A trio of Nationals players have cleared revocable trade waivers and are now eligible to be traded to any club, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, catcher Matt Wieters and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman all went unclaimed by rival teams.
Of the trio, Gonzalez would be the likeliest to hold appeal to a contending team. While his numbers are down somewhat in 2018, Gonzalez is still averaging 8.0 K/9 and just 0.94 HR/9 with a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate. He’s averaged 4.5 walks per nine innings and is sitting on a 4.51 ERA through 133 2/3 innings, though his 4.26 FIP and 4.38 xFIP are slightly more encouraging than his ERA. Gonzalez’s average fastball velocity (89.7 mph) is nearly identical to his 2017 mark, and he’s actually had a modest improvement in his swinging-strike rate (from 8.7 percent to 9.2 percent).
[Related: How August Trades Work]
Gonzalez, 33 next month, is a free agent at season’s end and is earning $12MM in his final season of club control. There’s still about $2.5MM of that sum yet to be paid out on his contract, so it’s not a big surprise to see him pass through waivers unclaimed. However, now that he’s done so, the Nationals can negotiate with any club and agree to include some cash to help offset the remainder of that salary in exchange for what would likely be some modest prospect value.
While the Nationals aren’t embarking on a full-scale rebuild, they’ve signaled a willingness to move impending free agents who are unlikely or ineligible to receive qualifying offers (as was the case with Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams). Given his inconsistent season, Gonzalez likely falls into that same bucket, so it’ll be interesting to see if trade talk surrounding the veteran lefty picks up between now and the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. Gonzalez recently checked in at No. 8 on MLBTR’s ranking of the top 20 remaining August trade candidates. A source confirmed to MLBTR that Gonzalez won’t reach 10 years of MLB service this season and therefore does not have 10-and-5 rights allowing him to veto a trade.
Like Gonzalez, Wieters is a free agent at season’s end, but he’s in the midst of a second disappointing campaign with the Nats. The switch-hitter has managed just a .240/.325/.365 batting line in 192 plate appearances during an injury-shortened second season in D.C. He’s owed about $2.19MM through the end of the season, making it unlikely that any team would pursue a trade to acquire the final month or so of his services (at least, without some significant financial help from the Nats).
Zimmerman, 34 in September, is still owed $3.57MM of this season’s $18MM salary in addition to an identical $18MM salary next season and a $2MM buyout on an $18MM option for the 2020 season. That remaining $23.57MM made him a no-brainer to clear waivers, but the veteran has remained productive into the late stages of his contract. He’s hitting .260/.332/.526 this season, though Zimmerman’s full 10-and-5 rights would mean he’d have to approve any trade. Ultimately, his clearing is more or less a formality, because there’s almost no realistic scenario in which he’s traded this year.