After a nice week for the Nats, we answer our second ever Mailbag Monday questions. If you want your question to be answered in next week’s mailbag, make sure to @ us on Twitter @HalfStHighHeat
#1 “We buying or selling?” – @NatsPost
Matt – After an 8-3 homestand, I think this question definitely becomes more complicated. On the surface, the Nationals are now just 5.0 games back of the division-leading Mets, making buying somewhat of a realistic option. However, I don’t think we’re going to find out the true answer to this question until the All-Star break. It’s been a great 11-game stretch, but the Nationals need to show some consistency and make up some more ground being buying becomes a real option at the deadline.
#2 “ What does this team have to do over the next month to prove they are contenders?” – @NationalsAce
Matt – I think this question directly relates to the previous question about buying or selling. Right now, I don’t think you could call the Nationals a real “contender”. They’re still 5.0 games out in the division and three games under .500. I think before you can consider yourself a real contender you have to at least get your record above .500. If the Nationals are able to win three or four of their next series and get themselves two to four games above .500, then I think we can start to consider this team a potential contender for the postseason.
#3 “If Nats buy, who are some realistic targets?”
Matt – So let’s assume the Nats stay hot in the next few weeks and get themselves over .500 and back in the race. If they do that, two potential trade targets I would keep in mind are Diamondbacks’ third baseman Eduardo Escobar, and Tigers’ second basemen, Jonathan Schoop. Escobar is on an awful Diamondbacks team that just lost 17-straight games, so it’s almost a lock Arizona will look to move him He’s got plenty of pop, (27 XBHs, 15 home runs), but also strikes out quite a bit. Schoop is also having a very solid season on a bad team, slashing .274/.330/.471 with 13 home runs and 34 RBIs. Both players are on expiring deals making just $7M (Escobar) and $4M (Schoop) this season. Both of these moves would keep the Nationals under the $12M they need to exceed the Luxury Tax.