Washington Nationals are spending big to repeat World Series success

MLB Steve O Speak

The dust has barely settled on the 2019 MLB season, which concludes with the Washington Nationals winning their first-ever World Series, defeating the much-fancied Houston Astros, after the Texan franchise had produced an exceptional regular season campaign of their own.

Despite their 2019 World Series triumph, the Washington Nationals aren’t considered favourites to repeat that feat in 2020. Indeed, they’re tipped as 14/1 outsiders according to the early MLB odds on bet365. Instead, the trio of strongest contenders are tipped to be the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees; all of whom are leading the betting stakes at 5/1 odds.

Nevertheless, the Nationals are highly ambitious about defending their title and have shown no fears about investing heavily, spending big to achieve that objective. CBS Sports report a huge $245 million contract has been signed by Stephen Strasburg, with the 31-year-old World Series MVP now becoming the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history. That’s just the start of what’s expected to be a busy 2019 Winter Meetings period.

After the record-breaking deal for Strasburg, there’s already speculation that fellow pitcher Gerrit Cole could get a deal surpassing the $300 million mark. However, there’s a limit to how much the Nationals can spend and given that Anthony Rendon has reportedly turned down a seven-year offer worth more than $210 million, he could well be leaving the World Series champions. This opens the door to a number of potential moves ahead of the 2020 season.

For fans of the Atlanta Braves, rumours of an approach for Rendon during the 2019 MLB Winter Meetings will certainly be interesting news, although there’s also a touch of scepticism attached. While they could still have cash to spend, initial suggestions would indicate negotiations could be lengthy, given the 29-year-old third baseman can expect to demand over $30 million per season, wherever he lands.

Should the Nationals decide not to increase their offer to free agent Rendon, as he seems increasingly less likely to return, the Washington franchise have already begun to turn their attention elsewhere. Apparently top of the third baseman shopping list is Josh Donaldson, who could head in the opposite direction following a strong season with the Atlanta Braves. The only doubts surround length of contract, with a four-year deal expected to be offered.

However, if talks with Donaldson pan out as hoped, the focus of attention for the Nationals may turn towards Kris Bryant, even though trade negotiations with the Chicago Cubs would inevitably be costly and in more ways than just cash. Preferring to keep Bryant if at all possible, the Cubs would likely seek prime draft prospects and picks in exchange, in order to lessen the blow of his potential departure.

Given that the Nationals are going to be one of the biggest movers and shakers during the off-season, it’s hard not to imagine them being one of the strongest MLB teams again. There’s certainly no hiding their ambitions, aiming to become the first back-to-back World Series champions since the magnificent New York Yankee’s side that won three in a row, between 1998 and 2000.

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