Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2023 Trade Deadline Outlook


Now that the draft is over, and it seems like we’ve signed everyone we’re going to sign… lets pivot to the trade deadline, which is racing up to us now (6pm, August 1st).

A rebuilding team like the Nats, who havn’t been playing *that* bad but who have zero chance of getting into the playoffs, are going to be sellers at the deadline. Now, we’ve spent the last two seasons selling off our major assets (Turner, Scherzer, Schwarber, Soto, Bell, etc), so we don’t exactly have massive talent to move, but we do have some spare parts that could back-fill for playoff teams. Here’s a look at who the team might be shopping and what we may get:

Using the Cots page to gauge likely availability, here’s a take.

Expiring Free Agents:

  • Jeimer Candelario, 3B. OPS of .821, good for a 128 OPS+. He leads the NL in WAR in 2023 amazingly for 3B. Could be a nice piece for a team that’s looking to backfill at 3B. Already hearing rumors Miami wants/needs him. Should have been our all-star Likelihood of being moved: Virtually guaranteed. Possible Return: a decent prospect. Candelario just isn’t a sexy trade asset to fetch a major prospect.
  • Carl Edwards Jr. RHP: Might be the Nat’s best reliever, not that that is saying much. FA after 2023, a useful piece for nearly any bullpen. His performance has slipped in the past few weeks though, lowering his trade value. Likelihood of being moved: likely. Possible Return: a back of the top 10 prospect, maybe lower.
  • Corey Dickerson, OF: for years Dickerson was an underrated hitter who kind of snuck under the radar, but it seems like time has caught up to him. He’s hitting .250, but his OBP is under .300 and he’s just not producing anymore. Likelihood of being moved: slim. Possible Return: a lower prospect.
  • Erasmo Ramirez: rhp. 1yr, $1M for 2023 and a FA after the end of the season. Currently sits with a mid 6.00 ERA and is likely not tradeable. Likelihood of being moved: none. Possible Return: none.

Non-Expiring non-long term Pieces

  • Trevor Williams. RHP starter. Signed through 2024 and due $7M next year. Could be a back-of-the-rotation band aid for a team. Likelihood of being moved: maybe. Possible Return: back-of-top10 prospect or a low-A flyer.
  • Victor Robles: after literally years and years of crummy production, Robles is finally hitting in 2023, and combined with his near Gold Glove defense he could be an asset to teams with short memories. He’s got a club option for 2024 at just $3.3M (no mutual option, no buyout, so very team friendly), and if he continues to be a 3 win player, $3.3M is a huge bargain. However, he can’t stay healthy, hitting the DL multiple times, which will lower his trade value and scare teams off. Likelihood of being moved: none while on DL. Possible return: low-level prospect.
  • Dominic Smith, 1B: signed a 1yr $2M deal, has a middling slugging percentage for a 1B and seems highly unlikely to be in demand at the trade deadline. Technically he’s arb eligible for a 4th time but he seems like a non-tender next off-season unless he perks up. Likelihood of being moved: none. Possible Return: none.
  • Hunter Harvey: rhp reliever. He’s only in 1st year of arb so he has two more years of control and is making less than $1M. He’s pitching really well, a solid 8th/9th inning near-closer type with solid wip and ERA figures. However, he’s on the DL, which means its highly unlikely he gets moved. Likelihood of being moved: unlikely. Possible return: low-level prospect.
  • Patrick Corbin: LHP starter. I think its laughable that anyone mentions him in a trade candidate column. He’s still owed most of this season and $35M next year for 5th starter production. I’m not sure who would even want him, and that’s if the Nats paid it all down. Likelihood of being moved: nil. Possible return: bag of baseballs?

Arb-eligible Cost controlled assets that might be moved.

  • Kyle Finnegen. You know what last place teams don’t need? Closers. You know who probably will be at free agency by the time the Nats are decent? Our current closer Finnegan. I’d cash in on him now, except that he’s scuffled in the early season and isn’t looking like the lights-out closer he was in 2022. Likelihood of being moved: lesser. Possible Return: a decent prospect.
  • Lane Thomas has been a find this year, is arb controlled for a couple more years, but is not in the long term plans of the team given that all our top prospects are outfielders. But, he’s been great and would be a solid bridge to 2025 when Green/Hassell/Wood/Crews are expected to be ready. Do you move him now to a team looking for some pop? He’s only at $2.2M this year, meaning his next two arb years are really cost controlled and he’d be a solid find for cost-conscious teams. Or do you keep him until all your prospects show up? Probably. Likelihood of being moved: less this season, higher next season, though Jim Bowden seems to think he’s more likely to get moved this year, especially to a team like the Yankees who are struggling in corner OF spots. Possible Return: a pretty good prospect at this point. Like, top-10 in a system, maybe top-100.
  • Joey Meneses. the WBC star is under control for years and years but hits, and has demonstrated that he hits. Unfortunately he’s been playing mostly DH this year, limiting his positional flexibility. Seems like a long-shot to move. Also, his slugging/power is way down this year for some reason. Likelihood of being moved: slim. Possible Return: middling prospect.
  • Tanner Rainey, RHP reliever. Currently rehabbing from TJ, but is known to be a solid back-end reliever. I’m not sure why anyone would purposely trade for a guy who’s coming off TJ and has nto yet proven he’s healthy, but he’s mentioned in the trades. Likelihood of being moved: none. Possible Return: next to nothing.
  • Jordan Weems, RHP reliever. His ERA might be a mirage (his FIP is 5.89) but he’s got a solid whip and is a decent middle reliever. I don’t see anyone beating down the door for him, but if someone asks, sure. Likelihood of being moved: slim. Possible Return: low-level prospect.
  • Ildemar Vargas, utility. Acceptable at the plate but has positional flexibility. I can’t imagine there’s demand for backup infielders Likelihood of being moved: none. Possible Return: next to nothing.

So, who do I think gets moved? In order of likelihood:

  • Highly Likely: Edwards, Candelario
  • Coin flip: Thomas
  • Less Likely: Meneses, Williams, Finnegan
  • Incredibly unlikely: Smith, Rainey, Robles, Weems, Harvey, Dickerson
  • I wish: Corbin, Vargas, Ramirez

Other analysis of the same from the internet:

Written by Todd Boss

July 25th, 2023 at 9:18 am

Posted in Nats in General

7 Responses to '2023 Trade Deadline Outlook'

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  1. Crazy Mike’s Bargain Basement Blowout! Everyone must go!

    All in all, I’m not too excited about the trade deadline. The fans of most teams overrate the likely return. None of the potential trade chips are great players. The best return may be someone perhaps of the level of a Jeremy de la Rosa.

    To me, the only real difficult decision would be Lane Thomas. The Nats have a significant bridge problem to relevance, and they’re still not going to be very good in 2024 unless they keep a decent player or two around. On the flip side, Thomas likely is at peak trade value now. The most interesting suggestion is to package Thomas and Candy for a more decent return, or Thomas and Flanigan.

    One of Rizzo’s best trades was in 2010 when he flipped an unneeded closer for a 93-loss team for a prospect named Wilson Ramos. (Matt Capps was out of baseball three years later.) By all means, flip Flanigan.

    Edwards and Harvey currently are on the IL, which might affect their being moved.

    Robles can’t really be traded right now (injured), but I would think that he would be a good candidate for a minor trade in the offseason, now that he seems to have recooped a little value. He’s a free agent after next season, and probably not in the team’s plans by 2025 anyway.


    25 Jul 23 at 10:36 am

  2. And LOLOL on listing Green among those hoped to be ready by 2025. From where things stand now, that would take a miracle. But House could/should be ready by then, and perhaps Bennett, maybe even Lile, who is progressing well. Not sure where he’ll play, though, with the OF overloaded.


    25 Jul 23 at 11:47 am

  3. I think you’re underselling Candelario’s trade value. Most sites you linked have him as one of the most valuable trade assets, among the obvious candidates. An obviously broken Joey Gallo last year netted Clayton Beeter, who’d be in the mix for a top 10 in the Nats system. And Candelario is an obviously better player than Gallo was.

    Another rental in Andrew Benintendi netted TJ Sikkema (who’d also be in the mix as a top 10 prospect) as well as two additional decent prospects, who’d likely be top 30 in the Nats system, in Beck Way and Chandler Champlain.

    I’d expect a similar haul for the Nats, especially in that all 3 prospects for Benintendi were pitchers. With our recent drafts and trades, our farm system has become dangerously imbalanced. Potentially only 1 or 2 of our top 10 are pitchers.


    25 Jul 23 at 1:25 pm

  4. Green ready by 2025; ok maybe 2026. We have to hope right? now, he’s not shooting northward like jackson Holliday as a 19yr old, but he still is a 19yr old in full season ball. If he’d gone to school, he’d be playing in some rinky dink wood bat league after his frosh year in college.

    Underselling Candelaro; yeah i am. Candelario isn’t an all star, isn’t a household name. I just can’t see other teams getting excided about him. Gallo was a known name. Benintendi a known name. I hope i’m wrong.

    Todd Boss

    25 Jul 23 at 1:54 pm

  5. I’m not giving up on Green by any means, but he’s obviously got a long way to go. Also, since he was drafted, the Nats have acquired basically an entire OF of Wood, Hassell, and now Crews. And Lile has clearly leaped ahead of Green advancement-wise. Most would say that Green has a higher ceiling . . . if he can make contact, but that remains a big “if.” Then there’s Vaquero having a solid season in the FCL and likely ready for Fredericksburg next summer.

    The best case for the Nats is that all of these guys reach their potential . . . but not all of them will end up playing on Half Street. OF is undoubtedly the Nats’ deepest reservoir of trade chips.

    As for prospective trades this week, I would be glad to get someone the quality of Beeter in return for Candy. Sikkema is a 25-year-old AA reliever with a 4.89 ERA, so I don’t see the excitement there. But that’s more like the level of return the Nats might be offered for some of these guys.


    25 Jul 23 at 6:38 pm

  6. Two thoughts:

    Erasmo is already gone. After being designated, he was either released or refused assignement. TB signed him to a minor league deal. He pitched against one of the Nats farm teams recently.

    Onto Thomas. Yeah, his trade value is better now, however, he is not blocking anyone. This team needs to learn how to win. 70 wins could happen this year. If this teams steps back after the deadline and wins 60 or less, that means you didn’t get much from this year, except that Abrams looks like he could be a piece.


    26 Jul 23 at 9:46 pm

  7. (Did I leave Ramierz in this analysis? that’s my bad; that’s what happens when you write something well ahead of time and don’t read it carefully enough pre-publishing).

    There’s zero value of the Nats being ‘successful’ this year. If Thomas nets us a starter that could contribute in 2025, then that’s what we want. I could care less about wins in 2023. that’s why, if we get a good offer, we move him. There’s literally 6 or 7 OF prospects rising up who we’ll want to take over for him once they’re ready, and there’s just no value in keeping an asset right now.

    Todd Boss

    27 Jul 23 at 11:00 am

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