The Washington Nationals held their NatsFest over the weekend and the team discussed offseason goals, specifically pertaining to outfielder Bryce Harper, and additions such as Rafael Soriano and Denard Span. Nationals owner Mark Lerner also made a significant proclamation, declaring Washington is "going to win the World Series this year," according to Pete Kerzel of MASN Sports:
At a "State of the Nationals" forum for season ticket holders featuring principal owner Mark Lerner and general manager Mike Rizzo, Lerner drew loud applause by proclaiming, "We're going to the World Series this year."
General manager Mike Rizzo told fans that his "No. 1 priority" was to get Harper out of center field. The GM was able to accomplish this goal by acquiring Span from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for top pitching prospect Alex Meyer.
Rizzo thought that the acquisition was important not only to get Span, a player the Nationals had been tied to for years, in the fold, but to also lessen the "wear and tear" on Harper's body going forward. Washington thought a move to a corner outfield position "would be to the betterment of him long-term and to the betterment of our ballclub."
Rizzo attributed the Nationals' surprise signing of closer Rafael Soriano to "shrewd discussions and negotiations," adding that the Lerner family did "most of the heavy lifting." Kerzel says it was a situation where a player fell to the Nationals and team ownership who were willing to "pony up the dollars" to make their bullpen even stronger.