Patrick Corbin headlines new faces on Nationals

By David Driver — Special to The Washington Times – – Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It won’t be hard for fans and players alike to spot the top newcomers on the Nationals’ roster this season.

Most of the new faces fill prominent roles in the middle of the diamond for Washington, which was aggressive early on the free agent and trade market. Perhaps general manager Mike Rizzo had an idea back in the fall that free agent outfielder Bryce Harper wouldn’t return to Washington and sure enough, he signed last week with the Phillies.

And don’t worry about returning players adjusting to those newcomers in the clubhouse. That is what they do in an era where there are few Cal Ripkens and Tony Gwynns that spend their entire career with one team.

“Every year is different. People come, people go,” Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman told 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday. “We are used to it.”

Here is a look at five new faces this season for the Nationals, who open the at home March 28 at 1:05 p.m. against the Mets, in the order in which they were acquired.

Kurt Suzuki, catcher

The veteran is a new face, but a familiar one. The Hawaii native played for the Nationals for part of the 2012 season and all of 2013. He caught for the from 2014-16, and spent the last two seasons with Atlanta.

He hit .271 with 12 homers and 50 RBI last season with the Braves, then signed with the Nationals on Nov. 20 as a free agent. He will split time at catcher with Yan Gomes, who came to Washington 10 days later. Suzuki had a 2.1 WAR rating last season.

Yan Gomes, catcher

Gomes may be the most surprising — in a good way — acquisition by the Nationals since the end of last season.

He has all-star credentials with the Cleveland Indians and gives Washington a legitimate power and average threat at the plate. That was missing the past two seasons with catcher Matt Wieters, who recently signed a minor-league deal with St. Louis.

Last season, Gomes had a 2.6 WAR rating as he hit .266 with 16 homers and 48 RBI in 403 at-bats with Cleveland.

The Nationals acquired Gomes in a trade with the Indians on Nov. 30, as Washington gave up young pitcher Jefry Rodriguez, minor league outfielder Daniel Johnson and a player to be named later. Gomes will split time with Suzuki.

“I just think we need to both be ready whenever our names get called,” Gomes said last month. “That’s two guys that have done it with some good pitching staffs, and it’s only going to benefit [the team]. But if we put the playing time thing ahead of ourselves, it’s not going to be beneficial for the team.”

Patrick Corbin, pitcher

The Nationals once again upgraded a strength — starting pitching.

Last season, New York state native Corbin was 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA in 33 starts for Arizona. He broke into the majors with the Diamondbacks in 2012.

Corbin signed as a free agent on Dec. 7. Five days later, the Nationals traded right-handed starter Tanner Roark, who had been with the team since 2013, to the Reds.

Corbin had a 4.8 WAR rating last season and he fits nicely into a rotation headed by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

Anibal Sanchez, pitcher

The Nationals’ staff is deeper with the addition of Sanchez, who was signed Dec. 27 as a free agent.

The right-hander was 7-6 with a 2.83 ERA in 25 games, with 24 starts, last season with the Braves.

Brian Dozier, second baseman

The Daniel Murphy era, for better or worse, is over on South Capitol Street after three seasons. The left-handed hitter and defensive-challenged Murphy is now with Colorado, where his batting average should soar even higher. Enter Dozier, another offensive weapon who will be an upgrade on defense.

Dozier hit a combined .215 last season between Minnesota and Los Angeles, with 21 homers and 72 RBI.

He had a career-high 42 homers in 2016 with the and hit 34 the next year, while batting a career-best .271.

Dozier signed with the Nationals as a free agent on Jan. 13. His WAR rating was just 1.0 last season.

Howie Kendrick and Wilmer Difo could be backup options at second base, though Kendrick left Tuesday’s spring training game with hamstring issues. He missed most of last season with an Achilles injury.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on, our third-party provider. Please read our before commenting.


Click to and View Comments

Click to Hide

Receive News & Ratings Via Email - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings with's FREE daily email newsletter.