Nationals lose out on Sale. Now what?

The Washington Nationals were suspected to be a major player in MLB’s Winter Meetings.  Today Chris Sale was traded to Boston.  Let’s take a look at what that trade may mean for the Washington Nationals and let us look at some off the offseason needs for the Nationals.

Victor Robles was reported to be part of a trade for Sale and was also reported to be a piece that Pittsburgh wanted in exchange for Andrew McCutchen.  Now that the Sale trade has him going to Boston, what does that mean for the Nationals? Do they go after McCutchen?  A closer?  Add a catcher?  Lets take a look at the Nationals prospects and what their needs may be going into the 2017 season.

GM and Manager:
Mike Rizzo, President and General Manager, is under contract through 2018 after the club exercised a 2-year option back in May 2016.  The manager is Dusty Baker, under contract through 2017.  I think Baker is a very good manager but in my opinion he likes to play the more proven guys (unless you are Trea Turner).  That may have an impact on prospects for fantasy considerations.  I don’t think from what I read that Dusty is a big fan of Danny Espinosa so I have taken that into consideration in some of my rankings.  I have to admit I like guys with plus 55 power and plus 60 FB.  Some of the prospect rankings may differ from other fantasy rankings based upon those opinions.  I also have included a 2018 projected starter in some of the position discussions so you can see what the needs are for 2018.

Catcher – Wilson Ramos has not signed a contract and the projected starter is Jose Lobaton.  He is under contract for 2017 and is scheduled to be a free agent in 2018.  Pedro Severino is also listed on the depth chart but he is considered a defensive catcher with 40-45 hit and 30-35 ranked power.  I don’t see much upside in Severino for fantasy purposes.  I think the Nats have some organizational depth in Barrera and Read and don’t think they will contribute until 2018.  Jackson Reetz may have some upside for a catcher but he is still young don’t see him coming up until 2018-2019.  I don’t think the 2018 starting catcher for the Nationals is currently on the roster.  I don’t think the minors offers anyone of any fantasy value until 2018-19.  The Nats did not offer Ramos a QO this off season.  I think Dusty will push for what he calls a “Field General” from outside the organization.
2018 starter at C: Not on current roster

1B – Ryan Zimmerman is under contract until 2019 and has a 2020 option.  I don’t see anyone pushing Zimmerman at this time.  The Nationals have Matt Skole (1b/3b) but I think he projects more of bench player at this point of his minor league career.  A person to watch is Jose Marmolejos-Diaz.  He is a prospect that can hit the ball but is still young.  I don’t see him pushing for a starting job before 2018.
2018 starter at 1B: Ryan Zimmerman

2B – Daniel Murphy is under contract until 2018.  I think he will hold that position until then at which point he in his mid 30’s.  Carter Kieboom age 19 is a player to watch and is a high ranked national prospect.  He is the player that might be moved in a trade.  Osvaldo Abreu age 22 is still a player that needs to develop in the minors.
2018 starter at 2B: Daniel Murphy

SS – The question is, “Does Trea Turner get moved back to SS?”  I don’t think Dusty is a big Espinosa fan so I think Trea gets moved back to SS.  The Nationals signed two international prospects but both are young.  Real young.  Yasel Antuna is only 17 but has the tools to develop and is someone to watch as he come up.  Luis Garcia is 16.  No you didn’t read that wrong 16. He has some skills though.
2018 starter at SS: Trea Turner

3B – Anthony Rendon age 26 is under contract until 2019.  The Nats have some 3B prospects down on the farm but I don’t see any of them pushing Rendon until 2018.  Neuse, Drew Ward, Anderson Franco and Gutierrez all have different talents. My favorite is Franco.
2018 starter at 3B: Anthony Rendon

LF – Jayson Werth is under contract through 2017.  I think after that they sign a free agent until one of the prospects develop.  Rafael Bautista is a bench fill-in type OF.  Nick Banks and Wiseman might get a shot if they have good minor league seasons.  I like Juan Soto a lot and have been adding him as quick as I have been selling Andrew Stevenson.  This one is a tough call but I don’t think the starting LF for 2018 is on the roster.
2018 starter in LF: Not on roster

CF – The question is, “Are the Nationals going to sign a CF in 2017 free agency?”  Ben Revere was non tendered.  Michael Taylor is listed as an option. Rumors have the Nationals showing interest in McCutchen.   I like Taylor but I think he is going to have to prove to Dusty he can handle the job.  With the reported rumored trade talks I think the current starter may not be on the roster.  If he doesn’t get traded I think Robles may take the CF job by 2018.   I think 2018 is Robles’ ETA, maybe 2017 if they don’t sign or trade for someone, but I doubt they push him up.  They can still move Trea back to CF if they upgrade SS.  I know a lot of people are high on Stevenson but I am trading him while he’s coming off a hot Fall.  By the time he is ready it will be Robles’ job.  Perkins is organizational depth.  Right now until something happens I am listing the job as Robles’ to lose.
2018 starter in CF: Victor Robles

RF – Right Field belongs to Bryce Harper.  He’s under team control through 2018.   The Nats have too may young core pieces to let him walk.  Opportunity is there for the other OF positions but I think this one belongs to Harper.  Just this week it was reported that Harper might be seeking a $400 million contract.  If this is the case the Nats might move him to obtain something before they lose one of the top players in baseball.  Right now I will still list him as the 2018 Starter
2018 starter in RF: Bryce Harper

SP – Max Scherzer is under contract until 2021, Stephen Strasburg until 2022, Gio Gonzalez through 2017 but has a team option for 2018 if he pitches 180 innings in 2017.  I think Gio holds down the spot for Lucas Giolito. Tanner Roark is under contract until 2021.  Joe Ross is also under contract until 2021.  Injuries are always a concern but with Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Erick Fedde, A.J. Cole, and Austin Voth I think the team has strong depth at the position.  I have heard the Nats could possibly move Ross to the closers roll.  I have seen Lopez being listed as a future closer.  He has the stuff.  Trades and injuries will impact this position so updates will be made as they happen.
Updated Prospect Watch:  The Nats obtained Jimmy Cordero from the Phillies.  The 25 year old prospect is a power arm and has the possibility of sticking as a bullpen arm.  Cordero’s fastball can reach 100 mph.  He will be added to the Nats top 50 prospects.

Rumors recently had the Nats interested in McCutchen to fill CF but the talks have recently slowed down due to the reported rumor that Pittsburgh wanted Victor Robles in a deal.  It will be interesting to see if those talks heat up since the Sale trade didn’t happen.  So far no big moves by the Nationals at the Winter Meetings.
Send me your thoughts on the Nationals.  I can be reached at Conan397@comcast.net.

About Mike Condrad 3 Articles
Hi, I'm Mike Conrad, covering the Washington Nationals minor league system. Currently in several fantasy baseball leagues and a huge fan of baseball. I live in Northeastern PA - home to the New York Yankees AAA affiliate. Anthony Eramo (our P1500 Yankees rep) and I attend several RailRiders games scouting prospects. I'll provide information on the Nationals for our readers and me to use to obtain an advantage for fantasy baseball. Go Nats!

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