A Nationals trade idea you'll have to hear to believe

Chris Lingebach
September 27, 2018 - 7:57 pm

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper is understandably the focus of the Nationals' offseason plans. But their roster holes on the diamond extend far beyond the outfield.

After a season in which the Nats traded away Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Murphy, Shawn Kelley and Brandon Kintzler, and with Matt Wieters slated to hit free agency, the club has gaping holes all over. Somewhere, they're going to have to find at least one starting pitcher, an everyday second baseman and some bullpen help.

That thought led one 106.7 The Fan caller to surmise that Washington might try to trade shortstop Trea Turner in the offseason

"At the end of the day, I'm cool with Harper leaving, because hitting never propelled this team into the playoffs. Starting pitching did," Larry in Waldorf said told Chad Dukes and Thom Loverro. "With the exception of Max, our pitching staff collapsed this year."

"Given the spending habits of our owners, we need starting pitching. We need a second baseman. We need a catcher. We need bullpen help," he said. "I don't see how we can afford Bryce Harper and still address starting pitching. 

"I would go further – and Tommy, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts – I don't think we're going to be able to keep Trea Turner. I think he's going to be part of a package for a starting pitcher in the offseason, given the fact that the Nationals' most valuable player in the minor leagues this year was a shortstop."

21-year-old shortstop Carter Kieboom ranks 34th among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects. Younger brother to Nationals catcher Spencer Kieboom, Carter took home Minor League Player of the Year honors in Washington's system, after hitting .280 with 16 homers and 69 RBI over 123 games between the organization's Single-A (Advanced) and Double-A affiliates.

"That may be," Loverro said. "It would drive me nuts, if the opportunities to trade Trea Turner before included Chris Sale, who, I want to point out, is the last 300-strikeout pitcher in baseball before Max Scherzer. And if they wind up trading Trea Turner now, after the opportunities they had to get for him, that would drive me crazy."

Loverro offered a trade proposal of his own.

"But what if they traded Trea Turner for starting pitching help and then signed Manny Machado to play short?" he said.

Let's process this. In this proposal, Washington would/would not allow Harper to walk in free agency and, to suffice their rotation needs, swap Turner for a starting pitcher. And then dump a heap of money on free agent Manny Machado to play shortstop, his natural position.

That's obviously quite a maneuver. Like it or not, it does challenge the prevailing narrative that Harper, and whether they should re-sign him or not, is Washington's biggest offseason predicament. Whether Harper returns or not, the Nationals have options at their disposal.

Turner is still under team control for four more years, and his arbitration years don't kick in until 2020, making him a blue chip trade prospect, if you're willing to part with him. But that's a big if. Although, with Turner's numbers, those arb years are going to be costly. But those numbers don't come close to what it would cost to sign Machado.

And lest we forget, Washington's affable superstar, Anthony Rendon, who's quietly hit .309 with 24 bombs this season, becomes a free agent after next season. GMing sounds hard.

"Yeah, but again, pitchers aren't cheap," Larry returned. "(Patrick) Corbin, who is having a monster year, would be perfect for us, but he's going to cost $300 million."

"Yeah. And guess who he wants to play for, too. The Yankees," Loverro said with a laugh. "He grew up a Yankee fan, too. It's not a great free agent market for starting pitching. I think if the Nats do it, they're going to have to make a trade for it and I don't know what they're going to trade to get it."

Opportunity abounds.

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