A smorgasbord of Nationals thoughts on this Monday morning as Detroit Lions fans around the world cope with coming oh-so-close to their first Super Bowl appearance and the rest of us cope with another Chiefs-49ers matchup …
* The Joey Gallo signing became official over the weekend after the 30-year-old slugger passed his physical. Gallo is now a member of the Nats, having agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal that also includes a mutual option for 2025.
Before anyone gets too worked up over that last nugget: Mutual options almost never get picked up. If the player has a good season, he’ll want to decline it and see if he can get a better deal as a free agent. If the player struggles, the team will decline it because it won’t want to overpay him for a second season.
So for all practical purposes, this is a one-year contract for Gallo, who will be motivated to put up big numbers and try to parlay that into a better deal next winter, whether from the Nationals or someone else.
The odds of Gallo fitting into the Nats’ 2025 plans probably aren’t great. If things go as they’re supposed to go, the outfield will be filled with James Wood and Dylan Crews joining Lane Thomas. (And even if some part of that preferred plan doesn’t come to fruition, there’s still Robert Hassell III, Daylen Lile, Jacob Young, Stone Garrett and others who could ascend to an available starting role.)
This is a short-term solution for a team desperately in need of left-handed power. And for the price, it’s not a bad gamble at all.
Gallo, by the way, is expected to meet with reporters via Zoom later this afternoon. So be sure to check back for anything interesting he tells us during our introductory session.
* To make room for Gallo on the 40-man roster, the Nationals designated Israel Pineda for assignment. No huge surprise there; Pineda was fourth on the catching depth chart, having been surpassed last season by Drew Millas.
Pineda looked like a potentially intriguing option (especially at the plate) when he was called up late in 2022 for a cup of coffee in the majors. He hit 14 homers in high Single-A in 2021, then hit 16 across three levels of the minors in 2022, finishing with a .783 OPS across 400 plate appearances.
But Pineda’s 2023 season was stunted by injuries, first by a fractured finger during spring training, then by a strained oblique that pushed him to the 60-day IL. He wound up playing in only 41 minor-league games, hitting a scant .176/.229/.268 and never ascending beyond Double-A Harrisburg.
The Nats sent Pineda to the Arizona Fall League to get him some more at-bats, and he performed a bit better, batting .237/.303/.373 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 66 plate appearances. But with Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams now established at the big-league level, and with Millas the clear backup plan in case something happens to either of them, Pineda just became expendable this winter.
Of course, the Nationals would’ve had an available 40-man spot for Gallo without needing to make a corresponding move if they had simply finalized a retirement agreement with Stephen Strasburg by now … but that’s a story for another day.
* If you missed the other big news over the weekend, the Nationals unveiled two new jerseys for the 2024 season.
The first is a new-look road gray jersey, with an arched, navy blue, block “WASHINGTON” replacing the angled, red, script “Washington” that had been used since way back in 2008.
The second new jersey is an alternate pullover featuring a white front and back, navy blue sleeves and the “Capitol W” logo on the left chest. It’s a look unlike anything the team has worn in its history.
The Nats’ three other allotted jerseys will be unchanged from 2023. They’ll still wear home whites featuring a navy blue, script “Nationals” across the front; the navy blue alternates with the white script “Nationals” and the highly popular cherry blossom City Connect uniforms for one more season before Nike retires it.
The initial reaction to the new jerseys was decidedly mixed, and many wondered if this spells the end of the “Curly W” logo. Though it’s not as prominent as it used to be, it’s not being phased out altogether. In fact, the team intends to wear the traditional red curly W caps at home with the white script Nationals jerseys, not the tri-colored “Capitol W” logo cap (which will only be paired up with the matching alternate jersey). The blue “Curly W” cap will continue to be worn with the road gray jersey and the navy blue alternate jersey.