I have a feeling that I’ll eventually be able to add more teams to the potential trade partner list in a month or so, and that includes the Brewers, Phillies, and possibly the Giants (I don’t think they’ll last with the Dodgers and Padres). For now though, the last team that I have on the immediate radar is the Washington Nationals.
Again, I realize they’re the team that made the historic comeback in 2019, but I don’t think they have the same magic in the tank in 2021, and the circumstances are a lot different.
The thing that the Nationals have going for them is they have a few key pieces that could keep them competitive for a long time, starting with Juan Soto. That might allow them to sell some valuable veterans and re-tool a bit on the fly with on eye on competing again in 2022. If that’s the case, the Blue Jays should be very interested, and it starts with the expiring contract of Max Scherzer.
The 36-year-old would be the dream candidate to bring to the Blue Jays this summer, and would give them an intimidating duo at the top of the rotation heading into the playoffs. He’s a three-time Cy Young Award winner, and a playoff tested giant of the game that would immediately improve the Jays chances in any playoff series. Trading for him now might also give Atkins a leg up on trying to sign the future Hall of Famer this winter, which I hope is something that’s under strong consideration, even if there should be plenty of suitors.
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Stephen Strasbourg and Patrick Corbin’s contracts would take them off the list of feasible candidates, but that won’t be the case for the Nationals closer in Brad Hand, who is working on a one year, 10.5 million dollar pact in 2021. The 31-year-old hasn’t been dominant this year by any means, but his late-inning experience could prove to very valuable, especially if the top options currently on the Blue Jays roster can’t stay or get healthy for later in the year.
In addition to the two veteran arms, I’d be curious to see what the Nationals would want for the expiring contract of Starlin Castro. He hasn’t done anything to write home about in 2021, but he’s been an underrated contributor throughout his career, and probably wouldn’t cost a lot in a swap. He’d provide steadier defence at the hot corner than what we’ve seen from Cavan Biggio this year, and it would allow the Jays to use Biggio in more of a super-utility role.
Last not but least, I’d be curious to see if there was a way to get Yan Gomes included in a trade package somehow. The former Blue Jay isn’t flashy, but he would provide a big offensive upgrade over what we’ve seen from Danny Jansen and the rest of the catchers in 2021, and he’s a receiver with playoff experience on his resume. Like many of the Nationals’ veterans, Gomes is playing on an expiring contract, and one that pays him just six million.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for Ross Atkins and company to consider, and timing might be everything in 2021, both in terms of the players that could be available, and when and where the Blue Jays could use the boost the most.