With five days before the MLB's trade deadline, the Nationals dropped to eight games under .500 Sunday after being swept by the lowly Orioles.
Washington’s offense put five runs on the board in the series finale — more runs than it scored in the first two games combined — but a blown save by closer Brad Hand resulted in a walk-off win for Baltimore.
The Nationals hoped to climb back into the NL East race this weekend, playing three games against the Orioles after taking two of three from the Miami Marlins. Instead, they were swept by a club that had only won three in a row against a single team twice all season. The losing streak has pushed Washington further into seller territory, making it more likely that their roster loses a few pieces by the end of the week.
“This is a tough time of year for players,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the game Sunday. “Everybody’s worrying about getting traded. Everybody’s hearing rumors. We need to focus on staying present. That’s what we need to do. Focus on winning one game at a time and go out there and do your best to win for the Nats. That’s what need to start doing and worry about the present.”
Next up are four games on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies. The present has the Nationals eight games back of the New York Mets in the NL East and 11 behind the San Diego Padres for the second Wild Card spot. Their -26 run differential is the worst in their division and no team in the NL has won fewer games this month.
Players on expiring contracts that could end up being traded include Hand, Max Scherzer, Daniel Hudson, Josh Harrison, Kyle Schwarber and Yan Gomes. Trea Turner has one more year of arbitration on his contract and could fetch a strong return as well. Though Martinez said he isn’t sure whether the rumors are affecting his team’s play, Hand — the subject of recent rumors himself — downplayed the effect they’ve had on the Nationals’ clubhouse.
“I don’t think it really affects us,” Hand said. “We’re all professionals and we all show up to do our job. For me personally, I’ve been through the trade talks before and I have been traded so just every day you come here, you’re a National and you gotta prepare to win that game today. And I think we all know the situation that we’re in but we’re fighting to get wins and we’ll try to play out this last week and get as many wins as we can.”