People like to point to high first round picks - Strasburg, Rendon, and Harper as reasons why the Nationals are good.
But they also had big successes with international FAs -Soto, Robles, Suero. They’ve kept the homegrown star- Zimmerman instead of letting him walk like Markakis. He doesn’t live up to his contract, but that doesn’t prevent them from going after 9 figure free agents like Corbin. They make trades on both sides of the equation—pitching prospects for Eaton, Souza for Turner, and they swap a late arbitration number 4 starter for Sanchez and move Roark for a young BP arm who got two big outs last night. They lose trade after trade on relievers, but don’t quit trying and end up with Doolittle and Hudson. They match youth with “old” FAs on short deals-Adams, Kendrick, and Dozier.
Rizzo uses all avenues to acquire talent to make his team better. His moves don’t always work out, but it doesn’t discourage him from trying them again to get better results.
They’ve also stayed competitive with guys entering FAs and don’t panic about trading them early. They let them walk, collect the pick, and replace them.