Washington (AFP) – Juan Soto had already left Nationals Park after being Trade with Josh Bell at San Diego Padres In the biggest deal for deadline day. His face was still everywhere.
Soto’s Star Wars-style “Juan Solo” chests remain in the lockers of many of his former teammates now, and his older poster was visible in the center of the field on Tuesday. They were sobering reminders of the last star Washington dumped with Soto after Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer and Tria Turner outside the city.
“I freak out about them,” injured loyalist Sean Doolittle said of Nationals fans who were forced to watch one of the franchise’s mainstays after leaving another. “I can sympathize with how they feel after the guys we have here who are in other uniforms. … What can you say? I don’t know. I’m still here, if it helps.”
Doolittle is among the few players still around for the 2019 World Championship winning team Washington, and he even left and came back. Moving from Soto sever ties with that tournament and a decade of discord that preceded it.
A year after Scherzer traded, Turner and several others plunged the organization into a large-scale, long-term rebuilding, digging deeper into it by trading a talent from generations less than his 24th birthday, signaling many dark days to come for citizens amidst the state of of the surrounding uncertainty. The The Lerner family looking to sell it and who will own it afterwards.
“Going forward, try to pick up the pieces while still trying to get out and win the games that I think are important,” said team player Lynne Thomas.
Rather than calling Soto’s trade another crushing blow in the name of dismantling the roster, General Manager Mike Rizzo considered it a step toward competition sooner rather than later thanks to a pack of five young players who got paid in return from Washington: Rising leftist Mackenzie Gore and odds: James Wood and CJ Abrams Robert Hassell III and Susanna Garlin.
Rizzo wore the World Championship ring and a trophy shirt on purpose to show what the team had done and hoped to do again.
“In 2019, we had a slogan, ‘Offroads Lead to Beautiful Places,’” Rizzo said. “We’re on a bumpy road now, and we think getting out of this thing, it would be a beautiful place.”
It won’t be pretty for a while, perhaps after Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez – and almost everyone currently at the club – have long gone. This humble realization seems to have struck Doolittle, who is 35 and still finds it surreal to watch a report on the trade on TV in front of him.
“Even though there was a chance that it looked like it was the last month or so, he still felt a little shocked and confused,” Doolittle said. “When someone like Soto is moved, it kind of reminds you that if they can move, anyone can move. It sounds surreal to say that out loud.”
It’s especially surreal given that it’s been less than three years since Soto, Rendon, Turner and Scherzer were key pieces on the first championship team in franchise history. The next big question is what will the next ownership group inherit in terms of field product.
Rizzo and Martinez tried to paint a rosy picture of what was to come… in the end… after making the brutally difficult decision to trade Soto.
“As an organization, we felt we had to do what we had to do,” Martinez said. “Now we are in a position to move forward, we feel like with the players we’ve got, the future is bright and I’m looking forward to that.”
It takes a telescope to see that far into a bright future for Washington. Doolittle described the organization as “starting from the ground floor” and working toward another title, but even the 2019 world champion’s crest was little consolation in the post-Soto national world.
“You have to start somewhere and I think they felt that was where they needed to start,” he said. “Today is another tough day for sure. This flag is going to fly forever, sure, but it stinks.”
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