In 2012 the Washington Nationals used 43 players and of those 43 players only 17 made appearances for the 2014 Nationals. That may sound like a lot of turnover but most of the players that didn’t return were on the bench or in the bullpen. For the most part the core of the 2014 Nationals looked a lot like the 2012 Nationals and the 2015 Nationals won’t be much different from that. Adam LaRoche is gone and any of Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond, or Denard Span could be traded, but even if one or two of those players are gone the Nats 2015 line-up and rotation won’t have much turnover.
Take a moment to imagine the most possible turnover for the Nationals. Every player on a one year deal is traded for more controllable players. So now the Nationals will have a new shortstop, center fielder, setup man, and two new starting pitchers, but even if all those moves happen a couple would be replaced by players currently in the organization. Michael Taylor would take over for Span and with the Nats already needing one middle infielder trading Desmond all but guarantees that Danny Espinosa would take one of those two spots.
While it would appear like a lot of turnover even the most turnover possible for the Nationals would give them a core that is largely intact. The Nationals roster from 2012 to 2015 has appeared to change a lot. Rick Ankiel, Brett Carroll, Cesar Izturis, Jesus Flores, Henry Rodriguez, and Chien-Ming Wang all played for the 2012 Nationals, and each and every season players like that can be picked out. Every team suffers injuries and has to call up depth from AAA or outside the organization, but those players can’t be counted as part of the plan and are almost included on rosters by accident.
The real strength of a team is in its core and for the Nationals that has remained intact. Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann stand to be the first core players the Nationals lose. Adam LaRoche was a good player for the Nationals, but he was never part of the core. Zimmermann and Desmond have been two of the Nats best players for the past three seasons and losing them without a replacement in hand is going to hurt, but they are just two players and while their contributions would be missed losing them wouldn’t cause a huge shake-up to the core and the end result would be a 2015 team that looks a lot like the 2012 team.