The Nationals’ will to compete is being tested this trade deadline. After back-to-back losses to the Orioles, the Nats don’t look at all like a contender. They have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and two cornerstone players in Trea Turner and Juan Soto whom they’ll want to sign long-term in the coming season. Restocking the farm system could go a long way to providing Turner and Soto with the future competitive security they may need to ink long-term deals, writes The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
The most significant deadline question, of course, revolves around Max Scherzer. Mad Max missed his start yesterday with triceps discomfort, but it’s a minor injury and nothing that should derail a potential trade, if there were to be one. A decision has not yet been made about making his next start, per Dougherty.
Joe Ross will come off the injured list without a rehab assignment to start tomorrow’s game against the Phillies, per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post (via Twitter). Ross hasn’t been talked about much in terms of the trade market, but he’s put up a solid season — 4.02 ERA/4.51 FIP in 87 1/3 innings — as he finally looks to be rounding back into form as the guy who debuted with the Nats back in 2015. He’s making just $1.5MM, and he has one more season of arbitration eligibility. Scherzer is obviously the big fish in Washington, but for teams looking for cheap, controllable help in the rotation, Ross has mid-rotation upside.
Whether Ross would be available or not is unclear. If indeed the Nats decide to sell, Daniel Hudson and Brad Hand would presumably be the two names of interest, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). Hudson has been excellent once again this year and could solidify a contender’s pen as he did for the Nats in 2019. The Blue Jays are among the teams to ask about the Nats’ pair of back-end arms, per Jon Morosi of the MLB Network (via Twitter).
Tanner Rainey is beginning a rehab assignment today, tweets Dougherty. Rainey’s had a tough season to date — 6.93 ERA in 24 2/3 innings — and he’s less likely to be dealt than the names above. That said, if Hudson and/or Hand are moved, Rainey would be a prime contender to take on some high leverage duties.
If Scherzer and/or Ross do get moved, the Nats would have to dig deep to find enough starters to fill out their rotation. Stephen Strasburg does not seem any closer to making his return from a neck strain and other various ailments. He will see another specialist this week, per Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com.