The Washington Nationals currently sit at 51-51, which is seven games behind the first place Phillies and four and a half games behind the Atlanta Braves for the second wild card. They are currently in a four-game series against the Miami Marlins where they won game one last night 10-3. Depending on how the rest of the series goes will allow for the Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo to decide if he wants to buy or sell. The trade deadline is July 31st at 4 pm.
Regardless of what happens in the Miami series, Rizzo will make a move. Hopefully, the Nationals can win at least three in Miami to allow Rizzo to go all in on building the team up for a stretch run at the playoffs. Rizzo has a tough decision in front of him and so little time to decide just what to do.
If the Nationals can put together a winning streak, a reunion with Tampa catcher, Wilson Ramos should not be out of the question. Ramos would be a vast improvement over the certain catcher situation that consists of Pedro Severino, Spencer Kieboom and Matt Wieters.
The Nationals are also in need of an accomplished starter to fill in behind Scherzer and Strasburg. Strasburg is back on the 10 day DL while Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark are having down years. Adding another starter such as Matt Harvey of the Reds, Tampa’s Chris Archer or the Mets Zach Wheeler is critical for the Nats to make the post-season. Or, if the Nationals are feeling confident and decide to go all in, then they could offer the Mets a package built around top prospect Victor Robles for Jacob deGrom. deGrom is having a Cy Young caliber season. He is 5-5 with a 1.71 era. His record doesn’t show how good he is mostly because the Mets have been unable to offer any run support for their ace.
Bryce Harper, Matt Wieters, Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera, Matt Adams, Mark Reynolds, Shawn Kelly, Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Murphy are all free agents after the season. If the Nationals continue to fall behind the Phillies, GM Mike Rizzo might decide to trade off some of the expiring contracts in order to retool the roster. Depending on how the weekend series against the Miami Marlins go, it might be time to refill the farm system. Should the Nats decide to make a run for the playoffs they have plenty of intriguing pieces that can help them in the playoffs.
Mark Reynolds is doing well for a guy who in the offseason was only offered minor league contracts. In 122 at bats, Reynolds is hitting .287 with ten home runs and 25 RBIs. He filled in nicely with Matt Adams at first base when Ryan Zimmerman was injured. Earlier in the year, Reynolds had 10 RBIs in a rout against the Marlins. His bat has come alive after some people thought his career was at an end. The 34-year-old would be a great bat off the bench.
The other bash brother, Matt Adams is also having quite a year. Adams signed a one year deal to be the main guy coming off the bench and he has definitely delivered. He is hitting .279 with 16 home runs and 41 RBIs. Adams is another power hitting first basemen who is showing teams that he could be a capable starter again.
In today’s world of baseball, to be successful in the playoffs means having a deep bullpen. The Nationals have three expiring contracts who all have playoff experience. Ryan Madson and Kelvin Herrera were teammates in 2015 when the Royals won the World Series. Both have been there before and bring much-needed experience. Shawn Kelly is looking like his dominant self before his previous injury last season. All three can help strengthen a contenders bullpen and give the team an edge.
Another move Rizzo can make is to trade Bryce Harper. Now, this has been an increased rumor that has been scaring Nationals fans. If Rizzo is convinced that Harper will not re-sign and theirs no chance of making the playoffs then he will trade his franchise star. Rizzo should receive a huge haul if he decides to go down this route. Despite Harper being in a slump, he is a dangerous player, who leads the league in home runs and can break out from this slump at any moment.
It will be interesting to see what Rizzo decides to do at the trade deadline.
Feature Image from Sports Illustrated.