For the most part, 2020 wasn’t kind to any of us, and that’s true for the Washington Nationals, as well. The Nats finished tied for last place in the NL East over the 60 game season, and had the season been the full 162, there’s a fairly significant chance Washington finishes last in the division.
But we’re now removed from the 2020 season and the offseason has commenced.
While the front office attempts to navigate a path forward, fans are left waiting to see how the roster shakes out for 2021.
Because we’re left in baseball’s annual purgatory, and since Thanksgiving is upon us, we can think of what we’re thankful for.
I wondered if it would simply be too on the nose to choose Juan Soto as the reason to be thankful.
After careful consideration, I decided that it wasn’t. With the rising best player in baseball on the Nats’ roster, there’s always reason to be thankful.
In a year of lowlights in Washington, Soto was irrefutably a bright one — an increasingly common occurrence over the last three years.
In his age 21 season, Soto slashed .351/.490/.695, which generated a 1.185 OPS. He also had 13 home runs to go along with those numbers, as well as a wRC+ of 200 and 2.4 fWAR, which was half his WAR output from a year ago in about one-third of the games played.
While I’ve been the well-documented contrarian to the Nationals trying to compete next season, the front office is in a position where they likely want to attempt to field a competitive club for every year Soto is on the roster. You have to wonder whether or not the Nationals will deem Soto affordable once he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2025. The club will likely go after the star outfielder since Patrick Corbin’s contract expires that same year, clearing space for a Soto signing, but it can be hard to predict baseball moves so far down the road.
Regardless, Soto is patrolling the grass at Nationals Park in the nation’s capital now and for the next several seasons. While 2020 was bleak, and there may be a downturn in DC, Soto will likely continue his onslaught against the rest of the league. So, while you’re gathered around the table enjoying turkey with your family, while they express thanks for more reasonable things like family or health, make sure you mention the great Juan Soto.