The Nationals will likely go into a trade deadline buyers instead of sellers once again this season. It’s actually quite a miracle that the Nationals are buyers after starting the season 19-31. The Nationals pulled off the best turnaround in Expos/Nationals history and have sole possession of first place in the wildcard standings.
The Nationals have obviously had their problems in the bullpen and the fifth starter role after a few decent starts by Erick Fedde and three somewhat decent but likely unsustainable starts from Austin Voth who was recently optioned to the minors. The Nationals will likely add a bullpen piece or two before the deadline and could even add a fifth starter to get them over the hump come August into September.
The Nationals have obvious bench depth so hitting won’t be an issue. Look for the Nationals to add a pitcher or two.
Here are some starting pitching targets that can help the Nats down the stretch:
Cashner has had a turnaround season with the Orioles after pitching to a 5.29 ERA last season. Cashner has pitched much better this year and has recorded a 3.83 ERA in 96.1 innings. Cashner has been on the trading block for a while as the Orioles won’t be going anywhere for the next few seasons as they ramp up their rebuild.
Cashner doesn’t rack up as many strikeouts as the pitchers in the front of the Nationals rotation do but finds success with the ground. Cashner has forced batters to hit the ball on the ground 49.2% of the time.
Cashner is currently making $8 million this season and would put the Nationals a little bit over the luxury tax line and has a vesting option for next season.
Potential trade package: RHP Malvin Pena for SP Andrew Cashner.
Seattle Mariners pitcher Mike Leake wouldn’t be the best option if the Nationals were looking to upgrade the front of their rotation. Due to the fact the Nationals are looking to upgrade the back of the rotation Leake is one of the better fits for the Nationals.
Leake, 31, has struggled a little bit this season pitching to a 4.32 ERA in 18 games but brings more pennant race experience than Erick Fedde or Austin Voth would. Leake has pitched for some competitive Reds, Giants and Cardinals teams in his career.
The Mariners are in full rebuild mode and are looking to acquire any young talent for the pending free agent.
Potential trade package: 3rd baseman Drew Ward and OF Armond Upshaw for SP Mike Leake.
This would be a weird but interesting scenario. The former longtime rotation stable Tanner Roark could return to Washington after being traded for Tanner Rainey after salary concerns in the offseason.
Roark, a pending free agent, has bounced back well for a surging but young Reds team. Roark has added some veteran leadership to a young rotation pitching to a 3.51 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 92.1 innings. Roark has posted a career high in the K/9 department with a 9.0 K/9 ratio.
The Reds will likely become sellers at the deadline as they currently sit fourth in the NL Central and could acquire some near ready MLB talent that will allow them to reload for next season.
Potential trade: RHP Sterling Sharp for RHP Tanner Roark.