Ehire To Atlanta:
It wasn’t the trade everyone was waiting on, but the Washington Nationals kicked off this year’s sell-off of expiring contracts with a deal which sent veteran Ehire Adrianza over to Atlanta in exchange for 26-year-old outfielder Trey Harris, who was ranked at 29 on MLB Pipeline’s list of the Braves’ top prospects before the deal. Once the deal was announced, the Nats selected the contract of infielder Ildemaro Vargas, who will step into Adrianza’s role.
“He’s — if you look at both those guys and what they can do, Vargas is a similar player to Adrianza,” manager Davey Martinez explained before last night’s game.
“He’s a switch-hitter. Man, he can pick it, I mean, he can play all three infield positions and play them well. Like I said, he’s a switch-hitter, and he was doing well in Triple-A with just being able to catch the ball, so he’d be a nice guy to have here as well, just if we need him to play anywhere in the infield, he can do it, and like I said, he’ll play some everywhere and we’ll hopefully get him in there as soon as we can.”
Martinez, was, of course, asked why the club opted to bring up a 31-year-old journeyman infielder over a younger player in the organization for the rebooting ballclub.
“I think it’s more the roles, the roles that they play,” he said. “We don’t want to bring up any of our young, young guys if they’re not going to play every day. The reason why we brought Luis [García] when we did is because we felt like he was going to get an opportunity to play every day, which he has. For some of these veteran guys, I think they’re more apt to adjust to a role like that and be able to come off the bench and help us in different ways.
“For us, when we talked about who we should bring up, we thought Vargas should be the guy because he can do multiple things.”
Parting with Adrianza, Martinez said, the main thought was he wished he’d had a chance to see the veteran infielder play more, though an injury at the end of Spring Training kept him on the IL until early June.
“I talked to Ehire,” Martinez told reporters. “He gets an opportunity to go back to where he was from, and go help them, they’re in the playoff run, so I’m excited for him to get to go back there. I wish I would have seen more of Ehire here, because I know the kind of player that he is. He got off to a slow start, and I really believe it’s because he was injured.
“He had a bad injury with his quad, and he really couldn’t get going, but I loved having him. He was a constant professional, and I know I could count on him to go out there and doing whatever I asked him to do no matter what. So I wished him all the best and told him and I said, ‘Maybe we’ll cross paths again here one day soon.”
As for the return from the Braves in Harris?
“We get an outfielder back that was 29 on their prospect list and I saw where ‘19 he actually had a really good year,” Martinez said, “and obviously we had the COVID year, and he’s kind of bouncing back, I know he’s in Double-A, but he still has some upside.
“So, we’ll see how that works out, but I mean, this is the first one, and who knows what’s going to happen in the next 48 hours, so we’ll see, but like I said, today is business as usual, we got to go out there and play the Mets, who are coming in hot, play another old National in Max [Scherzer], so we got to go out there and compete.”
2019 Was 10 Years Ago, It’s Maths:
Okay, 2019 wasn’t that long ago, but it feels like longer than it’s been since the Nationals won it all in ‘19, even to the manager in the nation’s capital who helped bring a title back home to D.C. for the first time since 1924.
“It seems like a very long time ago, it does,” Martinez acknowledged. “I often — so I’ve got this room in my house now, and it’s full of all kind of nice things I’ve collected since I’ve been here, and a lot of it is from ‘19, so I often go down there after games and sit down there and kind of reminisce, and look at all the photos and stuff, and it kind of says, ‘Hey, okay, no matter what happens, the goal is to get back there, right?’ So every day I’ll go down there, I’ll pick myself up and say, ‘Hey, you know, one day we’re going to get back there. And just keep those memories intact and go out there and do your best to get these guys to play as hard as they can.”
There has been a lot of losing, before and especially since the reboot began, and it hasn’t been easy at all for the manager in D.C.
“I hope you guys never look at my face after a game, after we lose because that’s a [telltale sign],” he said. “It’s frustrating. It really is. I’ve been on teams where we competed, we won, we went to playoffs, and it’s frustrating, but, hey, for me, it’s like I say every day, ‘Hey, it’s a process,’ and I’ve got to really stick to the process, and understand what we’re doing here, and move forward every day, and try to get a little bit better every day, so I get it.
“We did some good things, this organization did some good things for a lot of years, we finally won in ‘19. I think ‘20 hurt us a lot. And here we are.
“We’re going to battle back, and we’re going to get back, and we’re going to be a playoff team sooner than later.”
Davey Martinez was traded five times in his 16-year career in the majors, and he’s had his players traded away now in his time as a manager, so he knows what it’s like for players at this time of year.
As he told reporters on Monday, he’s even been traded from one dugout to another as he was the final time he was dealt in the 2000 campaign.
“I got traded in-game,” he said. “I went from one dugout to the other. I was with Texas, and as soon as the last out was made, Johnny Oates grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, we just traded you.’ And I thought, that was the third time that year, and I said, “Where now.’ And he said, ‘You’re going — not far.’
“And I thought, ‘Well, what’s close to Texas.’ And he said, ‘You’re going to the other dugout. You’re going to Toronto.’ And I said, ‘That’s far. From Texas to Toronto, I don’t care what you think.’ And he said, ‘Well, you know what I mean.’”
Even the fifth time it happens, it’s not easy.
“It’s hard,” Martinez said. “Like, you’re like, ‘Wow, I got to go to the clubhouse now and say bye to everybody I was there with and go to the other side, and play for another team the next day against the team you were just with. But I never had to do it as a manager, thank goodness.”
But never say never, you know.
“When it does happen it’s going to be kind of weird that you have to take somebody out of a game and tell them that, ‘Hey, you’re going somewhere else.’ I’ve seen it happen, and it’s kind of difficult, you know, but like I said, in this game, when you think you’ve seen it all, you really haven’t, so we’ll see what happens over the next  hours.
“And then we’ll go from there. Honestly, I can sit right here, and I can tell you right now, I did not sleep last night, and come 6:02 on Tuesday, I’ll be relieved regardless of what happens, and then we’ll do it all again here the next go-around.”