There is no question Bryce Harper is one of the best players in the game of baseball. Winning NL MVP this past season and crushing 42 homeruns in just his fourth season, Harper was poised to help his team go all the way. But the Washington Nationals struggled down the stretch run of the season last year, and the team residing the the nations capital will look to regain the swagger they had in the first half of the 2015 campaign.
The biggest question facing the Nats this offseason is their ability to recover after the loss of Jordan Zimmerman, who is headed for Detroit on a six year, $120 million contract. The Nationals have been in talks with relievers and other starting pitchers who do not command the hefty contracts, but so far this offseason they have yet to strike a deal.
With Washington losing ground to the Mets last season, they will need to find a way to shed payroll while getting young, controllable players in return that will be able to contribute right away. Talent like that is hard to come by, so new manager Dusty Baker may have to work with what he has for this season. He is used to doing just that in the past in his first seasons coaching for a new team as he has had that same task with the Reds and Giants in the past. He went on to win N.L. Manager of the year in his first season coaching the Giants in the 1993 season, winning 103 games.
Health remains a major issue for veteran players such as Jason Werth, Ian Desmond, and Anthony Rendon. Once the core group of players get back to 100 percent, on the surface looks like a team that can make a run at the World Series. But they are also missing key pieces, such as starting pitching, and bullpen help.
In Washington, the roster this coming season may be drastically different from a year ago. But one thing is certain, Bryce Harper is back. That alone gives the Nationals hope for a successful 2016 campaign.
Who should the Nationals go out and get? What players are on the radar for the Nats? William Ladson of MLB.com covering the Nationals breaks down the offseason thus far and moves the team could be looking to make to rebound in 2016.