Washington Nationals trade targets
The Washington Nationals have made some great strides this year they would be smart to trade some of their players to add more quality prospects or young players to their team. While not all their trade targets might be popular, they could end up being the best for the team. Now I don’t think all of these guys will be dealt, but they are all potential targets.
Names to watch:
Laynce Nix: Nix has emerged as the Nationals best hitter through the first two months of the season, and has taken over the primary LF job from Mike Morse (Nix usually still sits against lefties). He has killed RH pitching, and is in the midst of a career year. While Nats fans might be leery of moving their best hitter, Nix is a free agent after this season and given the likely emergence of Bryce Harper, Nix doesn’t have a major role going forward. Since the Nationals can sell high, they might get one solid C+ prospect.
Ivan Rodriguez: Pudge is no longer an everyday catcher for the Nationals, but he has still been productive in a reserve role. While his offense and defense aren’t up to par to his All-star days, Pudge can still be an effective option for a playoff contender. Pudge isn’t going to net a lot for the Nationals, but it could still add depth for the Nationals system.
Jesus Flores: If the Nationals decide to keep Pudge, they could look to move Flores to a team in need of a young catching option. Flores isn’t going to bring a big return, but the Nationals should trade from their depth to stock up at another position.
Doug Slaten: The Nationals have a strong bullpen and they should look to trade from that depth to fill needs at other positions. Slaten is a potential solid trade target as he is cheap, left-handed, and still has another year of team control. The Nationals could get a solid prospect back and if they package him with another player they could get a nice return.
Todd Coffey: Coffey has been a nice surprise for the Nationals this year, as his ERA is hovering around 2.00. He’s got a 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio, and has been quite effective in the pen. While normally he is pretty solid against both righties and lefties, he has been lights out this year against right-handed batters. He is a free agent after this year, and makes just $1.3 million this season. He should be highly attractive as a cheap middle relief option. He’s not going to land a ton, but since the Nationals will likely lose him this offseason they mine as well get something in return.
Sean Burnett: Burnett started the year as the Nationals closer but his recent struggles of late have moved him back into a lower leverage role. While he’s had a couple rough outings, he has still been quite good overall. Burnett is a lefty, who is under contract for next season with an option for 2013. While it is probably either or when it comes to dealing Burnett and Slaten, as they are the only two lefties in the Nationals pen. But the Nationals could look to move the more higher profile Burnett, especially if his numbers improve before the deadline.
Tyler Clippard: Clippard is probably the Nationals reliever least likely to be moved. Not only is Clippard a late-inning guy, he is a strike thrower capable of throwing multiple innings. Clippard is under team control for 4 more seasons and will only be moved if the Nationals get a big return. Although it could be a stretch for Clippard to be dealt and would be an unpopular move amongst fans, I can see it happening. Last year the Nationals dealt Matt Capps for top catching prospect Wilson Ramos, and that has turned out as a great move for Washington. Considering that Clippard is younger, cheaper and under more team control, the Nationals could expect an even bigger return.
Jason Marquis: Marquis is in the final year of his contract and is a top trade candidate for the Nationals. He has pitched extremely well thus far for the Nationals and should be able to round out quite a few contenders rotations. The Nats should expect a solid prospect back in return.
Livan Hernandez: Although the Nationals love Hernandez’s veteran leadership and effectiveness, they have the depth to make the deal if they want to. Despite not being a top pitcher anymore I could see a number of N.L. team’s kick the tires on bringing in Livan for a postseason run. He is cheap, brings leadership and postseason experience to a team.
Overall I expect and hope to see the Nationals move a number of these guys. Nix, Pudge, Marquis and Hernandez could all be attractive role players or backend starters to teams. Since the Nationals might be unlikely to bring any of them back, they mine as well get something in return.
Although many fans will question moving some of their bullpen pieces, the Nationals should look to move at least two of their bullpen arms. Coffey is likely to move given his contract status and one of the lefties could be in demand as well. Clippard is a more interesting case, but if the Nationals can get two big prospects in return they have to consider doing it. I know trading multiple bullpen pieces isn’t a popular move, but it would be the smart move. Bullpens are no doubt highly important, but if you can get starting pitching prospects and every day players (i.e. Ramos), it is more beneficial to a team longterm. This is especially true for a team not looking to contend this season. The Nationals also have developed some additional bullpen arms, such as Cole Kimball and Henry Rodriguez (as well as a few minor league options). Washington could still have a quality bullpen, even with dealing a couple of these guys.
Who do you the Nationals might trade, and which players do you think they should hang on to?