Last week, I tweeted out the following picture:
Let’s just say it got quite the reaction, and it’s quite the hilarious image. This here is a current projection for the 2022 Nationals and the amount of WAR that is expected to be put up by players that can play at that specific position, beginning with the projected starter. And just looking at it, I mean, what is this? This team STINKS.
Yes, the Nationals chances of competing for a playoff spot are essentially already written off for 2022. Yes, they’re starting a rebuild. But still, you can’t ignore how hilariously bad this team is projected to be. I will say there are a few things on this graphic that are a little off in my opinion, like I think Josh Bell’s projection for 1.9 WAR is a little too low, and Carter Kieboom’s projection for 1.3 WAR and Patrick Corbin’s projection for 2.7 WAR are too high. I’d also pray to God they’re starting Luis Garcia rather than Alcides Escobar at shortstop. But at the end of the day, Juan Soto has only 1.2 less projected WAR by himself than the rest of the starting lineup combined. That’s sad.
Again, I doubt and I hope this isn’t actually the opening day team, or else 2022 is going to be an even rougher season than we thought. The Nats need to add via free agency to at least bring a little more exciting names in, because putting this product on the field on Opening Day would be pretty embarrassing. From a business perspective, there’s really no draw spend money at Nats Park right now for anything other than Juan Soto.
The key here for the Nats is to do something that will accumulate more revenue next year. This could be, for example, signing a big-name player like Carlos Correa or Kris Bryant. It’s important to remember, and say it with me Nats fans: Just. Because. You’re. In. A. Rebuild. Does. Not. Mean. You. Shouldn’t. Spend. Money. There’s no reason the Nats couldn’t have done what the Rangers did this offseason, they just chose not to.
The goal here for the Nats should be an offseason and season like when the Padres first signed Manny Machado. Still not a good baseball team in year 1 of the superstar’s contract, but making a big signing and having some young guys start coming up to let other teams know that you’ll be ready soon is the ideal approach. Even though the Padres stunk in 2019 and had a disappointing year in 2021, they still have the draws like Machado, Tatis, and other players that make Slam Diego one of the most fun teams in the league. The Nats really need to work on finding their identity as they build back into an annually competitive franchise, and this would be a big step in doing that.
The bottom line is that this current projected team would be straight up unacceptable to put on the field next year unless Mike Rizzo is all in on the top pick in the 2023 draft (until he loses it when the lottery system comes in the next CBA). The Nats have their work cut out for them when the lockout is lifted, and we can only hope they do something about it.