During the 2018 MLB Offseason, we will be doing an in depth look at each team’s situations for the offseason and offer some insights to what we believe would make sense.
We start off with the NL East, which looks to have one of the more fascinating winters upcoming. With the Phillies, Braves, and Mets all possibly having large spending budgets, the Nationals facing a franchise-altering decision, and the Marlins being… well… the Marlins, it has all the makings of absolute chaos that hasn’t been seen since OJ decided to fire up the ol’ Bronco.
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3 Biggest Needs:
Top 5 FA Targets:
- Bryce Harper, RF
The franchise icon is up for a new contract and the Nationals would love to keep him… but with Eaton, Robles, and the Childish Bambino all on the roster, they probably have a breaking point when it comes to price. On the flip side, Harper may look at this roster and see little opportunity for growth for the duration of his contract. With Rendon a free agent after the 2019 season, Scherzer nearing the end of his contract, and guys like Trea getting very expensive in arbitration… he may be more interested in a team with a brighter long-term outlook if he’s going to sign a 6-14 year contract.
- Brian Dozier, 2B
With Daniel Murphy gone and no real internal replacements, the Nationals will need to hit the free agent market. Dozier represents one of the top 2B on the market and would be the type of “win-now” moves that the Nationals are accustomed to making.
- Lance Lynn, SP
Behind Mad Max and Strasburg, there are a lot of question marks in the rotation. However, the Nationals never shop in the upper-tier market for SP and Lance Lynn fits that mold… a solid starter with past success and wouldn’t cost much.
- David Robertson/Adam Ottavino, RP
It seems every year, the Nationals avoid signing anyone in the offseason to shore up their dreadful bullpen and then make a trade midseason to address those struggles (i.e. Papelbon, Doolittle/Madson, Herrera, Kitzler, etc). I think this year they decide to wise up and sign a proven arm to set up Doolittle and Robertson or Ottavino seem like solid candidates.
- Marwin Gonzalez, UTIL
With holes at 2B in 2019 and potentially 3B in 2020, the versatile Marwin Gonzalez would be a perfect fit to start 120+ games for the Nats.
Top 3 Trade Ideas:
1. Nationals trade SP Tanner Roark to the Reds for 2B Scooter Gennett
Due to make around $8.5-9M in his last trip thru arbitration, the Nationals could elect to use that money elsewhere and sign a SP on a lower cost deal. Gennett would fill in nicely at 2B for the Nats and the Reds get a groundball pitcher that could do well in homer-happy Cincinnati.
2. Nationals trade OF Adam Eaton to the Indians for SP Carlos Carrasco and C Yan Gomes
If the Nats can get Harper back on-board, it would make sense to move Eaton and let Robles cover CF for defensive efficiency. The Indians are losing Brantley to free agency and probably aren’t looking forward to a Leonys Martin/Bradley Zimmer/Tyler Naquin outfield in 2019. Carrasco and Gomes both have 2 years of team control remaining, while Eaton has 3 years.
3. Nationals trade OF Victor Robles to the Orioles for SP Dylan Bundy and C Chance Sisco
In a similar move as the one prior… with holes in the rotation and a potential logjam in the outfield if they are able to resign Harper, Robles could fetch more in return. Baltimore has a dire need for OF and Bundy has 3 years remaining on his contract and Baltimore won’t be good in any of those 3 years. As for Sisco, he had a rough year all around and may be worth moving before his value drops any more (i.e. Blake Swihart).
Nationals trade 3B Anthony Rendon to the Yankees for OF Jacoby Ellsbury, SP Justus Sheffield, OF Clint Frazier, and a Low-A prospect
Bare with me here, guys. If Harper walks, Rendon in a very expensive contract year (roughly $18M) gets a little pricey. The Yankees need help (defensively) at 3B and Rendon is one of the best. Additionally, getting out of the roughly 2 years and $47M remaining on Ellsbury’s contract would be ideal for their financial flexibility as Judge, Sanchez, and Severino are looking at big arbitration paydays in 2020. The price to move that contract and acquire an elite 3B is going to be their prized prospect Justus Sheffield and rebound candidate and former top prospect Clint Frazier.