The 2019 Major League Baseball season has officially ended and the Washington Nationals are the champions of the world. What, if anything, can the Seattle Mariners learn from the Nationals?
The Nationals won their first World Series title but it wasn’t an easy ride. While no two journeys are ever exactly alike, every case is worth studying to see what can be gleaned from it and applied to your experience. So what exactly can Mariners fans learn from the Nationals?
Well if you watched the series, you undoubtedly know that a running theme surrounding the Nationals was age. The broadcast obsessed over how young outfielder Juan Soto is (21), and that the Nationals are also the oldest roster in all of baseball.
But despite the obsession with age, therein lies the lesson of the day and it is about roster construction. Yes, the Nationals have the oldest roster but look at a large chunk of their core. Soto is 21, Victor Robles is 22, Trea Turner is 26, Anthony Rendon is 29, and Stephen Strasburg is 31.
All 5 are homegrown talents, drafted, traded for, or signed before they reached the big leagues. The Mariners currently have their own core they hope to develop, including Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Logan Gilbert, Justin Dunn, George Kirby, Evan White, and many others.
The Mariners are exiting this portion of the rebuild (though you never really leave this level) and could be a year away from entering the next stage of the rebuild: buying impact. Two of the biggest contributors for the Nats this season were Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, both of whom found their way to Washington after receiving massive contracts in free agency.
Scherzer was acquired earlier in the timeline but Corbin was the major piece to put the team over the top. The Mariners aren’t at this level but could be as soon as next winter.
The Nationals were also helped by aging veterans like Ryan Zimmerman, Kurt Suzuki, Howie Kendrick, Daniel Hudson, Fernando Rodney, Anibal Sanchez. All were acquired on the cheap side and played key roles to fill the gaps and plug some holes in the roster.
Once the Mariners reach the level where they have built their core then supplemented it with major talent acquisition, then they can add the veterans to help fill the gaps in their roster. That is the Nationals formula.
Build the foundation, frame the house, then worry about the paint. The Mariners have done a good job of building the foundation. The temptation to add the Hudson’s and Kendrick’s of the world will be there. Improving your roster is the goal and adding those players can help.
But remember, adding 3-4 wins to the 2020 roster is like painting the frame of the house before the drywall is up. Stay patient and keep building and someday, you too can be the last team standing.