The Nationals have a very difficult season ahead of them in 2020, and that'll be true whether Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon come back or not.
The last National League team to win back to back championships was the 1975-76 Reds. Whenever a team sees the Nats on their schedule next year, they won't treat it as just another game.
They're the champs, and they'll either have to upgrade their roster or play at an even higher level than they did in 2019 to make it back to the World Series.
In terms of upgrading their roster, keeping Strasburg and Rendon would be the continuity move. But what about Gerrit Cole and Mookie Betts?
On the latest episode of the Nationals Talk Podcast, Todd Dybas and Chase Hughes joined Tim Shovers to assess the chances Washington has at landing one of those two stars.
They started with Cole, who could fill the World Series MVP sized hole Strasburg might leave if he's swept off his feet by another organization.
"I think it's extremely, extremely low," Dybas said. "His [contract] numbers are just going to be well beyond what I would perceive the Nationals are willing to pay anybody this offseason.
"You still need to figure out second base, that's presumably going to cost you some money, you need to figure out first base, that's going to cost you some money. You need another high-end reliever and then probably two more relievers and like fliers on two more relievers after that, you need a backup catcher or maybe a starting catcher so Kurt Suzuki could be the "backup". And you might even need another starter, just to kind of be sure you're sure at the back end [of the rotation]."
From a Nationals perspective, they certainly seem to have too many needs around the diamond to commit a ton of long-term money to Cole. But Hughes pointed out the simple fact that Cole's best option may be in New York.
[The Yankees] need starting pitching, Cole is the top guy out there, it just makes too much sense," Hughes said. "But [the Nationals] can't be ruled out because to do that would ignore precedence. We didn't think the Nationals were going to sign Max Scherzer and they did."
Mookie Betts is a different situation. The Red Sox are in cost-slashing mode under new Chief of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom.
With a new contract on the horizon and an expectedly enormous arbitration salary for next season, Boston has flirted with the idea of trading the 2018 AL MVP to clear money off the books and get premium minor-league talent.
But this is Mookie Betts we're talking about, and Dybas is skeptical that the Red Sox would move their best player.
"I'm sure [the Red Sox] would prefer to get something done with him and kind of take it from there, because who wouldn't want Mookie Betts?" Dybas said. I'll believe it when I see it."
Hughes echoed a similar sentiment, talking about Betts in just about the highest way you can.
"He's on Mike Trout's level essentially," Hughes said. " He could end up being one of the best players of his generation, so I think it's fair to talk about, I would say it's much less likely than [Scott] Boras client No. 4 Gerrit Cole."
The Nationals have the ability to chase the marquee stars of the offseason, but as Todd and Chase explained, showing they can chase them is probably the most they can do.
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