Cover Photo: Getty Images
The Washington Nationals are 23-32 coming into Wednesday's contest with the Atlanta Braves, a far cry from their recent dominance of the NL East. With three division titles in five years, the Nats parted ways with Bryce Harper this offseason with a plan to seemingly lean on their elite starting pitching in 2019.
Already almost 10 games back, the Nationals are likely sellers later this season, meaning names like Anthony Rendon (an impending free agent) and Sean Doolittle may be shipped out of our nation's capitol. And if the team were to get really bold, they could look to trade three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, even though he has three years left on his deal, including this season.
Here are five teams that could make a big-time offer to the Nationals to acquire the ace prior to this summer's trade deadline.
5. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox aren't yet contenders, but as one of the more aggressive teams that went after Manny Machado this offseason, they could be a sleeper option in the trade market. Plus, the White Sox have a farm system rich with prospects, including pitchers Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech and hitters Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal. A package including two to three of their top guys could be enough to get a deal done.
4. Chicago Cubs
On the North Side of Chicago, the Cubs are once again a World Series contender and are once again in need of starting pitching. The Cubs have a solid, but unspectacular rotation that can surely use a shot in the arm. In particular, Yu Darvish has really struggled this season and would be the most likely pitcher to be replaced, should the Cubs make a deal for the Nationals' ace.
3. San Diego Padres
The Padres have taken a step forward in 2019, thanks to a much improved lineup, a plethora of young pitchers and a lock-down bullpen. Still, they could be itching to add a veteran pitcher and have been tied to Cleveland Indians' starter Trevor Bauer. With a wealth of prospects, like MacKenzie Gore and Luis Urias, to potentially give up in a trade, the Padres potentially have the most assets to offer for Scherzer.
2. Houston Astros
The last thing the rest of the Majors needs is the Astros to obtain another ace, but Houston still possesses one of the league's best farm systems. If the 2017 World Series champs really wanted to make things seemingly unfair, they can dig into their who's who of prospects – Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker, Yordan Alvarez, to name a few – and make Washington an offer they might not be able to refuse. It will all come down to if the Astros are content with their current rotation or want to make the upgrade of all upgrades this summer.
1. New York Yankees
Finally, we reach the team that looks like it could be the most in need of an ace that also has a chance to contend for the 2019 World Series trophy. The Yankees are still awaiting current ace Luis Severino's return from a shoulder injury, with the hope that he can pitch sometime after the All-Star break. Still, even if Sevy can return to form, the addition of Scherzer to the Bronx Bombers could create a one-two punch that could rival the Astros (Justin Verlander-Gerrit Cole) and the Red Sox (Chris Sale-David Price).
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