Washington Nationals: What Would A Potential Fire Sale Look Like?

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Josh Bell #19 after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park on May 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Josh Bell #19 after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park on May 23, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /

A Nationals firesale may be on the horizon.

In what was supposed to be the most competitive division in baseball, the NL East has been anything but. The New York Mets sit in first place at 49-42, with the Philadelphia Phillies two and a half games behind them at 47-45. Atlanta, Washington, and Miami are all under .500.

For the Nationals, things are once again spiraling out of control. They are 44-49 and six games back of the Mets. They have lost 11 of their last 15 and have been hit by a flurry of injuries. Yan Gomes, Alex Avila, Tanner Rainey, Kyle Schwarber, and Joe Ross have all landed on the IL in the past month.

With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, Washington’s General Manager Mike Rizzo will have to make a decision about the team’s future and fast. Washington’s farm system is the worst in baseball and it needs an infusion of youth and talent. But if Rizzo was to have a firesale, something he has been adamant against in years past, what would it look like?

Max Scherzer

Season Stats: 7-4, 2.83 ERA, 3.49 FIP 142 Ks, 105 IP

Contract Status: 2021 Free Agent

For starters, we would like nothing more than to see Max Scherzer end his career in Washington. The Future Hall of Famer has built his legacy in the Nation’s Capital, winning a World Series ring and two of his three Cy Young Awards here.

But outside of Trea Turner and Juan Soto, both of whom are untouchable, Scherzer would fetch the best return. Mad Max would help any contender immensely and would fetch a decent return for Washington.

His contract and deferred money will deter some teams, not to mention his 10-5 rights and the fact he said he wants an extension if traded. But the big spenders would undoubtedly be interested. If Washington does indeed become sellers, it is very, very, very unlikely Scherzer is shipped out. The front office would have to be totally blown away by an offer.

Yan Gomes

Season Stats: .266 BA, 8 HRs, 33 RBIs, .760 OPS, 1.7 bWAR

Contract Stats: 2021 Free Agent

At the age of 33, Yan Gomes is having one of the best seasons of his career and has been a pleasant surprise at the plate. Offensively, he is fifth on the team in batting average, fourth in WAR, fourth in OPS, seventh in RBIs, and sixth in homers.

Defensively, Gomes has been a godsend behind the plate. He is tied for the lead with the Dodgers Will Smith in runners caught stealing with 16. His framing has continued to degrade, but he has one DRS, up from the -3 he posted last season.

A few days before the All-Star break Yan Gomes was placed on the IL with a left oblique strain. There is still no timetable for his return.

Despite being a rental, contenders would love his bat and his arm would become invaluable in the playoffs. A mid-tier prospect in return for his services wouldn’t be out of the question.

Daniel Hudson

Season Stats: 4-1, 2.63 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 40 strikeouts, 27.1 IP, 0-2 in Save Opportunities

Contract Status: 2021 Free Agent

After a disastrous 2020 campaign, Daniel Hudson has returned to his 2019 form. Part of his bounceback is due to limiting hard contact against him. Last year opponents had 38% hard contact against him compared to 28.8% this year. His 2.70 FIP would be a career-high, proving that he has been as advertised.

Something to keep an eye on is Hudson just recently returned from the IL. At the age of 34 and with his injury history, a heavy workload is ill-advised.  But his ability to close out games or handle high-pressure situations should appease any contender in need of bullpen depth.

Brad Hand

Season Stats: 5-2, 2.61 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 39 Ks, 38 IP, 19-22 in Save Opportunities

Contract Status: 2021 Free Agent

Brad Hand signed with the Nationals during the off-season on a one-year deal worth $10.5 million and it’s starting to look like a steal. Outside of one rough patch that saw Hand blow two saves, the veteran has been lights out. He has seen an uptick in his fastball velocity, after suffering from a decrease over the last three seasons.

Over the past few years, Cleveland and Milwaukee have proven you can never have too many closers. Hand is tied for seventh in the league for saves (19) and is an excellent backend of the bullpen option.

Starlin Castro

Season Stats: .283 BA, 3 HRs, 38 RBIs, .708 OPS, 1.3 bWAR

Contract Status: 2021 Free Agent

Since the calendar flipped to July, Starlin Castro is hitting .500, with six RBIs, and an OPS of 1.140. The veteran’s bat would be a welcome sight for any contender that needs offensive depth. He is no longer the slick defender he once was, seen by his -2.4 UZR, but he does have one DRS.

Sadly, Castro’s trade stock has taken a hit due to the recent domestic abuse allegations hanging over his head. He was recently placed on administrative leave.

Kyle Schwarber

Season Stats: .253 BA, 25 HRs, 53 RBIs, .910 OPS, 2.3 bWAR

Contract Status: 2022 Mutual Option

A month ago, Kyle Schwarber’s trade stock was at an all-time high thanks to him channeling his best Barry Bond’s impression. During the month of June, the slugger hit .280, with a mind-boggling 16 homers, 30 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.122. All 16 of those homers occurred across 18 games, the first time that feat was accomplished since Sammy Sosa and Bonds did it during the steroid era.

Then disaster struck with Schwarber landing on the IL due to a hamstring injury. Despite his absence, the righty would be a hot commodity on the trade market.

Josh Harrison

Season Stats: .282 BA, 5 HRs, 35 RBIs, .756 OPS, 1.9 bWAR

Contract Status: 2021 Free Agent

Josh Harrison became a surprise starter to start the season for the Nats due to Carter Kieboom’s struggles. The veteran has refound his swing and has become one of the team’s top offensive performers. Amongst the team, Harrison is fourth in batting average, sixth in RBIs, second in doubles, seventh in homers, third in OBP, fifth in OPS, and fifth in bWAR.

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No longer the gold glover he once was, Harrison still provides adequate defense. The swiss army knife can play multiple infield and outfield positions, proving how versatile he is. Harrison’s bat would be a welcomed addition to any contender.