Trades are a big part of baseball, and sometimes, trades can determine who ends up winning the World Series.
Teams looking to upgrade at certain positions unload their farm system to acquire an impact bat or arm ready to help their team win. Sometimes, the players they trade from their farm system end up doing nothing good. However, other times, the prospects end up becoming future stars.
The Nationals have made some great trades in their eight-year history (including 2012), but they have also let go of some good players. In some deals, they traded a future star for a current star, and the trade worked out well for both teams. However, that wasn't always the case.
Here are four players the Nationals wish they never traded.
The Nationals got a lot out of this trade, but they probably wish they would've kept Tom Milone.
Washington traded Milone and three other prospects for Gio Gonzalez and another prospect this past offseason. Gonzalez is 13-5 with a 3.13 ERA, and he has anchored a great Nationals pitching staff. However, Tommy Milone is 9-6 with a 3.34 ERA, and without him, the A's probably wouldn't be tied for an American League wild-card spot.
Milone is young, and he will only get better. If the Nationals could've found a way to trade for Gonzalez without giving up Milone, they could have Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Milone in their rotation.
The young pitcher wouldn't add experience to the team. However, he would definitely make the rotation better, and he would be a star in Washington for years to come. Washington has a lot of strikeout pitchers, but they don't have many pitchers who know how to jam hitters and force weak contact. Milone is one of those guys, which means he would bring something the Nationals need.
Emilio Bonifacio was traded in a deal that brought a star to Washington, but the Nationals sure wish they could've kept him.
After the 2008 season, the Nationals traded the speedy outfielder for Josh Willingham. Willingham played with the Nationals and hit home runs there for one season, but he was a rental on a terrible team. Now, Bonifacio is on a good team (that hasn't done well), and Willingham is on another bad team.
Bonifacio is hitting .277, and he has stolen 25 bases this year (he's been caught just twice). Bonifacio has a stellar .355 OBP, and he is someone the Nationals could use at the top of the order. Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper have done a nice job hitting leadoff, but Bonifacio is someone the Nats could really use.
If the Nationals had Bonifacio, Steve Lombardozzi would move to the bottom of the order and deliver key hits there. Bonifacio would get on base for Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse, creating a lineup opposing pitchers wouldn't want to face.
Justin Maxwell doesn't have great numbers, but he can play.
The raw center fielder has done a nice job with the Astros, as he has hit 10 homers this year. Maxwell has lots of power, although he does have problems with striking out. Maxwell has a terrible 38.2 percent strikeout rate (60 strikeouts in 157 at-bats).
However, if Maxwell was still a National, he would be honing his skills in the minors. Maxwell would come up to the big leagues and make contact more often, and he would bring the power Washington needs.
In a year or two, he could add more power to the Nationals lineup and complement Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse. When Maxwell makes contact, good things happen (Maxwell has a .371 BABIP).
Pittsburgh's star closer is 28-for-31 with a 2.11 ERA this year, and thanks to him, the Pirates are near first place in the NL Central. Hanrahan has struck out 42 batters in 38.1 innings pitched, and he has only allowed nine runs this year.
If Hanrahan was still a National, they would have a shutdown closer pitching in high-pressure situations. Drew Storen was hurt for the entire first half of the season, and while Tyler Clippard did a nice job filling in, he was falling apart.
Hanrahan could be the shutdown closer Washington needs. Drew Storen is good, but he is young and inexperienced. Hanrahan has some good stuff, and he knows how to strike out hitters. If the Nationals had Hanrahan, they could use Clippard and Storen in setup roles while having a trustworthy closer work the ninth inning.