Many playoff contenders attempt to acquire talent at the trade deadline in hopes of filling a glaring hole within the organization. The Washington Nationals, however, find themselves in a different position; a position in which the best option for the team would be to hold off on any major transactions at the trade deadline.
Buying is not a viable option for the Nats at the deadline unless the team is struck by a devastating injury before July 31st. The Nationals currently have eight quality starting position players for a playoff team, and also have Danny Espinosa and Nate McLouth available to make spot starts off of the bench. With a lineup that does not possess any holes when healthy, and proven players off of the bench, Washington cannot risk losing prospects in order to add extra depth.
After acquiring former Detroit Tigers starter Doug Fister during the winter, the Nationals do not need another starting pitcher. Because Tanner Roark has proven himself to be worthy of Washington’s fifth starter role, there has not been any controversy as to who will occupy the role in the future.
The Washington bullpen may be the team’s greatest strength. Closer Rafael Soriano has completed 21 out of 23 possible save opportunities while posting an ERA of 1.03. Relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, and Aaron Barrett also have ERA’s below 2.00.
The only two position players who could reasonably be traded by the Nationals are Denard Span and Danny Espinosa. The only reason Washington would consider moving Span would be to create room for Espinosa in the starting lineup, but with Span’s 28 doubles and fantastic defense in Center Field, a trade involving Span would only decrease the Nationals’ chances of making a run into the postseason.
Trading Espinosa would be the epitome of selling low. Espinosa’s swing from the left side of the plate is a work in progress, and he has not put up the numbers on the field to warrant a high asking price. At this point, Washington should allow Espinosa to continue to develop as a player and hold on to him in the organization.
The Nats have a roster that can win a division and travel deep into the postseason. Adding players would put to many eggs into one basket, instead of developing an organization built to succeed now and in the future. On the other hand, selling Span or Espinosa could harm the team in the present and take them out of contention for the division.