At this point, the memories of the NLDS are simply scars, disappearing a little more each and every day. Bryce Harper’s cannonball home runs have finally fallen, the cold bats of everyone but him and Anthony Rendon are lying by the winter fire and the hearts of Nationals fans are already set on 2015.
And so the season for waiting has come upon us. The hurt is almost gone, and the Nationals and their fans need to look towards 2015. It’s a rough process, but it has to happen.All the major awards have been passed out, with the Nationals’ own Matt Williams taking home a Manager of The Year award, and Anthony Rendon finishing in fifth place in NL MVP voting.
The hot stove has been fired up, with the first trades of the winter months already in place, and the Nationals have a lot to do. The contracts of arguably the best pitcher on the team, Jordan Zimmermann, the cornerstone shortstop, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister, who was incredibly consistent, are all in need of extension. While Kevin Frandsen and Denard Span have guaranteed their 2015 options, Asdrubal Cabrera’s absence leaves a large hole in the second base slot. So what do the Nationals need to do to go further than just the NLDS?
The Nationals don’t need to do very much.
Anthony Rendon’s promise is on caliber with the great third basemen of this generation, like Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre and Hanley Ramirez, and the greats of all time, like Wade Boggs, George Brett and Mike Schmidt. Adding that to Bryce Harper showing that he could blossom into the power hitter the Nationals signed up for when they drafted him after a mammoth NLDS, with three home runs in four games, all absolutely crushed.
Many players that had very little – or no experience whatsoever in playoff games started in all four games of the NLDS – that can only improve after their abysmal showing in this year’s playoffs.
One thing, that shocked nearly nobody, was the release of Rafael Soriano. After an incredibly shaky second half of the season, the Nats have moved forwards (and simultaneously backwards) by putting Drew Storen back in the closer’s spot. This leaves an available spot in the bullpen, which rings the question whether the Nats should call up a young arm from Syracuse like Blake Treinen, or sign someone. Due to the inconsistency of some relievers year-to-year, it makes sense to sign a lefty to bolster that side of the bullpen, and see who earns the roster spot in spring training.
The bench is poised for a major overhaul. The only remnants from 2014 look to be Kevin Frandsen, Jose Lobaton Steven Souza, Jr., Nate McClouth and Tyler Moore or Michael Taylor, depending on who the Nationals sign later on, as they have multiple open spots.
The biggest looming question is the second base spot. While the Nationals do have an in-house option in the form of Danny Espinosa, the smartest move looks to be resigning Asdrubal Cabrera, as he is the best proven second baseman on the roster, and to keep Espinosa in his bench spot as a safety procedure for infield injuries.
The Nationals, compared to every other team, are in a great position. Some movements are required, but the best thing they can do right now is keep doing what they were doing.