Nats still not a true threat for title

By Ryan Decker 

The Washington Nationals were the center of attention at last week’s MLB Winter Meetings. Dusty Baker’s club was at least rumored to be in connection with a number of big names, including two of the three top closers (Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen), a possible trade candidate for former MVP Andrew McCutchen, and other big names.

Instead, the Nats haven’t been able to acquire any of the top players on the open market, nor did they work out a trade for McCutchen. In place of that blockbuster trade, Washington dealt three of their top prospects to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for center fielder Adam Eaton.

While other top teams in the NL — San Francisco (signing Mark Melancon), Los Angeles (reportedly re-signing both Kenley Jansen, and Justin Turner), and St. Louis (signing Dexter Fowler) — are getting better, the Nationals stayed stagnant and hindered their future.

Sure the Eaton trade gave Washington a true centerfielder, which it desperately needed. Attempting to mold infield prospect Trea Turner into an everyday outfielder wasn’t a plan that was going to succeed, especially on a team that wants to win a World Series.

Eaton provides extra defense, and what has proved to be a steady bat (.290/.362/.422) since becoming an everyday player in Chicago in 2014.

But for what the Nationals gave up — three top of the line pitching prospects in (1) Lucas Giolito, (3) Reynaldo Lopez and (6) Dane Dunning — what they received was not a difference maker.

Sure it got Turner out of center and Danny Espinosa traded, but when Washington goofed up the chance to get a former MVP, five-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner in McCutchen and has to settle for Eaton, who has never made an All-Star team or hit more than 14 long balls or driven in 60 runs in a season in his career, there’s a sour taste left in your mouth.

Cutch __ Eaton .jpg
You decide: Did the Nationals make the right move?   Graphic created by Ryan Decker 

 

Maybe the sour taste comes from other teams getting better, while the Nats appear to be staying in place.

The Cubs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Chicago is going to be good for a while.

San Francisco singed Melancon to be its premiere closer for the next four seasons. He bolsters a pitching staff that already features Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Hunter Strickland, and is managed by one of the best in the game in Bruce Bochy.

With the Dodgers reportedly re-signing both of their major FA’s Jansen and Turner, as well as getting younger by slashing the contracts of Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley.

St. Louis also has a young core in place, and added veteran experience in Fowler.

That’s four teams that, including management, history and on the field talent, you can easily make the argument are better contenders to represent the National League in the 2017 World Series than the Nationals.

Bryce Harper had an astronomically great season in 2015 but took a giant step backwards in 2016. Ryan Zimmerman continues to be a shell of his former self. Not many players get significantly better after their age-31 season, which tells me to hold off on expecting a repeat performance from Daniel Murphy.

Washington’s pitching staff is fine now, but another injury by Stephen Strasburg and/or any other starter could prove catastrophic without MLB-caliber arms in Giolito, Lopez and Dunning waiting in the wings.

Are the Nationals a good team? Yes.

Are the Nationals a really good team? Sure

Are the Nationals a true contender for a World Series title?

No.

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19 comments

    • All I have to say it amazes me how people write articles and say how this team is going to win and that they will not.

      I recall these same so call experts back a bit saying how the Nats would win it all with the pitching staff they assembled.

      We all know how legit that turned out to be.

      Maybe that is why they are not baseball managers or gneral managers.

      Do you think?

      Like

    • McCutchen had only 2 years left on his contract! Anyway, analysts have easily argued that Giolito, a top prospect, does not struggle that much! A small sample size but still, 6.75 ERA! Really! If the Nats had got McCutchen, in 2018 they would have been looking for two outfielders! While Eaton has 5 years left on his contract. So the fact that this blog had the audacity to argue that the Nats aren’t contenders, is purely insane. This was pointed out to you, by a 10 year old.

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  1. You can’t honestly say that the Cardinals are worthy of championship consideration at this point but the Nationals aren’t. That’s REALLY stretching it to try to make a point. I’m anything but a Nats fan, but I definitely fear them. With anything resembling a bounce back year from Harper, they will be a better team than they were last year.

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  2. You think the Cardinals are better than the Nats??? A pitching staff of Scherzer, Stras, Roark, Ross, and Gio is “fine?”. Samardzija is a reason to be afraid of the Giants? The Nats are clearly the third best team in the NL.

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  3. This a very poorly written article. As fan of a division rival of the Nationals I am irritated at least that they got Eaton over Mccutchen. I loved the graphic that essentially compared the careers of Eaton and Mccutchen. One has 7 full seasons under their belt, the other has 3. Mccutchen was a revolutionary top teir player….in 2014. Ever since his stats have fallen off dramatically and he he was a BELOW replacement level player since the 2015 all star break.

    Eaton posted the 11th highest war, gets on base hits about 15 home runs a year (why are you worried about home runs from a leadoff high obp center fielder???) and plays elite defense.

    Eaton is locked up under market for 4 more years. Played on the little brother Chicago team which got ignored the last few years(understandably).

    But you, a blogger who should be educated on the sports you write about, would rather pay for a name playing below replacement level for over a year and a half rather then get one of the rising outfield stars in baseball? Eaton makes your team that much tougher. He fills a vacant role (span revere etc) with another tough quality at bat that often ends up with a man on base.

    Do your research please before you write an entry.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anyone that has watched baseball more than 5 minutes, knows that any “really good team” that is a playoff contender, is also a championship contender. Hell, in 14 both WS teams were wild cards. I guess I only have myself to blame for reading this stupid piece of baseless clickbait.

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  5. This article is ridiculously one-sided and biased. Why doesn’t your cute little graphic mention their age or include their stats from last year? Cutch is 30 years old and hit .256/.336/.430 with 24 homeruns, 143 strike outs, and 69 walks. Eaton is 28 and hit .284/.362/.428 with 14 homeruns, 115 strikeouts and 63 walks. Not to mention Eaton’s War was a 6.2 and Cutch’s was -0.7. The man peaked long ago and Rizzo once again made the smart move, choosing the 28 year old with his best years ahead signed to a 5 year deal for cheaper than Cutch’s deal over the next 2 years. He will play center for one year and then the nats will have the best corner outfield in the league with Eaton and Harper. Not to mention that Giolito and lopez were massively overrated. Neither has showed an ability to hit spots consistently. Giolito will be a 3/4 starter at best and Lopez will maybe be an average reliever if he can ever learn to throw strikes. Dane dunning is still a total wild card. Nats are once again a serious contender, and people will see the genius of this trade once the prospects pan out.

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    • The Nats completely overpaid for Eaton. He’s not a center fielder and they lose a lot of his value putting him there. Literally everyone in the industry thought the trade was insane except Rizzo.

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      • By “everyone in the industry” you mean Jim Bowden–the man who used to hold Rizzo’s job–and his cronies. You can never judge a trade for prospects until you see what those prospects turn into. Cant wait to see Giolito and Lopez bust big time for the Sox.

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      • Eaton is not a horrible player, but he is definitely nothing special. There is a reason his contract is so team friendly. He is serviceable. His value is in that contract and what it will allow them to spend elsewhere. End of story.

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  6. The Nats are a playoff team as presently constructed, and they could upgrade at the deadline if needed. I like Glover to fill the closer position. The playoffs and pitching is outlier, look at how close Cleveland came to winning it all with 2 good starters out, and they beat the Red Sox who had a much better team.

    Like

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