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Offseason checklist: Nats' needs and moves

@JamalCollier
November 3, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals won the World Series for the first time in franchise history and will quickly have to switch gears for what could be one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. To try to defend its title, Washington will have to address a few key needs,

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals won the World Series for the first time in franchise history and will quickly have to switch gears for what could be one of the most important offseasons in franchise history.

To try to defend its title, Washington will have to address a few key needs, especially surrounding two key free agents. MLB.com is keeping track here. As the offseason continues, check back for updates.

BIGGEST NEEDS

Third base
The Nationals allowed Bryce Harper to walk in free agency a year ago and remained successful anyway, in part, because they had outfielders like Juan Soto and Victor Robles ready to fill in and then used the money allocated for Harper in free agency. There is no such pipeline waiting behind Anthony Rendon at third base.

One of the reasons for the Nationals' disappointing 19-31 start was because Rendon missed 14 games on the injured list. If they cannot re-sign their MVP candidate, the Nats are almost certainly going to have to find a third baseman outside the organization.

Starting rotation
Now that Stephen Strasburg has opted out of his contract, the Nationals are left with a rather large hole in their rotation. But they are expected to pursue Strasburg hard to try to work out a new deal with their World Series MVP, especially after he was so essential to their postseason run.

Bullpen
The Nationals were successful in the postseason at avoiding their shaky middle relievers, but they will need to make improvements to their bullpen to increase their chances of repeating this formula. Sean Doolittle should return as the closer, and Tanner Rainey and Wander Suero showed enough flashes of upside that they should be a part of the team next season. The two Trade Deadline acquisitions with disappointing results -- Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias -- are still under contract while Daniel Hudson is a free agent. There are very few sure things in the Nats’ bullpen heading into next year and they need to spend the offseason addressing that.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.