Washington Nationals and Rays shaping up to be trade partners

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BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: Chris Archer
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 24: Chris Archer /
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With the Washington Nationals potentially looking to make a splash this off-season, the Tampa Bay Rays could be a solid trade partner.

The Washington Nationals have been known to make a splash in the off-season, as some of their biggest stars have come to the nation’s capital in an off-season transaction. The Nats have been relatively quiet this off-season, but that could change in a hurry.

The Nats have been linked to big names, such as Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez, but their main moves have been signing Brandon Kintzler and Matt Adams. The unusually significant trade market has been holding up the free agent market, creating a somewhat quiet off-season so far.

However, both the trade and free agent markets should ramp up as the holidays pass over the next week or so. The holidays are typically a quiet time in baseball, but there is one recent trade that could signal that there is much more to come.

Last week, the Tampa Bay Rays traded the face of their franchise, Evan Longoria, to the San Francisco Giants, likely signaling the beginning of a rebuild. Although the Rays were in contention for the Wild Card for most of 2017, they probably would not trade Longoria without bigger plans.

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If the Rays do indeed begin a rebuild, they have several attractive trade chips. Many of these trade chips could prove to be beneficial to the Nats, making the two teams perfect trade partners.

The biggest star that the Rays could trade next is Chris Archer. The 29-year-old starting pitcher has established himself as one of the best in the game, and is under team control for another four years.

In addition to being controllable, Archer is also extremely affordable. He is set to make $6.25 million in 2018, and his contract maxes out at $8.25 million. For a pitcher of his stature, this level of affordability is nearly unprecedented.

Another attractive trade chip likely to leave Tampa Bay is closer Alex Colome. Colome, a 28-year-old right-hander, led the majors in saves in 2017, and has seemed unhittable throughout his five-year career.

2018 is Colome’s first arbitration-eligible season, so he is under team control for another three years. He made just $547,900 in 2017, so he is due for a raise, but should remain affordable.

Although the Nats already have Sean Doolittle penciled in as closer, they have traded for closers despite having an established closer in the past. A bullpen quartet of Kintzler, Ryan Madson, Doolittle, and Colome would be among the best in the league, and could potentially put the Nats over the top.

Nats fans are familiar with the third Ray who could be traded this off-season, Wilson Ramos. Known as “The Buffalo”, Ramos was a fan favorite during his time in DC, and could be on the move this off-season.

The 30-year-old catcher continued to be an offensive force in 2017, despite missing the beginning of the season while recovering from knee surgery. Ramos is set to become a free agent after 2018, so he likely will not be around when the Rays return to contention. Because of this, he is a solid trade chip and could be playing elsewhere in 2018.

The final Rays trade chip who could benefit the Nats is starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. The 27-year-old righty is coming off of an injury-plagued season, but has put together a stellar six-year career so far.

Throughout his career, Odorizzi has pitched to a 3.83 ERA, which is outstanding, considering he pitches in the American League East, arguably the most difficult division to pitch in. Moving to the National League typically benefits pitchers, and this could be especially true of Odorizzi.

While Odorizzi’s contract is not quite as attractive as Archer’s, it is still an asset. He is under team control for two more seasons, and only made $4.1 million in 2017. Considering the Nats have one of the highest payrolls in the league, Odorizzi’s affordability would be a welcome addition.

Next: Santa's list for the Nats revealed

The Nats and Rays have joined forces in a prior blockbuster, the trade that brought Trea Turner and Joe Ross to DC, and another one could be in the works this off-season. Keep an eye on the Rays as Mike Rizzo works to complete the Nats’ roster.

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