The Washington Nationals had a great response to the trade deadline madness that went down.
They defeated the New York Mets 25-4 to get back to a .500 record. The Nationals received an all-around offensive performance, while pitcher Tanner Roark dominated on the mound to keep the team 5.5 games back from first place in the NL East.
Prior to last night’s game, we didn’t know what the Nationals roster would look like. There was so much stress during the final 48 hours of the trade deadline that I was constantly pulling my hair as my eyes were glued to Twitter.
Were the Nationals going to be buyers or sellers? Would they do the unthinkable and trade away the face of the franchise in Bryce Harper?
All these rumors began to surface during last few days of the deadline. It got to the point where the Nationals were becoming sellers and Harper joining another team seemed like a legit possibility.
The trade deadline went by and instead of general manager Mike Rizzo shipping Harper out of D.C., he decided to keep the five-time All-Star and most of the roster except reliever Brandon Kintzler, who traded to Chicago for a minor league pitcher.
Rizzo’s explanation for his decision was simple. He believes in this team.
I understand Rizzo’s confidence in the Nationals have moving forward. But, should Nationals fans believe in this team the same way Rizzo does?
There’s part of me that has faith that the Nationals can turn things around, but at the same time I believe the Nats needed a roster shakeup even if that meant trading away Harper.
A rebuild or roster retool may seem like an overreaction to the Nationals lackluster season.
However, the idea of having 10 free agents on the roster, rumored dysfunction within the clubhouse, barely staying above .500, and Harper’s struggles at the plate should’ve been enough for the Nationals to begin looking toward the future.
The Nationals could have traded Harper to bolster their farm system and stuck with Michael A. Taylor, Adam Eaton and Juan Soto, while giving top prospect Victor Robles some playing time in the big leagues.
They could have traded one of their relievers like Kelvin Herrera or Ryan Madson to free up cap space. Rizzo did the complete opposite, which shows he is not giving up on the season just yet.
The Nationals basically have the same roster that won 97 games last season. They are starting to get healthy.
Stephen Strasburg is projected to return sooner than expected, and Daniel Murphy is starting to look like his old self at the plate.
It’s not like the Nationals are in the NL Central or the NL West. They are in a division where the top two teams, the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves, don’t have a lot of postseason experience.
If the Nationals go on a good 10-game stretch, they would be right back in the thick of things.
All we can do now is sit back and see if Rizzo’s confidence pans out, or if he missed out on a chance to set the Nationals up for future success.