The Washington Nationals currently sit atop the National League East division with a 59-42 record, four games ahead of the second place Miami Marlins. General manager Mike Rizzo has been working the phones for weeks trying to look for potential deals to strengthen his team's chances of making a deep postseason run.
According to FanRag Sports' MLB insider Jon Heyman, the Nationals were in serious talks to acquire closer Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees earlier in the week. No deal ended up happening, as the Yankees found the Chicago Cubs' offer to be more to their liking and sent the Cuban flamethrower to the North Side of Chicago.
Heyman also reported on Sunday that the Nationals have checked in with the Kansas City Royals about the availability of closer Wade Davis. According to reports, the Royals wanted Washington's top prospect starting pitcher Lucas Giolito in return. Not only is Giolito the Nationals' top prospect, but the majority of outlets have him rated as the top prospect in MLB, and the team is unwilling to part with him.
ESPN's Jayson Stark also mentioned Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson as another name the Nationals have checked in on. Although Robertson has 24 saves in 2016, he's sporting a 4.35 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, which should make his price tag lower than that of Davis. At the same time, the White Sox have yet to officially commit to selling, which could play a huge part in Robertson's availability.
"The asking price for Robertson -- who has a [4.35] ERA, not to mention $25 million left on his contract in 2017 and 2018 -- would figure to be significantly lower, particularly if the Nationals were to take on most of his salary," Stark writes.
In case you haven't noticed, there's a trend among every player that's been mentioned -- they're all closers. Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon has been atrocious of late, as he's late up seven runs in his last two appearances and taken the loss in both of those games. Papelbon doesn't have the same velocity on his fastball that he used to which has made him infinitely more hittable.
#Nationals Rumors: #Nats' closer search continues; Mike Rizzo talks Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller https://t.co/m7j5FoYwqfPapelbon's struggles makes the Nationals' interest in bullpen help look perfectly reasonable. There is a rumor that broke on Wednesday that didn't quite make as much sense.
— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) July 28, 2016
According to Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga, the Nationals have contacted the Toronto Blue Jays about the availability of outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista is currently hitting.224 with a.357 OBP, 12 home runs, and 42 RBIs and is in the final year of a six-year $78 million contract.
Nationals have reportedly inquired about Blue Jays' Jose Bautista. https://t.co/JVCbZvhzKq pic.twitter.com/3Dg9iWb2tBWhile Jose is certainly a great player when healthy, there are a number of reasons why a trade just doesn't make sense. For one, the Blue Jays are currently 57-45 and hold the top Wild Card spot in the American League. Trading Bautista would weaken a team that is playing some of its best baseball of the season.
— theScore (@theScore) July 28, 2016
In addition, the Nationals would likely have to part with at least one, if not two, of their top prospects in any deal involving Jose. When Washington was discussing a trade for Chapman with the Yankees, it was reported that the team wouldn't trade any of its top prospects including Giolito, Victor Robles, Reynaldo Lopez and Trea Turner. Why would Rizzo now be fine with dealing those same untouchables for someone like Bautista?
It wouldn't be shocking to see the Nationals trade for an outfielder after the struggles of Ben Revere this season, but it would be surprising to see Rizzo get someone like Bautista. It would make more sense to let Turner continue to man center field like he has the last two games and continue to look for bullpen help than to squander a couple of top prospects for a 35-year-old Jose Bautista on an expiring contract.
[Photo by Hannah Faslien/Getty Images]