The Washington Nationals: Buyers or Sellers?

The Nationals have surprisingly held their own in a struggling National League and currently have themselves in the mix for a wild card spot in October. How should they handle the upcoming trade deadline?
Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals
Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

In recent days, it has been reported from multiple outlets that the Nationals have already begun drawing interest for some of their players, such as RHPs Kyle Finnegan, and Hunter Harvey, and OFs Lane Thomas, and Jesse Winker. This is not necessarily a surprise as high leverage relievers and quality bats are always in demand.

However, the team is currently sitting at 36-38, only 2 games under .500 and half a game back from the #3 wild card spot. Mike Rizzo and Dave Martinez have a huge decision to make ahead of the deadline. Do the Nationals sell these players at the deadline, or do they buy a piece or two and make a playoff push, something no one expects from the district until 2025-26.

While it would be fun to make a push this season, the Nationals should still be sellers at the deadline as it is best for their long term future. Even if the Nationals make the playoffs in a perfect world, they are not beating powerhouses like the Dodgers or Phillies with Joey Gallo & Eddie Rosario. However, there is an argument against that because the Nationals do have the farm system to acquire a first baseman or another outfielder, and still be set for the future. But at the same time, it just does not make sense.

The Nationals do not have to clean the house, though. The team can approach the deadline just as they did in 2023, selling one or two players if the deal is right. The team does not even have to sell anyone. I think the Nationals would be serious contenders next season if they held on to both Hunter Harvey AND Kyle Finnegan. Finnegan has an extra year of control, so he would be the closer next year as well. If the Nationals Trade Finnegan at the deadline, the entirety of the ‘pen falls onto Hunter Harvey, because the rest of the bullpen has not played well this season. There is not much bullpen depth in the minor leagues, either. But at the same time, if a team offers the world for Finnegan and/or Harvey, the Nationals should absolutely consider it and probably take it.

The Nationals could definitely move either of their veteran outfielders, however, especially with the depth they have at the position at the Major League level and in the Minors. Lane Thomas was someone who received a bit of interest last season, but no team saw him as a starter, so there was not a good deal in place. Now, Lane hasn’t been as good as he was in 2023, so getting a good deal now could be hard, but I think there is potential suiter out there. Jesse Winker is a veteran left-handed bat that is playing his best baseball since his all-star year in 2021. Winker has held a top OPS in the national league all year. There is depth for the Nationals down on the farm if they decide to move on from their veterans, with rookies James Wood & Dylan Crews now at Triple-AAA Rochester.

The Nationals should not be buyers at the 2024 deadline, but they also do not desperately need to be sellers either. The Nationals need to decide if they are ready to take the next step out of the rebuild and start becoming a better ballclub once again.