With Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, Aníbal Sánchez put up a 2.82 ERA and a .217/.283/.337 line against in 16 games and 89 1⁄3 innings pitched in 2018, though he also put up pretty solid numbers with Tyler Flowers catching in Atlanta as well (2.97 ERA, .196/.248/.385 line against over seven games and 39 1⁄3 IP for the Braves).
Sánchez and Suzuki will be reunited in Washington in 2019. Sánchez reportedly inked a 2-year/$19M deal with the Nationals last night. Suzuki agreed on his 2-year/$10M free agent deal back on November 19th.
Eleven days after Suzuki signed on in D.C., the Nationals acquired catcher Yan Gomes in a 3-for-1 trade with Cleveland that sent right-hander Jefry Rodriguez and two outfielders, Daniel Johnson and Andruw Monasterio, to the Indians.
Patrick Corbin, who signed a 6-year/$140M deal with the Nationals back on December 7th, told reporters that the presence of Suzuki and Gomes in D.C. was a big part of the appeal for him when he made his decision on a free agent destination.
“That’s a huge part, signing Gomes and Suzuki,” Corbin acknowledged.
“I’ve gotten to watch them over the last couple years and it’s just a big part of the game.
“I had Jeff Mathis in Arizona the last couple years and he takes pride behind the plate, and watching these guys they do the same thing.”
Incumbent Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer too said he was excited about working with the two new catchers, in spite of the fact that the names behind the plate have changed fairly regularly over the first four years of his 7-year/$210M deal, and he said that the moves Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office are making this winter have everyone excited.
“It gives you some optimism,” the three-time Cy Young award winner explained.
“It gives you a bounce in your step,” he said, “because the last two months it’s been kind of sour grapes. I hate watching playoff baseball from home. I mean, I’m a fan of the game, I’m going to watch the games, watch the World Series, there were some incredible games, but when you’re sitting on your couch, man, you just sit there with a baseball and you just think of all the little things that you did that didn’t work.
“And you think about all those mistakes you made and what parts of the season you would do differently. I think that’s for everybody.
“And that’s why when you start looking [at] how we’re building our team for 2019, yeah, it does put a bounce back in your step.”
“Rizzo is the architect here,” Scherzer continued when he spoke to reporters at Winterfest in early December.
“He puts together the team, and it takes ownership’s commitment with the resources to be able to go out there and bring in players that we need that he sees fit.
“In my time here, Rizzo has done a great job of identifying players, whether it’s signings or trades, and bringing up young guys that we’ve effectively continued to have winning ballclubs year in and year out. I know last year was a disappointment for all of us, but I think that gives Rizzo even a little more motivation to go out there and find a way for our team to get better and to get us to where we need to be and that’s to try to win a World Series.”
Rizzo has added Kyle Barraclough, Trevor Rosenthal, and Tanner Rainey to the bullpen mix, Suzuki and Gomes behind the plate, Corbin and Sánchez to the rotation, and Matt Adams on the bench.
New York Post writer Joel Sherman wrote after Sánchez signed that the Nationals are still in the market for a, “... versatile [left-handed] bat that could play some [second base].”
Will talk of an extension for Anthony Rendon result in a long-term deal this winter, or will another homegrown player end up testing free agency next offseason?
“Rizzo and his team, they’re smart and they make decisions by doing their homework and I think it’s exciting to see so far what they’ve done,” Adams said after his 1-year/$4M deal was announced this past week.
“And there’s still a decent amount of offseason left for them to go out and get some more pieces if they want to,” the bench bat and backup first baseman added.
“I think it’s just going to be exciting to get down to Spring Training and get to work for everybody’s goal, [which] is to get back to the postseason and bring that championship back to D.C.”