With their postseason odds dwindling, the Washington Nationals have decided to cash in some trade chips.
The Nationals have traded infielder Daniel Murphy to the Cubs after Chicago claimed him on trade waivers. Infield prospect Andruw Monasterio as well as cash or a player to be named later is heading to Washington in the deal.
The Cubs are currently without Kris Bryant, who is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, so Murphy will help provide additional infield depth. He's hitting .300/.341/.442 with six home runs in 56 games since returning from offseason knee surgery, including .364/.405/.545 in his last 35 games. Once he shook off the rust, Murphy went back to being a dominant hitter.
Once the Cubs claimed Murphy on trade waivers, the Nationals had three options:
- Pull Murphy back. This wouldn't have made much sense. Murphy is an impending free agent and getting Monasterio is better than getting nothing when he leaves as a free agent.
- Let him go to the Cubs on a straight waiver claim. This wouldn't have made much sense either. Murphy had some trade value, so there was no reason to let him go for nothing on a claim.
- Trade him to the Cubs. Ding ding ding. The Nationals couldn't trade Murphy elsewhere once he was claimed, so they did the next best thing. They traded him to the claiming team.
The fact the Cubs were awarded the waiver claim on Murphy tells us every other National League team declined to place a claim. Players have to go through their league on waivers before going through the other league -- that means American League teams didn't have a chance at Murphy once the Cubs claimed him -- and Chicago has the NL's best record, so they had the league's lowest waiver priority. Despite that, they landed him.
The Nationals lost nine of their last 13 games and are currently one game under .500 at 62-63. They're 7 1/2 games back in the NL East and 6 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot.. , so they are officially in sell mode.
Monasterio, 21, is currently hitting .263/.359/.336 with three home runs and nearly as may walks (52) as strikeouts (64) in 109 games at High Class-A. MLB.com did not rank him among Chicago's top 30 prospects before the trade.