Oftentimes we pose poll questions that require evaluation, quite frequently with imperfect information. This evening, I thought it would be interesting to ask MLBTR’s readers to provide their collective wisdom on an even more open-ended question.
As scarcely needs to be mentioned, the Nationals have reportedly agreed to terms with this year’s best free agent, Max Scherzer. It turns out that Washington already had one of (if not the) best one-through-five rotations in baseball, and that Scherzer adds to the top of that group while bumping Tanner Roark to the pen/depth category. Given those circumstances, and persistent rumors throughout the offseason indicating that the Nats could deal from their core (especially that part of it set to hit free agency after the year), it remains an open question whether more moves are to come.
This is, of course, a hard-to-peg effort that is highly dependent upon other actors around the league, but I thought it would be interesting to see where our readership’s predilections lie. Assuming a market return is available in any of the below scenarios, which is the best from the Nats’ perspective? Here are the likeliest options for another significant move by GM Mike Rizzo, so far as come to my mind:
1) Trade Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister: This basic scenario has been prominently contemplated for quite some time. The idea here would be that these two righties have made clear they will not sign extensions that the team feels comfortable with, so the long-term and short-term presence of one of them replaced by another arm (Scherzer). D.C. can market the pair and take the offer that provides the best value for one or the other. But with one year to go, would it be possible to find a deal that provides enough of a return to justify the loss of a quality arm in advance of a season of expected competition?
2) Trade Stephen Strasburg: If you thought that the idea of dealing Zimmermann would create controversy, wait until everyone starts re-living the 2012 shutdown after a trade of one of the franchise’s two most prominent players. With two years of very reasonably-priced control, and nearly-unmatched upside (even if he has never quite put it all together), Strasburg would undoubtedly bring the biggest return. But is there enough to be gained to move on from the player who brought excitement back to D.C. baseball? And is the organization ready to look towards a 2016 that does not include any of its three best arms from a year ago?
3) Trade Tanner Roark: I’m not entirely sure why this scenario has not been discussed, but to this point Roark has been masterful and is fairly young and very cheap. If controllable, established arms are so sought after, might Rizzo entice another team to give up a similar-situated position player or a haul of prospects? Then again, perhaps Roark constitutes useful depth, this year and into the future, to say nothing of an immediate replacement for Tyler Clippard in the bullpen.
4) Trade Ian Desmond: Many suggested that the Nationals were interested in trading away Desmond and installing Yunel Escobar at short after acquiring him. Of course, unless such a scenario brought back a new, starting-caliber middle infielder in return, it would not seem to make much sense. But can such a package be found? And, if so, might it make sense to ship out one the organization’s longest-tenured player and most reliable clubhouse presence?
5) Stand pat: Yes, this is an option, and a rather appealing one in my view. With Scherzer’s money comfortably deferred, and Clippard gone to clear extra space, the Opening Day payroll is not too scary to look at. Having six quality starters is something of a luxury, but then again Roark does slot in nicely in the relief corps and would be available (along with Blake Treinen and others) for the inevitable spot duty. If things break right and the club is overflowing with arms come the trade deadline, a deal can always be struck to fill in any other needs that have arisen. In the meantime, they can add another pen arm if the price is right or otherwise head to camp with what they have.
Those are the options. What say you? Responses randomized below.