The thrilling first game of the World Series just wrapped up with Washington pulling off a 5-4 victory in Houston. If you’re a neutral observer, you may be hoping for six more games just like that one. However long the series lasts, though, both teams stand to see some key contributors reach the open market thereafter. Let’s start with a review of the Nationals’ pending free agents…
Anthony Rendon, 3B:
- I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know in regards to Rendon. The 29-year-old is coming off yet another world-class season, perhaps an MVP-level campaign, and is finally getting the national recognition his play has long warranted. As hands down the premier soon-to-be free-agent position player, Rendon has a strong case for a guarantee worth $225MM or more.
Brian Dozier, 2B:
- Dozier was an elite second baseman with the Twins for a few years leading up to 2018, but he hasn’t been the same player dating back to then. After a down season divided between the Twins and Dodgers, the Nationals signed Dozier to a one-year, $9MM contract last winter. Dozier enjoyed somewhat of a bounce-back regular season, hitting .238/.340/.430 with 20 home runs and 1.7 fWAR in 482 plate appearances. That’s still not great production, though, and odds are the 32-year-old will have to settle for another single-season guarantee (very likely for less money) in his next trip to free agency.
Howie Kendrick, 1B/2B/3B:
- As with Dozier, Kendrick’s likely heading for a one-year deal. However, in Kendrick’s case, that has far more to do with age than performance. After all, the long-solid Kendrick, 36, has been an offensive machine all season. Kendrick slashed a jaw-dropping .344/.395/.572 with 17 homers in 370 PA during the regular campaign, when Statcast more than backed up his bottom-line output. Just four qualified hitters (some names you may recognize in Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich and Nelson Cruz) outdid Kendrick’s .418 expected weighted on-base average. Kendrick has further cemented himself in Washington lore with a productive postseason, with his decisive grand slam in Game 5 of the team’s NLDS victory over the Dodgers sure to count among the franchise’s greatest moments for decades to come.
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B/3B:
- The 33-year-old Cabrera has been an outstanding in-season pickup for Washington, which grabbed him off the scrapheap after Texas released him in early August. Cabrera was only a .235/.318/.393 hitter at that point, but he slashed an excellent .323/.404/.565 in 146 regular-season PA after donning a Nats uniform. Cabrera’s D.C. production should be enough to earn him another guaranteed deal in the offseason.
Gerardo Parra, OF:
- It’s hard to believe, but Parra has turned into a folk hero in Washington since the club brought him on a low-cost deal toward the beginning of May. At that point, Parra was the owner of a paltry .546 OPS and someone the Giants understandably jettisoned despite obvious needs in their outfield. Not only has Parra hit a much-improved .250/.300/.447 in 204 trips to the plate since then, but his “Baby Shark” intro has helped make him a fan and clubhouse favorite. It doesn’t look as if Parra would be a bad investment on what’s sure to be another low-paying deal.
Daniel Hudson, RP:
- The hard-throwing Hudson didn’t appear to be an exciting addition for the Nationals when they acquired him from the Blue Jays at the July trade deadline, but he has since established himself an indispensable part of their bullpen. Hudson pitched to a 1.44 ERA (with a 3.53 FIP) and totaled 23 strikeouts against two walks in 25 regular-season innings as a Nat. The brilliance has largely continued in the postseason for the 32-year-old, who has thrown seven frames of one-earned run ball and converted all four of his save chances. Hudson had to settle for a $1.5MM contract with the Jays right before the season started, but he should do far better next time. A two-year deal in the $10MM range could be in the offing this winter.
Jeremy Hellickson, RHP:
- Hellickson was a quality member of the Nationals’ pitching staff in 2018, which led the club to bring back the former AL Rookie of the Year on a $1.3MM guarantee last winter. At that price, it was a gamble worth taking for the Nationals, but it didn’t work out. The 32-year-old Hellickson struggled into May before missing the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Assuming Hellickson signs somewhere in the offseason, he’ll be getting a minor league pact.
Fernando Rodney, RP:
- This season has been a wild ride for the 42-year-old Rodney, who bombed with the Athletics in the early going, got his release in late May, signed a minors deal with the Nats a week later and is now part of a World Series roster. The nomadic arrow slinger tossed 33 1/3 regular-season innings of 4.05 ERA/3.72 FIP ball and posted 9.5 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9 after the Nationals brought him up in late June. Rodney has added 2 2/3 scoreless frames during the playoffs. Will that be enough for Rodney to pick up a major league deal over the winter? Perhaps, but he’s obviously not going to break the bank.
Jonny Venters, RP:
- Venters, who has seemingly overcome one awful injury after another during his career, will have to do so yet again. No stranger to the operating table, Venters underwent yet another serious procedure (on a torn capsule in his left shoulder) in August. The 34-year-old’s career could conceivably be over, though he’ll try to get off the mat one more time.