Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo has been the subject of both high praise and heavy scrutiny through his tenure. To truly evaluate his performance, let's take a look at every trade he's made since the previous Nationals' core arrived in 2012.
8/3/2012: Acquired C Kurt Suzuki from A’s for C David Freitas
Got: Suzuki was serviceable down the stretch in 2012, generating 0.4 WAR, 95 OPS+, and hitting 5 home runs with slightly below average defense. His numbers took a significant dip in 2013 and he was traded in August of that year.
Sent: David Freitas never amounted to much in the Majors, recording just 139 plate appearances in the bigs across 3 seasons with the Braves, Mariners, and Brewers, hitting just 1 home run and generating -0.3 WAR.
Verdict: The Nats essentially gave up nothing to fill their weakest position with a serviceable option. Minor trade, but solid trade.
11/29/2012: Acquired OF Denard Span from Twins for RHP Alex Meyer
Got: Span became an integral part of a young, win-now Nationals’ core from 2013-2015. As the team’s leadoff man, over that time he recorded an OPS+ of 105 with 62 stolen bases and 19 triples. Span was also a stud in the field, recording 10 DRS from 2013-14 before injuries hampered his defensive ability in 2015.
Sent: Meyer never panned out at the major league level, making 19 starts and 22 total appearances across 3 seasons with the Angels and Twins, generating a career ERA of 4.63 and 10.1 K/9. Meyer has not pitched in the Majors since 2017.
Verdict: Got a cornerstone in centerfield for 3 years in exchange for a prospect that barely saw the Major Leagues.
1/16/2013: Traded OF Michael Morse to Mariners in three team trade for RHPs AJ Cole and Blake Treinen, PTBN (LHP Ian Krol) from A’s
Got: AJ Cole was largely a bust. Making his MLB in debut in 2015, Cole started 17 games over the next 3 seasons, pitching to a 4.52 ERA and 4.81 FIP with just 0.6 WAR. After a disastrous start to open 2018, he was placed on waivers. Blake Treinen made his debut in 2014 as a starter but quickly transitioned to the bullpen and developed into an effective reliever. From 2015-2016, he made 133 appearances with a 3.07 ERA and 33 holds. Tabbed as the team’s closer to start the 2017 season, he struggled mightily in his new role, and was demoted to setup duties within a month. After continuing to struggle, he was included in a package sent to the A’s for two of their top relievers at the trade deadline. Finally, Ian Krol made his debut in 2013, appearing in 32 games with a 3.95 ERA out of the bullpen. He would be traded again the following offseason as part of a package to acquire Doug Fister from the Tigers.
Sent: At the time of the trade, Morse was in the prime of his career. However, Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo was effective in selling high on the outfielder, with Morse only playing 5 more seasons with a scattering of teams, generating negative WAR in that time--abysmal defense with league-average offense. Aside from a few heroic moments with the Giants in the 2014 postseason, Morse’s career was largely a bust following his departure from the nation’s capital.
Verdict: Received three prospects, two of whom would serve as key pieces in future trades to acquire quality talent. Gave up an outfielder who would quickly decline.
8/23/2013: Traded C Kurt Suzuki to A’s for RHP Dakota Bacus
Got: Bacus took awhile to reach the majors, and not much happened when he did. He made his debut during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, appearing in 11 games and pitching to a 7.94 ERA, and was released after that season.
Sent: Over the remaining month of the 2013 season, Suzuki was actually somewhat solid at the plate, albeit in a small sample size, with an OPS of .888 and BA of .303 over 35 plate appearances as the A’s backup catcher before departing in free agency (he had served as Washington’s backup catcher throughout the 2013 season following the return of Wilson Ramos).
Verdict: Very minor trade. Got a fringe relief prospect who never panned out, traded away a month of a backup catcher’s services.
12/3/2013: Acquired RHP Doug Fister from Tigers for LHPs Robbie Ray and Ian Krol, UTIL Steve Lombardozzi
Got: Fister played two seasons with the Nationals. In 2014, he was one of many starters putting up ace-level numbers in the club’s rotation. Over 25 starts, he held a record of 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA (155 ERA+), finishing 8th in NL Cy Young voting. After injuries and mediocre performance in 2015, however, he was moved to the bullpen to help make room for young starters Joe Ross and Tanner Roark. Over 25 appearances between his two roles, Fister pitched to a 4.19 ERA accompanied by a much more grizzly 4.55 FIP and 95 ERA+. He would leave in free agency the following offseason.
Sent: Although somewhat inconsistent, Ray has developed into a solid starting pitcher. His best season came in 2021 with Toronto, when he won the AL Cy Young award and even finished 15th in MVP voting. Aside from that, he has had a few other solid seasons and a couple of absolutely terrible ones. Ray owns a career ERA of 3.96 across 222 Major League starts, with 1505 career K’s and a 109 ERA+. Krol, on the other hand, never panned out after a solid rookie season with the Nats prior to the trade--appearing in 193 games with a 4.59 ERA over his remaining 5 seasons between the Tigers, Braves, and Angels. His best season came in 2016, when he pitched to a 3.18 ERA across 51 innings, but he was largely a bust outside of that. Finally, Lombardozzi had been a solid utility infielder for the Nationals, but his career scuffled following the trade. He would bounce around the league, only recording 93 more Major League plate appearances with a 43 OPS+.
