As struggles continue, will Nats become sellers?

Josh Luckenbaugh
May 20, 2019 - 9:48 am

Needing to make up ground in the NL East standings, the Nationals are instead treading water. 

Washington lost two of three to the Cubs over the weekend to finish this most recent homestand 3-3, and remain eight games back of the division-leading Phillies. The offense has been inconsistent, the bullpen is still the worst in the majors and the back of the rotation has been just as ineffective.

There's plenty of blame to go around for these struggles, and if things don't change, will the Nats shift their focus to the future and start selling players for prospects?

Eddie Matz says the Nats should practice patience before going on a fire sale given how injuries have ravaged the lineup.

"I think you have to give them a little bit of a mulligan," Matz told The Sports Junkies. "In another three weeks, if they're exactly where they are, then you really start considering ... who can we sell off?"

"I think that's what a rational person would do. I'm not sure if the Nationals are gonna do that, because I feel like they can be pretty stubborn when it comes to that."

And as Grant Paulsen notes, that stubbornness arguably cost the Nats last year when they reportedly had a deal in place with the Astros for Bryce Harper. The deal never went through, of course, and Harper signed with the Phillies as a free agent. 

"I was told by someone who would have known that in that trade they were getting a catcher back in Garrett Stubbs, who was in Triple-A and hitting over .300, and a pitcher named Josh James who's in the big leagues right now and throws 100," Paulsen told the Junkies.

"He could either be your fourth or fifth starter at this moment, or he'd be a lights-out pitcher in your bullpen. So they definitely would have gotten pieces back for Bryce Harper that could be in the major leagues right now."

The Nats could be in a similar spot with Anthony Rendon, who is set to hit free agency after this season. Rendon and the team have been discussing an extension, but a deal doesn't seem imminent. 

And if the two sides can't reach an agreement soon, would the Nats field offers for their star third baseman?

"You can't sell off Rendon. If you do, that's a big blow," Eric "EB" Bickel said. "That'd be super disappointing as a Nats fan if they sell off a key piece like a Rendon."

"From a business standpoint, losing Bryce — whatever you think of that decison — I think it was the right decision. He's hitting .230 in Philly right now, he wouldn't fix their problems. That's not the end of the world."

"If the next offseason you lose Rendon, I just think people start looking around and going, 'Wait a second. We're not the Oakland A's. Why aren't we re-signing our star players here?' I think it'd be a bad look."

"Fans would be distraught," agreed EB. "The fanbase is gonna lose a lot of faith if they lose Harp, and then they lose Rendon."

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