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Washington Nationals news & notes: Davey Martinez on the Nats’ reboot; what makes Juan Soto special + Cade Cavalli

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Highlights from Davey Martinez’s media availability on Tuesday afternoon...

Reboot Timetable Talk:

In discussing the sell-off at the trade deadline, and the reboot and refocus for the Nationals in the immediate aftermath of the frenzy of moves, Washington’s GM, Mike Rizzo, offered his thoughts on how long the process might take after a decade of competitive baseball in the nation’s capital.

“The remnants of this trade deadline,” Rizzo said, “the last trade deadline, the last couple of impactful drafts that we had, will be the core of this next world championship-caliber club.

“We started this thing in 2009 way below where we’re at today, as far as organizationally, and it took us three years to win 98 games. So, we have a great plan in place, we’ve got great people out in the field, scouting and developing our players, and we’ve got a great major league staff, and a good stable of players that are going to impact the majors in the near future.

“You never put a timetable on it, but I’m a restless person and I don’t like to lose, and we’re not going to put up with losing for too long.”

There has been plenty of losing over the weeks since the deadline, but Davey Martinez, in his pregame Zoom call with reporters on Tuesday, talked about his time in Tampa Bay and Chicago as Joe Maddon’s bench coach and compared the team now to the Rays and Cubs clubs that eventually did a lot of winning under their guidance.

“It feels like Tampa, it feels a little bit like Chicago,” Martinez said.

“Chicago we started out in ‘15, even though we made the playoffs, but we were fairly young, and we didn’t know what we had going into that season. It just clicked and our pitching was a lot better than we thought at that time.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

“It’s going to be some growing pains, I can assure you of that. But for the most part we’ve been having fun, the guys have been, like I said, they’re working their tails off, they’re excited, we’re excited to see them play every day, and we’re going to continue to teach, and hopefully some of these guys will not only finish the year out, but they’ll stick here for next year with us.”

“We still got to — I look at these guys and we’ve still got to compete,” Martinez explained at another point in his talk with reporters. “And we talk about that often with these guys.

“I try to reiterate you’re in the major leagues and you’ve got to compete every day. This is not something where — people can say that we’re rebuilding, we’re not here to rebuild, we’re here to compete and go out there and try to win as many games as possible. We need to understand that. Our young players need to understand. We want to win. Regardless, I know we lost a lot of guys, but we still want to win, we won a championship here and I want these young guys to understand that we are a championship organization and we want to win again and we want to win soon.”

Looking around at the talent in the organization, some from trades at the deadline, and the players that are still here after the fire sale of expiring contracts (and one year-plus of Trea Turner), Martinez too said he’s excited about the future, and fielding a competitive team in D.C. sooner than later.

“I think the future is bright and I think it won’t be long before we get back to being that very, very competitive team, going 1-0 every day, and seeing some of the guys that we’re getting.

“As we all know, pitching, I’ve said this before, but pitching starting pitching is the key to any team that’s competing for a championship season and that’s where we need to get a lot better.

“With Josiah [Gray] here. We get Stephen [Strasburg] back healthy next year, Joe [Ross] comes back healthy, [Erick] Fedde has pitched fairly well, some bright spots out of Fedde, but I think come next year, you’ll see these guys come back and hopefully they’ll come back healthy and we’ll be right back where we need to be with these young guys.”

Soto Is Special:

One of Toronto’s radio broadcasters on Martinez’s pregame Zoom call on Tuesday asked the fourth-year skipper for some insight going into the series as to what makes 22-year-old Nats’ slugger Juan Soto such a special player.

Soto, as the Nationals noted in their pregame notes for last night’s game, started the quick, two-game set having reached base safely in 20 of his previous 32 plate appearances, which was, “good for a .625 on-base percentage over his last nine games,” and he was 8 for 19 in that stretch, for a .421 AVG with two doubles, a home run, five RBIs, 12 walks, and five runs scored in those nine.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

So what sets him apart from the crowd?

“He’s just a good kid, loves to play the game. You just watch him, he loves to go out there and compete and play the game,” Martinez said.

“His at bats are really good. Fundamentally he’s just a good all-around player, and he’s just continuing to learn, he’s continuing to get better, he’s just one of those guys where, like I said, he’s out there and wants to compete but wants to win, you know, and you can see it in his face. This guy, what he can do every at bat, hit balls hard anywhere, from left field line to right field line, from left-center field homers to right-center field homers. This kid, the sky is the limit for this kid.”

Cavalli Rising Through Ranks:

Cade Cavalli, the Nationals’ 2020 1st Round pick (22nd overall), went into his 10th start for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators on Tuesday with a 2.79 ERA, 27 walks, and 68 Ks in 48 13 innings pitched for the Nationals’ affiliate, after starting his first “regular” season of minor league ball with a 1.77 ERA, 12 walks, and 71 Ks at High-A Wilmington before he was bumped up a level.

The top-ranked pitcher on Baseball America’s post-trade deadline update on the prospects in the Nationals’ system, and No. 2 overall player, is putting up impressive numbers and the 23-year-old is turning heads as he climbs lists everywhere, and his manager is keeping track as well.

“We’re keeping close eyes on Cade,” Martinez said yesterday. “He’s doing well. He’s done well in Double-A. I think there’s going to be a point where he does get moved up to Triple-A fairly soon, but we don’t have any timetable on him, we want him to continue to grow. He’s starting to learn a lot about himself and the strike zone and his mix of pitches, but we think that he’s got a bright future in this organization for a lot of years.”

So, of course, the obvious question is when we might see him up in the Nationals’ rotation, given all the trades the club made, and the youth movement they’ve undertaken as they’re rebooting things in D.C.

“There’s no timetable for when you’re going to see him here,” Martinez said, predictably, “but if he keeps continuing to grow the way he’s growing, who knows what could happen here in the future, but he obviously will be here if things keep going the way it’s going. I’m not saying this year, but fairly soon.”