2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts has been traded to the National League. What does this mean for the Washington Nationals?
Last night the LA Dodgers stunned the baseball world when they traded for one of the best players in the majors, Mookie Betts. They also added former Cy Young winner David Price, and in my opinion, they didn’t give up much in return.
The Dodgers cleared room in the outfield and starting rotation for Betts and Price. They also freed up over $10 million. With this flurry of moves, the Dodgers have signaled they are all in, attempting to win their first title in 32 years. Betts joins 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger, 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Walker Buehler, and Clayton Kershaw. Before the trade, the Dodgers were already favorites in the NL, after this trade they might be deeper than even the New York Yankees. Now that the dust has settled, the question arises, how does the Mookie Betts trade effect the Nats.
What does the Betts trade mean for the Nats?
For starters, the Dodgers were already a much deeper team, especially since the Nationals lost Anthony Rendon in free agency. LA had one of the best offenses in the league and didn’t lose any key contributors to free agency. Last season the Dodgers offense ranked fourth in OPS (.810), tenth in batting average (.257), fourth in RBI’s (861), fourth in homers (279), fourth in walks (607), and fifth in OBS (.338). Now add Betts to the mix. Betts is coming off of a season where he hit .295, with 29 homers, 80 RBI’s, and had an OPS of .915. Comparatively, it was a down season to 2018 where he won the AL MVP. Regardless, the Dodgers now have two of the five best players in baseball on their roster.
While the Dodgers have the best offense in the NL, and a better bullpen, Washington has the best starting rotation in the league. LA brought in David Price to join Bueler, and Kershaw in the rotation, but they lost 2019 NL Cy Young finalist Hyun-Jin Ryu. Top pitching prospect Dustin May will join them in the rotation but it still wont be enough. Price isn’t what he once was, and is coming off of a season where he went 7-5, with a 4.28 ERA, and 128 strikeouts. Losing Ryu is huge, as he went 14-5, with the best ERA in the NL (2.32), and 163 strikeouts. Washington on the other hand, brings back its big four of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Anibal Sanchez.
Baring a collapse, the way to the World Series in the NL is through the Dodgers. The Nationals are in the toughest division in the NL East, and aren’t even the favorites. That would be the Atlanta Braves.
Don’t be surprised if Washington makes a trade for an elite talent such as Kris Bryant. They are reigning champs, have a huge hole at third, and just saw the best team in the NL improve substantially. Feeling the pressure of repeating, Rizzo might push his chips all in. Trade talks died in the past because the Nats were unwilling to include Center Fielder Victor Robles, which totally makes sense. But now, a report came out from Bob Nightengale that trade talks for the 28-year-old have been brought back up.
If the Nats can work a trade without giving up Robles, they should pull the trigger. This would fill their void at third and make them favorites in the NL East. This would also give them their best chance at taking the Dodgers for the second straight year. Now despite talks being brought up, a trade is still unlikely at this point. Washington could also swing a trade for the Rockies Nolan Arenado. But if the front office is going to pay that much in salary, why didn’t they just re-sign Rendon?
Overall, the Betts trade just widened the gap between the Nats and the Dodgers. Washington’s rotation can only carry the team so far without bringing in reinforcements to the lineup.