On occasion we like to spread the good word about the Washington Nationals. Basically, we will when anyone asks. A writer from the SB Nation’s Miami Marlins site, Fish Stripes, asked us this week, so we shared our thoughts on a number of topics to give fans of the Nats’ NL East rivals our opinions on what lies ahead for the defending division winners in 2018.
We’ve included one question and answer below, and you can read the rest of the Q&A through the link provided at the end of the post...
Fish Stripes: A “J.T. Realmuto to the Nats” trade seemed like an obvious fit, but didn’t actually happen. So the catcher position still looks like a weakness. Do you have any other concerns about this stacked team heading into 2018?
Federal Baseball: I didn’t think the Nationals would include Victor Robles or Juan Soto in a package for Realmuto, and I think the Marlins should have insisted on one or the other being part of any deal, so I’m not surprised it didn’t work out, honestly, especially since it would likely have meant that the Nationals would have had to move Matt Wieters (and eat most of his $10.5M salary) in order to make things work. Maybe Kevin Long can work his magic on Wieters’ swing, and the Nats (at least publicly) continue to say they see him as a candidate for a bounce-back season after a down year, though I think it’s a downward trend that goes back a few seasons (and Tommy John surgery probably didn’t help), so I’m not sure I believe Wieters is due to return to hitting like he did earlier in his career in Baltimore.
My other chief concern is the rotation depth. Their top four are strong (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark, though I’m not sure I want to see Gonzalez starting in the postseason again), but after that it’s top right-handed prospect Erick Fedde and A.J. Cole competing for the fifth spot (with Edwin Jackson and Tommy Milone as depth). Cole is out of options and finished strong last season, so he’s the frontrunner as of now. Fedde, if healthy, could be a solid back end arm, and Cole, has shown signs of growth, though only in stretches. I asked GM Mike Rizzo this winter who he saw behind those two as the depth in the organization and he named the Nationals’ top two draft picks from last June’s Draft (lefty Seth Romero - who got sent home from Spring Training a little back for curfew violations apparently — and righty Wil Crowe), which tells you something about the depth in the system. An injury or two to the starters could cause serious problems in my opinion.
“NL East titles aren’t enough anymore, so they’re in it for a championship this season, and will worry about the future when this season is over.”— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) March 15, 2018
Previewing the 2018 Nats, who should win a lot of games before flaming out in the Division Series (again) https://t.co/bsTMWTFGFb pic.twitter.com/f38x1kdxLd