Stephen Strasburg's Health Rumored to Determine Nationals' Pursuit of Sonny Gray

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2017

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 23:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 23, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals are reportedly preparing to seek a blockbuster trade for a starting pitcher—potentially Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics—if it's determined Stephen Strasburg will miss extended time due to a forearm injury.

On Tuesday, Jon Morosi‏ of Fox Sports reported the health updates on Strasburg's arm before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline will dictate the Nats' course.

Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post passed along comments from Nationals manager Dusty Baker after the team's fireballer was forced to leave Sunday's start against the Arizona Diamondbacks after two innings.

"We think he's OK. We just took him out for precaution. He couldn't get loose. We saw he kept shaking his arm," he said. "So we just took him out for precaution. He's had a little stiffness, couldn't really get loose even though he was throwing the ball well. So we'll analyze it when we get back home. He'll see our doctors, and hopefully we'll have an answer on Tuesday."

Strasburg added: "I think it's something I can work through. I think that's kind of why I just want to get [out of there today], not let it get any worse, address it and clear it out in time for my next spot in the rotation."

The 29-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed the latter stages of last season with elbow soreness. He's posted a 3.25 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 141 strikeouts in 121.2 innings across 20 starts this season.

Meanwhile, Gray is one of the most popular names in the rumor mill ahead of the deadline. He struggled through a frustrating 2016 season, posting a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts, but he's bounced back strong this year with a 3.66 ERA in 15 outings.

Bob Nightengale‏ of USA Today previously noted the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals were among the other teams showing interest.

Ultimately, the Nationals rank third in baseball in starter ERA behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers and the D-Backs. So, while it makes sense they could make a splash for Gray if Strasburg is out, their efforts to upgrade should be focused elsewhere if he's deemed healthy.