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Washington Nationals 2022 Season Preview

Washington Nationals 2022 Season Preview
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Only two years removed from their first World Series Championship in franchise history, the Washington Nationals traded most of their team last year. They parted ways with stars Max Scherzer and Trea Turner while also trading away Brad Hand, Kyle Schwarber, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison, and Jon Lester. The return on these deals will help the Nationals rebuild their farm system with a couple of players in Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray expected to make an immediate impact. Although they are in a rebuild now, Washington did sign a few free agents and is looking to improve on their 65-97 record from 2021.

Make sure to check out all of our other Season Previews.

Additions

Along with the players mentioned here, the Nationals have also filled their spring training roster with veterans who could help the team in the short term. They added Ehire Adrianza and Steve Cishek to major league contracts as well as adding Aaron Sanchez, Gerardo Parra, Dee Strange-Gordon, and Maikel Franco to minor league deals. These players are looking to prove themselves as well, especially for Sanchez and Franco who aren’t even 30 years old yet.

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Nelson Cruz, DH, One year/$15 million

The market opened up considerably for the 41-year-old Cruz as the DH will now be in the NL. Although he struggled after getting traded to the Tampa Bay Rays at the deadline last year, Cruz enjoyed success in his time in Minnesota slashing .304/.386/.598 in his two and a half years with the Twins. Boomstick will give the Nationals another power bat in the middle of the lineup to go along with Juan Soto and Josh Bell.

Cesar Hernandez, 2B, One year/$4 million

The Nationals obviously need someone to play the infield so they brought in nine-year vet Hernandez. Although he generally struggled at the plate last year between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox sporting his lowest OPS since 2015, Hernandez did set a career high with 21 home runs. He also was a below average fielder at second base after winning his first Gold Glove in 2020. He gives the Nationals a veteran presence in the middle of the diamond and he gives himself a chance to get another long term deal after this season.

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Sean Doolittle, LHP, One year/Undisclosed

The Nationals are bringing back a fan favorite. Doolittle who played for Washington from 2017 to 2020 spent last season with both Cincinnati and Seattle. The 35-year-old lefty dealt with injuries and a dip in velocity since 2019. However, he saw his fastball bounce back last season into the mid-90s. The Nationals are hoping he can solidify the bullpen and give them a veteran presence as well as an option for the end of games.

Subtractions

Starlin Castro, 2B, Free Agent

Although Castro didn’t play after July 11 last season, he still enters the market. The Nationals released the 32-year-old infielder after he served a 30-game suspension for a domestic violence incident. In 103 games over the past two years for Washington, the veteran slashed .280/.328/.387 with just five home runs.

Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Retired

Mr. National hung up the cleats this offseason. Aside from the COVID-shortened 2020 season, 2022 will be the first time Washington will not have Zimmerman on their roster since 2004 when they were still in Montreal. He holds franchise records in many offensive categories including HRs (284), RBIs (1,061), runs (963), and hits (1,846). Zimmerman finishes his career with a slash of .277/.341/.475, a Gold Glove, two All-Star appearances, and a World Series ring.

2022 Outlook

The Nationals are going full rebuild. This was made obvious by the fact that they shipped off half of their team last season. They also signed a bunch of veterans as a bridge to 2023 as well as giving them some trade pieces at this year’s deadline. They also have the fifth pick in the draft this year which will get them a top prospect. This year will be one where Washington can continue to build the farm and also see what they have in a couple of their young players set to debut, namely pitchers Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge.

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Prediction: 71-91

The NL East has gotten tougher. The Atlanta Braves are defending champs. The New York Mets have two of the best pitchers in the game, and the Philadelphia Phillies just made their lineup very dangerous. The Nationals picked a good time to start a rebuild as they weren’t likely to compete this year anyway. Some of the veterans they brought in will play well with something to prove in hopes of getting paid down the line. Aside from that, Washington will continue to work toward getting back into the playoff hunt in 2023 or 2024.


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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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