The Washington Nationals made a lot of moves this week moves and they can be separated into two categories. The good trades to retool the farm and then the bomb that rebuilt the entire thing. Let’s start with the first category.
The first trade to take place was between the Toronto Blue Jays and our Nationals. The Nats sent Brad Hand and got Riley Adams, the Blue Jays 17th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. This was the calm before the storm, but that does not mean it did not return some value. The Nationals as a whole lack catching depth with only two catchers under 34 on their 40 man roster. Adams helps to add depth at that position and he’s got some tools that could allow him to be a good backup in the bigs. MLB Pipeline broke down Adam’s skills and stated,
"“Adams’ IQ and game management are the primary reasons the Blue Jays believed he’ll stick behind the plate, and it’ll be interesting to see how he takes to a rebuilding Nats system. The power tool is what’s so appealing about Adams, though.”"
Those two tools scream MLB back up. If he can be a good enough receiver for at least one pitcher to enjoy throwing to him he could find a spot and the added power potential off the bench won’t hurt.
The Nationals got the Red Sox 19th ranked prospect in return for Kyle Schwarber. This could be the sneaky addition of this deadline. This year the 20-year-old has a 2.03 ERA over 31 innings in low-a ball. Ramirez was throwing in the Mexican League at 16 years old before he signed with the Red Sox. He could fall into many different roles and looks to be a depth piece the Nationals have been missing in their farm over the last five years. Baseball America talks about why he might end up being a more important piece than we may think in their scouting report. They stated,
"“Ramirez currently has the stuff of a swingman or back-of-the-rotation starter, but his feel for pitching and command give him a chance to exceed that projection. Those traits also give him a chance to be given aggressive assignments relative to his age.”"
Mason Thompson and Jordy Barley
Mason Thompson was the return for Daniel Hudson. He was a top 10 prospect in the Padres highly regarded system. Thompsons minor league numbers do not stand out, but a lot of that is due to injuries. He will likely be a bullpen-only prospect and one with big upside. He has three above-average pitches. One of them is a fastball that hits 98 and he stands at 6 foot 7 so I would imagine that has to be scary for opposing hitters.
Thompson could be an impact piece in our bullpen as soon as late 2021. Jordy Barley was the other part of this trade and as far as he is concerned, he is the definition of a lottery ticket when it comes to prospects. The speed stands out big time as he has 33 stolen bases in 61 games this year. He is only 21 and if he can get on base at a little higher rate he may be a good piece for the future… In the worst case, he can provide some speed somewhere.
Drew Millas, Seth Shuman, and Richard Guasch
The Nationals got three prospects back for Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes. In the Oakland A’s newest Baseball America top 30 all three of these players were “arrow up players.” Milas is a pretty solid defensive catcher and he has a solid approach at the plate. Looks like a depth piece, but you can never have enough catchers.
Shuman looks to be the prize of this deal as he has never had an ERA over 3 in the minors and he strikes out almost a batter an inning. He has four good pitches and can get his fastball up to 94. Again, he may only be a depth piece but it is good depth.
Richard Guasch is another Oakland pitcher and again the numbers are not great yet, but there are some positive signs. Baseball America says that he had the best slider in the A’s organization to go along with a mid 90s fastball, good curve, and average changeup. This again is a depth addition with some upside.
Believe it or not, the Nationals were able to get an outfielder with some potential in Lane Thomas by trading Jon Lester. Rizzo made a great move to get anything, especially a former top 10 prospect in the Cardinals system. He has the skills to play and in a 34 game stretch in 2019 he hit .316/.409/.684 for the big league club.
The Big One.
In a deal that some inside of baseball are calling one of the biggest deadline deals ever, the Nationals sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers for a package of Keibert Ruiz C and Josiah Gray RHP who are #16 and #59 on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100. They also got Gerardo Carillo RHP and OF Donovan Casey.
The centerpieces of this deal are Ruiz and Gray, both of whom could be in DC on Opening Day next year. Ruiz is a bat-first catcher who has a unique knack for contact. The switch hitter is hitting .311/.381/.631 this year at triple-a Oklahoma City. His defense could use some improvement, especially his arm, but he has all the potential to be a star for the Nationals.
Most rankings have Josiah Gray as the lesser prospect compared to Ruiz, but I think that he may be more impactful in the long term. He has two very solid pitches, including a fastball that touches 98 and a swing and miss slider. He will have to add at least one more plus pitch to live up to his full potential but the fact that he is a strike-thrower having only 26 walks in 122.1 innings over the last two years in the minors gives him a very high floor.
Carillo and Casey were supplementary pieces in this deal, but that does not mean they don’t have the potential to make an impact. Right now Carillo walks too many batters to be a starter at the big league level. However, he has a 97 MPH sinker to go along with a great slider. That combo right there could put him into some high leverage bullpen spots for the Nationals as soon as 2023.
Casey is a prototypical fourth outfielder. He has the ability to play all the outfield positions and has some pretty solid offensive numbers to go along with that. The only thing keeping him from possibly being a starter is his strikeout issue. If he fixes that this deal may look even better.
What a wild two days for Nationals fans. On top of all these trades the Nationals also officially signed their first-round pick Brady House. This is in some ways a sad day, but this team’s future just got much brighter.