It felt unnerving watching this weekend’s series with the St. Louis Cardinals while waiting for news of what the Washington Nationals will do before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline.
The Nationals are surely going to trade one or more of the players who have been key to whatever winning baseball they’ve played in the past week.
Once the big stars are gone, will Phase II of general manager Mike Rizzo’s rebuild seem less like a reboot and more more like disconnecting the HAL 9000?
Juan Soto and Nelson Cruz accounted for two of the five Nats’ baserunners against Cards’ rookie Andre Pallante, who took a three-hitter into the ninth inning of Sunday’s 5-0 St. Louis win.
Soto, Cruz, and Josh Bell also keyed the offense in Saturday’s 7-6 comeback victory against the Cardinals’ bullpen.
Each played a key role in taking 2 of 3 from the Dodgers in Los Angeles, as did a bullpen that allowed just one run in that series.
They and the Nationals have done a great job showcasing their trade value.
By the time the Nats face New York Mets’ ace Jacob deGrom in his season debut Tuesday, we’ll know how manager Davey Martinez will fill the Nos. 2, 3, and 4 slots for a team that already has the worst record in baseball.
Imagine what we’re in store for the rest of the season.
Will anyone among the treasure trove of prospects we’re expecting address the glaring need of starting pitching on a team whose rotation was once feared?
With Erick Fedde joining Jackson Tetreault, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Rainey, Sean Doolittle, and a host of others on the injured list, the Nats will call on Cory Abbott to start Tuesday against deGrom.
Abbott pitched a scoreless ninth with a walk and two strikeouts Sunday against St. Louis instead of throwing a bullpen session.
Rizzo and Martinez are already talking about when 2020 first-round draft pick Cade Cavalli might make his major league debut.
Will the Nats have another player Tuesday night who will pitch in the major leagues this season or potentially join Cavalli in the Nats’ rotation of the future?
Backup catcher Riley Adams has been limited by a hand injury, but part of the plan sending him down was to get reps playing first base for Class AAA Rochester.
Is Adams, slashing .192/.284/.321 before he was replaced by Tres Barrera, going to succeed Bell as the Nats’ next everyday first baseman?
Luis Garcia may be the future shortstop, at least until 2021 first-round pick Brady House makes his way up from Class A Fredericksburg, but what about the rest of the infield?
César Hernández, Alcides Escobar, and Ehire Adrianza, all in their 30s, are unlikely to be on the Nats’ roster next season, let alone a postseason contender in 2025 and beyond.
The Nats, of course, will also likely need a right fielder, hopefully a left-handed slugger.
Who would succeed Soto in right if the Nats were to trade him?
At an MLB-worst 35-68, the Nats are well on their way to being one of three entrants in baseball’s first draft lottery, even before losing their top hitters, with needs seemingly everywhere.
It will hurt to see a generational talent like Soto traded away, but once it’s happened, fans will have no choice but to find out how much worse the Nationals can get can be before they start to get better.