How much will Nats add at Winter Meetings?

December 3rd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jessica Camerato’s Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The 2023 Winter Meetings begin today in Nashville, Tenn., where the Nationals and the other 29 teams across the league are gathering to shape their rosters for next season.

The Nats are not expected to make major splashes with massive signings as they continue to develop young talents at the Major and Minor League levels, but deals still could get done. Last December, the Nationals signed right-hander to a two-year deal shortly after the Winter Meetings.

Additionally, the Nats can add to the roster through the Rule 5 Draft. They also will learn where they will select in the 2024 MLB Draft.

Here is your guide to the Winter Meetings this week:

Key events
 • Sunday: Hall of Fame Contemporary Era ballot results released (Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, Lou Piniella, Joe West and Bill White)
 • Tuesday: Draft Lottery
 • Wednesday: Rule 5 Draft

Club needs
The Nationals need a first baseman after they designated Dominic Smith for assignment last month. The team also is looking to add an offensive boost, and pitching remains on the priority list.

Potential trade candidates
Outfielder and righty reliever are potential trade candidates who do not become free agents until 2026. Thomas, 28, is coming off a breakout season in which he hit a team-leading 28 home runs and was a Gold Glove Award finalist in right field. Finnegan, 32, had a 3.76 ERA and ranked seventh in the National League with 28 saves.

Prospect to know
Eyes have been on outfielder Dylan Crews long before he was drafted second overall by the Nationals in July. Crews, 21, was named the Golden Spikes Award winner as he helped lead LSU to the College World Series. He is ranked as the Nats’ No. 1 prospect and No. 4 overall, per MLB Pipeline. Crews quickly advanced to Double-A last season, and he is projected to debut in 2024.

Rule 5 Draft
The Nationals protected left-handers DJ Herz (No. 16 prospect) and Mitchell Parker (No. 25) as well as right-handers Cole Henry (No. 18) and Zach Brzykcy (No. 28) from the Rule 5 Draft.

Teams pay $100,000 to select each player in the Major League part of the Rule 5 Draft. That player must be offered back to his former club for $50,000 if he does not stay on the 26-man roster for the entire season. Last year, the Nats selected right-hander Thaddeus Ward from the Red Sox with the No. 1 overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft.

Burning question
How much will the Nationals add to their roster?

It remains to be seen if Washington fills the first-base vacancy via free agency or a trade, or if it moves designated hitter Joey Meneses to first and acquires a new DH.

The starting third-base role also will need to be determined. The Nats have options on the roster in Ildemaro Vargas, Carter Kieboom and Jake Alu, or they could look outside the organization. The same goes for the starting rotation, which could return all of its arms from last season or add via external options.