When ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked the farm systems in Major League Baseball back in 2013 (to start with an arbitrary year from the past), he had the Washington Nationals at no.21 on the list, writing that he "loved" their top five prospects, but adding that not far after that, "[t]here's a bottomless crevasse."
Washington jumped to no.18 on Law's 2014 system rankings, with the ESPN writer noting that the Nationals' organization had more depth than it had in recent years though he still said that their system dropped off quickly after the top six or seven prospects.
Last time around, the Nationals jumped up to no.9 on the yearly rankings, with Law writing that the system got a boost by adding 2014 1st Round pick Erick Fedde, a "good college arm" -- who fell to the Nationals because he injured his elbow in his draft year -- and acquiring Trea Turner and Joe Ross in the three-team trade with San Diego and Tampa Bay that sent Steven Souza (and LHP Travis Ott) to the Rays. He also added that the Nationals were set at the major league level, so they didn't need to trade from their prospect depth.
When he released his 2016 Farm System Rankings today, Law dropped the Nationals to no.15 overall, writing that there were some potential stars at the top, with some depth up the middle, but, "a somewhat quick falloff after the first 8-10 names." The lack of depth, he says, doesn't set them up to make trades, but there are a few potential stars who could crack the lineup in the nation's capital.
For what it's worth, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo was asked by reporters earlier this winter if he thought the organization had the depth necessary to trade for what they needed at the major league level.
Here's what he had to say when asked if they would be willing to deal prospects:
"There's a small handful of players that we would be very reluctant to move. You never say never to any deal, but there is a group of guys that it would be very difficult to move, and those deals where you package a group of prospects together to get an established player would have to be a special type of established player for us to do that."
Asked if he thought they had prospects make a trade for major league help, here's what Rizzo said:
"We do. We have a deep farm system. It's a very likable farm system. There are teams that call us all the time about players that we don't even consider in our top five of ten prospects that are intriguing to other teams, so we have a deep farm system that we could do a lot of things, but it has to be the right move to utilize those prospects, because they're very valuable."
Washington's NL East rivals from Atlanta are no.1 on the list this season, while in the midst of their deep rebuild of the organization. Check out the rest of the list through the link below: