SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale discusses the surging A’s and underachieving Nationals.

With a sub-.500 record and their playoff hopes all but gone, the Washington Nationals have waved the white flag on the 2018 season and have begun tearing down a once-promising roster. 

The Nationals on Tuesday traded three-time All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Chicago Cubs for minor-league infield prospect Andruw Monasterio and a player to be named or cash considerations.

“We took a chance at the first trade deadline and held tight with the belief that that was our best way to compete and kept almost our entire roster intact,” general manager Mike Rizzo said.

“I still think today we have the talent base on this team to play competitive games at the end of  the season realizing what the standings say and what calendar says. 

He added the trade will give the Nationals more payroll flexibility to compete in the future.

“These moves allows us financial flexibility going into the 2019 season,” he said, “to allocate our resources in that direction and also allow us to let some of our young players to get valuable major league experience.”

Murphy has been an offensive force since arriving in Washington in 2016, hitting .329/.380/.550 in three seasons and finishing as the runner-up to Kris Bryant in the 2016 National League MVP voting.

After undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee and starting this season on the disabled list, Murphy was hitting .194 on July 8. However, he has caught fire over his last 34 games, with a .364 average, five home runs and 19 RBI.

“I was surprised … saddened,” Murphy told reporters after learning of the trade, “But that’s baseball.” 

In addition, the St. Louis Cardinals claimed first baseman Matt Adams off waivers from Washington. Adams previously played for the Cards from 2012-17. He signed a one-year deal with the Nats this past offseason.

Adams was hitting .257 with 18 homers and 48 RBI in 249 at-bats.

Murphy and Adams are both free agents at the end of the season, as is outfielder Bryce Harper.

Harper was also placed on revocable waivers over the weekend – and was reportedly claimed by a National League team. However, his waiver time expired without a deal.

The moves come just as the 62-63 Nationals are scheduled to face the second-place Philadelphia Phillies in what was shaping up to be a critical series in their fight to stay alive in the National League playoff picture.

Instead, Rizzo is throwing in the towel.

“It’s been frustrating because we’d go through spurts of playing good baseball,” he said. “We just didn’t win enough games.”

Follow Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner


Show Thumbnails

Show Captions