WASHINGTON– After starting the season with a record of 19-31, the Nationals looked to be sellers at the trade deadline at the end of May. After a sudden turnaround and the best record in baseball since May 24, the Nationals have clawed their way back into the wildcard race but still have some flaws such as their league worst bullpen and the starting rotation.
The Nats have been connected to many different relievers rather than a starting pitcher even after all the injuries to their rotation. The Nationals will likely acquire at least one reliever, if not two relievers before tomorrow’s deadline according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. The Nationals would reportedly ‘prefer’ if one of the relievers they acquired were left-handed.
Here is a breakdown and likelihood of the Nationals acquiring all the bullpen pieces they’ve been connected to over the past month.
According to J.P. Morosi of MLB Network, the Nationals have been connected to Leclerc for a few days now but it would likely take a large haul to pull off a trade for the 25-year-old. Leclerc signed a team-friendly extension with the Rangers before the season began and is controllable through 2024.
Leclerc has had his ups and downs this season pitching to a 4.34 ERA but he does carry a 3.04 ERA. Leclerc has also posted an astonishing 13.6 strikeouts-per-nine rate but control does become an issue for him as he issues 4.7 walks-per-nine.
The Nationals have just recently been connected to Leclerc within the past few days but a trade seems unlikely as the Rangers will likely ask the Nats for prospects they can’t give up as they already have one of the worst farm systems in the game.
The Nationals have been connected to Shane Greene since June. Green has been one of the most dominant closers in baseball this season and has saved 22 of the Tigers 31 wins. Greene was roughed up in 2018 and was tagged for a 5.12 ERA has bounced back in a big way for Detroit this season pitching to a 1.18 ERA in 38 innings.
Greene has also seen his strikeout numbers climb this season as he’s struck out 10.2 strikeouts-per-nine and also shows some promise with his control walking only 2.8 walks-per-nine.
It was rumored that the Tigers asked for Nationals’ top prospect Carter Kieboom to which GM Mike Rizzo blatantly told Tigers’ GM Al Avila “no.” Greene seems like the most likely guy to be acquired by the Nationals just based on the rumors and how long they’ve been out there.
Ken Giles & Daniel Hudson
The Nationals have just recently been in touch with the Blue Jays about acquiring both Ken Giles and Daniel Hudson per Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Giles and Hudson have both excelled all season coming out of the bullpen for the rebuilding Blue Jays.
Giles, the biggest name on this list, was acquired from the Astros last season after both teams swapped closers after Giles was optioned to Triple-A after cursing out his manager just days before the trade deadline.
Giles has been lights out since his fresh start with the Blue Jays. Since the start of the season Giles has pitched to a 1.54 ERA while striking out 14.9 batters-per-nine and walking 2.8 batters-per-nine.
Hudson has been great for the Jays after a so-so 2018 campaign with the Dodgers. On the season Hudson has recorded a 2.87 ERA in 47 innings with a 1.255 WHIP.
It doesn’t seem likely that the Nationals would acquire either Giles or Hudson due to the inactivity since the initial report by Morosi. If the Nationals were serious they would likely have to give up two or three of their top 30 prospects.
Mike Rizzo & Co. have reportedly been in ‘active’ pursuit of White Sox closer Alex Colome who was signed as a free agent in the offseason. Colome once again has been lights out coming out of the bullpen for the South Siders this season racking up some impressive stats. Colome has recorded a 2.27 ERA with 21 saves in 39 ⅓ innings pitched.
Colome’s seen his strikeout numbers decline this season after striking out nine-and-a-half batters-per-nine Colome has only struck out seven-per-nine batters this season.
The Nationals have shown a strong interest in Colome who is a pending free agent after the season. The White Sox won’t likely ask for a big return so it seems as of now that Colome could be a National Wednesday afternoon.
Sam Dyson & Will Smith
Giants relievers Sam Dyson and Will Smith would seem to be the Nationals dream trade. Smith would likely become the Nationals go-to left-handed reliever out of the bullpen while also working the eighth inning while Sam Dyson would become the seventh inning man pushing Wander Suero to less pressure filled situations.
Smith, a free agent after the season, has pitched really well as the Giants closer this season racking up 26 saves in 28 tries while pitching to a 2.72 ERA. Smith is everything you want in an eighth inning man. He strikes out a ton of batters, walks very few and always very few base runners.
Dyson has also seen tremendous success coming out of the bullpen for the Giants. Dyson has pitched to a 2.47 ERA in 51 innings. Dyson is controlled through next season which could bump up the Giants asking price but it might be worth it as he would likely become the eighth inning man for next season.
A trade for both Smith and Dyson would be tough to pull off as the Giants have been hot recently and only sit two-and-a-half games out of the second wildcard spot. The Nationals would likely need to give the Giants MLB ready talent such as Michael A. Taylor, Joe Ross and a few prospects such as Yasnel Antuna, Cole Freeman or Tim Cate.