- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2021

When the final strike whizzed past Michael Brantley, Daniel Hudson threw his glove in celebration. Yan Gomes soon pulled Hudson into a hug. And then the mob scene came, with Max Scherzer, Brian Dozier and others joining a mass of screaming, jumping bodies.

Those four players aren’t with the Washington Nationals any longer, just two years after they celebrated a World Series title against the Houston Astros. Nor are many others. In fact, after a trade deadline fire sale, there are just 10 players left within Washington’s organization who were part of the 25-man World Series roster.

And only seven of those 10 players are currently on the Nationals active roster, with Stephen Strasburg recently undergoing season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome while relievers Tanner Rainey and Wander Suero are in the minors. That leaves Juan Soto — the centerpiece of a team undergoing a rebuild — Gerardo Parra, Ryan Zimmerman, Victor Robles, Patrick Corbin, Javy Guerra and Joe Ross as the lone members who celebrated on the field at Minute Maid Park.

There are 15 others, though, who are no longer sporting the Curly W, and four of the major contributors from that World Series title departed at the trade deadline. Hudson, who threw that final strike, is now with the San Diego Padres. Gomes, who caught that final strike, is now an Oakland Athletic. And Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner are with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That was part of the major reshuffle Washington’s roster underwent at the mid-season mark, but they aren’t the lone departures. A total 15 players who were part of the 25-man World Series roster is now gone.

“The good thing about this group is we got everything out of this group that we could have gotten out of it, and we reached the highest levels,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “For 10 straight years, we competed with the best and brightest in all of baseball, we were as good as anybody in the game, we won four division titles, we’ve been in the playoffs five times, we won a World Series with this group. And there’s no shame in having to take a step back, refocus, reboot and start the process again. And that’s what we’re preparing to do.”

The most startling changes have occurred in the infield, where only elder statesman Ryan Zimmerman remains. The rest of the group has dispersed. Turner was traded, and third baseman Anthony Rendon left in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels following the championship. Catcher Kurt Suzuki also followed Rendon to Southern California. Dozier, Matt Adams, Asdrubal Cabrera and Howie Kendrick are all out of the league.

The outfield stayed largely intact, with Soto moving to right field to replace the departing Adam Eaton. Parra returned to the club after a one-year stint in Japan, and Robles still patrols center.

But on the mound, Washington has lost several key contributors between 2019 and 2021. Late-inning reliever Sean Doolittle is with the Cincinnati Reds, while Anibal Sanchez and Fernando Rodney aren’t with a major league team.

The changes aren’t surprising. The Nationals won the World Series with the oldest roster in baseball. Now two years later, the organization is opting to go in a new, younger direction, steadily bidding adieu to stars of yesterday.

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