Temperature check two weeks after trade deadline

Two weeks ago today, the Nationals completed six franchise-altering trades, admitting this season was a lost cause. They were able to move eight players (seven on expiring contracts) to net 12 prospects in return.

Ten of those 12 are already in MLBPipeline.com's ranking of the top 30 Nats prospects. Six of those 12 are in the top 16. And three of those six are in the top 10, including Nos. 1 and 2, Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray (both acquired in the Max Scherzer-Trea Turner deal with the Dodgers).

But at the major league level, the Nationals are 3-10 since the 4 p.m. trade deadline on July 30, with just one win in their last 10 games.

Nobody said it was going to be easy or pretty.

Ruiz-Mask-on-Head-Rochester-Sidebar.jpgThat being said, two weeks have passed. That's two weeks of seeing what the new guys on the major league roster can do. Two weeks of tracking the progress down in the improved farm system. And two weeks to allow fans to clear their emotions and look at the moves with a fresh set of eyes.

So how are we feeling now, Nats fans? I'm not at the level of the usual proprietor of this blog space, Mark Zuckerman, and his occasional Q&A sessions. But I wanted to create a place today for us to discuss what's occurred now that we've had some time to digest it all.

I also received some great comments and questions during this week's episode of the MASN All Access Podcast, so I wanted to carry over some of those to this space as well.

Are you still upset with the decision to punt on the season and trade away fan-favorite players? Or are you able to accept this team's fate and welcome the franchise's new vision for the future?

It's probably easier to accept selling off the pending free agents. But my guess would be that it's harder to accept the decision to trade Turner with a year and half left under contract.

For me, it's not the ultimate decision to trade Turner that's frustrating. But rather it's the process that led to having to make it, which has been well documented.

It does hurt to see guys like Scherzer and Daniel Hudson - both of whom were instrumental in the 2019 World Series championship - suit up for other teams. But that was an easier decision to make. And the right one.

Have the new young guys done enough to peak your interest and give you some sense that, in a few years, this would all have been worth it?

Gray has 12 strikeouts over his first two starts, 10 of which came in last weekend's start in Atlanta. In a small sample size, he's shown the potential to be worthy of the hype.

I think that for the remainder of the season his starts with Washington are going to be must-watch for Nats fans, the next one coming as soon as tonight at Nationals Park. Being on the major league roster and already having some success, Gray is now the face of the franchise's future, and you're going to want to watch him every step of the way.

You should also expect to see Ruiz up from Triple-A Rochester in a Nationals uniform before the season's end.

Speaking of which, do you now find yourself checking more minor league box scores every morning? If not, I would definitely keep an eye on the Double-A Harrisburg score every time Cade Cavalli takes the mound.

After earning a quick promotion, Cavalli seems to have figured out Double-A hitters, with 68 strikeouts over nine starts with the Senators. He's also given up fewer hits and fewer walks to help bring his Harrisburg ERA down from 5.32 to 2.79 over his last four outings.

To answer your next question before you ask it: No, I do not think the Nationals will call up Cavalli in September. There's no need to rush him in a meaningless season and he still has some command issues to work out in Double-A.

Don't forget this is still his first professional season after being drafted as a junior out of Oklahoma. You'll see him in spring training and probably early next season.

It's not all good news on the farm, however, as Jackson Rutledge, at one time the Nats' top prospect, can't stay healthy this season. He returned from the injured list at low Single-A Fredericksburg on Tuesday, but only lasted 1 1/3 hitless innings before exiting his start with trainers and being placed back on the IL the next day while still dealing with a blister on his pitching hand.

Then there are the guys who have been with the organization for a longer period of time and are now getting an extended look in the big leagues: Carter Kieboom and Luis García. Does watching their growth captivate you for the remainder of the season?

In my mind, it should. These two are potentially major pieces in the Nationals infield moving forward. Aside from any major free agent signings this offseason, Kieboom and García are likely to be in the 2022 opening day lineup.

Can they be consistent enough at the plate to perhaps earn a promotion up the batting order while also limiting the mistakes in the field? That's definitely something I'm keeping an eye on over these last 47 games.

And finally there are the veterans. Can Juan Soto still play at an MVP-caliber level? Are you at all interested in seeing if Patrick Corbin can finish the season strong, giving his contract hope of looking a little better heading into next year? Are you also looking to see if Joe Ross and Erick Fedde can build up some momentum as prominent figures in the 2022 rotation? Will Victor Robles finally find success in the leadoff spot? Are you hoping Josh Bell ends the season with 30-plus home runs and carries that power over into the first half next season so the Nats can flip him at the deadline? And are you watching how Davey Martinez manages Ryan Zimmerman's innings while counting down the possible last times we'll see Mr. National in uniform?

That's a lot to unpack, and while they aren't my top priorities to close out the season, they are still storylines worth mentioning.

So two weeks removed from the start of the rebuild, what's the state of NatsTown? Let me know in the comments section below, I'll be checking in and replying throughout the morning.

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