So, whenever the Nationals and Chicago Cubs play, Al Yellon from our sister site with the SB Nation, Bleed Cubbie Blue, reaches out and asks for a quick blurb summing up the state of things in Washington, which, this season, man, it hasn’t been easy, but we did our best over the weekend to provide Cubbies fans with a quick write-up to set up the series, which is in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field this week.
How’d we do?:
There are plenty of frustrated fans in the nation’s capital these days, a year-plus into the organizational reboot the Nationals kicked off with a sell-off of expiring deals (and a year-plus of Trea Turner) at the trade deadline in 2021.
The plan, at least initially, was to build the next contender in the nation’s capital around 23-year-old slugger Juan Soto, but as it became increasingly clear to the club Soto and his agent Scott Boras intended to eventually go to free agency, and after he turned down a 15-year/$440M offer, citing the “low” AAV, GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the front office in D.C. decided to explore their options, considering trade possibilities, and when the San Diego Padres met the bar the Nationals set for teams with a legitimate interest in acquiring two and a half years of prime Soto, Rizzo dealt him for what the team believes was a reboot-accelerating haul of five top prospects from the Padres’ well-regarded system (and also a veteran bat in Luke Voit).
Selling the plan to a fan base three frustrating seasons removed from a World Series title, with few remaining names on the roster from the championship club, has not been easy, though Rizzo keeps on telling everyone there is a blueprint from the last time he and his staff did this (in 2009-12).
There is some legitimate, young, up-and-coming talent in the organization now, though it isn’t easy (or much fun) watching the major league club this summer.
More potential members of a future club which can contend for a division to title or for a postseason berth should be up over the next month-plus, but the present for the Nationals is dreadful, with losses piling up and fans tuning out, and it’s hard to blame them, though the plan the team has put in place has led to an improved minor league system after two trade deadline hauls, and a couple first-year draft and international signing classes have bolstered the talent-level in the minors, but the top talents are young and the future is not necessarily now, but still a few seasons away at this point.
Should we have told them we empathize since their club is in a similar situation?
You can check out the thoughts of Cubs fans going into the series in the preview of the three-game series over at BleedCubbieBlue.com: