MLB Trade Rumors: Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays blockbuster trade is possibly brewing

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 17: Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays is visited on the mound by Wilson Ramos #40 as they collaborate in the third inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on August 17, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 17: Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays is visited on the mound by Wilson Ramos #40 as they collaborate in the third inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on August 17, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals have a couple of needs that could be filled by the Tampa Bay Rays. Could they make a blockbuster trade?

2018 has the potential to be a franchise-changing year for the Washington Nationals. They will be hosting the All-Star week in mid-July and appear to have a legitimate shot at hosting a few World Series games in late-October.

However, they have work to do before dreaming of bringing another championship parade to the streets of DC. They have been inconsistent all year and currently find themselves in third place in the NL East. If the season ended today, they would not even make the postseason.

It is no secret that Mike Rizzo will be aggressive at the deadline. He has already acquired Kelvin Herrera and is eyeing other upgrades. The Washington Nationals are a solid team, but they have a few holes.

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In order to fill those holes, Rizzo should look to the Tampa Bay Rays. At 38-40, the Rays are 14 games out of the division and 9.5 games out of the Wild Card race. Crazier things have happened, but it would take a miracle for the Rays to make the postseason.

After dealing Evan Longoria and Alex Colome over the last six months, the Rays will likely continue their fire sale this summer. Wilson Ramos and Chris Archer headline the list of Rays potentially on the move, and both players could help the Nats in a big way.

Ramos, the former Nats’ backstop, has been dearly missed in DC. Matt Wieters was signed to replace Ramos, but he has struggled mightily. In 146 games for the Nats, Wieters has slashed just .226/.296/.349.

Unfortunately, Wieters suffered a hamstring injury in mid-May and has been on the shelf ever since. Pedro Severino and Spencer Kieboom have split the catching duties in his absence, but they have not exactly lit it up either. Wieters, Severino, and Kieboom have combined to hit .189, which ranks second-worst in the majors.

Meanwhile, Ramos is having a career year. His .293 batting average and 125 wRC+ both lead all qualified catchers. If the Nats had forgotten what he is capable of with a bat in his hands, they were reminded on Monday night, when he took them deep twice.

In addition to improving the catching corps, the Nats could add some rotation depth. Max Scherzer is pitching (and hitting) better than he ever has, but the rest of the rotation has been inconsistent. Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson are both on the disabled list, while Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark have struggled at times.

If the Nats are going to achieve their lofty goals, they must add a starter. There will not be many great starting pitchers available at the trade deadline, but Archer would be a phenomenal acquisition.

Archer’s name has been floated in trade talks before, but this could be the year that the Rays finally decide to pull the trigger. They have already dealt a few key pieces, and Blake Snell is ready to take over as their ace.

If Archer is made available, the Nats should be all over him. He has established himself as a solid starter and is under team control through 2021. He is also relatively cheap, which would make Scherzer and Strasburg’s contracts easier to stomach.

Although Archer may not be an ace, he would be a terrific third starter for the Nats. A triumvirate of Scherzer, Strasburg, and Archer would be a nightmare for opposing teams in a best-of-five series.

With Erick Fedde, Jefry Rodriguez, Seth Romero, and Wil Crowe, among others, appearing to have bright futures, the Nats could have an elite starting rotation for years to come.

Acquiring Ramos and Archer makes perfect sense for the Nats, but the Rays would have to get some decent prospects in return. Juan Soto and Victor Robles are understandably off-limits, but a prospect package headlined by Carter Kieboom could get it done.

Carter Kieboom, Spencer’s younger brother, is the Nats’ third-ranked prospect. The 20-year-old infielder hit .298 with 11 homers in 61 games for High-A Potomac and was recently promoted to Double-A. He has gotten off to a great start there as well, batting .348 with a homer in his first five games.

Next: NL East trade deadline primer

The Washington Nationals appear to be all-in in 2018. They are already World Series contenders, but acquiring Wilson Ramos and Chris Archer from the Tampa Bay Rays would further solidify them as one of the best teams in baseball.