Amid their ongoing struggles, the Washington Nationals are looking toward their future after reportedly trading shortstop Trea Turner and ace Max Scherzer to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blockbuster move.
Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, the Nationals will receive a package of four prospects that include right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray, catcher Keibert Ruiz, right-handed pitcher Gerardo Carrillo and outfielder Donovan Casey in exchange for sending Scherzer and Turner to Los Angeles.
Moving Turner and Scherzer saves the Nationals around $16.5 million for the rest of this season. Their payroll currently stands at $128.16 million, per Spotrac.
Dodgers Starting Lineup, Pitching Rotation
C: Austin Barnes
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Max Muncy
3B: Justin Turner
SS: Chris Taylor
RF: Billy McKinney
CF: Cody Bellinger
LF: A.J. Pollock
No. 1 Starter: Max Scherzer
No. 2 Starter: Walker Buehler
No. 3 Starter: Julio Urias
No. 4 Starter: Tony Gonsolin
No. 5 Starter: David Price
Nationals Lineup, Starting Rotation
C: Keibert Ruiz
1B: Josh Bell
2B: Josh Harrison
3B: Carter Kieboom
SS: Alcides Escobar
LF: Yadiel Hernandez
CF: Andrew Stevenson
RF: Juan Soto
No. 1 Starter: Joe Ross
No. 2 Starter: Jon Lester
No. 3 Starter: Patrick Corbin
No. 4 Starter: Erick Fedde
No. 5 Starter: Josiah Gray
Selling was absolutely the right move for the Nationals at this point, especially given the return for Scherzer and Turner. Ruiz and Gray are the top two prospects in Los Angeles' system, per MLB.com.
Gray recently made his MLB debut with the Dodgers on July 20. The 23-year-old has a 6.75 ERA, but that's only in two appearances covering eight innings.
Ruiz has appeared in eight games dating back to last season. He's 3-for-15 with two homers and two RBI in his brief MLB tenure.
In addition to Scherzer and Turner, the Dodgers roster could look very different in the next week or two with injured players on the verge of returning.
The Nationals did have Turner under control through next season before he could become a free agent, but their roster is in a precarious state now. He established himself as a key piece of Washington's recent run of success, including a victory in the 2019 World Series.
Washington was able to work out a one-year deal worth $7.45 million with Turner in 2020 to avoid arbitration. The 28-year-old said he was open to working out a long-term extension with the organization.
"If the deal's right, if I like it, I'm not scared to take it," he told NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas in January 2020. "Same thing, if it's not right, I'm not going to settle. Everyone I think knows their worth, [they] at least think they're worth something—whatever that is, high, low, willing to take less or try to get more."
The Nationals dealt with a series of injuries this season, including Stephen Strasburg undergoing another season-ending surgery in July to repair a neck issue.
Things haven't gone as planned for Washington so far in 2021 with a 47-55 record, though Turner hasn't been a problem. He is hitting .322/.369/.521 with 18 homers and 21 stolen bases.
The Nationals haven't been afraid to spend money, though most of their resources are invested in pitching. General manager Mike Rizzo was able to re-sign Strasburg (seven years, $245 million) in December 2019 and sign free agents like Scherzer (seven years, $210 million) and Patrick Corbin (six years, $140 million).
Rizzo has often allowed Washington's marquee position players to leave, with Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon being the two most notable recent examples.
Rather than wait for Turner to hit the free-agent market, though, Rizzo decided to make a move in order to acquire long-term assets for the future.
The Dodgers have acquired one of the most dynamic offensive players in Major League Baseball and an ace who can anchor any starting rotation in a playoff series.