If you’re gonna pull the early plug on a contention window, you better walk away with some future stars. To their credit, the Nationals did that. A better move might’ve been to hold Trea Turner in 2021 and hope for the best in 2022, but that wasn’t the play this team wanted to make, preferring to off-load Max Scherzer’s deferred money along with their star shortstop. 2022 then became an exercise in futility. It’s tough to imagine the front office saw the Turner trade as precursor to a Soto sale. I guess the checks keep clearing when an ownership group opts to quit an entire MLB season, but the cascading impacts of those tank-thoughts will be felt throughout the organization for years. Players might simply stop wanting to play. They didn’t have to move Soto, of course. Could’ve left him malcontent on the roster then watched him walk in free agency, but I don’t think any amount of free agent spending could undo the damage that had been done.
1. OF James Wood | 20 | A | 2025
There’s a lot riding on the broad shoulders of the 6’7” 240 lb center fielder. If he remains a high-contact, big-power bat through the upper minors, the Juan Soto trade could look okay a couple years from now. CJ Abrams has a big part to play in that math as well, and he started hitting better down the stretch with regular at bats. Like Abrams last winter, Wood should be a consensus top ten fantasy prospect this off-season after slashing .313/.420/.536 with 12 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 76 games this year. He also walked 50 times and struck out 75. So far, his game has no apparent weaknesses. Depending on the timelines of Jackson Chourio and Elly De La Cruz, James Wood could be baseball’s number one overall prospect early in 2024.