Washington Nationals: Should Nats Overpay for Chapman?

Jul 18, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 18, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

With the trade deadline a little over a week away, should the Washington Nationals use one of their top prospects to get Aroldis Chapman?

Around the trade deadline, the top prospects are always under the microscope as teams that are selling tend to try to get as much as they can from teams needing that one piece to help make a playoff push. This year, that piece for the Washington Nationals seems to be current Yankees closer, Aroldis Chapman.

Yesterday, Barry Svurluga of the Washington Post tweeted and William Ladson of MLB.com wrote the Washington Nationals are in on Chapman, but they don’t want to give up their high-end prospects. Here’s the tweet from Svurluga:

By now, we all know about the connection Chapman has with the Washington Nationals current manager, Dusty Baker, from his time in Cincinnati. Plus, as great as Chapman has been this season, is he the one missing piece the Nats need while they have holes in the leadoff spot of the order and in center field?

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Since Chapman is a rental and will be a free agent at the end of the season, it is unlikely that Mike Rizzo should give up a top prospect for Chapman, such as Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, or Reynaldo Lopez. However, at the same time, with the Yankees having many takers for Chapman, it might eventually take someone along those lines for the Washington Nationals to make a successful deal.

When you look at the Washington Nationals bullpen, it has been a strong unit all year long as evident by their National League leading 2.91 ERA. But, at the same time, they don’t have that one dominant reliever that can help shorten a game in October. This season, Chapman is 20-for-21 in saves, has 41 strikeouts in 29.1 innings, and has held opponents to a .181 batting average (.080 in July).

Plus, as good as Jonathan Papelbon has been this month (0.00 ERA, .111 opponents batting average), is he the closer that can be fully trusted in a big spot? He does have the World Series experience, but this isn’t the same Papelbon that was part of that 2007 title team in Boston.

At the same time, if you want Chapman, the Yankees are going to want a high end prospect that is going to help speed up their “re-tooling” in New York, preferably a young pitcher.

Lopez to me makes the most sense because he can either be a starter or someone that can be a reliever late in games with that fastball should they get trade Chapman and Andrew Miller. Another name the Yankees could use is Austin Voth, who has a 3.45 ERA in 19 starts this season at triple-A Syracuse.

In that Ladson article, the name Michael Taylor came up as a possible option for the Yankees. Here is what Ladson wrote in regard to Taylor:

"“The source indicated the Yankees want players who could help them right now. The source also said a player such as Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor is available. In fact, the Yankees have a scout looking at the Nationals this weekend at Nationals Park.” (h/t Ladson, MLB.com)"

The problem with a trade for Taylor involving the Yankees would be that they already have a center fielder and left fielder in Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, although Gardner is a trade option if the Yankees do decide to become sellers at the deadline between now and August 1.

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It remains to be seen whether the price will go down as the days continue to get closer to next Monday. But, at the same time, to get a premium reliever with a fastball that can go over 100 miles per hour like Chapman has, you will have to give something up of value.

While I wouldn’t give up the top three prospects (Giolito, Turner, and Robles), Lopez would be a name I consider if that would be what gets a deal done. In what appears to be a wide open National League, it would take Chapman away from the Cubs and Giants and make the Washington Nationals bullpen that much more of a strength down the stretch. It might cost a lot for the future, but the risk long-term could potentially be a big reward in the short-term.