Washington Nationals Mailbag: Big trade decisions looming for front office?

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 08: Adam Eaton #2 of the Washington Nationals looks on after striking out during the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on August 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 08: Adam Eaton #2 of the Washington Nationals looks on after striking out during the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on August 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

We’re running our second Washington Nationals mailbag of the offseason. We tackle some big trade calls, as well as unfinished business from summer deals.

We’ve got our second District on Deck Mailbag this offseason today, as we answer all your Washington Nationals questions. In this edition, we have interesting trade decisions that could come up this offseason, some Daniel Murphy loose ends, and the gaping hole at catcher.

It’s now under two weeks until the MLB offseason really starts to kick into gear when free agency begins. As soon as the last out is made in the World Series, those players are allowed to talk to other teams.

We’ve got five questions to look at in this week’s mailbag from our followers over on Twitter, so let’s get right into them.

The Nationals Post‏ (@NatsPost): Would the Nats trade Eaton if Harp comes back for a Soto-Robles-Harper outfield?

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This is going to be one of the main knock-on effects of the whole Bryce Harper situation. If he re-signs, then the Nationals arguably will have four starting quality outfielders and two really good backups – which we’ll come onto in a bit. Of the four quality starters, Adam Eaton would, unfortunately, be the odd man out as the team would certainly look to have an outfield of Harper, Victor Robles and Juan Soto in 2019.

Chelsea Janes talked about this very subject in one of her latest articles, and as she says, they could look to deal him partly as a cost-cutting exercise if they have a Harper mega-deal. While they may not get a fantastic haul in return, I would be very surprised if they didn’t deal Eaton in the event of a Harper extension, they just can’t afford to commit that much money to a bit-part player, and won’t be inclined to move Harper or Soto to first base just yet.

A Nats Fan (@NatsCurlyW): Is MAT likely to be traded in the offseason?

A similar question to the above, as Michael Taylor is another trade candidate heading into the offseason. We actually took a look at this in an article of ours and the possibility of trading the centerfielder and I think that this decision can be made in complete isolation of the outcome in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

Let’s face it, Taylor has been poor with the bat, sans a great season in 2017, with a career slash line of .239/.293/.395 and a troubling 31.4 percent strikeout rate. His defense is Gold Glove caliber, and he could profile as a reasonable fourth outfielder moving forward for someone.

However, with Andrew Stevenson impressing late in the season and, more importantly, still not hitting arbitration for a couple seasons yet. The Nats might be better off trading Taylor now while he still has some value, and letting Stevenson handle the backup duties.

Drew Douglas (@drewrd98): What are the chances Daniel Murphy returns in 2019?

Oh hey, Drew! On first glance, it may seem like a possibility that Murphy and the Nats may reunite given the gaping hole at second base. However, fans saw first hand that the former All-Star just wasn’t quite himself in the field after returning from the knee injury that caused him to miss over two months to start 2018.

I would personally be fairly surprised if anyone paid Murphy to be their primary second baseman in 2019 and beyond. While first base would be possible with the Nationals in a platoon situation with Ryan Zimmerman, Murphy seems much better suited to head off to the American League where he can be the DH and then see occasional starts at first or second where needed. As of right now, it’s just not a fit given the money that it’s going to take after his stellar seasons in Washington.

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a nats fan has no name‏ (@PippiNatTalking): Who do you think is the PTBNL in the Murphy deal?

Speaking of Murphy, this is something worth keeping an eye on soon. On the face of it, predicting a player to be named later would be a complete shot in the dark. However, there was one detail that Mike Rizzo mentioned after the Murphy trade. He mentioned to Janes of the Washington Post that the player would be revealed after the Arizona Fall League in mid-November.

Though it’s not guaranteed to be a player playing in the AFL, and it could even be just cash considerations, it would seem to make some logical sense. If that is indeed the case, and this is pure speculation, the name that I would be keeping an eye out for is Trent Giambrone.

He slashed .251/.333/.440 with 17 home runs for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies last season and was ranked the organization’s 29th best prospect in MLB.com’s latest rankings. He would be a great pickup for the Nats, and allowing him to stay with the Cubs allows the Nats to essentially have one more than their allocation playing in the developmental league.

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Judo Joker (@TheJudoJoker): Which catchers do you want the Nats to pursue? Which catcher do you think they’ll get?

Obviously, a question to answer in two parts, as I’m not Mike Rizzo, and I’m pretty sure he would act differently to me. But if I were the one calling the shots, I’d be tempted to go after Francisco Cervelli. The Pittsburgh Pirates catcher finished third in FanGraphs WAR among catchers while slashing .259/.378/.431 and would be a perfect upgrade next season.

Now, when we talk about who I think they end up going after, the two names I’m looking at are Wilson Ramos and J.T. Realmuto. The Nats sniffed around both at the trade deadline, and will likely have interest in both this winter.

We talked about the possibility of Realmuto in a recent article, and if the price comes down, then it starts to become a realistic option. The only reason they came back and enquired again this summer was to see if the price dropped, so it would be surprising if they didn’t do the same again. But, if Realmuto stays with the Marlins, or gets traded elsewhere, look for Ramos to be high up the priority list in free agency.

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Check back in next week as we answer your questions around the Washington Nationals. It’s going to be an interesting offseason, so you’re bound to have plenty of questions for us.