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#pounditTuesday, January 25, 2022

Articles tagged: Washington Nationals

Juan Soto could agree to record-setting extension with Nationals?

Juan Soto in a Nats hat

Juan Soto could soon be swimming in a pool of money like Scrooge McDuck if all goes according to plan.

MLB insider Hector Gomez reported Wednesday that a possible extension for Soto from the Washington Nationals could double the total guaranteed amount that the Tampa Bay Rays just gave to shortstop Wander Franco. Gomez adds that Soto’s potential extension would span 12 or 13 years.

Franco got an 11-year extension with $182 million guaranteed and a player option that could take it up to 12 years and $223 million. Doubling Franco’s guaranteed money would produce a figure of $364 million. Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers currently holds the record for the largest contract extension in MLB history at 12 years and $365 million. Soto would be in range to potentially break that record if Gomez’s information is accurate.

While those numbers are colossal, there is little doubt that Soto is worth it. He is still only 23 years old and possesses a combination of power and plate discipline that baseball has not seen in a long time. That said, Soto may be hesitant to sign an extension with the Nationals for one major reason. But we will see if the dollar signs in his eyes affect his perception here at all.

Photo: Jul 30, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) in the dugout before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals sued by ex-employees over vaccine firing

Washington Nationals logo

The Washington Nationals are being sued by two former employees who were fired for refusing to comply with the team’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Lawrence (Larry) Pardo and Brad Holman were pitching coaches in the Nats’ organization. The two refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons and were fired by the Nats as a result. The team instituted a mandate on Aug. 12 that went into effect on Sept. 10, leading to the firing of both men.

Now the two have filed a lawsuit against the club, TMZ Sports reports.

Pardo and Holman cited religious reasons for not getting the vaccine, which “were developed from or tested on aborted fetal cells.” The two are against abortion for religious reasons.

They believe they were discriminated against on the basis of religion and are due damages.

As of September, the two also were filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

Holman, 53, and Pardo, 55, were both hired by the team in 2018. Holman was the team’s minor league pitching coordinator, while Pardo was the pitching coach for the club’s Florida Complex League team, according to The Washington Post.

Juan Soto hesitant to sign long-term deal with Nationals?

Juan Soto

Juan Soto is a definitely a keeper, but he may not be so sure that the same is true of the Washington Nationals.

At a news conference Wednesday amid MLB’s general managers’ meetings, Soto’s agent Scott Boras caused speculation about the young slugger’s future by indicating that Soto is hesitant to sign a long-term deal with the Nats.

“Juan Soto wants to win,” said Boras, per SportsNet New York. “The first thing that’s gonna have to happen is that he knows he’s working with an ownership that’s gonna annually try to compete and win. I think once he knows that, he’ll be ready to sit and talk whenever they choose to talk … I just know that Juan has mentioned to me that he wants to make sure he’s working for a club that’s going to compete annually.”

In response to Boras’ comments, Washington GM Mike Rizzo said the Nats want Soto around long-term, per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. Rizzo added that the proof of how competitive they are is the last ten years.

The 23-year-old Soto, who is under club control through 2024, made his first career All-Star team last season. He led the Nats in home runs (29) and RBIs (95) and also led the entire league in walks (145) and OBP (.465).

Soto already won a ring with the Nats in 2019. But it is fair to question the team’s continued commitment to winning after they sold off the likes of Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, and Brad Hand last season.

Rizzo has a point in that the Nats have been in consistent contention for the past decade. Sometimes, teams just have to hit the reset button and start anew. But Soto already caused a stir about his future in recent months. Nats fans probably won’t like what Boras had to say on Wednesday on top of it.

Photo: Jul 30, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) in the dugout before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals rub it in to Astros in congratulating Braves on World Series

Washington Nationals logo

The Houston Astros have been on a heck of a run over the last five seasons, making it to the World Series three times and losing in the ALCS the other two years. Despite the success, they have gone 1-2 in the World Series, losing in 2019 to the Washington Nationals and 2021 to the Atlanta Braves.

After the Braves shutout the Astros 7-0 in Game 6 to clinch the World Series, the Nationals gave them a shoutout. But they did so at Houston’s expense.

“Visiting clubhouse in Houston is one helluva place to throw a party,” the Nats wrote in a tweet sent after the game. “Congrats, @Braves.”

The Nats won the World Series in odd fashion. They won all four of their World Series games in 2019 on the road, while the Astros won all three of their games on the road. They ended up celebrating their title just like the Braves did: at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Nationals had cool gesture for Ryan Zimmerman

Ryan Zimmerman

The Washington Nationals had a very cool gesture for Ryan Zimmerman on Sunday.

Zimmerman is 37 and may consider retirement this offseason. Just in case he walks away, the Nats wanted to make sure Zimmerman left with a warm and fuzzy memory.

The Nats removed Zimmerman before the eighth inning of Sunday’s season finale against the Boston Red Sox. They gave him the opportunity to get a standing ovation and receive some appreciation and recognition. Even the Red Sox came out of the dugout to pay respect to Zimmerman.

