Washington Nationals: Why the A’s Are Strong Trade Partners
By Ricky Keeler
One team to keep an eye on as a possible trade partner this offseason for the Washington Nationals is the Oakland Athletics
When looking at possible trade partners for the Washington Nationals this winter, one of the teams that stood out was the Oakland Athletics. In the past, these two teams have made deals involving Gio Gonzalez, Yunel Escobar, and Jerry Blevins to name a few. In fact, Mike Rizzo and Billy Beane have made a lot of deals with each other lately.
According to Baseball Reference, the Washington Nationals and Oakland A’s have made six deals with each other since January 2013. That is the most deals that the Nats have made with a franchise over that time period. Last August, their most recent trade involved prospect Max Schrock going to Oakland with left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski going to the Nats.
This offseason, the Nats and A’s might be a match again since Oakland has two players that could be good fits for the Nats in a particular trade. One would be catcher Stephen Vogt and the other is closer/reliever Sean Doolittle.
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First, let’s start with Vogt. In 137 games this past season, the 32-year-old had a slash line of .251/.305/.406 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI’s. Vogt has 32 home runs in the last two seasons as the starting catcher in Oakland. His 2.2 WAR this past season was the fourth highest of any catcher in the American League (ESPN).
As for his defense, Vogt caught baserunners stealing 29% of the time in 2016, which was a three percent improvement from 2015. Plus, he allowed only five passed balls this past season (nine in 2015).
Vogt, who has made the All-Star team in each of the last two seasons, is under team control until after the 2020 season. That would mean Beane would probably want a lot in return to acquire him. Plus, Oakland doesn’t have much catching depth in their minor league system (one prospect in their top 30 according to MLB Pipeline).
If the Washington Nationals miss out on any of the big three relievers in free agency, Doolittle could be a good trade option. The 30-year-old left-hander has two more guaranteed years left on his deal with team options in 2019 and 2020. He has battled a shoulder injury in 2015 and only pitched in 12 games, but he’s only two years removed from saving 22 games (10th in the AL back in 2014).
During the 2016 season, Doolittle had a 3.23 ERA in 44 games and he was 4-for-6 in save chances. While he wasn’t the primary closer, he did have success in the eighth inning this season as he pitched to a 0.54 ERA and WHIP with opponents hitting .109.
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With the lack of elite free agents this offseason, teams will be inclined to make more trades to improve their roster. If that ends up being the case, the amount of trades that Rizzo and Beane have made with each other in the last four seasons could mean these two might make a trade at some point in 2016-2017.