Trade Deadline Primer: Washington Nationals

We’re running a series of articles this summer on trade candidates on teams who look to be sellers at the deadline. First up: the Washington Nationals.


With an exciting young core and a bevy of highly-touted prospects, the future is bright in Washington. However, the Nats are still likely to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline, as they look up at the Braves and Phillies in the National League East standings.

President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo isn’t staring down the barrel of a half-decade-long rebuild like the White Sox, Rockies, or A’s, as top-100 prospects Dylan Crews and James Wood headline a deep crop of Nationals farm hands that should start impacting the majors in short order. 

With their window of contention set to open in the next year or so, the Nats will most likely look to flip players with one or two years of team control left in exchange for longer-term pieces. With that in mind, let’s fire up BTV’s Value Matcher tool and take a look at who they could trade and what they could get for them at this year’s deadline.


High-Value Pieces


Hunter Harvey

Surplus Value: $14.9 million

Former Orioles first-round pick Hunter Harvey has been absolutely dominant in his three years as a National, posting a 2.57 ERA across 129.1 innings. He’s been just as effective in 29.1 innings this season, fanning 34 batters while posting 1.0 fWAR. Unfortunately for Washington, Harvey only has a year-and-a-half of team control remaining, which doesn’t quite fit their timeline. Flipping the 29-year-old righty could fetch an impact prospect on the doorstep of the majors, like the Cubs’ Miguel Amaya, or Connor Norby of the Orioles. 


Lane Thomas

Surplus Value: $5.9 million

28-year-old outfielder Lane Thomas has scuffled out of the gate in 2024, posting an ugly .204/.269/.315 line over 119 plate appearances. However, Thomas has been rock solid ever since landing with the Nats in a 2021 trade with the Cardinals. Over 1,555 plate appearances in the nation’s capital, Thomas has slashed .254/.313/.436 and stolen 47 bases with only 12 failed attempts. Thomas won’t reach free agency until after the 2025 season, and if they decide to cash in on him the Nationals could wind up with a high-upside youngster like the Twins’ Marco Raya or Braves 2022 first-rounder Owen Murphy.


Jesse Winker

Surplus Value: $5.4 million

Left fielder Jesse Winker made a name for himself by slashing .288/.385/.504 in his five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately, a mediocre 2022 campaign with the Mariners and brutal 2023 in Milwaukee saw the former All-Star’s stock tank just as he was set to hit free agency for the first time. In February of this year Winker signed a one-year, $2 million pact with the Nationals, which has looked like a steal through the season’s first two months. The 30-year-old has slashed .235/.350/.391 across 214 trips to the plate, earning 0.6 fWAR in only 54 games played. A team in need of some left-handed thump, like the Blue Jays, could snag Winker in exchange for young reliever Hagen Danner and intriguing Slovakian southpaw Adam Macko.


Trevor Williams

Surplus Value: $4.4 million

Nine-year big league veteran Trevor Williams has earned a reputation as a reliable, albeit unspectacular, innings-eater. The 32-year-old righty is in the second season of a two-year, $13 million pact he signed with the Nationals prior to 2023, and he’s been his usual self during his time in the nation’s capital. Over 201.0 innings pitched in Washington, Williams has posted a 4.61 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, while fanning 158 batters. Williams has been locked in through 11 starts in 2024, twirling 56.2 innings of 2.22 ERA ball with a 1.08 WHIP. Williams’ hot start should net a decent prospect from a team with a banged up rotation. Our Value Matcher tool shows that the Guardians could part with young outfielder Petey Halpin, or the Rays could give up talented southpaw Mason Montgomery to acquire Williams for the stretch run.


Lower-Value Players Who Could Fill Needs


Ildemaro Vargas

Surplus Value: $2.9 million

Utilityman Ildemaro Vargas is enjoying a hot start to his 2024 campaign, slashing .289/.373/.392 across 113 plate appearances thus far. A career high .326 BABIP is at least partially the reason behind his fast start, but the 32-year-old does bring plenty of versatility alongside his switch-hitting bat, having suited up at second base, third base, shortstop and left field this season. With a year-and-a-half of team control remaining, Vargas won’t bring back a haul, but a team in need of infield depth like the Red Sox could acquire his services in exchange for a low minors hurler like David Sandlin or Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz.


