Nationals

Pistons GM, a ‘huge’ Nats fan, wants Grant to be his Jayson Werth

Nationals
Jerami Grant and Jayson Werth

It’s been five years since Jayson Werth last suited up for an MLB game, but his impact on the Nationals has not been forgotten by at least one prominent fan.

Detroit Pistons GM Troy Weaver took over the team’s basketball operations department in June 2020, tasked with orchestrating a rebuild and turning the struggling franchise around. He’s since drafted Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick and built a roster with more than half its players still in their first two NBA seasons.

The Pistons (12-45) reportedly took calls on 27-year-old power forward Jerami Grant before the trade deadline, fielding offers for the eight-year NBA veteran averaging 18.8 points per game this season. Ultimately, Weaver held onto Grant rather than flip him for more draft picks or young talent.

A native of Washington, D.C., Weaver told The Athletic’s James Edwards III in a Q&A published Sunday he’s a big fan of the Nationals and envisioned Grant playing a similar role to the one Werth did when he signed with the rebuilding Nationals ahead of the 2011 season.

“When the Nationals signed Jayson Werth, people were like “What are they doing?” Weaver said. “It was in the midst of them rebuilding. You need really good players who are really good people to help lead these young guys. You can’t have a team full of 15 guys under 24 years old. They’ll eat each other. All of them won’t make it out. It’s important to not only have a veteran presence, but guys in their prime who are really good players and can help show these guys the way. Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the rest of those guys, never had a problem with Jayson Werth. As a matter of fact, Werth was their hero.”

 

When the Nationals signed Werth, they were coming off a 93-loss season. The club had a young core consisting of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann, Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman but lacked veteran leadership. Enter Werth, a former World Series winner and All-Star with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals finished a game under .500 in his first year before ripping off eight straight winning seasons, which culminated with a World Series title in 2019.

The Pistons are hoping to build something similar and Grant, despite turning 28 in March, is a significant part of their plans.

“You need a veteran presence and a guy in their prime who is a really good player and the younger [players] can look up to and be helped,” Weaver said. “They can’t fight it all…they haven’t been through it. That was our thought process with Jerami, and that continues to be our thought process now. But we’ll continue to look at ways to improve the team. We’re excited that Jerami is still with us.”