It is possible Washington either trades for or signs a starter in free agency. If they reach outside the organization, it will be to upgrade the overall staff. But, this is where it gets tricky.
Already over the competitive balance tax by an estimated $7 million, any high salary the Nats take will plunge them deeper into tax purgatory. Also, adding millions in payroll now deeply affects what they can do around the trade deadline without dumping bad salary themselves.
Still, if there is a prudent deal for either a Lance Lynn or Jake Arrieta, Washington will consider. Either of them in the three spot is better than any of the candidates at five. Again, money is the upgrade issue, not lack of interest.
The Nats may find over the next month to invite a few more pitchers to camp with the lure of a minor-league deal and an incentive-laden contract if they make the club. Rotation depth is an asset. The last thing Washington needs is a repeat of last season where injuries ate through depth.
All these events are plausible, but not probable. You might see another name or two invited to audition, but a bigger name coming is tough to see with Washington’s budget issues.