Could The Nationals Be Trade Deadline Buyers?

The Nationals are off to a 14-13 start, which puts them two games behind the Phillies in the NL East.  However, based on their runs scored and allowed totals, the Nationals project to finish with 72 wins.  If they can hang around in contention for another month, should the Nats add reinforcements for an unexpected playoff run?

The Nationals' rotation has a 5.19 ERA, third-worst in the NL.  Their starters are averaging only 5.32 innings per outing.  If Livan Hernandez comes back to Earth (0.99 ERA in 36.3 innings), they could be in really bad shape.  Multiple starters are already on the way:

  • Jason Marquis, dealing with bone chips in his elbow, is on a throwing program according to MASN's Ben Goessling.
  • Goessling says Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang, and Ross Detwiler will all begin rehab assignments several weeks from now, with Detwiler being the closest.  While the reports are promising and we should see these three in the second half, it'd be unwise to rely on them.
  • Stephen Strasburg could join the big club in June (and avoid Super Two status), giving the team a potential ace.
  • The Nationals' rotation could really use a shot in the arm right now as opposed to June or July.  They could try to sign Pedro Martinez or Jarrod Washburn, but the free agents would need weeks to be big league ready.  In May only a couple of teams will be realistic about their playoff chances.  Potentially, the Orioles or Indians could be willing to deal.  Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, and Jake Westbrook might be available. 
  • The Nationals' bullpen has been respectable, and Drew Storen was promoted to Triple A a week ago.

How about the offense?  At 4.30 runs scored per game, the Nats rank 13th in the NL.  They're lacking at second base, where Cristian Guzman and Adam Kennedy have combined for a .261/.284/.351 line.  Dan Uggla would be a huge addition, but it's hard to picture the Marlins making that deal right now.  Ty Wigginton might be easier to acquire.  Right field has been a bigger problem, with a .157/.294/.326 aggregate performance.  The Nationals acknowledged this a month ago upon releasing Elijah Dukes, as they inquired on Corey Hart, Kosuke Fukudome, and B.J. Upton in trade talks and had discussions with free agents Gary Sheffield and Jermaine Dye.  Sheffield or Dye would require sacrificing defense for offense.  Another name to consider could be the Royals' David DeJesus.

27 Responses to Could The Nationals Be Trade Deadline Buyers? Leave a Reply

  1. Hang the money and call up Strasburg now. They’ve already pushed his free agency back a season. They are lucky to sit where they are right now, but they could seriously improve as a team. They owe it to any fans who stick by this team to give it a shot.

    • Triteon 5 years ago

      With the Nats this close to avoiding Starsburg’s Super Two status, it makes more sense to wait. A call-up today would give him 4, maybe 5, extra starts over a June debut. The possibility that he alone contributes a 3-1 or 4-1 record over those starts is remote; the expectation is that he will bring a .500 winning percentage this season…there is no need to rush him up yet.

    • Marcos 5 years ago

      Plus, he has an innings limit in his contract, no more than 100 or so major league innings this season. So even if you call him up yesterday, he’ll likely reach that limit fairly soon.
      Might as well delay his super two status.

  2. grant77 5 years ago

    Third worst pitching and 4th worst offense…

    I wouldn’t count on it, expect close to 90 losses again.

  3. Give the nats a month…. Then they are sellers

  4. Their run differential isn’t bad. If they sniff the opportunity to have a winning record (forget the playoffs, just getting out of the cellar would be a big improvement), I think they might become buyers to make that happen. Washington’s offense is actually pretty good, they just need pitching.

    I think they have the pieces to make a deal for Wandy Rodriguez happen, for instance. Maybe a prospect like Danny Espinosa as the centerpiece?

    • You want them to trade Danny Espinosa and others in order to make a push towards .500? Is this another Astros thread or something?

      The last thing that Washington should be doing is tooling up by giving up the future. They’re not better than Philly, and they’re probably the worst team in the division when everything is said and done. They have some nice pieces that they should try to deal, like Dunn and Willingham, but they shouldn’t be in the business of giving up young talent.

    • Guest 5 years ago

      Trade arguably our best defensive infield prospect for Wandy freaking Rodriguez?

      I hope they are massive sellers. We aren’t in any position to make a serious playoff run and we could sure as hell use the prospects. Keep the young guys. Try and trade Dunn, Willingham, and Capps for good young returns.

      • Where’s Espinosa going to play with Ian Desmond already up in the majors?

