Through MASN, the Washington Nationals openly question the toughness of Joe Ross. Where would he land in a trade?
In a surprising moment of candor Monday, the Washington Nationals‘ cable channel reported there are some in the front office who question his durability.
Pete Kerzel wrote on MASN:
"“Ross has his champions in the organization, but there are some who question his toughness, based on last year’s slow progression back from a right shoulder injury.”"
That is as obvious of a front office leak as you will ever find. For the Nats to say it on a channel they own a share of says volumes. Ross is expendable.
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After throwing him under the proverbial bus, how do they make him part of a package another team wants to take?
The Nats are trying to land Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox or Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both teams are hoping to cash in with a blue-chip prospect load. In making such a bold statement, the Nationals hope Ross fits that description for one of these teams.
Ross will be 23 at the start of next season. Starting his third season, he is considered having barely over one full year of Major League service and is under team control until after the 2022 season. Although he has yet to carry a full workload in the big leagues, he is one of the best younger pitchers in the game.
In 32 starts with the Nationals, Ross is 12-10 with a 3.52 ERA. He has thrown 181.2 innings striking out 162 and carries a 1.222 WHIP. His Adjusted ERA+ OF 116 is above average.
Tossing him in a McCutchen deal makes no sense. He is an established arm. Losing a starter to land a centerfielder solves no problems, just a band-aid over one hole while opening another.
If this is an attempt to package Ross for Sale, then it makes more sense. Sale—a lefty—will bolster an already potent starting rotation. If the ChiSox do not want Gonzalez’s salary for one year, Ross offers a cheaper option with a ton of upside.
Although the preference is to keep Ross, Mike Rizzo and company have a distinct audience for that message. Do not be surprised if he changes addresses this week.