Verdict: Gave up a solid, sometimes Cy-Young-Level starter and some fluff in exchange for one Cy-Young-Level season from Doug Fister.
2/13/2014: Acquired C Jose Lobaton, LHP Felipe Rivero, OF Drew Vettleson from Rays for RHP Nate Karns
Got: Lobaton was a serviceable backup catcher for the Nationals over the next four seasons. From 2014-2016, he recorded an OPS+ of 66 with 8 home runs, put up solid defense with 8 DRS, and had a positive total bWAR. 2017 was another story, as he was negative in both bWAR and DRS, and recorded a dreadful wRC+ of 35. He left in free agency after that season. Felipe Rivero (now Felipe Vazquez, known for being nice to kids) made his Nats debut in 2015, and was solid over 96 appearances, generating 1.1 bWAR and above-average pitching stats across the board, albeit with a few late game meltdowns mixed in. Rivero was ultimately traded at the 2016 deadline as part of a package to bring star closer Mark Melancon to DC. Finally, Vettleson never reached the Majors.
Sent: Nate Karns never caught on in the majors. His best work came in 2015, when he made 26 starts for the Rays with a 106 ERA+. But he fell off quickly after that, struggling in 2016 and 2017. Aside from a brief cup of coffee with the Orioles in 2019, he has been out of the Majors ever since.
Verdict: Received a few years of a solid backup catcher along with a future trade piece in exchange for a pitcher who turned out to be a bust.
7/31/2014: Acquired SS Asdrubal Cabrera from Indians for INF Zach Walters, cash considerations
Got: Cabrera was a rental, and slightly underwhelming over 200 PA’s in Washington, recording a 92 OPS+, .229 BA, and just 5 home runs in that stretch. Moving over to 2nd base, he also struggled in the field, with -4 DRS. He would depart in free agency the following offseason.
Sent: Walters was a bona fide bust, struggling mightily with the Indians before being traded to the Dodgers. He hasn’t seen the Majors since 2016 and owns an abhorrent career batting average of .176.
Verdict: Got a mediocre rental essentially for free, but filled a glaring weakness.
12/19/2014: Acquired RHP Joe Ross, INF Trea Turner from Padres in three team deal for OF Steven Souza, LHP Travis Ott to Rays
Got: Ross had his ups and downs over 6 seasons with the Nationals, pitching to a 4.26 ERA over 98 outings (76 starts) between 2015 and 2021. Although incredibly promising at first, Ross’ Nats career was plagued by injuries, and he eventually departed in free agency following the 2021 season. Trea Turner, on the other hand, developed almost immediately into a superstar. From 2015-2020, he played in 541 games with a .296 BA, .355 wOBA, and 119 wRC+. He was phenomenal at shortstop, recorded many clutch hits, and served as a key piece on the 2019 team that won the World Series. In the midst of another excellent campaign in 2021, Turner was traded to the Dodgers as the Nationals entered their first rebuild in over a decade.
Sent: Souza hopped around the league following the trade, and retired after the 2022 season, having recorded average offensive numbers for five teams and primarily serving a bench role in his final years. Travis Ott, meanwhile, never reached the Major Leagues.
Verdict: Got a serviceable starting pitcher and superstar shortstop and only had to give up two prospects--one of whom ended up quite average, and the other never reached the Majors.
1/14/2015: Acquired INF Yunel Escobar from A’s for RHP Tyler Clippard
Got: Escobar was a National for one season, and gave the team solid results--.790 OPS and a .314 batting average, although he was an absolute liability at third base. His only downside offensively was his power, as he only hit 9 home runs in 591 plate appearances. Escobar would be traded to the Angels the following offseason for two prospects who would not work out.
Sent: Clippard had been one of the league’s best relievers for a number of years, and continued to rack up solid numbers over his final 8 seasons, appearing in 387 more games with a 3.52 ERA and 40 saves as he hopped between 10 different teams (including a brief reunion with the Nats in 2022).
Verdict: Escobar was a solid piece, but the Nationals’ bullpen struggles in subsequent seasons, coupled with the terrible return for Escobar the following offseason, raise a few eyebrows in retrospect.
7/28/2015: Acquired RHP Jonathan Papelbon from Phillies for RHP Nick Pivetta
Got: Papelbon looked like a great acquisition at first. He was 7/9 on saves (with one of the two blown saves coming via an error) with a sub-3 ERA since putting on a Nationals’ uniform. Then *that game* happened--a game that needs no further explanation. Between a chokejob in the dugout and a chokejob on the mound, it appeared Papelbon’s time in DC was over. But a no-trade clause made him somewhat of a white elephant, so the Nats kept him around for 2016. He was solid until a midseason collapse led to his release.
Sent: Nick Pivetta had a couple years as a mediocre starter after the Phillies traded him to Boston, before struggles this season prompted his transition to the bullpen, where he has been effective. His career ERA+ of 89 and FIP of 4.47 are nothing to write home about, but given the Nats’ pitching struggles over the past few years, Pivetta would have been a useful arm to have.
Verdict: Got some good innings out of an aging Papelbon, but that came with baggage and the loss of a potential 4/5 starter or long reliever. Additionally, this trade came with another negative side effect--Papelbon was brought in to replace red hot Drew Storen as the team’s closer. Although Storen was 29/31 on save attempts with a sub-2 ERA, his postseason struggles in years prior gave the front office pause. Needing a setup man upgrade anyway, Mike Rizzo went ahead and traded for Papelbon, thinking Storen could then provide that upgrade by sliding over to the 8th inning. But Storen, always somewhat fragile in the confidence department, collapsed. Over the remainder of the season, he pitched to a 6.75 ERA. With the team’s subsequent collapse plagued by bullpen meltdowns, of which Storen was at the center of many, it’s easy to wonder whether this trade derailed the team’s entire season.
12/10/2015: Traded INF Yunel Escobar to Angels for RHPs Trevor Gott, Michael Brady
Got: Although a promising young reliever at the time of the trade, Gott’s time in DC was an abject failure. Appearing in just 33 games over 3 seasons in DC, Gott recorded an ERA+ of 60 in 28 innings pitched. His time in DC ended in February of 2019 when he was traded to San Francisco for cash considerations. Michael Brady, meanwhile, never appeared in a Major League game for the Nats, hitting free agency and ultimately finishing his career with 16 appearances to his name.
Sent: As already explored, Escobar had been solid for the Nats in 2015. Over the final two years of his career (both with the Angels), Escobar generated league-average offensive contribution and below-average defense.
Verdict: This one is somewhat of a head-scratcher. Although he had played third base in 2015, Escobar was a natural SS, and the Nationals dealt with a hole at the position the following season, with Danny Espinosa putting up abysmal offensive numbers. Meanwhile, neither Gott nor Brady ever amounted to anything with the team.
1/8/2016: Acquired OF Ben Revere from Blue Jays for RHP Drew Storen
Got: Revere had consistently been a low-power, high-contact leadoff hitter throughout his career. After joining the Nationals, that contact disappeared. He finished 2016 with an OBP of just .260 and an abysmal OPS+ of 47. While a stud in center field and electrifying to watch on the bases, he just didn’t get on base enough for that to matter, and was ultimately non-tendered at the end of the season.
Sent: Although having his fair share of ups and downs, Storen had been a solid fixture in Washington’s bullpen for years. This trade marked the end of that run, as Storen would only play two more seasons in the Majors, recording a 4.82 ERA over 115 games between Toronto, Seattle, and Cincinnati.
Verdict: Swapped two players who both would experience a steep decline and end up out of the majors within the next two seasons. The 2016 Nationals’ bullpen was in fine shape, and Revere provided some quality defense despite his offensive ineptitude.
7/30/2016: Acquired RHP Mark Melancon from Pirates for LHPs Felipe Rivero, Taylor Hearn
Got: A rental, Melancon was the All-Star closer Washington needed following the aforementioned collapse of Jonathan Papelbon. In 30 appearances for the Nats, Melancon pitched to a 237 ERA+ with 17 saves in 18 tries. He was also excellent in 4 playoff appearances that season, not allowing a run.
Sent: Rivero (soon to become Felipe Vazquez) quickly developed into an All-Star closer in Pittsburgh. From 2017-2019, he appeared in 147 games, recording 86 saves with a 207 ERA+. It was going great until he was arrested in August of 2019 and charged with statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact or communication with a minor, indecent assault and corruption of a minor. No bueno. Hearn is not a pedophile but has barely scratched the Majors, holding a career 5.26 ERA in 93 games across 5 seasons with the Rangers and Braves.
Verdict: Gave up 2.5 years of All Star Closer performance for 0.5 years of All Star Closer performance. At the same time, this was a necessary desperation move, as Washington’s otherwise-solid bullpen had nobody it could depend on to pitch the 9th.
8/25/2016: Acquired LHP Marc Rzepczynski from Athletics for INF Max Schrock
Got: Like Melancon, Rzepczynski was a rental, and pitched phenomenally in his one month with the team. In 14 appearances, he pitched to a 1.54 ERA, and recorded a 4.50 ERA in 3 playoff appearances.
Sent: Schrock never caught on in the big leagues--he recorded league-average offensive numbers in 134 plate appearances with the Reds in 2021, but has done virtually nothing outside of that, currently residing in the Padres’ minor league system.
