Exploring the Impact of Nationals Outfield on the Future
The Nationals ended the 2023 season with many question marks in the outfield. Let's take a look at what 2024 could potentially look like.
At the start of the 2023 season, the Washington Nationals’ outfield initially featured Victor Robles in center field, Lane Thomas in right field, and Corey Dickerson in left field. However, Dickerson went on the injured list two days into the season and Robles sustained an injury in June, sidelining him for the majority of the season. Subsequently, Stone Garrett emerged as a key player in the outfield. Unfortunately, Garrett suffered a fractured fibula on August 24, prompting the Nationals to call up outfielder Jacob Young from AAA Rochester on August 26. Young's contract selection from AAA Rochester did not disappoint, as he made 121 plate appearances and delivered a total of 12 RBI during his debut season with the Nationals.
The injuries to Robles and Garrett, and the subsequent selection of Young's contract, have opened the door for what the Nationals' outfield will look like next season and in the future. Young will likely be in the outfield alongside Lane Thomas and Alex Call, forming a fascinating outfield lineup. The Nationals have a plethora of prospects in their farm system, including James Wood and Dylan Crews, who are waiting to make their debuts. The prospects chart indicates that some of them will join the team next season, and fans will need to build a rapport with these new, younger players. Additionally, fans should be prepared for possible changes in the left or right field positions.
Is Lane Thomas's position safe?
There was speculation of a trade during last year's trade deadline. Rizzo tested the waters. Rizzo spoke with Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan and provided the following quotes that indicate Thomas' position is secure as a National. It also reveals the role he will be playing next season.
“and with other teams when they asked about him, and I would just tell them that we don’t see him as just an extra player or a platoon outfielder, we see him as an everyday guy.
“And if you see him as an everyday guy we’ll have a discussion about him, but if you see him as a good bench player or a good guy against left-handed pitching, that’s not the threshold that we’re looking to get back in return in a trade. So we had some interesting ideas and some concepts with teams, it just didn’t reach the threshold that we wanted to get with Lane.”
“We think this guy is going to be a good player for us,” Rizzo told the Junkies.
“We control him for two and a half years. And at 27 years old he’s been a guy that’s really kind of taken a leadership role in that outfield, and we wanted to make sure we had some good character veteran players to sprinkle in there with all the youth that we have.
“Because, in my opinion, you can’t just throw all 22-year-old, 23-year-old players on the field and expect for them to know how to play the game right and to conduct themselves like big leaguers. You have to sprinkle in that good character guy and I think we did that. That was part of the reason we did that with [not trading] [Kyle] Finnegan and with Thomas.
Thomas had a remarkable season, earning a Golden Glove nomination for his outstanding defense in right field. His defensive skills will be compared to those of other right fielders who made it to the final selection, including Mookie Betts from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Fernando Tatis Jr. from the San Diego Padres.
For those unimpressed with Thomas' defensive prowess, his offensive statistics for the 2023 regular season are noteworthy. During the 2023 season, Thomas had 101 runs, 168 hits, 28 home runs, 86 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases, resulting in a batting average of .268. As we approach the 2024 season, it is crucial to take into account Rizzo's comments about Thomas.
Fans should bear in mind that even if Thomas encounters difficulties in his initial three at-bats, his exceptional performance in later innings demonstrates his value and makes him an asset not to be traded to other teams, such as the Toronto Blue Jays. When the trade deadline resurfaces, this consideration becomes even more important.
While that last paragraph brings positivity to Washington DC at the right field position Nationals fans will have to deal with seeing Lane Thomas as a designated hitter or staying in right field as a deep and heavy list of outfielders will slowly make their way into DC either next season or Four Seasons from now. The list below shows potential outfielders that are in the Washington Nationals farm system James Wood, Dylan Crews, Daylen Lile, Robert Hassell III, Elijah Green, Andrew Pinckney, and Cristhian Vaquero.
Those are just some of the names of prospects that can be added to future lineups over the next couple of seasons.
The current outfielders on the Nationals' 40-man roster include Jacob Young, Alex Call, Lane Thomas, Stone Garrett, and Victor Robles. Each player brings their own unique set of skills and abilities to the table. Jacob Young, for instance, is known for his speed and agility, making him a valuable asset in tracking down fly balls and covering ground in the outfield. Alex Call, on the other hand, brings a strong arm and accurate throwing ability, making him a reliable option for defending against baserunners. Lane Thomas, a versatile outfielder, possesses a combination of power and speed, making him a threat both at the plate and in the field. Stone Garrett is known for his RBI hitting, delivering 40 RBI this season before being injured in August. Lastly, Victor Robles, a highly touted prospect, has already proven himself as a reliable outfielder with a strong arm and the ability to make game-changing plays.
While these outfielders bring their strengths, they must develop a cohesive unit. As the Nationals navigate through the season and potential roster changes, the outfield will need to adjust accordingly. Whether it's bringing in new players or relying on the existing ones to step up, the outfielders must work together to ensure a smooth transition. This may require extra practice sessions, team meetings, and a shared commitment to excellence.
The present roster of the Washington Nationals' outfield may see changes soon. However, the players need to adapt and maintain a strong chemistry to uphold the team's defensive integrity.
The right now
At this moment, Nationals fans are eagerly looking forward to the upcoming season while reflecting on the changes that await them. The offseason brings uncertainty, with rosters still being adjusted and finalized. Even though the Winter Meetings have ended, the presence of available free agents adds an intriguing element. The Washington Nationals outfield is surrounded by unanswered questions as the future unfolds. However, it's important to remember that the true situation will only become clear once the players gather for Spring Training. Until then, numerous factors and considerations will shape the Nationals' journey, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the moment when everything falls into place. Looking ahead to the start of the 2023 season my prediction is that Lane Thomas, Jacob Young, and Alex Call will comprise the outfield, but only the finalization of the roster will confirm this speculation.
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