Nationals Rumors: Latest Reports Have Nats Selling at Deadline

The MLB Trade Deadline is just a couple of weeks away and the Nationals have a decision to make: Sell or Stay Put? With the recent overhaul of their lineup that saw four players released or demoted, the team is giving their roster a chance, but is it enough to save off a firesale?
St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals
St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

The MLB Trade Deadline is fast approaching and the Nationals find themselves in a tough spot.

Mathematically, the Nationals are still very much in competition for a Wild Card spot, sitting 5.5 games back of the San Diego Padres for the final spot. That number took a hit in recent weeks as they have dropped series to those Padres, Mets and Cardinals, all of which are teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race and have looked much more competitive recently unlike the Nationals.

Nevertheless, the playoffs are all about who gets hot at the right time, and with the Nationals infusing their lineup with players like James Wood, even with minor additions like Juan Yepez and Trey Lipscomb, you can never say never.

The Nationals have the Starting Pitching, they just need their offense and bullpen to support it - as evident by yesterday's disappointing 6-0 loss to the Cardinals after Mitchell Parker managed to go 7 innings only allowing 1 earned run.

The counterargument is, of course, that the Nationals are not ready yet, which is likely the case. They are the third youngest team in baseball based on the average age of their roster, and are likely to get even younger next season given their expiring contracts of players like Patrick Corbin, Trevor Williams and Joey Gallo. That young roster might need a little more seasoning before they are really ready to compete and truly go for it.

If that is the case, then flipping their valuable trade assets now in order for more controllable players that can help in the near future, and also that match their competitive timeline better than the expiring deals, then it is worth it to make those moves. Just look at how the decision to trade Jeimer Candelario last season worked out. Candelario has had a fine season this year in Cincinnati, but the Nationals unquestionably made the right call trading Candelario for DJ Herz and Kevin Made, the former of which has two starts this season where he has gone at least 5 innings with 10+ strikeouts and zero walks. Even Made, who was thought to be an glove first player, has broken out in the Minors and earned himself a promotion to AA Harrisburg.

Last season, Candelario was the only obvious trade commodity, with the Nationals opting to retain their players with more years of control. This season, the Nationals have several players who will draw interest, and with another year gone off those contracts, it will be difficult not to listen to those calls. In fact, recent reports suggest the Nationals will do just that.

Mike Rizzo open to moving players beyond just those with expiring contracts

The Athletic reported earliest today that in addition to the valuable expiring contracts like Jesse Winker and Dylan Floro, Nationals GM and President Mike Rizzo is open to moving players like Kyle Finnegan, Lane Thomas and Hunter Harvey at the deadline. Ken Rosenthal and company also mention Trevor Williams, who was having a great campaign prior to his injury, but his situation is complicated as he has yet to resume throwing and likely will not see Major League action before the Trade Deadline on July 30th.

This is major news and seems to be legitimate as Jon Morosi also reported last month that the Nationals were entertaining calls on Thomas, Finnegan and Harvey, all of which are under team control through 2025.

Paired with Winker and Floro, that gives the Nationals at least five players who are enjoying solid 2024 campaigns that can net the team a substantial return in a trade, particularly if the Nats package two or more of those players in a deal to increase their return, opting for a quality over quantity approach.

Now the Nationals do not necessarily have to trade all five of these players and likely do not want to trade all five, but if you are going to sell, you might as well go for it as this will, hopefully, be the last time you are in a position to sell for the next couple of years.

Even with Finnegan, Harvey and Floro, the Nationals bullpen has had their fair share of issues. This isn't to say they are better off without them, but the bullpen needed reshuffling anyways.

Lane Thomas was a nice surprise as a throwaway player in a deal for Jon Lester, but the Nationals have significant outfield depth in the Minor Leagues and we will likely see Dylan Crews this season as well, who will need consistent at bats. The emergence of Jacob Young as a serviceable everyday player makes Thomas more expendable. The Nationals can, and would likely love to have an everday outfield of Crews, Young and James Wood.

Likely the toughest pill to swallow in a potential firesale would be losing Jesse Winker, despite the expiring contract. Winker has been arguably the most consistent hitter on the team this season. When your offense is already struggling, it is not easy to lose one of your best hitters. But for the benefit of this team's future, getting something for your expiring contracts is the best course of action.

There are just 16 games remaining between now and the July 30th Deadline, with the All Star Break sandwiched in-between. The Nationals will likely use most, if not all of those 16 games to make a decision on whether or not to sell, and how much they want to sell.