Week One in Washington without Juan Soto. Obviously, morale is low. A bit lower since the Phillies kicked the Nats' behinds this week. One would argue that they probably would have anyway, but, like, it might have been a little easier without Soto and Bell.
The Nationals...okay, they were dire last year after the exodus, but now they're even more dire. They're officially the worst team in baseball, the A's and Reds have lapped them. They just lost some of the only reasons people were going to games. Their current highest WAR earner is Victor Robles, a hero from the 2019 World Series, with 1.3. But even with that, Robles still feels like he's delivered maybe a quarter of what the fans have wanted from him since joining the Nats in 2017. He joined the team thinking he'd be the 20-year-old Nationals outfield rookie everybody would go wild about...and then Soto showed up and there was no point. Robles's 2019 season is really his biggest accomplishment so far, and at 25 he's at least still got more prime years to go, but as one of the last remnants of the championship team, and as one of the only ones A.) still healthy and B.) playing well, he needs to jump into overdrive. This is his team now, and just putting on a clown nose here and there isn't gonna be enough.
The rest of this team is just...nonexistent. Good news is Luke Voit can still hit, and isn't much of a downgrade from Bell, but Bell at least had some versatility and Voit is just a big ol' bat. Mackenzie Gore is still in the minors, so they're gonna be careful with him. They're trying lots of new minor league guys like Josh Palacios, Ildemaro Vargas and Cory Abbott, and it's...sort of working? Obviously the goal is for the prospects they've netted from other trades, like Keibert Ruiz, Lane Thomas, Gore now, for all of them to lift the team, and I feel like that's still several years away. Even Josiah Gray hasn't pulled it together, despite having more time to play here than he did in LA.
The Nats don't really have much of a place in the conversation for a bit without Soto. It's sad to say, but he was their last chunk of relevance, and he wanted to compete and the Nats don't. I don't know when they'll get to compete again. They sold the farm on a ring, got a ring, and now don't have a farm. And they're building it back and it's gonna take them quite a while, and I hope they're okay with that.
Coming Tonight: Beginning of last offseason I assumed this guy would be traded before the deadline because he'd be too good to be a backup, and now he's the team's top WAR earner, so, again, I know nothing.