KEY ADDITIONS: Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester, Alex Avila, Welington Castillo, Brad Hand, Josh Bell, T.J. McFarland, Yasmany Tomas, Gerardo Parra
KEY SUBTRACTIONS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Sean Doolittle, Adam Eaton, Brock Holt, Howie Kendrick, Anibal Sanchez, Kurt Suzuki, Eric Thames
Beyond the additions of former Cubs Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester, the Nationals feature former Cubs coaches Dave Martinez, Jim Hickey and Henry Blanco. It’s just like putting the band back together!
Of course, it really isn’t. You’re all familiar with the story of how Lester told the Cubs he would have signed for “just about anything” and they wouldn’t do it and so he signed a $5 million deal with the Nats with lots of the money deferred. The backlash Cubs ownership got over that might have prompted Tom Ricketts to give Jed Hoyer a little more money, which is why the Cubs have Jake Arrieta and Joc Pederson instead of Lester and Schwarber.
Whether that works out for the Cubs remains to be seen. Same for the Nats. Lester is the Nats’ No. 4 starter behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, and that might suit team and player pretty well. Schwarber will be the Nats’ starting left fielder; as we know, he’s at least competent there and the park seems well suited to his lefthanded power.
Apart from that, the team has two outstanding young stars in Juan Soto and Victor Robles, who should lead their offense. That will be helped along by Josh Bell, who can’t help but improving after escaping Pittsburgh.
The Nats finished 26-34 last year, far out of contention, but who’s to say what they might have done in a 162-game season? They were 19-31 to start off 2019 and won the World Series. This team has talent, but are in a very competitive division.
Gerardo Parra, who was a key bench player on the Nats WS championship team, returns after a year in Japan’s NPB. And he’ll certainly bring back this song with him:
The Cubs and Nationals are scheduled to play seven times in 2021: May 17-18-19-20 at Wrigley Field and July 30-31-August 1 at Nationals Park.