The 411 On Potential Cubs Trade Partners: Nationals

The White Sox traded Gio Gonzalez not once but twice. Whoops. - Jim McIsaac

The Nationals have disappointed, playing .500 ball much of the year when they were expected to be a World Series' favorite. They've stayed within striking distance of the Braves, though, so some improved play and some new blood could boost them into the playoffs.

Postseason Outlook

The Nationals are five games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and five games behind the Reds in the NL Wild Card. They've had a very disappointing season to date, but it'd be surprising if they weren't within shouting distance of a playoff berth come the deadline.

Needs (likelihood to deal for position in italics)

Starting Pitching-Low: There have been ongoing whispers that the Nationals are looking for pitching (specifically at Matt Garza), but I don't get it. They've got three guys in Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez who have been great. Ross Detwiler hasn't been awesome, but he hasn't been catastrophic. What they really need is someone to step up into that fifth-starter role.

Catcher-Low: Kurt Suzuki has struggled so far this year offensively, but he's making over $6 million this year. Another option for the Nationals is probably a luxury here.

Fits on the Cub Roster

Not a ton on the Nationals' roster to improve. If the Nationals are looking for a band-aid at starter, Carlos Villanueva is an option. If they're looking to go more bold and really go for it, Matt Garza is another piece that could interest the Nationals. If the Nationals try and bring in someone to help at catcher then maybe Dioner Navarro is a guy they'd look at.

What's in it for the Cubs?

BA Top 10 Nationals Prospects

Sickels' Top 20 Nationals Prospects

Fangraphs' Top 15 Nationals Prospects

MLB.com Top 20 Nationals Prospects

Ranked the 23rd- and 13th-best organization for talent by Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, respectively, there's certainly some disagreement over the Nationals system. Anthony Rendon was just promoted and is now starting for the Nationals, so he's almost certainly off the table. Lucas Giolito was a top-five talent out of last year's draft until he blew out his arm. He throws some serious heat and has a developing change up and curve ball, but he's yet to make his professional debut. Brian Goodwin is a Top-100 type center fielder who has great tools and has played solidly in double-A (.742 OPS). He sounds like a prototypical Theo/Jed centerfielder, projecting to be good defensively, while getting on base and eventually hitting for some power.

A.J. Cole is the Nationals' top healthy pitching prospect and he's been OK so far in High-A (4.10 ERA). Cole has a great fastball with good movement, but both of his secondary pitches need some serious work. Third Baseman Matt Skole was well thought of coming into the year, but he had Tommy John surgery this spring. Nate Karns is a pitcher that's been banged up the past few years and is already 25, but his fastball and breaking ball are plus pitches. If he can develop a change up he'll stick as a starter but he could be a very good reliever. Finally, Sammy Solis is another pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery who throws three solid pitches and has been good in High-A in limited action as a 24-year-old.

Who says no?

Matt Garza for Brian Goodwin and Nate Karns

Carlos Villanueva for Brett Mooneyham

From Sickels: "Brett Mooneyham, LHP, Grade C+: Erratic Stanford product posted 2.55 ERA in NY-P, but with just 29 strikeouts in 42 innings. Live arm, mechanical difficulties held him back in college. A challenge for the coaching staff but he has upside."

Dioner Navarro for Tony Renda

Sickels on Renda: "During his debut in short-season ball only nine of Rendon's hits went for extra bases - all doubles. He walked almost as much as he struck out and could make a solid No. 2 hitter because of his ability to make contact. He also has the foot speed to steal a few bases. In the field, he shows modest range with a modest arm but handles everything hit to him."

Overall Fit- Low

With Harper coming back and Rendon playing second, the Nationals just don't have a whole lot of holes. If they want to improve their rotation then maybe Villanueva or Garza would interest them, but otherwise there's not much there.

Next Up: San Francisco Giants (sorry, went out of order a bit)

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