Category Archives: Custom Washington Nationals Jerseys

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The Senators played a key role in the 2019 World Series title.

With Triple-A Fresno on the other side of the country, Washington general manager Mike Rizzo and director of player development Mark Scialabba posted several Major League-ready players in the Pennsylvania capital.

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That made them a lot closer to Nationals Park or East Coast cities if needed on short notice.

One player who spent most of the 2019 season in Harrisburg was outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who came up big in the postseason with several clutch hits and plays on the defensive end. Taylor, drafted by the Nationals, recently signed with Kansas City.

Right-hander Aaron Barrett pitched for Harrisburg in 2019, was named to the Eastern League All-Star Game and led the league in saves. He returned to the majors in September 2019 and even though he was not on the postseason roster he was part of the wild celebration in the visiting clubhouse the night the Nationals won Game 7 over the Astros.

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Akron Aeros Vs. Harrisburg Senators 8-18-2011
“It is surreal,” Barrett said in the Nationals’ clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. “Four years ago I couldn’t even throw batting practice. It is just a special; it is a blessing.”

One of the catchers for Harrisburg in 2019 was Jake Lowery, the best college catcher in the country and the Johnny Bench Award winner in 2011 at James Madison in Virginia.

He was able to catch in the bullpen and games for some Major League veterans that year that the Nationals also used in Washington as well.

Harrisburg had veteran pitchers on the roster for part of 2019.

Unless his hitting never comes around, Bell will be a National for at least two seasons.

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It does not make sense that Mike Rizzo would invest in a player with Bell’s defensive capabilities if there were not at least a good chance he could DH.

Interleague play in AL parks will certainly give Ball a chance to hit in the DH slot, but he could be an excellent DH candidate if it’s back the National League this year.

Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed the DH on the NL, expanded the postseason field, and introduced some other quirks because COVID shortened the 2020 season.

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Those rules will expire unless the owners and the players’ union agree to extend them.

However, with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire after the 2021 season, the two sides could be anxious to agree early on things that might not be contentious, like the DH and expanded postseason, so they can spend more time negotiating serious issues, such as the owners’ contention that they suffered more than $3 billion in operating losses in 2020, despite paying prorated player salaries. Teams have already slashed non-player payrolls and consolidated the minor leagues and left 42 teams without big league support. Owners will be seeking more salary concessions from players who have already taken a cut.

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The Nats will acquire at least one more pitcher…

The Nats gave up two pitching prospects in the deal for Bell. The last time they surrendered multiple pitching prospects in an offseason trade, they shipped Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning, and Reynoldo Lopez to the Chicago White Sox for Adam Eaton. They then bolstered their pitching corps by trading for Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin and signing Matt Albers and Joe Nathan.

Only Albers worked out among the pitchers they signed that year, but the club still obtained more arms to replace the ones they lost.

The Nats will have an opening in their rotation with the loss of Aníbal Sánchez. Although, Erick Fedde, Joe Ross and Austin Voth will all be competing for two open spots in the rotation, there are still many free-agents available who could be considered more reliable and experienced than any of the three. Stephen Strasburg missed most of the 2020 season with a carpal-tunnel injury, and Max Scherzer worked through multiple injuries in the 2019 World Series championship season. Odds are that the Nats will need some more depth in 2021.

With an ice-cold free agent market driving down prices, and potential trades still on the horizon, don’t discount Mike Rizzo’s ability to snag a fourth ace to keep pace with Atlanta’s additions of Charle Morton and Drew Smyly and San Diego’s trades for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish.

That includes Trevor Rosenthal, Justin Miller, Erick Fedde, Brad Boxberger, and Kyle Barraclough.

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The manager of the Senators in 2019 was Matt LeCroy, a former catcher for Washington and a former bullpen coach for the Nationals.

Before the 2020 season, South Carolina native LeCroy was named control quality coordinator for the Nationals.

“It is just another set of eyes for our staff and player development,” LeCroy, who would have been in uniform at games in the minors in 2020, told Federal Baseball earlier this fall of his new role.

“We want to make sure we are on the same page with our program and make sure we are on the same page with the big-league staff.”

Harrisburg was also a solid training ground for several players that came up through Washington’s system.

Harrisburg Senators v Bowie Baysox
Photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images
That includes pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the MVP of the 2019 World Series; and former stars Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon.

Juan Soto played briefly for the Senators before he was promoted right to Nationals Park in May 2018.

The 2010 Harrisburg manager was Randy Knorr, who was recently added to the Major League coaching staff after being with Fresno in 2019.

The 2011 manager for the Senators was Virginia native Tony Beasley, who played at Liberty University and in the minor leagues with the Orioles and Pirates.

