In 2015, the Nationals crumbled under the pressure of high expectations to the degree that you would think Drew Storen was contagious. Way to waste the greatest season of Bryce Harper's career, guys. Pretty selfish, tbh, but what can you do? Baseball is a cruel game with cruel gods who delight in their cruelty, and the Nats are just a recent example. The 2016 season could be different, though. Harper is still there, after all, and the Mets are improved, but not invulnerable.
The Nationals surprised by signing Daniel Murphy as a free agent, despite the fact that he has roughly as much fielding prowess as you do from your couch at home. At least in the Washington lineup he's just another guy instead of a key bat, as he was for the Mets in 2015, and you know he'll hit in a way that makes the Nats happy.
All additions: Daniel Murphy, Ben Revere, Shawn Kelley, Trevor Gott
Jordan Zimmermann was only better-than-average instead of ace-like in 2015, but that doesn't mean the Nats will forget he existed in 2016. Zimmermann's exit puts pressure on the development of Joe Ross and the return of Tanner Roark to the rotation, neither of which is a given positive for Washington.
All departures: Jordan Zimmermann, Denard Span, Drew Storen, Ian Desmond, Yunel Escobar, Doug Fister, Matt Thornton
The Nationals lost a lot of talent this winter, but there is still a whole lot left. You can't count out a team with a rotation fronted by Max Scherzer and a lineup with Bryce Harper in it, and as much as you detest Jonathan Papelbon, you know he's still great on the mound and more than capable of closing out Nats' games. This is still a team capable of making it to the postseason, so long as Anthony Rendon returns to the healthy, productive work he's capable of, Harper remains godlike, and the rotation sees growth from the back-end.
If the Nats were capable of missing the playoffs before they lost a whole bunch of players whose names were known nationally, then just know that things could get a whole lot worse if their replacements prove insufficient. The bleeding isn't about to stop, either, as 2016 could be Stephen Strasburg's final year in Washington.
Lineup: Ben Revere, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa
Rotation: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross, Tanner Roark