WASHINGTON -- The Nationals boasted the most prolific offense in franchise history last season and one of the most potent offensive lineups across all of baseball. They are fortunate to keep that lineup largely intact from a year ago, and while Jayson Werth is not slated to be in it,
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals boasted the most prolific offense in franchise history last season and one of the most potent offensive lineups across all of baseball. They are fortunate to keep that lineup largely intact from a year ago, and while Jayson Werth is not slated to be in it, Adam Eaton taking over as the starting left fielder should represent an upgrade. Perhaps the most significant change in the lineup next season will be the batting order itself, because now first-time manager Dave Martinez will be the one writing it. Martinez says he has been playing with different lineup combinations all winter and, as a disciple of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, says he is going to be creative. Here's a guess at what Martinez's Opening Day lineup could be:
LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Adam Eaton, LF
Trea Turner, SS
Bryce Harper, RF
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Matt Wieters, C
Michael A. Taylor, CF
Who do you pitch to? That's a question Martinez asked himself from the opposing dugout while he was the Cubs' bench coach during the National League Division Series in October, and it's the question that will haunt NL pitching staffs all season. Eaton and Turner are among the best table-setters in the Majors; Harper, Rendon and Murphy are all MVP candidates; and following Zimmerman's bounce-back season and Taylor's breakout in 2017, the Nats have one of the deepest and most potent lineups in the Majors. They have speed, power and veteran hitters who can drive up pitch counts and get on base frequently.
The one question mark in the Nationals' lineup remains at catcher. They got the least production in the Majors from their backstops a year ago and want to improve upon that this season. They are hoping for some version of a rebound from Wieters, but have also stated that they could reduce his playing time to split more evenly with his backup.
WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
If there is one lineup spot the Nats are looking to upgrade before the start of the season, it's at catcher. They could look to explore upgrades via one of two routes. Either the Nats look for a veteran backup they could platoon with Wieters, or they could try to acquire a proven everyday catcher. They've been linked to Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, so if Miami decides to move him, look for Washington to be a potential suitor. Otherwise this lineup is all but set. The only question is how Martinez slots them in.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.