Ryan Sullivan: Nationals should be sellers at trade deadline

The 2018 season has been a constant struggle for the Nationals due to injuries to key performers and subpar performance from others. Presently, the Nationals have a record of 51-51 and are seven games behind Philadelphia in the National League East and 4 1/2 games back for a wild card berth. With the news of Stephen Strasburg returning to the disabled list, Washington's playoff chances are dwindling by the day. The stark reality is general manager Mike Rizzo and the Nationals should probably sell ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Without delving into trade rumors surrounding Bryce Harper or Max Scherzer, Washington has five obvious trade candidates should it decide to raise the white flag unlike Dido.

* Acquired just last month from the Royals, reliever Kelvin Herrera has bounced back from a slow start to pitch well for the Nationals, posting a 3.29 ERA over 13 2/3 innings. The Nationals sent three interesting prospects to the Royals for Herrera, and could expect a similar return if they decided to flip him ahead of the deadline.

* Matt Adams signed a one-year $4 million deal with the Nats this winter and has been one of the bright spots for the team so far, hitting .279/.358/.554 with 16 home runs. A left-handed power threat capable of playing first base or left field, Adams should have several suitors if made available in trade discussions.

* After a slow recovery from offseason knee surgery and a sluggish start to the season, second baseman Daniel Murphy has turned it on the past 30 days, hitting .302/.352/.460 over that span. Certainly, his salary and declining defensive ability would hinder his market, but several contenders would jump at the opportunity to secure his services for the playoff stretch. Plus, this could give Wilmer Difo the opportunity to play second base every day and attempt to earn the spot in 2019.

* Following a monster effort in 2017, left-hander Gio Gonzalez has seen some regression thus far this season, providing the Nationals with a 3.94 ERA and 99 strikeouts over 107 1/3 innings. He has struggled recently and his $12 million salary will soften his market, but Gonzalez is one of the best rental starters available.

* After a rocky start, right-hander Brandon Kintzler has pitched well for the Nationals this season, posting a 3.67 ERA over 41 2/3innings. In particular, Kintzler has been excellent the past 30 days, posting a 2.03 ERA over 13 1/3. The relief pitcher market is hot, and Kintzler could help several teams in a middle relief capacity. Additionally, Kintzler has a $10 million team option for 2019 or a $5 million player option, a decision the Nats might like to eliminate from future payroll considerations.

While none of these players would return a massive prospect haul, by trading them, the Nats could rebuild much of the prospect depth depleted over the past five seasons. If Washington fails to dominate the Marlins this weekend, general manager Mike Rizzo should summon his inner Monty Hall and play "Let's Make a Deal" next week.

Ryan Sullivan blogs about the Nationals at The Nats GM and runs The Nats GM Show podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @NatsGMdotcom. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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