The Nationals have built their foundation through the Draft, selecting players such as Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman along with some who have left, like Bryce Harper or Jordan Zimmermann. They see this year's Draft as an opportunity to add to an already sturdy core.
The 2019 Draft will take place tonight through Wednesday, beginning with tonight's Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 41 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
Here’s how the Draft is shaping up for the Nationals, whose first selection is the 17th overall pick.
In about 50 words
A glance at the Nationals recent Draft history offers a window into what the team emphasizes at the top: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. Washington has selected a pitcher with five of its past six first-round picks dating back to 2012 (no first-round pick in 2013 and ’15).
What they’re saying
“At pick 17, we think we can get an impact big leaguer," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We have a wish list for what we’d like to accomplish with that pick and with all of our other picks. As I’ve said many times, the three days of the Draft are arguably the most important three days of the year for an organization. The Draft is the foundation of our organization. Our scouts have been on the road a lot the last six months and now we are all locked in the Draft room putting the board together. I’m proud of their hard work and I think we are in a great place to add a lot of good players to our organization.”
Who might they take?
Ideally, the Nationals would likely prefer to take a pitcher in the first round, but the latest two mock drafts by MLB.com’s experts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo have the five college pitchers all going ahead of their first-round selection. If so, Washington could pivot toward third baseman Josh Jung, who has a track record of good hitting and on-base skills.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
This year, the Nationals have a pool of $5,979,600 to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $3,609,700 to spend on their first selection.
The Nationals have spent the past few seasons aiming to restock the pitching depth lost from numerous Deadline deals for relievers in previous seasons. The list of arms they have traded away in recent years include: Nick Pivetta (to the Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon); Felipe Vazquez (to the Pirates for Mark Melancon); Blake Treinen and Jesus Luzardo (to the A’s for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson) to name a few. Look for Washington to continue this trend and perhaps address areas where it's short on depth, such as behind the plate and in the outfield.
The Nationals tend to lean toward drafting college pitchers, but they are also not afraid to draft a high schooler and will not shy away from someone with a history of arm injuries. Last year’s first-round pick was high-school pitcher Mason Denaburg, and they took another high schooler in 2016, shortstop Carter Kieboom. Dane Dunning and Seth Romero were both pitchers coming out of college in '16 and '17 respectively, as was Erick Fedde in '14.
The recent top picks
2018: RHP Mason Denaburg (extended spring training)
2017: LHP Seth Romero (Class A Hagerstown)
2016: RHP Dane Dunning (traded to White Sox)
2016: SS Carter Kieboom (Triple-A Fresno)
2014: RHP Erick Fedde (Nationals)