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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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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
15

Will Nationals Choose Youth or Experience With No. 5 Pick?

There hasn’t been a whole lot to get excited about for the Washington Nationals this season, as some young players like Josiah Gray and Luis Garcia have made strides at the major league level, but most veteran players on the roster – including Juan Soto – have struggled throughout most of the first half of 2022.

The team will continue to get younger at next month’s Trade Deadline, but their most impactful young player will likely be added via the MLB First-Year Player Draft Sunday night.

The Nationals own the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, and it’s the highest pick they’ve had since selecting Bryce Harper first overall in 2010. With their top pick, they’re almost certain to select a position player for the second consecutive year (Brady House in 2021). Last season was a departure from their typical approach, which had been to select a high-risk, high-reward pitcher. I discussed Washington’s recent draft history last year, and NexGen Nats offered a harsh but fair critique of the team’s failures in the first round since 2012.

This time around, they won’t really even have the option of taking a pitcher, because this year’s group is rather subpar.

The consensus top two prospects in this year’s crop are outfielder Druw Jones and shortstop Jackson Holliday – both of whom are sons of long-time, highly productive Major Leaguers (Andruw Jones and Matt Holliday). Beyond that, there’s less agreement within the draft community. However, there’s a group of four players from whom Washington’s selection seems most likely to come.

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Jun
04

A Wild Week Of Promotions In Washington

Before last night's 8-5 win over Cincinnati, the Washington Nationals had lost four consecutive games. Earlier this week, they were also held scoreless for 26 innings in a row – almost three complete games.

It’s been tough to watch.

It’s unfortunately nothing new, but as it turns out, the slump from the batter’s box hasn’t been the most important story this week.

Star performers at all levels of the Nationals organization have been rewarded this week. Left-handed pitcher Evan Lee made his major league debut, infielder Luis Garcia returned to the big stage, and plenty of other notable minor league prospects moved up a level as a result of their excellent performance during the first two months of this season.

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May
29

Once Again, It’s Time For A Nationals Youth Movement

In the past few days, two contractual developments have converged for the Washington Nationals, and both point toward the Nationals getting younger, something fans have been pleading for on social media.

First, infielder Luis Garcia exceeded the required time in the minor leagues for the Nationals to gain a season of club control (if you don’t understand what that means or how they got it, I’ll explain it in a moment).

Then following Saturday’s doubleheader, the Nationals designated starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez for assignment. This was partially done due to his poor performance (an 8.33 ERA through seven starts), but the need for a sixth starter later this week prior to Sanchez’s spot in the rotation coming up again also made it tougher to justify holding onto him.

There’s some further roster maneuvering that needs to happen in the coming days – although DFAing Sanchez was an important step. Allow me to explain the options the Nationals have to fill these two spots...

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May
20

Could Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein Be Coming to DC?

Despite how bad the Nationals are, there’s certainly a plethora of storylines surrounding the team these days.

Juan Soto is scuffling, with rumors – realistic or not – surfacing that he could soon be traded. Nelson Cruz is still in a funk, the team’s defense stinks, Luis Garcia could be promoted next week, Carter Kieboom is officially sidelined for the rest of the season, and Washington is facing Trea Turner and the Dodgers next week.

Yet none of those stories are what I’m currently most intrigued by.

As Barry Svrluga reported a month ago, the Lerner family is weighing the option of selling the Washington Nationals. While no sale is imminent, some frontrunners have emerged. including Ted Leonsis, the owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and thereby the Wizards, Capitals and most other professional sports teams in the nation’s capital.

Although I’m intrigued by Leonsis as an option, especially since the MLB feels more like the NHL than the NBA in terms of roster construction and access to superstar players, he’s not who I’m most in favor of as a buyer.

Instead, I’d like to see Larry Lucchino - who Mike Rosenbaum of NJ.com has reported is interested - take the reins.

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May
12

For Nationals Starting Rotation, Relief Is On The Way

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that the Nationals starting rotation looks incomplete, but fortunately, Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross are progressing towards rejoining the staff.

The Recovery

Earlier this week, Strasburg and Ross both pitched in a simulated game at the team’s Spring Training complex in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dave Martinez didn’t disclose how many innings or pitches they threw, but he had previously stated that it should be two innings.

“They both felt good,” Martinez said, relaying information the on-site medical staff had told him. At this stage, that’s all that really matters.

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May
08

Yadiel Hernandez Continues to Exceed Expectations For Nats

The Nationals went 5-4 during their most recent West Coast road trip, and Yadiel Hernandez was one of the biggest reasons for the sudden success.

It seems like I’ve written the same story every year. Hernandez enters the season fighting to even make the roster. Then, he becomes one of the best hitters on the team.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

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Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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