Washington Nationals: Why The Team Should Rebuild
By Max Rayman
Rebuilding would allow for Washington to restock the farm while clearing their books from big-money contracts. If done correctly, Washington could revamp the farm system by having a firesale and shipping everyone out not named Juan Soto. Put aside feelings and think about it from an unbiased perspective. Max Scherzer has one year left on his contract and over the past season and a half, injuries have started to negatively affect him. Strasburg only made two starts in 2020, and placing the future of the rotation into the hands of an injury-prone 32-year-old is a risky decision. Patrick Corbin was brought in to add a third ace. The veteran was unable to carry the rotation in Strasburg’s absence and suffered from control issues. His strikeout totals were down while he was allowing more hits.
All three can fetch favorable returns on the trade market which will go a long way to restock the farm system. The 2019 Zack Greinke trade showed that an aging ace on a large contract can still garner a favorable return. Strasburg will be back to full health for 2021 and can be the missing piece for a contender. After all, teams can never have too much pitching help. Washington could always agree to eat some of their salaries in order to receive even more in return. This could entice teams to hand over some big-name prospects in return.
Even though he had a down year, Scherzer still posted a K/9 of 12.0+ for the fourth straight year. An extended off-season (he missed the playoffs) and a full Spring Training will benefit the ace. Scherzer is a creature of habit and he was never able to get into a rhythm. That will change come 2021. One year left on his contract won’t stop teams from trading a top prospect for the ace.
Corbin has one of the best sliders in the game which opposing batters cannot lay off of. He just needs to work on his consistency with his other pitches. While it doesn’t make sense for the Nationals to push the current core any farther due to injuries and a deteriorating offense, all three will benefit any rotation in baseball.
While those three would fetch a fair return, trading Trea Turner would really push the rebuild over the top. Turner just posted a career year and is only 27, with two years left on his contract. His stock will never be higher. He finished the year hitting .335, with 12 homers, 41 RBIs, an OPS of .982, and a 157 wRC+. Trading Trea Turner after his monster season is almost underheard of. He led all shortstops in batting average, wRC+, fWAR, OBP, slugging percentage, wOBA, and OPS. One of the fastest players in the league, Turner is a reliable leadoff hitter, but he also has the pop to hit in the middle of the lineup.
In reality, if a rebuild comes to fruition, Trea Turner will stay put as a key piece. He is young enough to still be in his prime when the rebuild ends. However, as I stated earlier, trading him now would guarantee Washington has the basis to properly restock the farm system.