The Future of the Nationals: Promising Prospects

On Aug. 2, the Washington Nationals announced that they had traded superstar Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres. One of the largest in history, this trade is the final blow to a once-great team that has declined over the past two years.

In recent years, the Nationals have traded away some of the most talented players in baseball in favor of younger prospects. Many fans are upset with the team’s management, but others understand that a rebuild is the best option for the future of the franchise and that trading Soto was a necessary sacrifice.

The 2019 Washington Nationals were a team built around a core of three stars: pitcher Max Scherzer, shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Soto. Following the team’s World Series victory in October 2019, expectations were high. Fans hoped for another great season in 2020 but were met with disappointment. The Nationals missed the playoffs due to poor pitching performances and a flurry of injuries. Since this was Washington’s first losing season in 10 years, however, many dismissed the loss as a byproduct of the pandemic and remained optimistic for the following season.

The Nationals’ struggles continued. As the 2021 trade deadline neared, General Manager Mike Rizzo traded Scherzer and Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers for rookies Kibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray, two promising young players with bright futures.

After this trade, the management made their plans for the team’s future clear to fans.

“We have every intention of building this team around Juan Soto,” Rizzo said in an interview with WJFK-FM.

Rizzo supported this by offering Soto three separate contracts, including a record-breaking 15-year, $440 million deal that Soto rejected just before the 2022 All-Star break. According to Rizzo, Soto did not offer a counterdeal to any of the three offers, pushing Rizzo to consider the possibility of trading Soto, but only for the right price. The Nationals’ high demands called for a mix of prospects and major league talent, and the San Diego Padres obliged.

Just before the 2022 trade deadline, the Nationals and Padres finalized a deal. The Nationals traded Soto and first baseman Josh Bell for veteran first baseman Luke Voit and five talented young players. The haul of prospects headlines the return package for the Nationals. Pitchers MacKenzie Gore and Jarlin Susana spell a bright future for the Nationals staff, and outfielders Robert Hassel III and James Wood hope to fill the void left by Soto. Additionally, young shortstop CJ Abrams appears to be a suitable replacement for Turner. The prospects from San Diego could benefit the Nationals team, joining previous Washington trade acquisitions such as Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz.

Freshman Daniel Piho believes the team’s rebuild is “pretty bad right now” but is optimistic about the future.

“I wouldn’t wouldn’t be surprised if they were serious competitors by 2026 … I think it will work out,” Piho continued.

“Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places,” Rizzo said in a press conference. “We’re on a bumpy road right now, and we believe that coming out of this thing, it will be a beautiful place,” he added.