prospects or younger big leaguers. Thus far, that hasn’t happened. But in any profession, deadlines spark action.

Tuesday, August 2 marks the annual MLB Trade Deadline. Every year, it’s a time when the rich get richer and the bottom-feeders attempt to reset their rosters looking toward the future.

For the second consecutive season, the Nationals find themselves in the latter category. In fact, they’re the lowest of the low across the entire league.

What makes the Nationals so much more captivating approaching this year’s deadline than most “sellers”, however, is that they hold the keys to some of the best available assets that “buyers” will be bidding for.

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Jul
25

Washington Nationals Mailbag No. 1: Say it Ain’t Soto!

I’ve decided to let our loyal audience call the shots, and you all didn’t disappoint! Unsurprisingly, everyone wants to hear about Juan Soto from the perspective of a non-credentialed reporter or national talking head.

I want to lay out some context here, because I want everyone to realize that I’m just like you. I’ve followed this team since it returned to DC. I was there for the highs of Alfonso Soriano in 2006, for example, but man, those weren’t pretty seasons!

The team got much better, beginning in 2012. But looking back, it’s almost all forgettable for me. Maybe it’s a product of being a prisoner of the moment, but much of what’s happened during the last three seasons feels all too familiar.

We’ve seen the Washington Nationals let star after star slip away. We’ve heard the – in hindsight – empty promises that the next guy would be handled differently.

I used to believe them. Heck, I got a Juan Soto shirsey in 2019, and my parents bought me a Soto jersey for my birthday in April. The Nationals told us Soto, much like stars past, would be different. They had me hook, line and sinker.

Guess what? For better or worse, this time is different! Rather than waiting until his contract is almost up, the Nationals are actively negotiating with Soto. It’s convoluted by numerous factors, though, from a transfer in team ownership to an on-field product that’s regressed further and quicker than anyone could’ve expected, with a splash of a greedy agent holding the organization hostage.

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