The 2018 season hasn’t quite lived up to expectations for the Washington Nationals. They are third in the National League East, struggling behind the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves.
In addition, the number of players with expiring contracts on the roster, puts the Nationals in a challenging buy or sell dilemma at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Let’s be honest, the Nationals’ playoff chances are declining fast. In-fact, since the introduction of two wildcard playoff berths in 2012, no team has been six games behind the leader on August 1st and then recovered to reach the postseason. As stated in a tweet by Jon Morosi of MLB.com earlier this week.
Key context on #Nats buy/sell decision: They are 6 games back of the NL’s second Wild Card. Since @MLB added a second Wild Card in 2012, no team has made up a deficit of 6+ games after Aug. 1, per Mike Berger of @FOXSports. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 24, 2018
According to trade rumours within MLB, there is said to be notable interest in upcoming free agent relievers like Kelvin Herrera. The two-time All-Star’s departure could be a large blow to the team. Jeff Passan tweeted this on Thursday.
Sources: The Washington Nationals have started discussions with teams to gauge interest if they decide to sell. Of particular interest are Kelvin Herrera, Shawn Kelley and Ryan Madson, three free-agent-to-be relievers. Nats are telling teams they’ll know by end of weekend.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 26, 2018
Furthermore, their current predicament looks fairly dire. Thus, the best plan may be to begin a rebuild.
Honestly, it’s probably best for the Nationals to trade. They have the current 2018 MLB Home Run Champion in the outstanding Bryce Harper, whose season hasn’t been as successful as previous ones. Some might say that it is perhaps best to offload the previous NL MVP. Moreover, Harper is an incredibly valuable piece to any Major League roster, which means that he provides incredible trade capital due to the fact that he is game-changer for teams in contention for a playoff berth.
The case to buy
On the other hand. There is absolutely zero indication that they will actually make a complete turnover of the roster. Nationals General Manager, Mike Rizzo, told MLB.com that: “We will do what’s necessary to win this year.”
I spoke this week, with Rob (@Nationals_UK) who has been an avid fan of his beloved Nationals for years and provides great content on the Nationals from this side of the pond. Here’s what he had to say on the matter: “My opinion is to try and hold things together. I really don’t think we are far off. We HAVE to keep hold of Harper, so that seriously limits buying options.”
Perhaps, as Rob alluded to, the Nats simply need to build on the foundations they already have. However, without trading Bryce Harper there aren’t all that many candidates to use as bait in order to improve the roster.
For now, if the Nats elect to rebuild, the front office are best to look for pitchers to steady the ship. At the moment, in games where Max Scherzer or Jeremy Hellickson have been absent, the team has struggled immensely. More worrying news centres around star pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, who has been assigned to the DL once again.
Regardless of the possible unravelling of events in Washington, I feel that it is pivotal they retain the services of Bryce Harper. And it’s not purely for the importance of winning. Harper is a huge draw for fans and he truly has given his all when wearing the Nationals jersey. His commitment to excellence has solidified his status as a stout fan favourite in the nation’s capital, thus it is beneficial from a financial and sporting perspective.