Who are some of the top trade acquisitions in Nationals history?
Earlier in the week, we took a look at some of the top free-agent signings in Nationals history. This time, the focus of this article will be on the top trade acquisitions in Nationals history. To be put on the list, we are only looking at Nationals history (sorry Expos fans) and the player had to play a minimum of a full season with the Nats.
When the trade went down in July of 2017, no one in Washington could predict what was to come. Kendrick was 34 and while he was having a solid season, injuries were starting to catch up to him. He started the 2017 season with the Phillies and missed time due to a strained right abdomen. He was shipped to Washington at the trade deadline for a prospect and international signing bonus money. At the time, it seemed like fair compensation for a part-time player in Kendrick. Hindsight is 50-50, but Mike Rizzo got Kendrick at a bargain.
Kendrick was used as depth for the team’s playoff run in 2017, but they once again bowed out in the NLDS. Kendrick started off the 2018 season on a tear, hitting .303, with four homers, and 12 RBIs in 40 games. Unfortunately, he ruptured his Achillies in May and missed the rest of the season. The Nats missed his depth and missed the playoffs.
When he returned from injury in 2019, Kendrick showed just how important he was to the franchise. Kendrick started off 2019 slow, due to the fact he was still recovering from his injured Achilles. The Nats platooned him at first with Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams, which paid dividends. In 121 games, Kendrick hit .344, providing protection for Juan Soto in the lineup. In the playoffs, Kendrick hit the two biggest homers in franchise history.
The first occurred at the top of the ninth inning of game five of the NLDS. Tied 3-3, Kendrick blasted a grand slam off of Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly, that sent the Nats to the NLCS for the first time since leaving Montreal.
The second came in the top of the seventh inning of game seven of the World Series. Down 2-1, Kendrick once again played hero, launching a two-run shot off of reliever Will Harris, to send him team up 3-2. The Nats would never relinquish the lead and went on to win their first-ever World Series title.
In his three seasons with the Nats, Kendrick is hitting .322, with 28 homers, and 99 RBIs in 213 games played. He also was named 2019 NLCS MVP. This will go down as one of the most important trades in franchise history.
From 2006-2011, they had a losing record, signaling them as one of the worst teams in the league. Times were especially dark from 2006-2010, where the team lost an average of 95 games a year. In 2011, the team finished 80-81, signaling to the league they were on the way out of their long rebuild. In an effort to take the next step, management traded for a 26-year-old pitcher by the name of Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez was brought in an attempt to bolster the rotation. He teamed up with the Nats young pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman. Rizzo’s decision paid off and the trade worked wonders.
Gonzalez immediately flourished with the team and became a key component in the Nats winning the division for the first time since moving from Montreal. The team finished 98-64 thanks in part to Gonzalez’s monster season. He led the MLB in wins as he finished 21-8, with a 2.89 ERA, and 207 strikeouts. The lefty was named to his second All-Star team and finished third in NL CY Young voting. Gonzalez played with the Nats from 2012-2018, helping the team win four division titles (2012, 2014, 2016, 2017) along the way. In his tenure with the Nats, Gonzalez went 86-65, with a 3.62 ERA, and 1,215 strikeouts. The Veteran helped stabilize the rotation and kept the team competitive.
Mike Rizzo has made some shrewd moves since taking over as the teams GM in 2009, but trading for Trea Turner in December of 2014 takes the cake. Rizzo acquired Turner as a player to be named later (PTBNL) in a three-team trade with San Diego and Tampa.
Turner quickly rose up the farm system and by July of the 2016 season, he took over as the team’s starting centerfielder. Turner finished the season second in NL Rookie of the Year voting. In 73 games, he hit .342, with 13 homers, 40 RBIs, and stole 33 bases in 39 attempts. The speedster helped stabilize the top of the lineup and was a key reason the Nats returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Starting in 2017, Turner returned to his natural position of shortstop where he is a vacuum in the field.
Over his five years with the Nats, Turner is hitting .291, with 63 homers, 216 RBIs, 332 runs scored, and an OPS of .815. He’s also stolen 159 bases in 189 attempts. Turner has brought the offense to a different level, due to his ability to consistently get on and be a threat on the basepath.
Since joining the teams starting lineup in 2016, the Nats have gone on to make the playoffs three times, including two division titles (2016, 2017), and winning the World Series (2019). For a player to be named later, that is amazing value.
Alfonso Soriano was acquired from the Texas Rangers before the start of the 2006 season. Soriano went on to have one of the best seasons in Nationals history before Bryce Harper and company came along. The 2006 Nats team finished 71-91, with the only bright spots being Ryan Zimmerman’s rookie season and Alfonso Soriano’s one-man show.
With the Nats, Soriano had the best year of his career, hitting .277, with 46 homers, 95 RBIs, and an OPS of .911. He also swiped 41 bags in 58 attempts, becoming the fourth player in MLB history to join the 40-40 club (40 homers and 40 stolen bases in a season). Management moved Soriano from his natural position of second base to the outfield, where he flourished. He had a dWAR of 1.2, 18 defensive runs saved (DRS), and 22 outfield assists.
Soriano left the Nats after one year, signing an eight-year deal worth 136 million. Despite this, Soriano made a losing season fun to watch. Every night, fans would turn on the T.V. excited to see what Soriano would do next. This trade brought joy to Nats fans in a dark era.