Re-Grading Washington Nationals' Top 3 Offseason Moves
More than a third of the season is in the books, making it an appropriate time to evaluate some of the Washington Nationals' offseason moves.
Rafael Soriano was signed to solidify the Nationals' bullpen as one of the best in the league. The Nats made a couple of offensive moves as well, trading for Denard Span in hopes to give themselves an upgrade in center field and an elite leadoff hitter. Adam LaRoche's re-signing was also made in an effort to boost the offense.
So after a 29-29 start to 2013, how are these offseason moves paying off for the Nationals? Of the three, it is LaRoche's recent contributions that are currently carrying the Nationals.
1. Adam LaRoche
In January, Adam LaRoche accepted the Nationals' two-year offer for $24 million according to ESPN.com. The Nationals were able to retain a player who contributed 33 home runs and 100 RBI last season.
Through the first month of the season, it looked as though the signing might have been a disastrous mistake for the Nationals.
LaRoche hit an abysmal .136 with a .259 slugging percentage in April before turning his season around in May. In the month of May, LaRoche smashed seven home runs, 19 RBI while hitting .330 and slugging .608.
LaRoche's current hot streak has helped make this signing look like a great decision for the Nationals. Considering that LaRoche has proved that he is capable of putting up productive numbers, it seems as though this production over the last month might be more of what to expect from LaRoche going forward.
He continued his fantastic stretch with an RBI single on June 4 to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth and scored the winning run later that inning.
The win was the Nats' first walk-off of the season and brought the Nats back to .500 on the season.
2. Rafael Soriano
Rafael Soriano has pitched well for the Nats in his first season in D.C. He has pitched 23 innings with a 2.74 ERA while racking up 15 saves and striking out 17 batters.
Soriano has also blown three saves as well.
The Nationals were looking for someone that they could rely on when the game was on the line in the ninth inning, and Soriano has done the job for the most part. Despite the three blown saves, the Nats are still confident sending out Soriano at the end of the game.
3. Denard Span
Denard Span was the offensive piece of the puzzle that was supposed to be missing in D.C.
Span started the season on fire but has since cooled off a bit. Nonetheless, he is still hitting .264 with a .316 OBP. According to ESPN.com, both his batting average and on-base percentage are lower at this point in the season than his career averages of .282 and .354.
Span needs to step it up just a little bit if he wants to successfully live up to the expectations that the Nationals had when they completed the trade with the Minnesota Twins in the offseason.