Verdict: Gave up close to nothing for a fantastic one month rental who added a much-needed lefty presence to the team’s bullpen.
12/7/2016: Acquired OF Adam Eaton from White Sox for RHPs Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning
Got: Eaton got off to a rough start in DC, tearing his ACL in April 2017 and missing the rest of the season. But he bounced back strong in 2018, and had another solid campaign in 2019, playing a key role in the World Series-winning effort. Eaton departed in free agency after the 2020 season, ending his Nats career with a 105 OPS+ and time logged in every outfield position.
Sent: Giolito developed into a quality Major League starter, earning an All-Star nod in 2019. To this point, he has made 165 career starts with a 101 ERA+, 1007 K’s, and 5 complete games. He will hit free agency this offseason and is sure to get a nice contract. Lopez did not pan out as a starter, but has been solid in a relief role the past two seasons, recording a 126 ERA+, 9.9 K’s per 9, and has even dabbled in closing with 5 saves this season between the White Sox and Angels. Dunning, meanwhile, has developed into an effective starter for the Rangers (who acquired him from the White Sox in 2020), with a 103 ERA+ over 78 starts across 4 seasons (although he has yet to put in a full season of work).
Verdict: Got a star outfielder who helped the team win a World Series, but paid for it with three future solid Major League pitchers, any of whom would have been helpful in the mess that has been Nationals’ pitching this decade.
12/10/2016: Traded INF Danny Espinosa to Angels for RHPs Austin Adams, Kyle McGowin
Got: Adams never amounted to much as a National besides a decent showing in 2018 with a 3.94 ERA in 30 games. He was waived in early 2019 and picked up by Seattle. McGowin, meanwhile, showed flashes of promise in 2020 and 2021 but could never find consistent success. He is still bouncing around between Minor and Independent Leagues, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2021. Overall, he gave the Nats 64.2 innings, pitching to a meager 72 ERA+.
Sent: After serving as a solid defense-first utility infielder for the better half of the 2010’s, Espinosa fell off steeply after this trade. 2017 would be his final year in the Majors, and he would play for 3 teams that year, recording abysmal offensive numbers. He attempted a few comebacks after 2017, bouncing between various clubs’ minor league systems, but hasn’t seen the Majors since.
Verdict: Sold Espinosa right before his career took a nosedive, and got a handful of quality innings from two eventual busts in return.
7/16/2017: Acquired RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Sean Doolittle from Athletics for RHP Blake Treinen, LHP Jesus Luzardo, INF Sheldon Neuse
Got: Madson was fantastic serving in Washington’s setup role down the stretch in 2017, appearing in 20 games and pitching to a 1.37 ERA. He also recorded a 2.25 ERA in 4 postseason outings that year. In 2018 he showed noticeable decline at age 37, pitching to a 5.28 ERA before being traded to the Dodgers in August. Doolittle, meanwhile, immediately became one of the league’s top closers, recording 75 saves in a Nationals uniform over the next 3 seasons. He was named an All-Star in 2018, a season he finished with a 1.60 ERA, and was a key bullpen piece on the 2019 championship squad (although he hit a few bumps in the road that summer). He struggled in the COVID-shortened 2020 season and then left in free agency.
Sent: Treinen was the only Major league talent (at the time) that the Nats gave up in this trade. After struggling in the closing role for the Nats, he blossomed as the Athletics’ closer, recording 54 saves over the next two seasons (including a 38 save, 0.78 ERA masterclass in 2018, his lone All-Star nod). Although no longer serving as a closer after signing with the Dodgers in late 2019, Treinen has remained one of the league’s top relievers, pitching to a 175 ERA+ across 103 innings in Los Angeles. Jesus Luzardo was a long-term project but it seems he has finally developed into a decent starting pitcher over the past two seasons with Miami (who acquired him from Oakland in 2021). Between 2022 and 2023, he has made 41 starts with a 123 ERA+ and 275 K’s. Neuse bounced around following the trade, and at this point it’s safe to say he’s a bust--in 420 career plate appearances, he holds a career OPS of .558 and just 7 home runs.
Verdict: Turned a dismal bullpen around with two top-tier relievers, one of whom would help the team win a World Series two years later, but had to give up a future All-Star closer and 3rd/4th starter to do it.
7/28/2017: Acquired INF/OF Howie Kendrick from Phillies for LHP McKenzie Mills
Got: working in a utility role, Kendrick provided solid offense down the stretch in 2017. Over the final two months of the season, his OPS+ was 112, and he mashed 7 homers with 25 RBI’s. Although a rental, Kendrick’s time with the Nats no doubt contributed to his decision to re-sign in DC, where he was ultimately a World Series hero with his go-ahead home run in game 7 of the 2019 fall classic.
Sent: McKenzie Mills never reached the Major Leagues.
Verdict: Acquired a solid veteran bat (and eventual World Series hero, albeit on a different contract) for a minor league pitcher who never reached the big leagues.