Dylan Floro

Surplus Value: $2.0 million

Well-traveled right-hander Dylan Floro has had some decent seasons in his nine-year big league career, but is in the midst of far and away his best campaign. In 28.0 innings this season, the first-year National has posted a microscopic 0.96 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, whiffing 21 batters and issuing only eight walks. Seeing as the 33-year-old is a free agent come season’s end, he won’t command a huge haul, but would net a solid prospect like fleet-footed Guardians outfielder Isaiah Greene, or 23-year-old Rangers hurler Marc Church.


Joey Meneses

Surplus Value: $1.6 million

Joey Meneses didn’t make his big league debut until the age of 30 in 2022 when he put on a show in his 56-game rookie campaign, slashing .324/.367/.563 across 240 plate appearances. Meneses came back down to earth last season, posting a 96 WRC+ over 657 trips to the plate. However, he still mashed lefties to the tune of a .291 average in 187 plate appearances. Despite his advanced age, the 32-year-old first baseman still has four more years of team control beyond 2024. With plenty of talented youngsters jockeying for playing time in the near future, Meneses will likely find himself squeezed out of the everyday lineup soon. Perhaps a team in a darker stage of their rebuild that has playing time to spare, like the A’s, would part with a low-upside piece with a bit more utility to the Nats like right-hander Colin Peluse, to try to squeeze a bit more out of Meneses.


Nick Senzel

Surplus Value: $1.4 million

Former Cincinnati Red Nick Senzel had a disappointing run in the Queen City, slashing only .239/.302/.369 across 1,366 plate appearances. The Redlegs cut the 28-year-old loose this past offseason, and the Nationals scooped him up on a one-year, $2 million pact. The former second-overall pick broke his thumb on Opening Day, but has been solid in 36 games since returning from the Injured List, slashing .230/.341/.407 in that span. Senzel is controllable via arbitration for one additional season before reaching free agency, and his ability to handle second base, third base and center field should make him attractive to contenders as a bench piece. If he keeps up his steady start, Senzel could fetch the Nats an intriguing pitching prospect like the Yankees’ Colby White, or the Royals’ Beck Way.


Kyle Finnegan

Surplus Value: $0.7 million

Current closer Kyle Finnegan is a late bloomer, having not made his MLB debut until the age of 28, but has been rock solid ever since his ascendance. Finnegan has piled up 248.2 career innings of 3.37 ERA work, punching out 250 batters and locking down 65 saves. The right-hander has been true to form thus far in 2024, working to a 1.64 ERA in 22 appearances. Much like Hunter Harvey, Finnegan is in his penultimate year of team control, and any contender would jump at the chance to add him to their pen. Being 32 years old and not having quite the same strikeout stuff as Harvey, Finnegan won’t net as much in trade. However, if the Nats pay down just $2 million of his remaining salary, Finnegan could bring back an intriguing youngster like Carlos De La Cruz from the Phillies or T.J. Brock of the Blue Jays.


Derek Law

Surplus Value: $0.4 million

Journeyman right-hander Derek Law made his big league debut all the way back in 2016, but is still arbitration-eligible through 2025. The 33-year-old has never blown hitters away, but has 287.0 career innings of 3.95 ERA work. This season has been a step up for Law, as he’s fired 31.0 innings of a 2.90 ERA work with a 3.33 FIP, punching out 28 batters and walking only 12. Law won’t be clamored for as a high-leverage relief option, but every contending team can use another reliable arm in their bullpen. Trading Law this summer could net Washington an interesting lottery ticket like double-A lefty Omar Cruz from the Padres, or 22-year-old right-hander Jhosmer Alvarez from the Diamondbacks.


Joey Gallo

Surplus Value: $0.2 million

Joey Gallo’s All-Star peak with the Rangers is far behind him these days, but he has settled into a niche role as a versatile defender with major pop from the left side. The 30-year-old has slashed only .147/.267/.310 across his first 135 plate appearances this year. However, Gallo put up a decent 104 wRC+ with the Twins last season, and can handle playing first base as well as all three outfield positions. If he can return to form before the deadline, a team in need of some left-handed pop will surely come calling for his services. It’s not much, but the Nats could snare slugging first baseman Darick Hall from the Phillies or 28-year-old starter Gerson Garabito in a reunion with the Rangers.


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I like the premise of these articles. Will you be doing the same for buyers (ie: identifying their needs and how much they might be willing to spend (both trade cost and salary))? As a Rays fan, I found it funny that you thought the Rays might be buyers (and that their AAA prospect M.Montgomery was “talented”). I expect the Rays to be sellers this year.