        • Does it matter? I wouldn’t trade him for Wandy Rodriquez…

          • You wouldn’t trade a logjammed infield prospect with only 67 plate appearances above Class A Advanced for a proven ace starting pitcher?

          • I should mention, a proven ace starting pitcher under team control until 2012 on a cheap $5M contract. If your problem is that you think that deal isn’t fair, you’re crazy. If your problem is you don’t think the Nats are ready to become buyers, that I can understand, and yet I still don’t see where Espinosa is going to play, which may necessitate a trade at some point.

          • Guest 5 years ago

            Espinosa is being looked at as a possible 2B replacement down the line. Hell, the guy could give Desmond a run for his money next year. The problem with Rodriguez is he’s already 31 years old and the Nats have shown that they don’t want to trade young guys for old ones anymore.

        • galloway84 5 years ago

          Espinosa is a 2B by trade; since Christian Guzman/Adam Kennedy plays 2B, Espinosa is not getting called up anytime soon.

  5. dredog 5 years ago

    Isn’t Strasburg signed to an MLB 5 year deal? Wouldn’t that mean it doesn’t matter if he’s super two eligible? How does that work?

    • Triteon 5 years ago

      It’s a four year deal which includes part of last season. The reason it could become an issue is that arbitration eligibility is based on major league service. If he hurt himself and missed a year or so, or started to struggle and stayed in the minors or was optioned back down, it would be possible for his major league service time to be less than enough for arbitration following the 2012 season, all while his 4-year deal was running out. Conventional wisdom suggests that at some point the Nats will buy out most of Strasburg’s arbitration years in a contract extension.

  6. LiftItUpBrutha 5 years ago

    All the haters out there haven’t been watching the Nats play this year. They are a different team with a different attitude. They shouldn’t be the laughing stock of baseball anymore, and in a month they won’t be after proving themselves worthy of staying with the Mets, Braves and Marlins in the NL East.

    • berndaddy 5 years ago

      I agree with ya. If the Nats can get their pitchers to stay in till the six inning consistently they have the fire power to beat just about anyone in the NL. I don’t think there better than the Phillies this year and probably not the Marlins either but the Braves and Mets maybe… I’d say they’re in the mix in the NL East…and not a joke.

      • Guest 5 years ago

        You hit the nail on the head. The reason we are playing well so far is because our bullpen leaks have been temporarily plugged by the performances of Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps. Their pitching alone has won us half of our games.

  7. drumzalicious 5 years ago

    The Nats should just stand pat and write this season off as a transitional season. Next year they will be much better with full years from Wang, Marquis, Zimmerman and Strasburg. If they can retain Dunn and get a serviceable Right Fielder they would be a pretty solid team.

  8. gwells 5 years ago

    as a nats fan, i would object to them going after anyone that wasn’t young and under control for at least 3 years.

    this is a better team than it’s been the past couple of years, but it would be foolish to think playoffs and make any moves with that in mind. 500 is the proper stretch goal for this season.

  9. galloway84 5 years ago

    Where did the BJ Upton reference for the Nationals come from? That is news to me. Upton isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  10. NYBravosFan10 5 years ago

    I’m at a loss for words when it comes to the Nationals. I’d like to say that they will crash soon like they do every single year but I have to admit this is a much better team. Ian Desmond is the real deal and Strasburg has a good chance of being the real deal as well. But then again, they are the only real additions (except for Pudge) from last year. Zimmerman, Guzman, Dunn, and Willingham were together last year too. I’m really not too sure what to make of them. It’s a classic balance between history and current actions.

  11. squadwagon6 5 years ago

    We are doing dam good with Zimm being injured and Adam Dunn starting slow

  12. Triteon 5 years ago

    I guess the question would be: how many wins or W-L% do you expect in his rookie year? Recent rookies and CY winners/leading vote getters:

    Lincecum was called up and went 7-5
    Greinke went 8-11 with a sub-4.00 ERA
    Webb was 10-9 in his first year
    Peavy was 6-7 after his call up
    Halladay was 8-7 in his first full year
    Wainwright went 14-12 in his first full year as an SP

    There’s only so much you can expect in year 1. Sure, CC bolted out of the gate in their first big league year as have a few others; there are always exceptions. But most stat services have Stras PJ’d at .500 or slightly better this year with the current offense and defense behind him, plus the limits the team will place on his arm.

    I didn’t say (and have never said) that he isn’t an elite talent — I’m just saying there should be no rush to call him up, because the number of potential wins between bringing him up now as opposed to 2-3 weeks from now is negligible.

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