The Winter Meetings roll on, and the Nationals are trying to beef up their starting rotation. The rumor is the Nats are close to pulling off a blockbuster trade to land pitcher Chris Sale from the White Sox. Going to Chicago would be prospects Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles, plus more pieces.
A trade for Sale would cost any team multiple prospects, and the Nats are throwing their best at Chicago. But for them it means Sale joins Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark at the top of the Washington rotation. That means improved odds of reaching the postseason again. And that’s all the Nationals are looking to do now, as their window looks to have a clear expiration date.
Thornburg, 28, had been a decent reliever before 2016, then exploded onto the scene with a 2.15 ERA, 90 strikeouts and 25 walks.
Shaw, who will be 27 in April, has been relatively average in 778 major league plate appearances (.251/.312/.442). Pennington, 21, had a 2.86 ERA, 49 K and 27 BB with low-A Lowell in 2016. And Dubon, 22, is quite the hitter, putting up a combined .323/.379/.461 with 30 steals in high-A and double-A.
Thornburg is a good measuring stick for Hector Neris, who’s 27 and put up a 2.58 ERA with 102 strikeouts and 30 walks last year. And it doesn’t seem like enough.
Dubon is more of a sure thing as at least a utility infielder, but Pennington is a lottery ticket and Shaw has only proven to be league average at third base.
If the Phils were to deal Neris, it’s because a team is valuing high-strikeout relief pitching so much that it’s willing to surrender a top-10 prospect. I’d rather take one top-10 talent (close to the majors) than Shaw and Dubon.
(Chris Sale photo by Keith Allison)