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Offseason-In-Review: Washington Nationals

The Nationals will be returning much of their 2017 roster as they look to take the NL East for the third consecutive season.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals (97-65)

Additions

1B Matt Adams (acquired in free agency), C Miguel Montero (signed to minor-league deal), RHP Joaquin Benoit (acquired in free agency)

Subtractions

INF Stephen Drew (free agent), RHP Matt Albers (signed with Brewers), RHP Joe Blanton (free agent), LHP Oliver Perez (free agent), OF Jayson Werth (free agent)

The Nationals were not too active in their offseason transactions in 2017, with many of their transactions being internal. Many of the players that the Nationals parted ways with are still unsigned free agents, and many of the players who had expiring contracts were resigned by the club.

Midseason acquisition Howie Kendrick enjoyed a successful 2017 season where he slashed .315/.368/.475 across 91 games between the Phillies and Nationals. Though he was not a qualified hitter, all of these marked career highs, and it netted him a two-year extension with the club. Kendrick will continue bouncing around, with much of his playing time coming in the outfield.

The Nationals also returned right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler on a two-year deal after also acquiring him midway through last season. The 33-year-old was a first-time All-Star in 2017, and finished the season with a 3.03 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 29 saves, though only one of those saves came with Washington. Still, Kintzler will be an important piece to the back-end of the Nats’ bullpen.

Aside from those two, the only other significant acquisition that the Nationals made this offseason was signing free agent first baseman Matt Adams to a one-year deal. Adams hit a career-high 20 homers in 2017 in addition to a respectable .274/.319/.522 slash line. Adams saw some time in the outfield for the first time in his six-year career last year, though the majority of his playing time came at first base.

With the moves the Nationals made, it is apparent that they still view themselves as the favorites in an otherwise underwhelming NL East division. Though the Phillies improved the roster and the Mets should bounce back from a disastrous 2017 season, and the Marlins and Braves are unlikely to pose much of a threat, it should be the Nats’ division to lose in 2018. It is worth noting that this is a contract year for Bryce Harper, so there should be much speculation and rumors surrounding his offseason plans in next year’s historic free agent class. For now, however, the Nationals return a good core, where they will look to make a run in the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history.