Perspective | With one other star poised to stroll, why ought to Nats followers stick round?


By the point Ted Lerner and his household’s buy of the Washington Nationals had greater than tripled in worth, I used to be all-in. A season ticket holder — and fortunately so.

It was 2017. I had moved again to my ancestral dwelling of Washington 10 years earlier. I had witnessed the Nationals blossom right into a playoff crew. They had been coming off a painful Nationwide League Division Sequence loss to the Chicago Cubs. Affable baseball lifer Dusty Baker was their skipper. Brash 20-something Bryce Harper, whom the Nationals had drafted No. 1, was must-watch with each at-bat. The left aspect of the infield was slick with the always-cool Anthony Rendon at third and quick-as-a-wink Trea Turner at brief. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez had been dealing from the rubber, and Sean Doolittle was a cult determine coming in from the bullpen.

It appeared town’s half-billion , or closer to $1 billion when you factor in interest, to fund a brand new stadium was cash not so unbearably misspent — particularly when the crew received the World Sequence in 2019.

However earlier than they received that championship, the Lerners refused to re-sign Baker regardless of his main the crew to consecutive 90-plus-win seasons. Then they watched Harper stroll away to Philadelphia. Why? As a result of they wouldn’t pay him with out deferring a lot of his wage.

Barry Svrluga: Trading Juan Soto might be smart. It also might be impossible.

And after the Nationals received all of it, the Lerners let Rendon, the World Sequence hero, depart for the Los Angeles Angels. Why? As a result of, once more, they wouldn’t pay him upfront, discovering as soon as extra that gamers know a greenback at this time is value multiple tomorrow.

Then final July, as their season cratered beneath the load of accidents, coronavirus setbacks and poor play, the Nationals dealt Scherzer to the Los Angeles Dodgers. I wasn’t mad about that. Scherzer was 37. He had finished his factor right here spectacularly for seven seasons, longer than his stint in Detroit.

However when Turner’s title popped up as a part of the Scherzer deal, I used to be staggered. Turner was a first-time all-star. He was simply 28. He had change into as electrifying of a participant as there was within the recreation due to his velocity on the bottom paths and his bat that obtained him there typically. But it appeared he was tossed into the commerce for, oh, the hell of it. Phrase was the Lerners didn’t need to pay Turner what seemed to be his going price: upward of what shortstop Francisco Lindor obtained from the New York Mets, $341 million over 10 years. Seems, which may have been a discount. Turner is outhitting Lindor, outslugging him, stealing extra bases and scoring extra runs.

Juan Soto wins the Home Run Derby as his Nats future becomes an all-star focus

In opposition to that dismal backdrop, I obtained the invoice from the Lerners for my 2022 ticket package deal final offseason — and it was up 21 p.c. With no Turner. No Scherzer. No Rendon. No Harper. No Baker. That added up, not surprisingly, to extra losses than wins — so many losses that the Nationals threatened to have the fastest fall after winning a World Series in baseball historical past.

And now it’s believed the Lerners will commerce Juan Soto, simply 23 — who, like Harper and Rendon, is a homegrown participant who developed right into a star — after he turned down a 3rd long-term contract supply, the newest value $440 million over 15 years.

In April, the Lerners introduced they’re buying the franchise, our franchise, which is now valued at $2 billion, possibly extra — no less than 4 occasions greater than the $450 million they spent for it.

In the event you’re promoting the crew that made you a billion and a half, promote it as-is. Soto ought to convey. Let the subsequent billionaire proprietor determine whether or not to maintain as thrilling of a participant as there’s within the recreation or begin anew with out him in what virtually definitely would change into a ghost city of a house stadium.

The Soto saga isn’t a couple of contract for him as a lot as it’s a couple of contract with us, the fan base. We enriched the Lerners by means of taxes to construct the stadium and this season by shelling out $279.30 on average for a family of four to observe the worst crew within the recreation.

Putting Juan Soto aside, Nationals near another active trade deadline

However I’m not sure the Lerners are in contact with us. In the event that they had been, they wouldn’t have allowed Scott Boras, agent to the celebs, to push a narrative in regards to the crew refusing to get Soto a constitution flight to Los Angeles, where he won the Home Run Derby in dramatic style. No, the Nationals didn’t have to. But when the Lerners cared about optics, they’d’ve used the equal of 1 evening of my Nationals Park part’s spending to make sure no laborious emotions with the cornerstone and face of the crew. As a substitute, they selected to additional alienate everybody.

I don’t need to hear about any deserves in dealing Soto — there aren’t any. Swapping an obvious Corridor of Fame commodity who performs the sport with the panache of Ken Griffey Jr. for a bunch of prospects ensures completely nothing.

I need to acknowledge the advantage of protecting Soto.

The Lerners owe not solely Soto, for what he has achieved and what his accomplishments promise for the long run; the Lerners owe the followers, for the stewardship we’ve endured the previous few seasons.

In the event that they don’t pay us, then I’m not all-in anymore. Not as a season ticket holder. And angrily so.

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