With the injuries continuing to worry Nationals fans even as the division lead is steady at over a dozen games, there are questions as to whether Washington needs some more reinforcements. The bullpen has suddenly become elite but with serious questions as to Ryan Madson’s health the rest of year, the right addition could be fruitful. The starting pitching has as much top-end talent as any team in baseball, but injury questions are a big enough worry that another major league arm could ease pressure. The lineup, filled with replacements, have performed magnificently in the absence of stars like Adam Eaton, Jayson Werth, Trea Turner, and Bryce Harper, but with so many players playing at what seems to be peak performance, a reverse to average could decimate production.
With all of that said, there is no desperation like there was prior to the acquisition of Sean Doolittle/Madson deal, and with the non-waiver deadline passed, far less options. With thanks to MLBTradeRumors.com, we have a list of notable players who we know have cleared waivers and can be freely traded (as they note on their site, many names are likely unreported but that list includes some notable players).
As unlikely as the Nats making yet another move may seem, Mike Rizzo has proven over the last few seasons that he loves to make unexpected moves (Matt Thornton and Marc Rzepczynski after the July 31st deadline, and Howie Kendrick this year), so don’t rule anything out. So who could the Nats target, if anyone?
Miguel Gonzalez and Derek Holland, SP, Chicago (AL) were the names that stuck out to me on their list. This directly from MLB Trade Rumors: Gonzalez “won’t be a part of a contending club’s playoff rotation, but a team with a big division lead that is looking to rest its rotation (or allow some of its injured rotation members to mend) could turn to Gonzalez for some stability. The asking price won’t be much.” Sound familiar? They also say roughly the same thing about Holland, and note that he pitches well against lefties so he could be of use in the pen as well. Of anybody on MLBTR has confirmed, these two makes the most sense. Limiting Stephen Strasburg’s innings could make sense, and guaranteeing that Max Scherzer’s bum neck is more than okay is an absolute necessity. The organization does have a little bit of depth, though: Erick Fedde and A.J. Cole are back in the minors and able to eat a few innings when called upon. I was really hoping Rizzo would shore up the rotation at the first deadline so I would be quite pleased to see him add the depth there that he has in other positions.
The rest of the list is devoid of movable players (Giancarlo Stanton and Felix Hernandez, most notably), hitters that would fit the Nats roster, and any relievers that would be traded. Still, there are almost certainly unknown relievers and position players who have cleared waivers without our knowledge. There are a few names out there who could still be available. Most teams out of the hunt likely attempted to clear much of their rosters though waivers, especially relievers.
One who had a good chance of clearing (thanks to his already ugly contract) is old friend Mark Melancon, someone that with the right trade could interest the Nats. Granted, he has had injury problems and effectiveness problems that would be scary to acquire, but perhaps Rizzo thinks he can find his 2016 form if he returned to Washington. I don’t see it making very much sense, and with three new relievers already this summer, adding more would be unlikely.
This quick exercise shows something that may not shock you: The Nats are not going to make another move this season. With the division in a vice grip and the hope that key players will be eventually healthy, giving up even more prospects could prove entirely unnecessary. Now just a week away from September call-ups, any necessary reinforcements will come from the inside. And if the key guys I mentioned don’t come back? Well, anyone available now will not be able to replace the contributions that they need to get through the playoffs (by that I mean get through the Cubs and Dodgers) anyway. So when you see other contenders making moves, like the Red Sox did on Wednesday to acquire Rajai Davis, know that it is a good thing that the Nationals not only won’t make another move, but really don’t NEED to make another move.Tags: Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals