How far things have come

When listening to Max Scherzer explain his reasoning for signing with the Nationals a couple of days ago during his introductory press conference, one thing stood out to me above all others, and that's that this franchise has come a long way in the last handful of years. From 2008-10, the Nats lost a total of 298 games. Their winning percentage was .386 during that three-year span. The Nats finished last in the National League East all three years. It was tough to get free agents who prioritized winning to consider coming to D.C. That's just a fact. But in 2012, the Nats won 98 games and earned an NL East title. That kicked off a three-year span where the organization won more games than any other in the majors. And it was capped with another division title in 2014. Mike Rizzo with reporters.jpgScherzer was asked the other day what made him want to sign with the Nationals. For a second, we'll ignore that the organization offered him the richest contract ever for a right-handed pitcher, and we'll look strictly at what else drew Scherzer to D.C. "It's pretty easy and it's one: winning," Scherzer said. "I think this team is capable of winning and winning a lot. When you look at the near-term and long-term, this organization is one you want to be a part of." Even as recently as the Jayson Werth signing leading up to the 2011 season, that was something that no one could have been able to say with a straight face. Yes, the Nationals were trending in the right direction in those years, building their farm system and bringing smart people to the organization and drafting well. But my goodness have things turned around in D.C. in a short time. General manager Mike Rizzo no longer needs to pitch free agents on what they could be a part of as a National. The last three years speak for themselves, as does the collection of talent the Nats have assembled for 2015 and beyond. If you're a free agent and you want to win, the Nationals are now an organization you immediately consider. "When the Nationals started knocking on your door, this is a team you want to be a part of," Scherzer said. "Having conversations with the Lerner family, (getting to) understand their commitment to excellence and their commitment to winning, that lines up great with what I want to do. "I want to win and that's why I'm here." How far things have come.

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