7/31/2017: Acquired RHP Brandon Kintzler from Twins for LHP Tyler Watson
Got: Kintzler slotted in as the secondary setup man behind closer Sean Doolittle and setup man Ryan Madson. He was largely successful in that role down the stretch, recording a 3.46 ERA in 27 games. Like Kendrick, Kintzler was a rental but re-signed with the Nationals that offseason.
Sent: Watson also never reached the Major Leagues.
Verdict: A final piece to top off a massively successful bullpen overhaul, and essentially gave up nothing in return.
6/18/2018: Acquired RHP Kelvin Herrera from Royals for OF Blake Perkins, INF Kelvin Gutierrez, and RHP Yohanse Morel
Got: Herrera was one of the league’s top closers in Kansas City that year, but he fell off after the trade. In 21 games with the Nationals, Herrera recorded a 4.34 ERA and was plagued by injuries. A rental, he would leave that offseason.
Sent: Blake Perkins would not make his Major League debut until just this year, and his showing has not been very good, with a 73 ERA+ and .217 batting average across 134 plate appearances. Kelvin Gutierrez also appears to be a bust--between 2019-2022 with the Royals and Orioles, he has a dismal 64 OPS+. Morel never made it above High-A.
Verdict: Got a disappointingly mediocre rental for three abject busts. Everyone lost this trade.
7/31/2018: Traded RHP Brandon Kintzler to Cubs for RHP Jhon Romero
Got: Romero didn’t make his Nats debut until 2021, in which he pitched 4 innings to a 4.50 ERA. Early in 2022, he was designated for assignment.
Sent: Kintzler struggled with the Cubs down the stretch in 2018, recording a whopping 7.00 ERA over 18 innings of work. But he made up for it with a solid 2019, recording an ERA+ of 165 over 62 quality outings before leaving in free agency.
Verdict: got one busted prospect for a year and a half of one of the game’s better relievers. Could (and should) have gotten far more, even with the hindsight of Kintzler’s 2018 struggles.
8/21/2018: Traded 2B Daniel Murphy to Cubs for INF Andruw Monasterio
Got: Monasterio was an intriguing prospect at the time, but his time in the Nats’ organization would not last long--in December of that year he would be the PTBN headed to Cleveland as Washington acquired catcher Yan Gomes.
Sent: Murphy was about to hit free agency, so he served as a one-month rental for the Cubs. In his brief stint on the North side, he recorded a 115 wRC+, .342 wOBA, and 6 home runs across 146 plate appearances.
Verdict: Got a somewhat valuable trade chip in exchange for one month of a quality player’s services.
8/31/2018: Traded RHP Ryan Madson to Dodgers for RHP Andrew Istler
Got: Istler hasn’t played professional baseball since 2019, and never made it higher than AA. He put up decent stats that season, but for reasons unclear (information on obscure minor leaguers isn’t always readily available), he stepped away from baseball following that season.
Sent: Madson’s age-37 struggles followed him to LA, where he recorded a dreadful 6.48 ERA over 8.1 innings pitched. His 1.96 FIP indicates he was a victim of bad luck, and he did put together some quality outings in the Dodgers’ run to the World Series that year, but he would retire at the conclusion of the season, wrapping up an excellent career for the former World Series champion.
Verdict: Ended up receiving virtually nothing, but on the other hand that’s what they would have gotten had they kept Madson and let him walk.
8/31/2018: Traded LHP Gio Gonzalez to Brewers for C/1B KJ Harrison, INF Gilbert Lara
Got: KJ Harrison never reached the majors, and was released last June. Lara hit free agency before ever reaching the Majors, and is now in the Orioles’ organization.
Sent: In five starts for Milwaukee, Gio Gonzalez pitched to a 2.13 ERA, but only averaged just over 5 innings per start. The longtime Nationals’ fan favorite also made two starts in the NLCS that season, pitching a combined 3 innings with a 6.00 ERA. Also a rental, he re-signed with the Brew Crew that offseason.
Verdict: Just like with Madson, essentially gave Gio away for free--but would have lost him in free agency anyway.
10/10/2018: Acquired RHP Kyle Barraclough from Marlins for cash considerations
Got: Barraclough was an unmitigated disaster in the nation’s capital. In 33 appearances, he recorded a hellish 6.66 ERA. He was designated for assignment in August of 2019.
Verdict: Typically, trading cash considerations for a player more or less translates to "free", but this would have been a bad trade if Washington had only sent Miami a nickel and two pennies.
11/30/2018: Acquired C Yan Gomes from Indians for OF Daniel Johnson, RHP Jefry Rodríguez, PTBN (INF Andruw Monasterio)
Got: In the final year of his rookie contract, Gomes put up well-below-average offensive numbers (80 wRC+, .298 wOBA) accompanied with decent defense (5 DRS). He would re-sign with the Nationals the following offseason and fare much better over the next two seasons, generating a 104 wRC+ as a Nat in 2020-2021, before being traded to Oakland at the 2021 trade deadline.
