Nats’ 2019 roster could be a distant memory come 2021

Nothing lasts forever in baseball. Change is inevitable. No roster, good or bad, stays intact from year to year.

So this isn’t unusual. But it’s still somewhat striking when you pause to think about it: More than half of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series roster isn’t going to be part of their 2021 roster.

At the moment, only 11 of the 25 players who were in uniform for Game 7 in Houston a mere 13 1/2 months ago remain employed by the Nationals.

Only four of those 11 are position players: Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Yan Gomes.

The other seven are all pitchers: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Joe Ross, Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey and Wander Suero.

That’s feels like a lot of turnover in a relatively short amount of time, certainly for a championship club.

Now, it’s worth noting several members of both the 2019 and 2020 Nationals who are now free agents could still re-sign with them and return next spring: Ryan Zimmerman, Howie Kendrick, Kurt Suzuki, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Sean Doolittle, Javy Guerra. There’s a good chance at least one or two of those guys come back.

Doolittle-Bears-Down-Blue-WS-Sidebar.jpgStill, the roster that takes the field April 1 (or whenever opening day 2021 actually happens) is going to look awfully different than the one that celebrated wildly in the middle of the diamond at Minute Maid Park on that glorious late-October night not so long ago.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Some championship teams grow too attached to their players and try to keep too many of them together for years to come, only to watch them grow old together and never recapture the magic. It would’ve been a mistake for the Nationals to keep the entire band long term and believe that was a recipe for continued success.

The Nats need some new blood. They need at least one more big-time hitter. They need better defensive players at multiple positions. They need a new No. 4 starter. They need a couple new relievers.

Their best chance at making a run at another title in 2021 is to supplement the core group of elite players they’ve still got with a group of newcomers who can make them better.

That’s how the Giants did it a decade ago when they won three titles in five years. Only 11 members of their 2010 World Series roster were on their 2012 World Series roster. Only eight of those players were also on their 2014 World Series roster.

It’s hard to win a title. It’s even harder to win another title soon thereafter.

Yes, it requires a certain number of core players who know each other and work well together and stick together for the long haul. But it also requires a healthy amount of roster turnover, as painful as that may be for fans who fall in love with the team that brought them so many wonderful memories in the first place.

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