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2023 Preview: Washington Nationals

Mar 21, 2023; Jupiter, Florida, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Josiah Gray (40) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

2022 record: 55-107, fifth in National League East

Offseason headlines: Coming off the worst season since the franchise moved to Washington, the Nationals didn’t give their fans much reason for hope this winter.

The Nationals did sign former top prospects Jeter Downs, Dominic Smith and Jeimer Candelario, but that’s not going to get fans excited. Most likely, the club will try to flip them to a contender at the trade deadline.

The good news is they received a haul of prospects in the trade involving Juan Soto, but only shortstop CJ Abrams and left-hander MacKenzie Gore are expected to make an impact in 2023.

Spring storylines: Last season, right-hander Josiah Gray — likely the No. 2 starter in 2023 — gave up home runs and walks in bunches.

Pitching coach Jim Hickey noticed Gray was leaving his front side open, but the shoulder has been closed this spring as the right-hander has issued just one walk and no home runs.

“It’s the best I’ve seen him in quite some time,” Hickey said about Gray, who added a cutter to a repertoire that includes a changeup, curveball, slider, four-seam fastball and sinker.

In other spring news, No. 3 prospect Elijah Green — the fifth overall pick in last summer’s draft — has impressed manager Dave Martinez. Green, 19, simply is gaining valuable experience at this point, however.

Green has the makings of a future star outfielder, boasting raw power, a powerful arm and dazzling speed. The son of former star NFL tight end Eric Green, he’s got good genes, too.

Young guns: Aside from Abrams and Gore, the other three players the Nationals acquired for Soto are among the club’s top prospects, per MLB.com.

Outfielder James Wood is No. 1, followed by outfielder Robert Hassell III at No. 2 and righty Jarlin Susana at No. 6. Wood and Susana aren’t close, but Hassell has a shot to be a late-season callup. Unfortunately for the Nats, No. 3 prospect Cade Cavalli, who was poised to be the No. 5 starter, had Tommy John surgery this month and will miss the season.

Given the club’s current struggles, these are the prospects whose progress Nats fans should be tracking as they make their way toward the majors.

Fall feeling: The postseason is a way off for the rebuilding Nationals.

Odds, even: Not surprisingly, the Nationals are a distant longshot (+25000 at FanDuel and DraftKings) to win the NL East and are tied for the longest odds to win the World Series (+50000 at DraftKings).

–Field Level Media

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