And here. We. Go.
With the trade deadline about 24 hours away, the baseball world is already abuzz with moves and even more rumors. The Nationals, who figure to play a major role in this year’s deadline, have already gotten the ball rolling, making their first of the numerous trades expected over these next two days.
This afternoon the Nationals traded utility player Ehire Adrianza to the Braves, for whom he played last year, in exchange for 26-year-old outfielder Trey Harris. Adrianza signed a one-year contract with the Nats in March but had his season delayed due to a quadriceps strain during the last week of spring training.
After finally joining the big league club, the 32-year-old played a variety of roles for manager Davey Martinez, appearing at second base, third base, shortstop and left field over 31 games. Adrianza hit .179 with two doubles, seven RBIs, one stolen base and five runs scored with the Nats.
“I talked to Ehire. He gets an opportunity to go back to where he was from and go help them,” Martinez said during his pregame press conference. “And they're in the playoff run, so I'm excited for him that he gets to go back there. I wish I would have seen more of Ehire here because I know the kind of player that he is. He got off to a slow start, and I really believe it's because he was injured. You know, he had a bad injury with the quad and he really couldn't get going. But I loved having him. He was a constant professional. I know I could count on him going out there and doing whatever I asked him to do, no matter what. So I wished him all the best. And I told him, I said, ‘Maybe we'll cross paths again here one day soon.’”
Coming back in exchange for Adrianza is Harris, who was Atlanta’s No. 29 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com. He was hitting .238 with eight doubles, one triple, two home runs, 16 RBIs, 18 walks, four stolen bases and 25 runs scored in 59 games for Double-A Mississippi.
A right-handed hitter, Harris was the winner of the Braves’ 2019 Hank Aaron Award, which they present annually to the top offensive player in their minor league system. He hit .323 with 26 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs, 73 RBIs, 36 walks, eight stolen bases and 73 runs scored in 131 games between three levels of Atlanta’s system that year.
“We get an outfielder back who was 29 on their prospect list,” Martinez said. “And I saw where, you know, '19, he actually had a really good year. Obviously, we had the COVID year, and he's kind of bouncing back. I know he's in Double-A, but he still has some upside. So we'll see how that works out.”
Across four seasons in the minors, Harris has hit .283 with a .362 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging percentage in 339 games. He was a 32nd-round selection out of the University of Missouri in the 2018 MLB Draft.
Harris will report to Harrisburg while infielder Ildemaro Vargas takes Adrianza’s spot on the Nats’ active roster. The Nationals selected the 31-year-old’s contract from Triple-A Rochester this afternoon and will have him available for tonight’s opener against the Mets.
Vargas had his contract selected for his second stint with the Cubs on May 10 and played 10 games before being designated for assignment on May 22. He elected free agency on May 26 and signed a minor league deal with the Nats the next day.
He has hit .245 with 14 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 25 RBIs, 27 walks, three stolen bases and 37 runs scored in 73 games between Rochester and Triple-A Iowa in the Cubs’ system. He appeared in 56 games at shortstop, 12 games at second base and seven games at third base between the two stops, showing the kind of versatility the Nats covet and now need on their bench.
“If you look at both of those guys and what they can do, Vargas is a similar player to Adrianza,” Martinez said. “He's a switch-hitter and he can pick it. I mean, he could play all three infield positions and play them well. So like I said, he's a switch-hitter. He was doing well at Triple-A with just being able to catch the ball. So he'd be a nice guy to have here as well. You know, just if we need him to play him anywhere in the infield, he can do it. And like I said, he'll play some everywhere. And hopefully, we'll get him in there as soon as we can.”
Vargas is a six-year major league veteran. He’s hit .227 with 14 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 46 RBIs, 21 walks, three stolen bases and 48 runs scored in 186 games between the Cubs (2020, 2022), Diamondbacks (2017-2020, 2021), Pirates (2021) and Twins (2020).
Another option could have been Dee Strange-Gordon, who was released on June 19 and then re-signed to a minor league contract on July 16. But he only just transferred from the Florida Complex League to Rochester, going 1-for-3 with a walk in his first game back with the organization on Saturday.
“I think it's more the roles, what the roles that they play,” Martinez said of the decision to bring up Vargas. “We don't want to bring up any more young, young guys if they're not going to play every day. The reason why we brought Luis when we did is because we felt like he was gonna get enough to play every day, which he has. For some of these veteran guys, I think they're more apt to adjust to a role like that and be able to come off the bench and help us in different ways. So for us, when we talked about who we should bring up, we thought Vargas would be the guy because he can do multiple things.”
More roster moves are coming, whether later tonight or tomorrow before the 6 p.m. trade deadline. Mark Zuckerman has you covered on all things trades while I’m handling game coverage tonight and tomorrow as the Nats face the Mets’ Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.
“This is the first one,” Martinez said of the trade. “And who knows what's gonna happen in the next 48 hours, so yeah, we'll see. But like I said, today is business as usual. We got to go out there and play the Mets, who are coming in hot. Face another old National in Max, so we got to go out there and compete.”