The fans also gave Zimmerman a standing ovation before his first at-bat.

Zimmerman has not said whether he will retire. A few weeks ago, Nats GM Mike Rizzo told The Sports Junkies that Zimmerman will have a place on the team as long as he wants one.

It looks like the career National will have a place in the fans’ hearts as well. He has played 16 seasons for the franchise, making two All-Star games and winning a World Series.

Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray reportedly headline Nationals’ return in Scherzer trade

Keibert Ruiz

The Washington Nationals are giving up Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in a blockbuster trade, but they are acquiring a pair of top-50 prospects in return.

According to multiple reports, catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitcher Josiah Gray are headlining the package the Nationals will receive from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Ruiz and Gray were in the deal.

Ruiz is regarded as the best prospect in the Dodgers’ system. The No. 41 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB.com’s midseason rankings, the 23-year-old catcher made his MLB debut last season. He has two MLB home runs in just 15 plate appearances, and is hitting an impressive .311 with 16 home runs in Triple-A so far in 2021.

Gray is MLB.com’s No. 42 overall prospect. The 23-year-old has shown impressive strikeout ability in his short MLB stint so far, striking out 13 batters in 8 innings so far at the Major League level. He has been limited in 2021 due to a shoulder injury, but has been widely viewed as a player who could develop into a mid- to upper-rotation starter. Gray was originally acquired in another blockbuster trade the Dodgers made two-and-a-half years ago.

It’s a huge prospect return for Washington, and it would have to be for the Nationals to part ways with both Scherzer and Turner in the same trade. If both develop to their potential, it could certainly pay off for Washington down the line.

Dodgers acquire Max Scherzer, Trea Turner in huge trade with Nationals

Max Scherzer All-Star

The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off the biggest blockbuster of the MLB trade deadline.

The Dodgers traded for both Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner. In return, the Dodgers sent Washington four prospects: catcher Keibert Ruiz, right-handers Josiah Gray and Gerardo Carrillo, and outfielder Donovan Casey

Reports earlier Thursday indicated that Scherzer was close to being traded to the San Diego Padres, but it was not final and other teams were still involved. The Dodgers ended up giving Washington its best offer.

Not only does this mean Scherzer will become the leader of the Dodger rotation, but Turner will add another dimension to their offense. Turner tested positive for COVID-19 this week but should provide a boost to the Dodgers’ infield upon recovering.

The 37-year-old Scherzer will be a free agent at the end of the season. Turner, on the other hand, is only 28 and has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining.

Nationals-Phillies game postponed due to Nats’ COVID outbreak

Washington Nationals logo

Wednesday night’s Washington Nationals-Philadelphia Phillies game has been postponed due to a COVID outbreak among the Nationals.

Nats shortstop Trea Turner left the team’s game against the Phillies on Tuesday after a positive COVID test was revealed. On Wednesday, multiple coaches and players tested positive for the Nats, ESPN’s Jeff Passan says.

The Nationals have already reached a team-wide vaccination rate of over 85 percent. They also had the start to their season postponed due to a previous COVID outbreak.

The Nats won the World Series in 2019 but are looking at a second straight sub-.500 finish. They are likely to be sellers at the trade deadline, but the COVID tests could complicate potential deals.

Report: Nationals speeding up Max Scherzer trade efforts

Max Scherzer

It continues to look more and more likely that the Washington Nationals will trade Max Scherzer, and the deal could come by the end of Thursday.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, teams interested in Scherzer believe the Nationals want to make a trade within the next 48 hours so any issues involving Scherzer’s veto rights can be dealt with. The chances of Scherzer making his next start for Washington appear “remote.”

Scherzer can be picky about where he goes because of his veto rights. The Nationals want this done early so that Scherzer and his new team have time to sort out any issues of compensation that may need to be negotiated.

The Nationals have been discussing possible Scherzer trades since before the weekend. The 37-year-old ace has a 2.83 ERA this season and can lead a playoff rotation. He’s unlikely to come cheap even though he’s a free agent at the end of the season.

Report: Nationals discussing possible Max Scherzer trades

Max Scherzer

The Washington Nationals may be moving toward selling at the trade deadline, and that could mean one of the league’s best starters is on the market.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Nationals have begun discussing pitcher Max Scherzer in trade talks. While the team is studying scenarios in which it might add, they’re also seven games back in the NL East. That factor is making a Scherzer trade appear “quite possible.”

As Heyman notes, Scherzer has veto power over any trade. That’s important because it will force the Nationals to consult with him on potential destinations, and gives Scherzer plenty of leverage. It’s been indicated that Scherzer will have a major request for any team that wants to trade for him, though it’s certainly possible that his camp was bluffing. If the Nationals really are out of it, it’s hard to imagine Scherzer opting against moving to a contender if the opportunity is given to him.

The 36-year-old Scherzer is fresh off starting the All-Star Game. His 2.83 ERA ranks tenth in the National League, and he’s third in the NL with 142 strikeouts. He’s in the final season of his contract, which is the key reason why the Nationals may be willing to listen to offers.