As recently as a week ago, the Washington Nationals might've been considered a buyer and a player in the mediocre NL East. With the July 30 trade deadline looming later this week, though, poor on-field play might have just sealed their fate. A ninth-inning meltdown on Sunday meant that they were swept by the Orioles.
As if it isn't jarring enough to lose like that to one of the worst teams in baseball, the reality should be sinking in that the team is due a shakeup.
The Nationals are now 45-53 and eight games out of first place. They are in fourth place in the worst division in baseball. There's little question they should shake things up. It's just a matter of how drastic they want to be.
Right off the top, the biggest name is Max Scherzer. He's an ace having an ace season and is a free agent after this year. We know teams will pay a premium for an ace rental, but would Scherzer require an extension in order to waive his no-trade rights? A lot of the drama the next few days will center around that and his injury status. He was recently scratched from a scheduled start due to sore triceps. Here's the latest update from Sunday:
Tiny update here: Max Scherzer said he felt good after playing catch for a bit from a short distance. He'll have to throw a bullpen again, then come out fine, before the Nationals decide whether he can make his next turn this week. We will see.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) July 25, 2021
If Scherzer gets a start before the deadline and makes it out without injury, he's going to be the biggest name on the trade block.
Will anyone else go?
Trea Turner is probably an extension candidate, but he's only under team control through next season. Surely Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is getting calls about him in the midst of what looks like his career year.
Speaking of, Kyle Schwarber was having his career year when he went down with a hamstring injury. He's recently been running in the outfield and has a mutual option for $11.5 million for next season. It's possible he'd garner some interest.
Utility man Josh Harrison along with relievers Brad Hand and Daniel Hudson are free agents after the season and could probably land some value in return. Josh Bell has one more year in arbitration before hitting free agency and a switch-hitting power bat could be attractive to some buyers.
Regardless, keep your eyes on the Nationals in trade rumors. They've got Scherzer and several other intriguing names.