The Trade Deadline has come and gone with Washington deciding to stay silent. Was this the right decision?
The Nationals are 12-20, seven games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves, and are coming off a series defeat to the last-place Boston Red Sox. In fact, Washington has only won one series all season and that came against the Baltimore Orioles. The Nationals starting rotation has been ravaged by injuries and inconsistencies. Stephen Strasburg is out for the season and Anibal Sanchez looks lost. Despite all of this. the Nats are only four games out of a playoff spot. Mike Rizzo entered the trade deadline at a crossroads and faced the age-old question, to sell or not to sell? So what did Mike Rizzo do? He went against the grain and decided to stand pat.
Understanding The Decision
The team’s farm system has become barren over the years due to promotions, as well as the Adam Eaton and Sean Doolittle trades. In order for Rizzo to buy at this year’s deadline, he was going to have to ravage a bottom tier farm system. That’s just not the right decision for a shortened season. There were rumors Washington was interested in acquiring a back of the rotation starter and Robbie Ray’s name was mentioned, per Jayson Stark on Twitter.
Ray, of course, was shipped out to the Blue Jays instead. In addition to Ray, Mike Minor, Mike Clevinger, Ross Stripling, Taijwain Walker, and Tommy Milone were all starter pitchers who switched teams. Except Washington didn’t land any of them. After the deadline had passed it was reported that the team deemed it more important to protect the farm system. Per Jesse Doughterty on Twitter.
This was a smart decision due to the fact that Washington has not shown they have what it takes to compete this season. With a once elite rotation on the ropes, the National’s greatest strength had become their biggest weakness. Retooling and setting their focus on 2021 was understandable. Standing pat still keeps the farm system intact while allowing to see if the team can go on an unexpected run.
With Washington owning the fifth worse record in the league and only ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the worse record in baseball, selling made perfect sense. Howie Kendrick, Kurt Suzuki, and Asdrubal Cabrera are all reliable veterans on expiring contracts that could help a contender. Sean Doolittle, Anibal Sanchez, and Adam Eaton were all also an option, but are all in the midst of down seasons and might not fetch decent returns. Daniel Hudson, the team’s current closer, would have interested teams due to the fact you could never have to much bullpen help. 2018, was the last time Rizzo sold and he did not fetch fair returns.
Rizzo has many young players waiting in the wings that need everyday reps. Carter Kieboom has been deemed by some as the future at third but is blocked by Cabrera. In a season that is quickly getting away from the Nats, now is the time to allow the young kids to get as many reps as possible. Selling would have allowed Washington to restock the farm system while making room for Kieboom and company.
However, do not sell just for the sake of selling. It doesn’t make sense to ship out your players if you are not receiving equal value in return. Mike Rizzo realized this and decided to roll with what we have. He definitely isn’t happy with the current production of the team, but he was handcuffed to an extent. At this current pace, watching the remainder of this season will be tough, but will lead to a much needed top draft pick. Mike Rizzo has been wrong before but it is rare. In Rizzo we trust.