Monday Breakdown: Will the Trade Deadline Bring Disappointment?
We are nearing the mid-point of July and that means the MLB trade deadline is close at hand or at least the craziest of the rumors are close at hand. The Nats have always been a team included in interesting rumors but rarely ever pulling off a real crazy deal. Just last trade deadline they were rumored to be involved in a trade for Cespedes who ended up instead on the Mets helping them defeat the Nats.
The year before that the Nats ended up with Ass-Cab. I can't remember any of the rumors they were involved in that year but I have a feeling the Nats always end up thrown in the mix for a big name whether they are actually involved or not. I know rumors like that bother some people and feel it adds false hope but I find it fun even if the Nats don't end up with or were never interested in the player. It is fun to see your favorite team mentioned, and it is fun to explore the possibilities and imagine about what could be.
Reality will always disappoint. It was true in the 90's and it's true today, reality bites. The Nats are going to be mentioned in some wild crazy rumors. I'm not sure who yet. Perhaps it will be Chris Sale or Carlos Gonzalez or maybe a real crazy rumor will emerge that the Angels really are considering trading Mike Trout and the media will be unable to contain themselves in putting Trout and Harper in the same outfield.
So while the Nats are likely to be mentioned in trades for Joey Votto and Ryan Braun they are far more likely to end up with Ryan Madson and Lyle Overbay.
I'm not sure yet if this is a rare occurrence, but I have to come clean: I completely agree with Dave, in that I think the Nats will fall far short of landing a Joey Votto or Ryan Braun (or Aroldis Chapman) this year. It’s difficult not to buy into the hype, because more than half the fun of counting down to the trade deadline is daydreaming of that one last piece that will suddenly make your team a lock for the World Series. Of course, such deals rarely play out according to plan.
Nevertheless, I have to admit something else: this year, I don’t really care.
First, the Nats don’t need – and shouldn’t want – someone to come in and completely mess with the team’s mojo. The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell said it best this morning: the Nats “are becoming a closely knit club of several interlocking leaders who take their cue from Manager Dusty Baker.” Do you know how long I’ve waited to accept that there’s solid leadership in the Nats’ clubhouse? Given some of the prominent faces (and big-market price tags), I’d say that we’ve been due to make this declaration for some time. And, to have achieved this while some of the “bad apples” of the past are still on the team says a lot about who’s leading from above.
Writers (myself included) have undoubtedly claimed in the past that the Nats were becoming a strong, collective force, poised to win it all. But the fact of the matter is, things are looking better with the All-Star Break in sight, and the Nats are becoming a more cohesive unit at the halfway mark. As someone who felt very iffy about Baker at the start of the season, I have to acknowledge how encouraging it is that the Nats are meshing better in July than they were in April and May, rather than vice versa, as has so often been tradition. And, at least some of that credit falls to Baker’s leadership.
That said, I don’t necessarily care for the Nats to land a big-name personality. Sure, with Ryan Zimmerman’s health woes, I’m all in on the idea of welcoming Joey Votto to the District. Plus, I’d love for him to stop hitting .338 against Nationals’ pitching.
For the sake of argument, I’d also say that the Nats might not want to touch Ryan Braun’s remaining $80 million/four years. Sure, he is posting some solid rebound numbers this year (and many could argue that he should be an All-Star), but Braun’s back woes and links to performance enhancing drugs make him a risk, especially considering the fact that he’s already 32 years old.
And, since I was never on board with the Nats’ acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon, it should come as little surprise that I’d vehemently hold up the stop sign for anyone who would argue in favor of dispensing the cash – or talent – it would take to bring Chapman to the capital.
All that said, I will go back to an argument I posed when the Nats first landed Jayson Werth: after all these years, it’s still exciting that Washington is mentioned in the big-time trade rumors. Yes, they’ve come a long way – and have spent a great deal of money – since those early days, so of course they should be a destination team. But, the fact that Washington is a place where fans have come to expect a big name acquisition each year speaks volumes to the progress that’s been made.
And, maybe Ryan Madson or Lyle Overbay wouldn’t be so bad, anyway.