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Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Meet The Sellers: Washington Nationals

Just two seasons ago, the Washington Nationals finished the regular season 93-69 and won their first-ever World Series. Now, the Nationals might to be on the verge of selling some key players. Through 73 games, the Nationals are 36-37, good for second in the NL East. They only sit four games back of the NL East Mets because of an 8-2 stretch last ten games. 

So, why are the Nationals a seller despite being second in the division? According to MLB.com, the Nationals have the 30th ranked prospect pool in baseball and have an ageing team. Although they have been hot lately, based on the construction of the team, a deep playoff run is unlikely, and the farm system needs to be restocked with talent badly.

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The Nationals may put one of the game’s top arms on the market if they feel they cannot make a deep playoff push. As I mentioned in the Colorado segment, I still believe German Marquez is the best arm on the market because of his contract, but with regards to the highest impact arm for this season, the Nationals have that. The Nats also have a couple of infielders likely available, as well as a catcher and a relief arm.

Here are some players that fill the Blue Jays’ needs…

Daniel Hudson

Like in the Marlins article with Anthony Bass, here is a familiar face for Blue Jays fans. Daniel Hudson is finishing his final season of a 2-year contract worth $11M, making him a rental bullpen arm for the Jays to target before the deadline. He is on the IL now but is expected to begin throwing shortly.

Through 24.1 innings before the injury, Hudson had a sparkling 2.59 ERA with an almost even 2.74 FIP. This is a major improvement from his down-shortened season last year, where he had an ERA of 6.10 and FIP of 6.29. His improved command this season has led to more success, as he struggled with a 4.8 BB/9 last year compared to 2.6 this season. He is also an effective reliever because of his high K/9, sitting at 12.9. His ability to strike out a lot of batters makes him a valuable high leverage reliever. Furthermore, he has some closer experience, racking up 27 career regular-season saves.

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His time in Toronto was successful as well. In 2019, he threw 48 innings, finishing with an ERA of 3.00 and a FIP of 4.19. He was traded from the Blue Jays that season for Thomas Hatch and ended up helping the Nationals win a championship. 

Yan Gomes

Another former Blue Jay, Yan Gomes could be available. Gomes is a free agent at season’s end, finishing a 2-year contract at $10M. He is a former all-star, silver slugger, and of course a World Series champion.

This season, Gomes has his lowest OBP since 2016, currently plateaued at .292. His batting average is .247. He offers more power from behind the dish than the current crop of catchers the Blue Jays have, as he has swatted seven home runs on the season. Blue Jays catchers have struggled with the bat for most of the season, so an experienced catcher like Gomes could help. He has had successful offensive seasons in the past.

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Yan Gomes has generally been an effective defensive catcher for his career, as he has a career DRS of 39. More specifically, he has a DRS of 3 this season. In 2019, Yan Gomes had the 6th best pop time at 1.96, proving he can get out of the crouch and throw baserunners out effectively. One aspect of Gomes’ catching that needs work is his pitch framing. He is considered the 44th ranked pitch framer, getting a 46% strike rate. 

Starlin Castro

Another all-star (four times) could be available from the Nationals. Starlin Castro’s current contract is expected to expire this offseason, as he finishes off a two-year contract worth $12M. 

Castro has always been an effective hitter. He already has 1698 hits through only 12 seasons. This season, he is hitting .250 with an OBP of .298. His OBP has never been particularly high because he wants to hit. He has never taken many walks in his career. His last full season came in 2019, where he hit 22 home runs, drove in 86 RBIs and had an OBP of .300. If he can contribute that kind of offence again, Castro could be an unbelievably valuable deadline purchase for the Blue Jays.

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This season, Castro has been effective at the hot corner, as he has maintained a DRS of 1 through 587.2 innings. He has also contributed at the keystone, racking up a DRS of 1 there as well. In his career, he has a DRS of -28, so he has not been a good fielder for most of his career. Starlin Castro would be another player that could step in at third base and allow Cavan Biggio to move all over the diamond.

Max Scherzer

Mad Max has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past decade. His contract is expiring this offseason, as his successful seven-year contract at $191.4M comes to a close. Max Scherzer is the best available rental among starting pitchers on the market. 

Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young winner, a seven-time all-star and a world series winner. He would bring a ton of experience and winning culture to this Blue Jays team. This season, through 82.1 innings, Max Scherzer has a dazzling 2.19 ERA supported by a 3.12 FIP. He continues to be an elite strikeout to walk pitcher, sitting with a K/9 of 12.2 and a BB/9 of only 2.0. Max’s main issue has always been the long ball, as he has surrendered 12 already this season. Despite this, his ERA remains low because most of his home runs allowed have been of the solo variety.

His best season came in 2018, when he led the NL in wins (18), complete games (2), shutouts (1), innings pitched (220.2), and strikeouts (300). He has continued to be special since, proving his consistency. 

Another thing to note with Scherzer is that he has 10-5 rights, meaning he can veto any trade. Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, said that he would only accept a trade to a team if there was a contract extension in place. Of course, Boras says a lot of things, so who knows.