Hands down, no team in baseball has been a bigger disappointment this season than the Washington Nationals. They come into Thursday with a 50-51 record and 5 1/2 games back of the second NL wild-card spot with six teams ahead of them. SportsLine puts Washington's postseason odds at 28.2 percent.
The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is less than one week away now, and, according to Yahoo Sports, the Nationals are gauging interest in their players should they decide to sell at the deadline. Impending free-agent relievers Kelvin Herrera, Shawn Kelley, and Ryan Madson are of particular interest.
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
It’s worth noting explicitly: The Nationals have not decided to sell. They’re doing what any prudent team in their position would: getting a sense of the market so if they do decide to sell, they can put together deals that normally take days in 24 hours. It’s the right play.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 26, 2018
Other impending Nationals free agents include infielder Daniel Murphy, lefty Gio Gonzalez, first basemen Matt Adams and Mark Reynolds, and of course franchise player Bryce Harper. Would the Nationals trade Harper? .
It should be noted that, even if they continue to slip out of the postseason race and decide to sell at the trade deadline, the Nationals are more likely to take a step back and retool for next season rather than tear it down completely. They still have a strong core led by Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Stephen Strasburg. Add a few complementary pieces and they could be right back in business next season.
Relievers are always in demand prior to the deadline. Already we've seen Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Zach Britton, Seung-Hwan Oh, and Joakim Soria traded this month, and it stands to reason more deals are on the way. Herrera, who the Nationals acquired from the Royals just a few weeks ago, would be in especially high demand.
For now, the Nationals are only gauging the marketplace to determine whether they want to sell. In their perfect world they'd get hot, rattle off a bunch of wins, and make a run at a postseason spot. The front office is doing its due diligence just in case things don't come together the next few days, however.