Image via AP Photo/Chris Szagola
Currently sitting at 52-46, in second place behind the mighty Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals are in a good spot. Despite starting 2019 off on the wrong foot, and sitting 10 games below .500 on May 21, the Nats have stormed back into the race and are the top Wild Card team in the National League by a half-game over the Milwaukee Brewers. Whether the Nats are able to overtake the Braves for the NL East Crown is another story, but there is a chance for the club to play deep into October.
The core of the Nationals is getting older in age, but the bottom line here is the club is performing well. Anthony Rendon, in his walk year, has led the offense to the tune of a 1.003 OPS while leading the team with 20 homers. Juan Soto has followed up his sensational rookie year with a bang and has drawn comparisons to Mike Trout’s production through his first 200 games.
The pitching, as expected, has been terrific, with the big three in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin all in the top five in the National League in strikeouts and all posting sub-4 ERA’s. Anibal Sanchez, despite struggling early on, has also bounced back and is a quality number 4 starter. Despite the Nats strong rotation, the bullpen has been another story. The relief corps around closer Sean Doolittle have all underperformed and has created a black hole on the roster. Fixing the bullpen will be tricky, as the Nats success will likely hinder on GM Mike Rizzo’s ability to patch up a clear weakness on the roster.
Without further ado, I’ll jump right into possible trade deadline deals the Nats can make to put themselves right into the playoff picture. With a depleted farm system and not a lot of financial leeway to make a blockbuster deal, the Nats will have to be creative and maximize their tradable assets wisely.
Possible Trade Proposals
Nationals acquire: INF/OF Danny Santana (Controllable through 2020)
Rangers acquire: RHP Joe Ross (Controllable through 2021), INF Drew Mendoza (Class-A Hagerstown)
- The Nats desperately need a dependable utility piece to be able to fill in, in the event Robles, Eaton, or Soto go down. With Santana, you get a formidable player that has had a breakout season with the Rangers in the AL West. With Whit Merrifield’s asking price through the roof, the Nats can pivot to Santana, who can fill a variety of needs and can hold down second base or be a left-handed compliment to Zim down the stretch. Santana truly is a jack of all trades. As for Joe Ross, he gets a fresh start in Texas where he will likely claim a rotation spot, which hasn’t been able to take advantage of with the Nats.
Nationals acquire: RHP Jake Faria (Triple-A Durham)
Rays acquire: 1B/DH Matt Adams (Free Agent after 2019)
- Faria, is an interesting acquisition for the Nats, as he has been up and down between AAA-Durham and Tampa Bay, but possesses a 94-per hour four-seam fastball with a changeup that is known to produce lots of swings and misses. Adams, who will be a free agent at the season’s end, will provide some lefty pop to go along with Ji-Man Choi at first for the Rays, but can also DH. Tampa has been in the market for a corner playing with pop, as Justin Smoak of the Blue Jays was also rumored to be of interest to the Rays.
Nationals acquire: RHP Alex Colome (Controllable through 2020)
White Sox acquire: RHP Wander Suero (Pre-Arb), RHP Jake Irvin (Class-A Hagerstown)
- The Alex Colome addition to Washington’s bullpen is a typical Mike Rizzo move as Colome is a veteran, and has had his fair share of highs and lows in his career. This year, Colome has been dealing, and it’s a good deal for the Nats as he has one more year of control after this season. Colome will give the Nats a solid 7th-to-8th inning man to bridge the gap to Doolittle. Suero, still fairly young goes to Chicago in the deal, where he will get a chance to work at his craft and emerge as an integral piece of the bullpen for the South Siders. Irvin, only 22 years of age, is viewed as a potential back-of-the-rotation starter or middle reliever.
Nationals acquire: RHP Sam Dyson (Controllable through 2020)
Giants acquire: RHP Reid Schaller (Class-A Hagerstown), PTBNL
- This is another move that is necessary. Sam Dyson has posted solid numbers this season and has been the ground ball specialist that he has always been throughout his career. You put Dyson along with Doolittle and Colome and you now have a pretty solid group of guys who can all close games. Schaller heads to San Fran in this proposal and he has been sneaky good in relief and can touch the mid-to-high 90’s in short bursts.
Nationals acquire: Cash Considerations
Indians acquire: OF Michael A. Taylor
- This is purely a move to create some financial space to acquire Sam Dyson. Taylor can provide a late-game spark for the Indians in the outfield or base-paths, for a club still in the Wild Card race. Taylor has some sneaky pop that will surely be a welcome addition to the club as Taylor, paired with a center fielder, Oscar Mercado, are among the best defenders in the game.
Nationals acquire: RHP Shane Greene (Controllable through 2020), RHP Joe Jimenez (2018 All-Star, Controllable through 2023)
Tigers acquire: INF Luis Garcia (Double-A Harrisburg), RHP Sterling Sharp (Double-A Harrisburg), OF Justin Connell (Class-A Hagerstown), PTBNL
- This is the blockbuster deal the Nats make at the deadline, as Greene is amongst the best relievers in the game this season. While Greene is not much of a swing-and-miss guy, he does get his fair share of strikeouts and is a great weapon for Dave Martinez to use at the back-end of the game. With Greene, the Nats would now have one of the strongest bullpens in the game and will shorten games much like Kansas City did from 2014-2015.
Nationals acquire: RHP Tanner Roark (Free Agent after 2019)
Reds acquire: RHP Kyle McGowin (AAA Fresno), PTBNL or Cash Considerations
- The Roark deal is a pure depth move that solidifies the 5th starter spot in the rotation. This move allows righties Erick Fedde and Austin Voth to continue to refine their repertoire in Triple-A, and gear up to work out of the bullpen for the stretch run. Bringing back an old friend in Tanner Roark is exactly what this Nats club needs to complement their elite big three at the front of the rotation.
And bring up Carter Kieboom. And let him rake.
And you’re looking at a Postseason Roster that looks like this….
RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Stephen Strasburg, LHP Patrick Corbin, RHP Anibal Sanchez
LHP Sean Doolittle, RHP Shane Greene, RHP Alex Colome, RHP Sam Dyson, RHP Joe Jimenez, RHP Tanner Rainey, LHP Tonny Sipp, RHP Tanner Roark
Kurt Suzuki, Yan Gomes
Ryan Zimmerman, Howie Kendrick, Brian Dozier, Carter Kieboom, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon
Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Danny Santana, Adam Eaton, Gerardo Parra
Now, that’s a formidable roster right there. Why not the Nats?
This Trade Deadline is just getting more and more interesting.