Sent: Daniel Johnson reached the Majors in 2020, and the results weren’t pretty. Over 94 career plate appearances, he owns an anemic 58 OPS+ and just .202 batting average. He hasn’t appeared in a Major League game since 2021, and has bounced around organizations since. Rodríguez has not fared much better. Following the trade, he has posted an ERA of 5.07 across just 24 outings, with an even worse FIP of 5.37. Like Johnson, he has bounced around and made a brief return to the Nats in 2021. He has not pitched in the Majors since. Finally, Monasterio was a late bloomer--he hit free agency before ever reaching the Majors. He finally made his Major League debut in 2023 with Milwaukee and has been somewhat productive, putting up a 115 OPS+ with 3 home runs across 163 plate appearances.
Verdict: Neither team got much from this trade--Gomes and Monasterio both produced value, but on new contracts (and a different team, in the latter case). Still, Gomes was a quality backup catcher in 2019 during the team’s World Series run.
12/12/2018: Traded RHP Tanner Roark to Reds for RHP Tanner Rainey
Got: Although a late bloomer, Rainey was developing into a quality late-inning reliever. So far as a National, he owns a 97 ERA+ and 15 career saves with a blistering 12.7 K’s/9. Keep in mind that his subpar ERA+ is brought down by a terrible outlier of a 2021 season in which he pitched to a 7.39 ERA in 38 appearances. Although he hasn’t pitched since mid-2022 after requiring Tommy John surgery, he is currently rehabbing and the book isn’t yet closed on the 30-year old reliever.
Sent: After looking extremely promising over his first four Major League seasons, Tanner Roark was coming off of two extremely disappointing showings, and the Nats decided to pull the plug. As it turns out, this was a smart move, as Roark continued to regress. Since the trade, he owns a 4.95 ERA and 5.25 FIP in 43 starts, and has not pitched in the Majors since 2021.
Verdict: Got a long-term, decent quality reliever for a starting pitcher on his way out.
Grade: B+ (subject to improve if Rainey returns)
7/31/2019: Acquired RHP Daniel Hudson from Blue Jays for RHP Kyle Johnston
Got: Although a rental, Hudson was lights-out down the stretch for Washington, even stepping into the closer’s role in place of an injured Sean Doolittle. In 24 outings with Washington that year, he posted a 1.44 ERA and 6 saves. In the postseason he shared the closing duties with Doolittle, and recorded the final out in Game 7 of the World Series. He was re-signed the following offseason, and struggled in 2020 before providing quality work in 2021 that got him traded to San Diego amidst the team’s gigantic fire sale.
Sent: Kyle Johnston has never pitched in the Majors. The Blue Jays released him in 2023, and he is currently in the Rockies’ organization.
Verdict: Traded a prospect who would never go anywhere, got a truly instrumental piece for their eventual World Series win that year. Truly a steal.
7/31/2019: Acquired RHP Hunter Strickland, LHP Roenis Elias from Mariners for LHPs Aaron Fletcher, Taylor Guilbeau, OF Elvis Alvarado
Got: Strickland could never get it going with the Nats, posting a 5.14 ERA in 21 innings pitched. He would be released the following offseason. Elias, meanwhile, injured his hamstring in his first game with the team, and was never the same. He only appeared in 4 games that year, recording a 9.00 ERA. He would miss the entire 2020 season, and depart in free agency.
Sent: Fletcher has been dreadful at the Major league level, recording a 9.15 ERA in 68 career outings from 2020-2022. This year he’s struggling even at the AAA level. Guilbeau made his debut later in 2019, and showed promise, registering a 2.70 ERA across 25 outings between 2019-2020. However, his 5.01 FIP during that time suggested luck was a factor, and injuries would derail his career--he has hopped between injured lists and Minor League teams since. As for Alvarado, the book is not entirely closed on the 24-year old, but he has not made it higher than AA as of yet, and this year he’s struggling at the A-level.
Verdict: Everybody lost this trade. Strickland and Elias were absolutely terrible, somehow making the terrible bullpen they were meant to reinforce even worse. The three prospects sent to Seattle, meanwhile, were all spectacular busts. Call this one a wash.
12/24/2020: Acquired 1B Josh Bell from Pirates for RHPs Wil Crowe, Eddy Yean
Got: Bell’s Nats tenure got off to a rough start--in his first month as a National, his wRC+ was 38, and his batting average was a dismal .140. But after that point and up to the 2022 trade deadline, Bell owned a 136 wRC+, .372 wOBA, and belted 39 home runs. He was included in the trade that sent Juan Soto to San Diego, which resulted in hard-throwing prospect Jarlin Susana’s addition to the return.
Sent: Crowe never worked out as a starter, and has since transitioned to the bullpen in Pittsburgh. Over the last two seasons, Crowe owns a 95 ERA+ over 65 outings. Yean, meanwhile, is only 22 but has stalled at A-level over the last couple of seasons.
