There is a cautionary tale here about deadline trades, and the illusions of grandeur that the Washington Nationals could pull off even a deadline trade. While there are lottery picks that pan out, the last time the Nats got a top prospect in a trade was moving Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos back in 2010. Trades like that rarely ever materialize. Why do fans want to trash the current team and sell-off? Rewind back to 2018 when the team was last in a position to sell-off, and you will see that it is usually a grand disappointment.
The big trade chip the Nats had in 2018 was Bryce Harper, and the best deal that General Manager Mike Rizzo reportedly was offered was righty J.B. Bukauskas who was with the Astros at the time, and the Nats wisely passed on the deal. Bukauskas was not even a top-3 prospect in the Astros system at the time. Some have called him “Bustkauskas” as he was converted to a reliever and traded to Arizona in 2019 where he has pitched to an 8.31 ERA out of the Diamondbacks bullpen.
Some would say the Nats best deadline trade of Capps was orchestrated by then team president Stan Kasten who pushed for Ramos. Fortunately, the Nats have not been in too many situations of needing to sell-off, but 2018 shows that these trades rarely yield much. If you’re expecting to get a Blake Treinen, Jesus Luzardo, and Sheldon Neuse return for Brad Hand and Daniel Hudson like Rizzo gave up for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, you will have to do a whole lot of hoping.
Look at who the Tigers got when they traded Justin Verlander to Houston. Okay, Verlander wasn’t exactly aces for the Tigers at the time, but who knows what the Nats would get if they did trade Max Scherzer. The Nats are under no obligation to help other teams. They don’t have to trade players. You make a trade if you are blown away by the offer. Trading Daniel Murphy for a warm body like Andruw Monasterio was a smoke and mirrors move. Some will say Murphy wasn’t that good but he was still Daniel Murphy and batting .300 at the time the Nats traded him for a body. Rizzo got back a player who stayed in the system for a matter of weeks.
In those other deadline deals in 2018, the Nats got Jhon Romero for Brandon Kintzler, and K.J. Harrison and Gilbert Lara for Gio Gonzalez. The team got nothing for Matt Adams who was claimed on waivers and they got nothing for Shawn Kelley who was a DFA.
There is no telling what the Nats will do in July, but there is still time to turn around this season. If they do not, trade scenarios will be the talk of the town.