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The Nationals are likely to sell. That has been the feeling since at least April, when the Washington Post reported that the Lerners were exploring a potential sale, but these hypotheticals have become more real of late: Jon Heyman, in a notes column for the NY Post in mid-June, wrote that “Word is the Nats are almost sure to sell” with the Lerners hoping to pull in $3 billion for doing so. And now we’re in August, and franchise cornerstone Juan Soto is now with the San Diego Padres, while the Nats are left with some new prospects and not much else.
It’s not that the return for Soto was terrible, it’s that there was a return for Soto at all. The Nationals have kind of slowly broken down their team for a few years now, following their World Series championship in 2019 — we’ll get back to the sale thing in a moment. The Nats were very obviously a team trying to win, until they did, and then things kind of slipped from there. Washington let Bryce Harper leave via free agency for the Phillies even though he was literally Bryce Harper and entering his age-26 season, but at least there they did so because they had Soto, who had more than acquitted himself in his rookie 2018 campaign.