Verdict: Got a solid hitter and eventual trade piece in exchange for two prospects, one of whom turned out to be a mediocre reliever, and the other appears to be a bust.
7/29/2021: Traded LHP Brad Hand to Blue Jays for C Riley Adams
Got: Adams has since become the team’s primary backup catcher. The results have been mixed, with his DRS being considerably in the negative each year. His offense also left a lot to be desired from 2021-22--during those two seasons as a Nat, his wRC+ of 88 and wOBA of .301 were not pretty. However, he seems to have figured something out in 2023, generating a 147 wRC+ and .924 OPS, albeit in just 112 plate appearances. Although his defense has been terrible, if Adams can continue his strong hitting he could be an option at DH or first base moving forward.
Sent: Brad Hand was a disaster in his time north of the border. Making 11 appearances for the Blue Jays, his ERA was off the charts at 7.27. He was designated for assignment a month after the trade.
Verdict: If Adams remains a mediocre-hitting, poor-defense backup catcher for the rest of his career, this trade would still be a win. If his solid hitting of late continues long-term, this trade is a home run.
Grade: A- (but could be as high as A+ when we’ve seen more from Adams)
7/29/2021: Traded RHP Max Scherzer, INF Trea Turner to Dodgers for C Keibert Ruiz, RHPs Josiah Gray and Gerardo Carillo, and OF Donovan Casey
Got: Ruiz has been somewhat of a mixed bag so far. Over 229 games and 918 plate appearances in DC since the trade, Ruiz sports subpar offensive numbers--.304 wOBA, 91 wRC+. His power numbers are also lacking, with Ruiz totaling 21 home runs in a Nats’ uniform. His defense is subpar as well, sitting at -17 DRS. Still, at 25, he has time to grow both as a hitter and behind the plate. Josiah Gray had a rough first couple seasons in DC, but has turned things around in 2023, resulting in his first All-Star appearance. Over 23 starts this year, Gray holds a 3.69 ERA, 110 K’s, and a 7-9 record. He has had a rough past few starts, but hopefully these turn out to be a blip on the radar. Carillo has floundered a bit in the Minors, currently sitting at the AA level, and Casey has "bust" written all over him--soon after the trade, he was promoted to AAA. He has since slowly regressed, and this year he has a .499 OPS between A, High-A, and AA.
Sent: Scherzer was phenomenal down the stretch for the Dodgers--over 11 starts, he recorded a 1.96 FIP, 214 ERA+, and 89 K’s. He would also pitch well in the playoffs that season, but left LA in free agency. Turner, meanwhile, had a year and a half remaining on his contract. In that time, he would hit 31 home runs and 56 doubles, stealing 38 bases and logging a .362 wOBA and 134 wRC+. In the 2022-23 offseason, he signed with the Phillies and has surprisingly struggled to a .684 OPS this season.
Verdict: Giving up a rental was one thing, but trading a potential face of the franchise with club control was heartbreaking. The jury is still out on Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray, but they appear to be the only Major League talent acquired in the deal. Definitely could have gotten more, particularly with the loss of Trea Turner.
7/29/2021: Traded OF Kyle Schwarber to Red Sox for RHP Aldo Ramirez
Got: Ramirez is only 22, but has spent the last two seasons dealing with injuries and has not pitched since 2021. There is still time for him to turn things around, but question marks abound.
Sent: Kyle Schwarber was a rental for Boston, and he was excellent for them in 41 games, recording a .957 OPS and 7 home runs. He would hit 3 homers in the Sox’ run to the ALCS that year.
Verdict: Gave up a rental for a prospect covered in question marks. For now, this return looks rough.
7/29/2021: Traded RHP Daniel Hudson to Padres for RHP Mason Thompson, INF Jordy Barley
Got: Although experiencing some bumps on the road, Mason Thompson has developed into a quality reliever and has the potential to be an excellent setup man down the line. At age 25, he owns a 103 career ERA+ and 7.3 K’s per 9. Barley is 23 and has struggled in the Minors this year, recording a .632 OPS between high-A, AA, and AAA.
Sent: Hudson was also a rental. He, like many Padres players down the stretch that season, struggled mightily. In 23 outings, he recorded an egregious 5.21 ERA.
Verdict: Game up a rental who did not even pitch well down the stretch, got one solid-looking bullpen piece and one question mark.
7/30/2021: Traded C Yan Gomes, INF Josh Harrison to A’s for C Drew Millas, RHP’s Richard Guasch and Seth Shuman
Got: Millas is currently the #23 ranked prospect in the organization. He was tearing it up at AA this year and has since been promoted to AAA, where he’s continuing to hit well with a .798 OPS across 194 plate appearances. He figures to make his major league debut either this year or in 2024. Guasch has battled injuries this year but last season he struggled at the AA level. At age 25, it’s unclear when or if he will reach the Majors. Shuman, meanwhile, showed promise at the high-A level last season, but has not pitched this year due to injury.
