2021 MLB Team Preview: Washington Nationals

After winning the World Series back in 2019, the Washington Nationals regressed in 2020 . It was a cocktail of COVID-19 and losing Anthony Rendon in the offseason that year as well as injuries.

They have spent this past offseason signing a key pieces and trying to fill some of the holes throughout their roster in order, but will they compete in 2021? The landscape in the division has changed quite a bit in just one year’s time.

What Happened Last Year

Shockingly, the Nationals tied for last place in the National League East with a 26-34 record, missing the postseason. It was a year to forget for Washington and its players, even losing the former World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg for the year after just two starts before eventually undergoing carpel tunnel surgery on his wrist. Patrick Corbin also struggled throughout the year after such a strong 2019 year. Not to mention the fact that their bullpen has been terrible the last few seasons, with their relievers ranking 23rd in the MLB in fWAR throughout the season. Overall, this roster underperformed, and the shortened season may have been the cause of that decline. With a full year on the horizon, this roster will hope to bounce back from their down year.

Offseason Changes

The Nationals were able to get their hands on Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber during the offseason. Bell was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates while Schwarber was picked up on a one year, $10 million deal. Along with two smaller contracts that they gave out to Brad Hand and Jon Lester. Bell was looking like a star in the league back in 2019 but had a very difficult 2020 season that saw his numbers dip. The Nationals did a great job at buying low for him and hoping he could get back to his old self in the right environment. The same goes for Schwarber, who had a career worst season with the Chicago Cubs in 2020 but definitely has the opportunity to turn back the clock with Washington.  

2021 Outlook

During the offseason back at the end of the 2019 season, fans and analysts were picking the Nationals to be in the playoff mix once again in 2020 despite the loss of Rendon. Washington wasn’t able to get close to those expectations because their pitching struggled, and they weren’t able to make up for the hole that Rendon left behind. Now they hope that their two new additions, Bell and Schwarber, are able to get them back into contention by filling a few holes that are still open. It is hard to say whether or not they will compete next year after such a disastrous 2020 but they have the talent to at least finish at .500 on the season. They may not be able to surpass teams like the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets but should be placed right in the middle of the National League East.

Pick: 4th In National League East

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