Nationals As Sellers: Who Might Get Dealt
Here is a list of the Nationals trade options based on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being a near certainty that they are dealt.
Jason Marquis: 10
Marquis has been really good for the Nationals this year and there are easily a half-dozen contenders who could use his services for the rest of the season. He isn’t an ace and he is a free agent after this year (though that could appeal to some teams) so he won’t net much, but he is very likely to be dealt. If the Nationals can net two solid prospects and some salary relief they should call it a good day.
Laynce Nix: 9
Some might think this is high for Nix, but he is another impending free agent in the midst of a career year. The Nationals should cash in on him while they can. Nix is really a platoon bat, but he is hitting righties so well (.847 OPS) that he should have a number of suitors. A.L. teams might favor him as a cheap OF/DH addition, but he could get a look at a few N.L. teams that already have a strong defense. If the Nationals can land one solid prospect for him and anything else (even a PTNLB) they should be happy with the return.
Todd Coffey: 8
Coffey isn’t as dominate as he was earlier in the season, but he is still showing himself as a quality 7th inning guy. He’s done a good job of getting the Nats to the back of their bullpen and a number of contenders are looking for guys like that. The value for relievers is always at a premium during the trade deadline, so the Nationals would be wise to cash in now. Coffey is a free agent after this year, but he isn’t much of a financial investment so a contender on a budget will prefer him to another more expensive option. I think the Nationals should be able to land at least one decent prospect here. It won’t be a star, but it should be at least someone with some hope of being a solid regular.
The Nationals will probably move Pudge at the deadline despite, his poor hitting numbers that reduce his value. While Rodriguez has been a great backup catcher, the Nationals have enough depth here to survive the season and should look to move him. A number of contenders could look at Pudge as a good backup catcher to have down the stretch and maybe even a defensive replacement late in games. The Nationals should also give one of the best guys to suit up in the last 20 years one more shot at a World Series ring. The Return won’t be anything special, but the Nats can add depth and save a few bucks.
Now most people would consider this far too high, but I think Mike Rizzo knows what he is doing. Moving Clippard now is the best move for the Nationals because they can ask for a major return. Clippard is younger and cheaper than most options on the market, and his value will never be higher. Clippard is possibly the best set up man in the game right now, and could close on more than one contending team. In addition to his youth, team control status, and salary, Clippard has another advantage over two of the best relievers on the market (Heath Bell and Mike Adams), and that is his numbers aren’t inflated by Petco Field. The Nationals should be able to get a king’s ransom for Clippard, and while some teams might balk, it is their loss if they don’t make a move. I’d expect the Nationals to get at least double their return for Matt Capps last year (which netted Wilson Ramos), and it is possible it could be more. The Nationals by no means have to trade Clippard, but if they do it right they can land the last few pieces that could turn this team into a long term contender.
Jerry Harriston Jr.: 6
After a rough start Harriston Jr. has turned out to be a very valuable platoon/bench player on the Nationals. He is capable of playing just about any position and he has a .270 average with an OBP over .340. Now Harriston has limited power and isn’t good enough to be an every day guy at SS/2B/CF, but he could be a nice bench guy on a number of contending teams down the stretch. He won’t net much (probably roughly the same return as Pudge), but for the Nationals they mine as well make the deal. Especially considering come September they will need to free up more at bats for younger players once the roster expands.
Sean Burnett: 5
Earlier in the season I would have bet on Burnett getting dealt, given that he was starting to get a little pricey and being a late-inning lefty he would have big value. Unfortunately Burnett’s season has been pretty awful, eliminating the majority of his trade value. It is probably worth it to the Nationals to hang on to him and see if his value can increase for next year.
Hernandez could have some appeal to some N.L. clubs who want to improve the back of their rotation or add veteran leadership down the stretch. The problem is the Nationals might not have the depth to make the deal. Hernandez won’t bring much back in a trade, so I’m guessing the Nationals hold on to him for the rest of the year, but I’m sure they will at least listen on him.