As World Series Champs, Mike Rizzo will be on the lookout for players to add to the team in an attempt to defend the title. But which players should the front office always hold on to?
Fansided’s own Kyle Franzoni wrote an interesting article earlier in the week for Halo Hangout. He discussed which five players would be untouchable in Angel’s trade talks. This got me thinking about which players would be untouchable in Nationals trade talks. With the Nationals looking to defend their World Series title and in win-now mode, the team is open up to acquiring reinforcements to bolster the team. The Nationals farm system has become pretty thin over the years, with no clear off-limits prospect.
But the Nationals have plenty of depth they could trade to bring in another big name. Players such as Adam Eaton, Michael A. Taylor, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yan Gomes, and Anibal Sanchez could all be flipped for the right price. Trading some of these players would hurt the overall depth, but, it wouldn’t set the team back. Here are five Nationals that should never be moved in trade talks.
Since entering the league in 2018, Juan Soto has quickly established himself as one of the best young stars in MLB. Hands down the best offensive player on the team, Soto is the definition of untouchable. In his two seasons with the team, he is hitting .287, with 56 homers, 180 RBIs, and an OPS of .937, while accumulating fWAR of 8.5. In 2018, he finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting and was named to the 2019 All-MLB Second Team. Over Soto’s two years in the show, his wRC+ of 143 is good for ninth in the league.
With all eyes on the young phenom, Soto put on a show in the 2019 playoffs. In the 17 playoff games, Soto hit .277, with five homers, 14 RBIs, and an OPS of .927. Most of Soto’s production occurred when it mattered most, in the World Series. In the seven-game series against the Houston Astros, Soto hit .333, with three homers, seven RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .741.
For the foreseeable future, the offense will revolve around the young slugger and the Nat’s would be insane to trade him away.
From 2015-2019 (his time with the Nats) Max Scherzer leads the league in strikeouts and opponents batting average, is second in wins, FIP, and K/9, and finished third in ERA. Also during that time, Scherzer won the NL Cy Young twice, tied the record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game with 20, led MLB in wins twice, and led the NL in strikeouts three times. Since arriving in D.C., Scherzer validated his case for the Hall of Fame and proved alongside Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander that he is amongst the greatest pitcher of the 2010s.
The 35-year-old is the ace of the Nationals pitching staff and drives the team. The Nats pitching staff is built on star power due to the team having three aces. Scherzer is joined by Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg to form the best pitching staff in the league.
Despite having depth in the starting rotation in the ways of Strasburg and Corbin, Washington would regret trading away their ace. Mike Rizzo has built his team on the strength of starting pitching and shipping off Scherzer would set the franchise back. From 2012-2019, Scherzer has thrown 200+ strikeouts in a season, and from 2014-2019, Scherzer has kept his ERA under a 3.00. When in win-now mode, you just don’t trade away a pitcher with that type of production.
Over the last few years, Mike Rizzo has repeatedly turned down teams who ask for Victor Robles in return for trades. Be it the Miami Marlins when they were looking for a new home for J.T Reamulto or the Chicago Cubs who wanted Robles in return for Kris Bryant.
Robles entered 2019 as a rookie and put up a modest campaign. He was inconsistent at times at the plate, as he hit .255, with 17 homers, and 65 RBIs, while swiping 28 bags in 37 attempts. He had an OPS of .745 and his wRC+ of 91 left more to be desired. Entering 2019, Robles was seen by some as the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year. Instead, he finished sixth as Pete Alonso took home the hardware.
Despite his underwhelming performance at the plate, Robles proved he is already one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game. The 22-year-old led all outfielders in DRS with 25, finished tied for fourth in outfield assists with 12, and tied with for first with Mookie Betts in OOZ with 106.
At only 22, Robles has plenty of time to improve his consistency at the plate and has shown a glimpse of his elite skill in the field. Rizzo should continue to turn down any offers for the rising star.
Trea Turner is the engine that drives the Nationals offense. The 26-year-old made his MLB debut at the end of the 2015 season and became an integral part of the team in 2016. In his five years with the team, Turner is hitting .291, with 63 homers, and 216 RBIs. The speedster is responsible for getting on base and applying pressure which he excels at. Known for his aggressiveness on the basepath, Turner has 159 steals in 189 attempts. From 2015-2019, Turner ranks fourth in the league in steals, behind Jonathan Villar(167), Dee Gordon (200), and Billy Hamilton (230).
Due to his consistency at the plate and being a threat on the basepath, Turner is always asked for in trade talks. Smartly, Mike Rizzo has avoided shipping out the righty and should continue to make him off-limits. The 2019 season showed just how important Turner is to the organization. He broke his finger on a bunt attempt during a game on April 2nd and ended up missing a month and a half before returning on May 17. During that time, the offense failed to find consistency at the top of the lineup. Turner’s absence showed just how valuable he was to the club and why the front office should avoid trading him.
Coming out of college, Stephen Strasburg was the most hyped pitching prospect of all time. Enticed by his potential, the Nationals drafted him number one overall in 2009. He quickly rose through the minors and made his debut in 2010 where he put on a show. With all eyes on the youngster, Strasburg struck out 14 in seven innings as the Nats went on to win. His 14 strikeouts set a franchise record (which Scherzer has gone on to break). Throughout his career, Strasburg has battled injuries, most notably he underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2011. Despite this, he has persevered and has put together a fine career. In 10 seasons with the club, Strasburg is 112-58, with a 3.17 ERA, and 1,695 strikeouts.
The 2019 season saw Strasburg throw over 200 innings for the first time since 2014. 2019 was arguably the best season of Strasburg’s career, as he went 18-6, with a 3.32 ERA, and 251 strikeouts. He went on to lead the NL in wins, was named to the 2019 All-MLB First Team, and won World Series MVP. In the 2019 playoffs, Strasburg went 5-0, with a 1.98 ERA, and 47 strikeouts. His performance proved to the world that he has finally reached his immense potential.
After his career year, Strasburg has shown he can stay healthy and that he should be made off-limits in trade talks. Similar to Scherzer, moving Strasburg would hurt the rotation. The Nats showed in the 2019 playoffs how important an effective pitching staff can be. Management would be unwise to accept any offers for their 31-year-old.