Despite disappointing 2018, Nats GM promises future will be 'captivating'

Chris Lingebach
August 15, 2018 - 12:56 pm
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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals' playoff hopes are fading fast and, at some point, perhaps already, fans will turn the page on 2018 and look to the future.

But Washington's roster could see dramatic changes this offseason, with impact players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, and longtime starter Gio Gonzalez, all due to hit free agency. The supporting cast also stands to lose quite a few members: Matt Wieters, Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, Matt Adams, Mark Reynolds and Greg Holland.

Look a little further down the line, to 2019, and Anthony Rendon and Tanner Roark could be on their way out.

Once they put the 2018 season in review, however it ends, some fans might feel a slight tinge of, 'Man, this is kind of the end of an era.'

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was asked, during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies, if that's the way he feels about his current club.

"No," said Rizzo, who's sponsored by Burke & Herbert. "We talk about these windows. You know, the 'closing of the windows.' Our windows are wide open, man."

"You got a 19-year-old Rookie of the Year candidate," he said of Juan Soto. "You've got a 20-year-old Robles in the wings. You've got an anchor at third and a young player at short, and two stud pitchers in the front and a stud pitcher in the back. So we love our core group of guys. Our window's wide open."

"We've got a fertile farm system that keeps filtering good players to us each and every year," he said. "We're creative in the trade market, in the free agent market and we see this team to be good, competitive and gonna be very, very athletic in the future and win a lot of baseball games."

Washington has a slew of young talent at every level of the farm. Fans are well acquainted with Victor Robles, an obvious September call-up candidate who'd probably already be on the big-league roster if not for injury. Carter Kieboom, the 20-year-old younger brother to Spencer, is raring to go, batting .269 with five homers and 15 RBI in 46 games at Double-A Harrisburg.

Wil Crowe, Washington's second-round pick in 2017, was recently promoted to Double-A after going 11-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 15 starts at Potomac. Seth Romero, last year's top pick who got booted out of spring training for rules violations, is currently on the disabled list, but has begun his mea culpa tour at Single-A Hagerstown.

Mason Denaburg, this year's first-round pick who came personally recommended by Max Scherzer, has received his first assignment to the Gulf Coast League. And 18-year-old corner-infield prospect Luis Garcia, after ripping through Hagerstown to start the season, is batting .299 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 32 games at Single-A Potomac.

"There might be a little different complexion of the team," Rizzo said. "It may look a little different, there may be a few different faces, but those faces are going to be exciting, athletic, fast, playing 100 miles an hour with their hair on fire.

"Nats baseball is going to be captivating to watch for the near and far future."

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