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Nationals 2023 Spring Training Preview

The goal for the Nationals this year is to evaluate which players will be part of their next competitive team.

The Washington Nationals finished with the worst record in the majors last year, and their outlook for 2023 is not much better.  Currently in the depths of the rebuild, the front office and coaching staff will use this season to evaluate which players can stick around.  Losing teams have ample opportunity for unproven players to show whether they have what it takes to play in MLB.  The Nats made some savvy moves to bring on a few bounce back candidates, and the hope is that someone can find a groove.


1B Dom Smith

OF Corey Dickerson

SP Trevor Williams

OF Stone Garrett

3B Jeimer Candelario

INF Jeter Downs

SP Thad Ward

SP Cristian Jimenez

2B Michael Chavis (minors signing)

SP Chad Kuhl (minors)

OF Derek Hill (minors)

RP Alex Colome (minors)

RP Anthony Banda (minors)

1B Matt Adams (minors)

RP Francisco Perez (minors)

RP Wily Peralta (minors)

3B Travis Blankenhorn (minors)

RP Anthony Castro (minors)

SS Erick Mejia (minors)

RP Joel Peguero (minors)

OF Blake Rutherford (minors)

2B Franklin Barreto (minors)

RP Jose Ulloa (minors)

RP Hobie Harris (minors)

SS Nick Shumpert (minors)

RP Ronald Herrera (minors)


SP Anibal Sanchez

DH Nelson Cruz

1B Luke Voit

SP Joe Ross

RP Will Harris

SP Erick Fedde

2B Cesar Hernandez

RP Steve Cishek

SP Seth Romero

Offseason Grade: B

It is hard to give a team that made so many small moves a good grade, but I like a lot of what the Nationals did.  In his position, PBO Mike Rizzo made very logical decisions to benefit the present and future.  He targeted the right players by signing guys who have succeeded in the majors before but struggled in 2022.  Every team signs lots of players to minor league deal, but the Nats have an unusually high number since they have more roster spots open to position battles.

Who can Bounce Back?

The Nationals signed a few young-ish players with real potential, which is more than other rebuilding teams can say.  Dom Smith and Jeimer Candelario have both hit well at times in MLB, most notably during the shortened season.  Their goal is to prove they can maintain success over a full season.  Stone Garrett raked in 27 games with the Diamondbacks last year, but a .370 BABIP probably has much to do with that.  Washington can give him the chance to show whether he can hit for real.

Trevor Williams is a known quantity at this point, and he is better in shorter stints.  But the Nats will use him to stabilize a thin rotation and eat innings.  The team selected Thad Ward as the first pick of the Rule 5 Draft, and he has a good chance to break out in his debut.  Going from batboy to big leaguer would be quite the story.

Which Youngsters Take a Step Forward?

As usual, the most exciting aspect of a rebuilding team is the talented prospects.  The Nationals have certainly improved their farm system by trading Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, and Trea Turner.  Some of the returning players are years away, but others have already graduated.  Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz have a couple years under their belts at this point, and it is time to solidify their roster spots.

Mackenzie Gore and C.J. Abrams debuted last season for the Nats, and they have yet to prove themselves.  Gore is looking more polished this spring, while Abrams needs to find more power at the plate.  In the minors, all eyes will be on James Wood and Robert Hassell, the other crucial pieces from the Padres.  Wood is on a superstar trajectory, while Hassell must rediscover his swing.

Nationals Projected Opening Day Roster

Starting Lineup

1. SS C.J. Abrams

2. 1B Dom Smith

3. DH Joey Meneses

4. 3B Jeimer Candelario

5. LF Corey Dickerson

6. C Keibert Ruiz

7. RF Stone Garrett

8. 2B Luis Garcia

9. CF Victor Robles

Bench: Riley Adams, Ildemaro Vargas, Alex Call, Lane Thomas

Starting Rotation

1. Trevor Williams

2. Patrick Corbin

3. Josiah Gray

4. Mackenzie Gore

5. Thad Ward


1. Tanner Rainey

2. Cory Abbott

3. Kyle Finnegan

4. Carl Edwards Jr.

5. Victor Arano

6. Hunter Harvey

7. Erasmo Ramirez

8. Mason Thompson

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