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The Nationals added some serious thunder to their lineup in the form of Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell, but they could use someone with an offensive profile more similar to the departed Adam Eaton, writes Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com. Without a designated hitter in the National League, Eaton’s defensive position will go to Juan Soto, with Schwarber in left. Zuckerman’s looking for a “grinder” who runs well, gets on base, and makes contact. To Zuckerman’s point, after their new big four of Soto, Schwarber, Bell, and Trea Turner, the Nats project to field a bottom half of the lineup that may struggle to get on base. Yan Gomes (5.7 percent) Starlin Castro (5.0 percent), and Victor Robles (5.3 percent) all post subpart walk rats for their careers. Josh Harrison will get playing time as the first man off the bench, but his 4.1 percent walk rate won’t help in that regard, nor will youngster Luis Garcia, who profiles similarly to Castro and Harrison as a contact-first infielder. Carter Kieboom shows some promise in this regard (12.7 percent walk rate), but the 23-year-old third baseman hasn’t hit enough through 165 career plate appearances (54 wRC+) to guarantee playing time. Andrew Stevenson could be their internal answer if the DH does come to the National League. Stevenson fits the “grinder” profile to a tee.
Staying in the nation’s capitol, the Nationals are partnering with BetMGM to open a sportsbook at Nats Park this season, per Scott Allen of the Washington Post. When the bill to legalize sports betting was passed in DC in 2018, one stipulation was that sporting arenas would have their own sportsbook, making third-party betting apps unavailable within a two-block radius. That will now be the zone for which the Nats new sportsbook – and associated mobile app – will be available. The brick-and-mortar will take over the “Center Field Social” space at N St. and Half St. NE, right off the metro and closest to the busiest stadium entrance in centerfield, though it’s not directly accessible from inside the stadium.