For the last several years the Washington Nationals have been in a position to sell at the trade deadline, and have held firm.
Some may say this decision was admirable, some may say it was stupid.
Regardless of your belief on the matter, the possibility remains that the Nationals will be dealing several key players in their roster to prepare the future.
Who may be dealt?
Nick Johnson is in the last year of a three-year, $16.5 million contract. At the age of 30, going on 31, Johnson is probably at the peak of his career and has a lot to offer competing Major League teams. Most notably, Johnson can provide solid defense and a very strong bat at first base. The lefty is batting .305 this season but more importantly is getting on base at .415.
The Nationals should trade Johnson because it makes no sense for them to resign him at
the end of the year. As a solid Major League veteran he has value and the Nationals would be wise to get something for that value rather than lose it at the end of the year. Furthermore the Nationals have been extremely lucky as Nick Johnson has been unusually healthy this year. The Nats should move Johnson, get prospects, and clear the path at first base for either Chris Marrero or Derek Norris.
Teams who may target him: Mets, Phillies, Giants, Redsox
Willie Harris is a versatile and consistent player that can help any team at the Major League level. At the age of 31 his speed for base stealing is essentially gone and his best asset is his glove that he can provide both in the outfield and in the infield.
The Nationals should trade Harris because his value will only go down between now and when his contract runs up at the end of 2010. With the edition of Morgan in centerfield, Harris is essentially useless to the Nationals and they could trade him to a club that could benefit from his versatility and veteran presence.
Teams who may target him: Phillies, Twins, Angels
Willingham was put in a situation to fail when he came to Washington. He joined an outfield that already had Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, Wily Mo Pena, and Adam Dunn. Willingham wasn’t happy, and found it hard to find playing time early. However as the mirage prospect status of Dukes and Milledge wore off, and the 2008 batting woes of Mo Pena and Kearns continued, Willingham soon found himself in the everyday line up. After sticking it out Willingham is now one of the Nationals top hitters, batting .297/.415/.569 with 13 home runs and 18 doubles in only 71 games.
The Nationals should trade Willingham because at the age of 30 he will be a free agent this offseason. If he continues this streak he will be a very high priced free agent, and if he doesn’t than there is no point in having him on the team anyways. The best value the Nationals can get out of Willingham this season is to trade him and capitalize on his hot hitting. If they really want him next year, they can resign him in the offseason.
Teams who may target him: Cardinals, Giants, Red Sox, Phillies