Tuesday’s trade deadline came and went without the Washington Nationals making much of a dent. That goes against the numerous reports that suggested ownership was looking to make changes and cut their payroll with the Nationals being Major League Baseball’s biggest disappointment this season.
Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, Daniel Murphy, and Kelvin Herrera all survived the trade deadline without switching clubhouses. Principal owner Mark Lerner explained why the team could not part ways with their core in a letter penned to the Nats fans, saying he and general manager Mike Rizzo “believes” in the club and their chances of making a push to erase a then, 6.5 game deficit in the National League East.
“At the end of the day, my family and (general manager) Mike Rizzo decided that we just couldn’t give up on this team,” Lerner wrote. “We couldn’t look ourselves in the mirror knowing that we had simply thrown in the towel on a team full of talent and heart.”
Washington is taking a huge gamble, especially on Harper, as there is good reason to believe he may sign elsewhere this winter when he becomes a free agent. The Nats are also taking a risk on banking on the youth of the two teams that are ahead of them in the division standings — the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. There’s a good chance this gamble will fall through without no playoff appearance and Harper leaving for nothing in the off-season.
Still, this is arguably one of the three most talented rosters in the National League and if there is any team built to make an incredible push towards winning the division it’s the Nationals, who are getting relatively healthier. The makeup of the team is enough to power through and early indications show maybe the Lerners and Rizzo may have made the right call.
In their first game after the trade deadline, the Nationals stacked up a franchise-best 25 runs on Tuesday against the New York Mets. The Nats then completed the two-game sweep beating New York 5-3 on Wednesday. The Nationals are now 4.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot and five games out of first place.