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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
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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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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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

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

Stephen Newman

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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