The Washington Nationals have been in the situation that not many MLB teams want to be in: they are good enough to be a perennial playoff team, but once they are in the playoffs, they don’t seem to be able to achieve that much. Since they are able to make the playoffs, they don’t receive a high draft pick, which hurts them for the future. They aren’t getting better and they aren’t getting worse. However, they can become a World Series capable team if they make a few roster adjustments.
The first one, and probably most important for them, is acquiring a stud relief pitcher. There isn’t a single reliever on the Nats that you could dub a “relief ace”. One player that isn’t necessarily a star yet, but could become one is the Brewers’ Jeremy Jeffress. Since he is still making a name for himself, the Nationals wouldn’t have to depart with much in order to attain him. Jeffress is a flame-throwing right who has been excellent as Milwaukee’s closer. The Nationals could put him in that role, or opt to utilize him as an elite set-up man for the next player that I will mention.
Their bullpen woes are so severe that it warrants two moves in order to shore it up. David Robertson is someone that the Nationals have had on their radar ever since last year. He will fill the void of closer that hasn’t been filled since the departures and of Drew Stören and Jonathan Papelbon more recently. Since the White Sox aren’t going to be contenders in the near future, they could be major sellers come the trade deadline.
The third move that the Nationals should make is for a left fielder. Jayson Worth is solid, but he is well past his prime and is starting to get up there in age. Three players that the Nationals could realistically get are Carlos Gonzalez, Khris Davis, and Melky Cabrera. Cabrera is the best contact hitter out of the three, and could be another player traded if the White Sox hit the reset button. Davis would give the Nationals a righty who can hit for power. He will come the cheapest out of all three options, meaning he would be the most realistic player if the Nationals were to make all of the other moves that I mention in this article. The final, and arguably most intriguing, option is Carlos Gonzalez. CarGo is a star talent who has slightly regressed in recent years, but is still young enough to play like he did in his prime. There is some risk in acquiring Gonzalez in that he could see his numbers diminish due to the fact that he is out of Colorado. He would be the most expensive out of the three options, meaning the Nationals would likely have to part with an above-average prospect.
Finally, the fourth move that the Nationals should make is for a first baseman. Ryan Zimmerman has enjoyed a phenomenal start to the season, but it will be difficult for him to keep it up. He doesn’t have that many years left in him so it would be smart for the Nats to acquire someone that they can groom into the position. Jesus Aguilar could be traded away from the Milwaukee Brewers since Eric Thames’ play has been superb to start the season. Aguilar enjoyed an excellent spring training and is still relatively young. The Nationals could also give up one of their aging veterans and grab a prospect who can play first base in return. A very cheap option would be Matt Adams who is now expendable for the Cardinals. The thought of acquiring him isn’t that exciting, but it could be someone who can grab at-bats against righties.
All of the aforementioned players probably won’t be acquired, but it is very possible that they get a few, especially the bullpen arms. MLB rosters are constantly in flux, and the Nationals will need to make some moves of their own if they are to stay afloat in the pennant race. Their offense has been the best in the majors to start the year, and their starting pitchers have been solid, but their bullpen has been ghastly. That will be the main focus the Nationals have come the trade deadline.
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