He was once traded for Fairfax native Tommy Shields, now the co-field coordinator in player development for the Nationals.

Beasley was a former coach for the Nationals under Frank Robinson. Shields played at Rochester while in the Baltimore system and played in the majors for the Orioles and Cubs.

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Going with this because a scout told Pirates beat writer (at The Athletic) Rob Biertempfel he could see it happening to clear up holes at first base and in the middle of their order, and I couldn’t think of anything else to put here. Plus in that article, Jim Bowden said he’s still big on Bell. And he’s good at talent evaluation.

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DECEMBER 24, 2020 – TWITTER:
Per sources: Pirates closing in on a trade of Josh Bell to the Nationals.

— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 24, 2020
First baseman Josh Bell has been traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Washington Nationals, a source tells ESPN. Two young pitchers headed back to Pittsburgh.

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— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 24, 2020
Can confirm that the Nationals are acquiring first baseman Josh Bell in a trade with the Pirates. Reported return to PIT is two young pitchers in Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean. @JMackeyPG was first to mention a deal was brewing.

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded first baseman Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals for pitching prospects Eddy Yean and Wil Crowe on Thursday.

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Crowe was the third-ranked prospect in the Nationals organization, and Yean ranked sixth, per MLB.com.

Jeff Passan of ESPN and Jon Heyman of MLB Network first reported the deal and the players involved.

Bell has spent his entire career with the Pirates, emerging as a power-hitting All-Star during the 2019 season. He struggled during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign, hitting .226/.305/.364 with eight home runs and 22 runs batted in, but the Nationals are banking on a bounce-back in a stronger lineup.

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The Pirates are moving on from Bell in what amounts to a long-term cash-saving measure. He has one year of arbitration remaining before he reaches free agency after the 2022 season.

The Pirates regularly have one of the lowest payrolls in the sport. Bell likely would have been out of their price range once he hit the open market, so they’re getting ahead off the curve by trading him—receiving more in return and punting on a 2021 campaign in which they were not expected to compete.

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The Nationals could be more likely to pay Bell over the long term, especially if he returns to 2019 form. If not, the opportunity cost is relatively low. He’s a dangerous power bat who can hit in the Nos. 4-6 slots but doesn’t bring much (if anything) defensively.

Washington desperately needed help at first base after Eric Thames struggled to fill the spot in 2020.

— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) December 24, 2020
According to the multiple reports above, the Nationals are acquiring Josh Bell, 28, from the Pirates in return for pitchers Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean.

Bell, a 2011 2nd Round pick by Pittsburgh, is coming off a .226/.305/.364 campaign in 2020 which saw the first baseman hit three doubles and eight homers in 57 games and 223 plate appearances, over which he was worth -0.4 fWAR in his fifth big league season in the Bucs’ lineup.

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In his last full season in 2019, Bell, a 6’4’’, switch-hitting, right-hand throwing first baseman, put up a .277/.367/.569 line, with career highs in doubles (37) and home runs (37), over 143 games and 613 PAs in a 2.5 fWAR campaign.

The Nationals are acquiring Bell, who has two years of team control left, in return for Crowe, 26, who made his MLB debut with the club in 2020, and Yean, 19, who signed for $100,000 out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2017.

Crowe was ranked No. 3 on the MLB Pipeline list of the Nats’ top prospects this year, while Yean, who pitched in the Gulf Coast and New York/Penn League’s in 2019, was ranked 6th overall in the organization.

GM Mike Rizzo talked last week about a power bat being the organization’s No. 1 priority this offseason, and mentioned finding one who could play first base or a corner outfield spot as the ideal addition. It looks like the first big move of the offseason is to add some middle-of-the-order pop at first base.

What’s next for Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office? What do you think of adding Bell to the mix in the nation’s capital? And the cost? The club just made the deal official…

“We are thrilled to be adding a player of Josh Bell’s caliber to our team,” Nationals’ President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo said in a press release today.

“He adds a switch-hitting power bat to our lineup. And we know Josh will be an outstanding addition to our clubhouse and our community.”

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The Washington Nationals noted in a press release, after signing left-handed reliever Sam Clay to a major league contract earlier this month, that the southpaw, “… led all of Minor League Baseball in ground ball rate (71.3%),” in 2019.

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Selected in the 4th Round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Georgia Tech, Clay pitched at both Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Rochester in Minnesota’s system in 2019, and was part of the Twins’ 60-player pool during the 60-game 2020 COVID campaign, but never got a call up to pitch in the majors in seven years with the organization that drafted him.

Clay told reporters in a Zoom call after the Nationals’ deal with the 27-year-old, now-former Twins’ prospect was announced, that his ground ball rate was, “… the third-highest ground ball percentage in all of baseball,” actually, “… behind [Aaron] Bummer and Zach Britton, so it’s something I do very well.”

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“I am a sinker-ball pitcher,” Clay said. “I throw it down in the zone very well, and I get a lot of ground balls.”

He hasn’t always been so sinker heavy, however, as he explained during an interview with SiriusXM MLB Network Radio hosts Steve Phillips and C.J. Nitkowski on Tuesday morning.

It’s all about the ground balls for the newest @Nationals pitcher. pic.twitter.com/jUirFxSGCM

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— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) November 24, 2020
“The sinker was kind of a recent development,” Clay said. “Within the last — I want to say — three seasons.

“When I came up to Chattanooga, Double-A, in 2017,” he explained, “I had worked with some left-handed pitchers that were up there, and I’ve always had good arm-side movement on my two-seam [fastball], but they showed me a couple of different grips that I could use, and I just kind of messed around with it. I didn’t really use it in 2017, I used it a little bit more in 2018, and 2019 I went full-force, all into it, and the numbers reflected that that was my pitch, and I talked to a bunch of different pitchers, see what they did — I actually watched videos on Zach Britton to see how he threw it because that was kind of the guy that I wanted to emulate, having that big power sinker.”

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Clay, the Nationals also noted, in addition to generating ground balls, has managed to keep the ball in the yard too.

Major League Baseball has informed the league to prepare as if there will not be a universal designated hitter for the 2021 season. This changes nothing for the Washington Nationals.
Apparently having a designated hitter in the National League was short lived. After the sixty game experiment during the pandemic shortened season, the league is moving back to having pitchers wield the lumber in 2021. For how the Washington Nationals approach the offseason, this should have zero affect.

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The Nationals have a lot of holes to fill, and this news shouldn’t change their way of thinking as we now enter the second week of December. With the Sam Clay signing, the Nats have made just one move since free agency opened (yes, they brought back Josh Harrison prior to free agents being able to sign with new teams).

MLB reportedly informs teams to plan for no universal DH in 2021. https://t.co/o1IHZYSUYf pic.twitter.com/hDfHd8pqcE

— theScore (@theScore) December 7, 2020

They still need to address the catching situation. They need a pitcher for the back end of the rotation. They need to figure out what they are going to do at first base, if that means bringing back Ryan Zimmerman or not. They need to find an outfielder who can hit for power. They need to figure out if Carter Kieboom is the third baseman of the future or if they are going to roll the dice on someone else.

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Those are a lot of needs.

My guess is the Nationals were not concerning themselves too much with the idea of having the designated hitter spot to fill, and presumably, now they do not need to.

NEXT: Maikel Franco a cost efficient choice for third base
With news dropping about the DH, nothing should change on the free agency front for the Nationals. Hopefully the market will begin to heat up and certain pieces will begin to fall. With increased movement, and less players for the picking, several of the questions surrounding the Nationals will get answers.

Until that time, nothing to see here, business as usual for the Washington Nationals.

The reliever, “… did not allow a home run in 2019 and has surrendered just one home run in [188 2⁄3] innings pitched (122 games) since the start of the 2017 season,” they wrote.

“In 187 outings across six Minor League seasons, he has allowed just six home runs in [405 1⁄3] innings pitched.”

The MLB Network Radio hosts asked Clay if he remember who the one guy who got him in the last three years was?

“I don’t remember who hit it,” Clay said, “but I do remember that home run. I was pitching in Chattanooga, and I threw — in Chattanooga the right field line is pretty shallow, I was facing a righty, and I jammed him — I felt like I jammed him, he may have gotten all of it and just tattooed it, but just nice, easy, home run to right field, it was not a big deal.”

It was actually Jason Morozowski, a 2015 13th Round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks, on August 12, 2018, who hit the only home run off Clay since 2017, in Chattanooga’s AT&T Park.

“I like to think I jammed him,” Clay added, when the show’s hosts noted that most pitchers do tend to think that way.

“I like to think I threw that home run, not he hit it,” he sort-of-joked.

Asked why he thought he got a major league deal from the Nationals, the lefty, who was not expecting a big league deal this winter, said he has a skill set that’s in demand these days.

“I have always been a guy that works incredibly hard,” Clay said. “I’m a sinker ball pitcher, and I’ve got a great slider from what people have told me, so I get a lot of ground balls.”

“I do a very, very good job of getting ground balls, and I feel like that’s at a premium right now, especially with the way that the baseball is and how many home runs are getting hit, so the ability to keep the ball on the ground is very, very important.”