Should the Nationals Trade Kyle Finnegan?

With the deadline fast approaching and the Nationals somehow being in the thick of a wild card hunt, should Washington still look to move one of the best closers in baseball?
Seattle Mariners v Washington Nationals
Seattle Mariners v Washington Nationals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

By no means, am I a shy person. At least regarding my baseball, and especially my Nationals takes. After I have been screaming from the rooftops for years about how good Kyle Finnegan is, when the Nationals fanbase never gave him enough respect, Finnegan is putting together the best season of his career. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, Kyle Finnegan deserves more respect.

At last year's trade deadline, the Nationals reportedly received offers for Lane Thomas, Kyle Finnegan, and Hunter Harvey, but according to the rumors, the offers for Finnegan were quite underwhelming, including a last-minute offer from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Throughout the first half of the 2023 season, Finnegan had a 3.38 ERA, with 35 strikeouts and 14 walks in 37 1/3 innings. After a rough start, he was perfect from May to July. Still, it was clear the lower-than-normal strikeout numbers were unattractive to contenders, thinking that Finnegan was not a high-leverage reliever.

Through 28 games in 2024, Finnegan has a 1.91 ERA, with 19 saves, 30 strikeouts, 10 walks, and only 14 hits allowed in 28 1/3 innings. His FIP at 4.38 has shown he has been slightly lucky, but it is overinflated due to 5 of the 14 hits he allowed being home runs. You would still like more strikeouts for a guy with Finnegan's stuff, but he has established himself as a closer, he has experience and thrives entering tight situations with runners on, he has been remarkably durable throughout his career, and he can also pitch multiple innings when necessary.

For a team that has high lottery odds, in addition to being currently only one game out of the wildcard spot, it puts Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals in a tough situation.

I am clearly biased, and one of the bigger Kyle Finnegan fans out there, but I need to make one thing clear. Kyle Finnegan should, and hopefully will, be traded. Although miracles have happened like the 2023 Diamondbacks, this Nationals team is not close to contention, with lineup woes that frustrate fans on a nightly basis. The rotation has been a pleasant surprise, but without a big bat like James Wood or Dylan Crews to team up with CJ Abrams who is hopefully getting hot again, there is no point in not getting a couple prospects for Finnegan at his peak value.

When looking at reliever trades in previous years, there is some optimism that Finnegan could net at least one prospect in an organization's top 30. On the extreme side, Aroldis Chapman was a rental last year with the Kansas City Royals and got flipped to Texas for the Royals now ace Cole Ragans, but more than likely, the Nationals will get a return similar to the Cubs-White Sox Craig Kimbrel trade in 2021, netting the Cubs the White Sox's #3 prospect in Nick Madrigal, and a reliever Codi Heuer.

Finnegan is 32 years old, with one more year of control remaining making this a more attractive deal than most being that he is not a rental. His underlying numbers show that some regression may be in order, especially with his current heavy workload, and struggles in August and September of last season.

Finnegan will always be a great National, providing us with above-average production since coming out of nowhere in 2020, but it is his time to be moved and join a contender. If Finnegan is not moved, it will be hard to not be upset, if contending in 2025 is still the plan. But after Lane Thomas was playing at an unbelievable level last year and should have been dealt at the deadline at his peak value, it will be hard not to wonder what the return could have been for Finnegan.