Even after signing Trevor Williams to a 2 year deal back on December 9th, it still seems as though the Nationals are in the market for more pitching. More pitching is never a bad idea, especially when you had the worst ERA in baseball last season en route to the worst record in baseball. The most popular name the club is rumored to be interested in is another former New York Met: Seth Lugo.
The Nationals were first rumored to have interest in Lugo back before they reached an agreement with Williams, as Ken Rosenthal first reported their interest on December 7th. Two days later, they ultimately signed Williams, who is expected to join the starting rotation. If you look ahead a bit and project the Nationals rotation, in no order, it would look something like:
- Josiah Gray
- MacKenzie Gore
- Cade Cavalli
- Patrick Corbin
- Trevor Williams
Now we have to include the ultimate caveat in that nobody knows the status of Stephen Strasburg. If he’s able to pitch, he will be in the rotation due to his contract. But recent history leads us to believe he has a long road ahead of him before he pitches on a regular basis.
So with your starting five already penciled in, would you be able to lure Lugo to DC? Well it seems like the Nationals are still trying to do so as Jon Heyman reported even after signing Williams, the Nationals are interested in Lugo.
Now it has been reported by multiple sources that Lugo prefers to start and will likely choose a destination in which he is given a spot in the rotation, and unsurprisingly so. If the Nationals are serious about Lugo, who would get bumped? Do Gore or Cavalli start the year in AAA? Does Gray get work in the bullpen or in AAA to sort things out? Both of these seem unlikely. Even more unlikely is the idea of Corbin moving to the bullpen, as he falls in the same boat as Strasburg in that if he’s healthy, his AAV basically demands he be a starter – even if he’s the worst qualified starter in all of baseball.
One idea I like is to have a six man rotation, as opposed to a traditional five man rotation. This would allow both Williams and Lugo to start, thus increasing their potential trade value, while subsequently easing the load on the three young arms in the rotation. Will they do this? Maybe not, but it wouldn’t be a horrible idea, especially early in the season.
Now this could all be a moot point as Lugo is reported to have plenty of interest, most recently from the Dodgers, but the Padres and Phillies as well. All three of those teams have much more to offer than the Nats. But if the Nationals offer Lugo a legitimate chance to start, then that may even the playing field.
Seth Lugo is coming off a solid season, albeit all as a reliever, in which he had a 3.60 ERA in 65 innings while adding 3 saves. He features a high 90s fastball while mixing in a curveball and sinker. He has not started a game since the shortened 2020 season in which he had a 6.15 ERA in his four starts versus a 2.61 ERA in his nine games as a reliever. Since then, however, Lugo has put together solid back-to-back seasons as a reliever, so perhaps the Nationals believe Lugo can transfer that success back to a starting role. Regardless, I love the idea of the Nationals adding more proven pitching depth and support a potential signing of Seth Lugo.