The Nationals have been installed as +1500 underdogs to repeat as World Series champions in 2020, an unusually high figure for a recent winner. Five MLB clubs—the Astros (+600), Yankees (+600), Dodgers (+700), Braves (+1200) and Red Sox (+1200)—were slapped with lower price tags than the Nats. Oddsmakers appear to be spot-on with their assessment of Washington’s team as a one-year wonder.
|Team||2020 World Series Odds|
|New York Yankees||+600|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+700|
|Boston Red Sox||+1200|
Nationals consistently beat the odds in 2019
The Nationals survived a disastrous start to the 2019 season, in which they fell to 12 games under .500 on May 23, and many were calling for manager Dave Martinez to be fired. But they turned a corner soon after and made it to the winner-take-all Wild Card game, which they survived against the Brewers. Then the Nats overcame a 2-1 series deficit against the Dodgers in the best-of-five NLDS. The NLCS against the Cardinals was a 4-0 breeze, but they needed seven games (all of which, stunningly, were won by the road team) to upset the Astros in the World Series. At 93-69 during the regular season, they were hardly a dominant force in baseball.
Rendon and Strasburg could flee D.C.
Washington is likely to take some more big losses in the offseason, just one year after letting All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper go to the Phillies. Third baseman Anthony Rendon’s contract expired and he turned down a seven-year, approximately $210 million extension (albeit with a significant amount of deferred money) during the season. The 29-year-old MVP finalist will likely have plenty of suitors on the open market. Then there is sensational starter Stephen Strasburg, who opted out of the last four years and $100 million left on his contract with the Nationals. He will be looking for a huge payday following his postseason run, in which he went 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA in six outings.
The Nats are certainly not a cash-poor club, but it seems unlikely they’ll be able to re-aign both Rendon and Strasburg, and it’s possible both will leave. Considering the razor-thin margins Washington won by with them on the team, it appears improbable that they’ll be able to thrive without them.