The Washington Nationals will embark upon the oddest title defense in MLB history, as there's a chance these negotiations continue to go south and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred enacts a 50-game season.
After 50 games last year, the defending champs were 19-31, effectively proving this season would be a complete crapshoot. Rather than stick around for a year lacking in duration and substance, these three Nationals should sit on the sidelines and wait for baseball to return in 2021.
3. Eric Thames
Thames fell out of favor just a tad with the Milwaukee Brewers last year, which led to him signing a one-year deal with the Nationals to prove he could be more than a power bat off the bench. While Thames wanted to show he can be a starter for a contending team, the small amount of games means it will be almost impossible for GMs around the league to judge if he's rediscovered the scintillating form he possessed upon returning from the KBO. Thames should wait until 2021 before starting the redemption tour.
2. Sean Doolittle
Even though it was Daniel Hudson, not Doolittle, earning the clutch saves for the Nationals late in the postseason, the Nationals closer and former Oakland Athletics All-Star will have plenty of offers on the free agent market as either a closer or setup man from several contending clubs. Given a 50-game sample, one bad outing could inflate his ERA and make getting a sizable new contract that much more difficult. In order to avoid that risk, Doolittle should watch the 2020 season from the dugout.
1. Max Scherzer
Stephen Strasburg has just as valid a case to skip the season as Scherzer does. Scheduled to be paid $35 million this season, Scherzer would take home just north of $11 million under the prorated salary adjustments. Someone who has been so forthright and direct in calling out owners will not, and should not, accept playing a possible 50 games in 2020 when he'll only make around nine or ten starts and won't even take home one-third of the salary he was promised at the beginning of the season.