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April 7, 2022 / Nat Anacostia

Nats’ 2021-2022 offseason in review: ‘We’ve got to build you up’

With the Nationals in rebuilding mode, the team patched some gaps during the offseason but did little that seems likely to affect their longer term hopes of reconstituting a winning team. Here’s a quick review of what’s changed during the offseason.

Departures

The one truly notable departure was Mr. National himself, Ryan Zimmerman. On February 15, he announced he was concluding his 17-year career with the Washington Nationals and retiring as a player. His personal services contract will maintain his association with the organization until at least 2026. On March 21, the team announced that they will retire his number 11, making him the first Nat to receive this honor.

Two other veterans also retired. Alex Avila announced his retirement a couple of weeks before the end of last season, while Jody Mercer waited until April 5 to announce his retirement.

Long-time Nats relief pitcher, Wander Suero, departed via free agency and signed with the Angels. Jhon Romero was claimed by the Twins on waivers. Ryne Harper was non-tendered and has yet to land with another team. Sean Nolin had initially signed to a minor league contract, but the Nats released him so that he could sign with the Kia Tigers of the KBO.

Arrivals

With the National League finally adopting the DH this season, the Nats filled the position with their most notable acquisition of the off-season, 41-year old free agent Nelson Cruz. Signed to a one-year, $16 million contract, Cruz had a 130 OPS+ last season, splitting the year between the Twins and the Rays. The Nats took the gamble that he can keep up the production for at least one more season.

The Nats infield has been augmented with free agent second baseman, Cesar Hernandez, and third baseman, Maikel Franco, both former long-time Phillies. Hernandez finished last season with the White Sox, while Franco was released by the Orioles and finished last season in the Braves minor league system. They also signed utility infielder, Ehire Adrianza, most recently with the Braves. The Nats picked up Lucius Fox, who has not yet appeared in the majors, from the Orioles on a waivers claim. In the outfield, the Nats signed Dee Strange-Gordon, who has been kicking around with many organizations, but who Nats fans likely remember as a Marlin. He spent last year in the minors, splitting the season among the Brewers, Cubs, and Pirates organizations.

The Nats brought back Anibal Sanchez to take one of the spots in the starting rotation. Sanchez had not played during 2021. They signed free agent relief pitchers, Steve Cishek (most recently an Angel, but likely known to Nats fans as a former Marlin) and Sean Doolittle (a Nat from 2017 to 2020; most recently with the Mariners). They also signed relief pitcher and former Nat, Tyler Clippard, to a minor league contract. Clip has spent time with many organizations, mostly recently with the Diamondbacks. And relief pitcher Victor Arano, another former Phillie who spent 2021 in the minors in the Braves system, made the team as a non-roster invitee.

Injuries

The main names starting the season on the injured list are pitchers—Will Harris, Seth Romero, and Joe Ross on the 60-day IL and Stephen Strasburg on the 10-day IL. Also, third baseman Carter Kieboom starts the season on the 60-day IL with a UCL sprain in his right elbow, and Ehire Adrianza is on the 10-day IL with a quad injury.

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