WASHINGTON -- With an eventful first half in the rearview, the Nationals find themselves set to begin the second half of the season in an enviable position. They are 16 games over .500 and own a 9 1/2-game lead in the National League East, in position to play in the
WASHINGTON -- With an eventful first half in the rearview, the Nationals find themselves set to begin the second half of the season in an enviable position. They are 16 games over .500 and own a 9 1/2-game lead in the National League East, in position to play in the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time in team history.
There are still questions surrounding the team, so the All-Star break was a perfect time for an inbox to provide some answers. This week's edition begins with the questions on upgrading the bullpen ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
From @pmacewan on Twitter: Break down your prediction for the most likely bullpen arm(s) Nats get & what it will take to get them? Do Nats need to trade for starter?
As the trade market develops during the next few weeks, the Nationals are likely going to be connected to many of the available bullpen arms. I'll get to whether the Nats are likely to trade for a starter in the following question, but here's a look at some potential candidates and how they would fit.
:: Submit a question to the Nationals Inbox ::
Reds right-hander Raisel Iglesias: MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported last week about the Nationals' interest in Iglesias. However, the Cincinnati closer is going to come at a lofty price. He is signed through 2022 at a reasonable contract, so the Reds certainly do not have to move him. And for that, it would likely take a monster package of prospects to land him, and the Nationals have not shown a willingness to trade away their top three prospects -- Victor Robles, Erick Fedde or Juan Soto -- at least one of whom would likely have to be included in a potential deal for Iglesias.
Tigers right-hander Justin Wilson: Wilson is a good fit since he is signed through the 2019 season and the Nationals value having years of control. Plus, the Tigers would value a position player prospect in return.
Royals right-hander Kelvin Herrera: Herrera has not been his usual dominant self, but he still would be a perfect fit for Washington. The issue is that Kansas City has played its way back into playoff contention and sits just three games back in the American League Central. If the Royals continue to play well, they are unlikely to be sellers at the Deadline.
White Sox right-hander Player Page for David Robertson: The Nats have been connected to Robertson for months now, and the deal still makes some sense. The issue with Robertson is that he is expensive, and the Nationals do have a limit with what payroll they can add.
The Nationals would prefer to land a reliever with proven closing experience, but if they can't, perhaps they could turn to Brad Hand of the Padres or Pat Neshek of the Phillies, All-Star relievers who would present an upgrade at a cheaper price.
@KirkNawrotzky on Twitter asks, Does [general manager Mike] Rizzo trade for veteran back of the rotation help? Or hope for best from [Tanner] Roark/[Joe] Ross & use internal options? ([Edwin] Jackson, [A.J.] Cole, Fedde)
My educated guess on this topic is that the Nationals trading for a starter is unlikely. They are going to have to part with prospects for a bullpen arm, and I'd be surprised if they also outbid another team who will be in more desperate need of rotation help. With three reliable starters at the moment in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Giovany Gonzalez, the Nats are likely to hope Roark straightens out his struggles and Ross remains healthy. If not, they have Jackson and Cole stashed away in the Minors, or could try out Fedde.
@jay_ollie_04 asks, Nats interested in acquiring another OF, or they comfortable with [Jayson] Werth/[Michael] Taylor/[Brian] Goodwin thru playoffs?
I'd say so. Once Adam Eaton went down with a torn ACL, the Nats felt confident in their internal options in center field. So far they have been proven correct. Before landing on the DL, Taylor owned a .878 OPS with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases, and he has been worth 2.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs. Werth should return from the DL sometime after the All-Star break. And Goodwin has played well filling in in the outfield, and he should stick around as the fourth outfielder once everyone gets healthy.
With the exceptions of health, the Nationals' outfield has not been an issue.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.