SNIDER: Lerners can't sell Nats soon enough

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The Lerner family just burned its legacy.

The Washington Nationals owners brought baseball back to Washington in 2005, won a World Series in 2019, made a ton of money and are now leaving the franchise in ashes while cashing out in a coming sale.

Maybe Dan Snyder isn't the worst owner in town.

Agent Scott Boras beat the Lerners again. The Nats couldn't sign Soto for a record $440 million because Boras knows he can get $500 million if Soto leaves in 2025 as a free agent.

The Lerners hate paying superstar money aside from Jayson Werth, who was a solid $126 million deal with six good seasons. Meanwhile, the stars of that 2019 championship – Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper – are gone and Ryan Zimmerman retired. The Nats kept Stephen Strasburg, which has been a real anchor after two seasons of nothing but injuries.

Soon, the Lerners will join the exodus and Soto was the last bit of bookkeeping. A new owner doesn't want to be the bad guy by not re-signing Soto and the Lerners knew a $500 million deal would lessen their sale price. A classic business move is to cut payroll, inflate profits and sell high.

Years from now, nobody will remember the Lerners for their guardianship of the game. Yes, they built a winner, but then let it needlessly unravel. This isn't a small-market team that couldn't afford to pay stars. The Lerners just didn't want to do it anymore. So, this year's rebuild now looks like a 105-loss season that earns next year's No. 1 overall pick if winning the draft lottery. And so it begins again.

The trade of Josh Bell and Soto leaves a lineup with little to prevent nightly shutouts. And, it gained only potential stars for Soto. The Nats took five top Padres prospects and average first baseman/DH Luke Voit, but that doesn't mean anything. Ask the Los Angeles Rams how trading its No. 2 draft pick in 2012 to Washington for three firsts and a second-rounder worked out.

The Nats get a hot prospect in outfielder Robert Hassell. The Padres' No. 1 minor-league prospect might make the majors next year. Outfielder James Wood was San Diego's No. 3 prospect. Shortstop C.J. Abrams has potential, but has not yet produced. Washington needs pitching, so righty Jarlin Susana and lefty MacKenzie Gore could boost the team, but that's a big leap.

This trade was really about payroll. No plug-and-play Padre is coming to Washington. Just a lot of hopes and dreams and who knows which will materialize.

Meanwhile, there's a big hole in the middle of the Nats lineup sandwiched by not much. They'll be lucky to scratch out a few runs a game and not totally collapse. Fans will watch with their hands over their eyes. The good part is many are used to doing so as Commanders and Wizards fans.

Yet another generational talent has left Washington, and a town that mostly supports winners will abandon Nats Park just like FedUp Field, that's now a ghost town.

This stinks.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.

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