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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats close to being competitive again?

Notes and quotes from the Nationals on getting back to competing in the NL East...

“We saw a lot of growth last year,” Davey Martinez told reporters when he spoke at the Winter Meetings about what he expected in terms of the Washington Nationals’ identity as a team in 2024, “… especially in our younger players. I want them to be hungry and be ready.”

Two and a half years into the reboot the organization embarked upon at the trade deadline in 2021, Martinez said, they are making progress and almost, in his opinion, back to fielding the sort of competitive teams the club did between 2012-19.

“We’re close. We really are,” he said.

“These guys, they feel like they can do some special things. Our core young guys have — towards the end of the year, they started getting it. So I want ‘em to build off of that and be ready to go in Spring Training.”

And when he says they are “close”? What does that mean, exactly?

“We still got some pieces that we need to add,” Martinez explained. “When I say that, we still got a lot of young kids that are coming up that could possibly help us, the Brady Houses, [James] Wood, even [Robert] Hassell [III], [Trey] Lipscomb — which I saw playing in the fall league — those guys are coming. The future’s bright here, it really is. I’m excited about it.”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

“I feel that we took a step in the right direction last year,” GM Mike Rizzo said when asked about the team’s 71-91 record, a 16-win improvement over 2022’s 55-win total, “… and we’re going to try to facilitate another roster that allows us to take another step forward and get into action with a terrific division that we have to deal with. We understand the challenges in front of us, and I think that we’re a capable group, and I think you’ve seen in the past that we’ve done it, and I think that we’re going to be able to do it in the future.”

Veteran reliever Dylan Floro, who signed a 1-year/$2.25M free agent deal with the club this winter, said he saw signs of the Nationals turning the corner towards once again being competitive in the NL East.

“I’ve seen they’ve got young talent, I can see there is going to be progress in the [near] future,” Floro said.

Nick Senzel got a 1-year/$2M deal from the Nationals, and he too talked about joining a club on the come, and trying to help them take the next step.

“Last year with Cincinnati, obviously the time I was there it was kind of an older crop of guys with a couple young guys coming in and then obviously with trades and stuff brought in an overhaul of young talent,” he said in comparing his former club and the Nationals’ respective reboot/rebuilds, “… and just with the youth you get excitement, you get that energy and I could definitely see playing the Nationals from the other side that they brought that, you could see they play with energy and excitement and I could just see the similarities. So it will be exciting, it should be an easy transition going to a group of a lot of younger guys and just try to mentor them and just try to match the energy level with them because that youth has so much energy and it’s great for a team and great for a clubhouse.”