Bill Ripken: Nationals should trade for pitcher but cannot mortgage future

Aug 14, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) reacts after an injury in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
© Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

A month into the shortened 2020 MLB season, the Nationals have faced challenges due to injuries and pitching woes.

The Nationals are currently missing starter Stephen Strasburg, who is out for the season, as well as four other relief pitchers and have been forced to make continual adjustments to their roster to cope with injuries. To make matters worse, the starters who are health like Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Aníbal Sánchez and Austin Voth have all been underperforming. With the MLB trade deadline approaching, the question remains as to whether the Nationals should consider trading for a starter to fill the void left by Strasburg. 

MLB Network analyst Bill Ripken said on NBC Sports Washington’s Nationals Talk podcast that this could be the way to go.

“I think they should be in the market,” he said. “I don’t want to see the future mortgaged, so let’s say they keep Soto, Robles and find a way to keep Turner. Those three I can build around as far as position players. I think if you can trade somebody, you should trade somebody because we need another dude on the mound to be able to help us defend.”

Ripken emphasized the importance of preserving the future over trading for a title. Rather than losing stars like Juan Soto or Trea Turner, Ripken advised the Nationals to make smart trades to keep the future intact.


He compared the situation to the Houston Astros’ decision to trade for a starting pitcher last season ahead of the World Series.

“I think we’ve proven over time, especially last year what we saw in the World Series, you’ve got to have some starters to go out there and win,” Ripken said. “Houston, they go out and get starting pitchers. They didn’t develop them. They go out there and trade for them, but it’s very similar.”

In July 2019, the Astros traded away four prospects to the Diamondbacks for pitcher Zack Greinke who ultimately started two games in the World Series against the Nationals and posted a 2.45 ERA in the series.

Now with Strasburg out for the season and set to undergo surgery to address the carpal tunnel neuritis in his right hand, the Nationals will have to make decisions on if making trades can improve their chances over the final month of the shortened season.