Sent: Gomes and Harrison were both rentals for the A’s, meant to add veteran depth. Both struggled in Oakland, with Harrison hitting to a 81 wRC+ while Gomes recorded a figure of 76 in the same column.
Verdict: A top 30 prospect and two question marks seems a solid return for two veteran rentals. We’ll know more as the three prospects continue to develop, but for now this trade looks pretty good.
7/30/2021: Traded LHP Jon Lester to Cardinals for OF Lane Thomas
Got: A former top prospect, Lane Thomas looked like a bust when he came to DC. But he has since turned things around. After providing serviceable work between 2021-2022, he has broken out in 2023, with a .347 wOBA, 116 wRC+, and 20 home runs through August 12th.
Sent: Lester, another rental, served as a back-of-the-rotation arm for St. Louis, posting a 4.36 ERA across 12 starts.
Verdict: Traded 12 mediocre starts by an aging veteran for a long-term, everyday outfielder. Whether the team keeps Thomas long term or trades him in the near future for more prospects, this trade was as lopsided as they come.
8/1/2022: Traded INF Ehire Adrianza to Braves for OF Trey Harris
Got: Harris, 26 at the time of the trade, has floundered at AA for the Nats. He has had no problem getting on base, recording an above-average .335 OBP this year in Harrisburg, but his power is severely lacking--his slugging percentage is a meager .372.
Sent: Adrianza was a bench rental, and did not do much in his time with the Braves--in just 16 plate appearances, his OPS was .543.
Verdict: Got some organizational depth for a borderline useless bench hitter. Really not sure what the Braves were thinking on this one.
8/2/2022: Traded OF Juan Soto, 1B Josh Bell to Padres for INF CJ Abrams, LHP MacKenzie Gore, OFs Robert Hassell and James Wood, RHP Jarlin Susana, and 1B Luke Voit
Got: At the start of his tenure in DC, Abrams struggled to find power, but has come into his own lately. Since July 7th, he holds a 128 wRC+, .364 wOBA, 6 doubles, and 4 homers across 136 plate appearances. Gore, the other prospect in this deal who has since reached the Majors, made his Nats debut in 2023 and the results have been less than stellar. Over 23 starts, Gore owns a matching ERA and FIP at 4.62, and has allowed 21 home runs. There are signs of promise, such as his 10.3 K’s per 9. Still, Nats fans are right to be concerned about his struggles thus far. Hassell, Wood, and Susana are still far from the Major Leagues, with Wood showing the most promise in the bunch, recording a .819 OPS at AA Harrisburg. Voit, meanwhile, was subpar at the plate in his brief stint in DC, recording a 95 OPS+. Still, the decision to non-tender him at season’s end was surprising.
Sent: Soto was underwhelming to start his tenure in San Diego, recording just slightly above-average numbers to close out the 2022 season. He’s found his groove in 2023, though--he holds a wOBA of .394 and wRC+ of 153, with 24 home runs and a league-leading 99 walks. For the Padres, the success of this deal will hinge on whether they can sign Soto to a long-term extension, which they still have another year to do. Bell, meanwhile, was a rental for San Diego, and his time there went about as poorly as possible. In 210 plate appearances, Bell hit for a meager 79 wRC+ and .275 wOBA, leaving in free agency at season’s end.
Verdict: Too early to tell. Soto is performing as expected, and Bell was a total bust in San Diego. Meanwhile, the prospects the Nationals got in return are still largely question marks. None have proven themselves to be solid Major Leaguers yet (although Abrams is close), nor have any looked like total busts. The biggest dud the Nationals received in the deal was Voit, although they could have traded him for a prospect or two if they hadn’t bafflingly non-tendered him.
Grade: Not yet graded
7/31/2023: Traded INF Jeimer Candelario to Cubs for LHP DJ Herz and INF Kevin Made
Got: Herz has made two starts at AA Harrisburg, and the results have not been pretty. In just 7 innings, Herz owns a 5.14 ERA. Still, it’s early yet and the 22-year old was solid in 14 starts with the Cubs’ AA affiliate, recording a 3.97 ERA and 12.2 K’s per 9. Made was promoted to high-A in 2022, and has struggled to hit at that level since, which has continued with his move to Washington’s high-A affiliate in Wilmington, going 2-for-26 since the trade. Still, he’s only 20, and it’s possible the Cubs rushed him to the high-A level--while his A-level stats were decent, there was room for improvement.
Sent: A free agent at year’s end, Candelario was a must-trade. Thus far with the Cubs, he’s been fantastic, recording a blistering 1.188 OPS across 41 plate appearances. But as with all rentals traded away, his performance post-trade is somewhat irrelevant to the quality of this trade.
Verdict: Got two top-30 prospects with ETA around 2025-26 for a pure rental.
Grade: B (subject to change depending on how Made and Herz pan out)