Nationals trade Ehire Adrianza – The Washington Post


The Washington Nationals traded 26-year-old outfielder Trey Harris on Monday for 26-year-old outfielder Trey Harris. When the deal was announced by both clubs, the Nationals had about 30 hours left to stage a sale for the second year running. Finding a landing spot for Adrianza – and bringing in a low-risk, low-cost player in the process – was an early win on the margins.

Adrianza, 32, signed a $1.5 million one-year contract with the Nationals in March. He spent 2021 with the Braves, playing six positions during their title season. At Washington, he spent most of the year recovering from a quad injury he sustained toward the end of spring practice. He played in 31 games and had a batting average of 0.179, an on-base percentage of 0.255 and a slugging percentage of 0.202 in 94 at bats. He started more recently, mostly ahead of Maikel Franco at third base, perhaps because the Nationals wanted to see him in last place before Tuesday’s deadline.

“I wish I had seen more of Ehire here because I know the kind of player he is,” manager Dave Martinez said Monday afternoon. “He was slow to start and I really believe it’s because he was injured. He had a bad injury with his quad and he really couldn’t get going. But I loved having him.”

To replace Adrianza on the active and 40-man rosters, the Nationals recalled Class AAA Rochester infielder Ildemaro Vargas. Vargas, 31, is a smooth defender and a light hitter who hits from both sides of the plate. He played for four Major League-teams and had a short stint with the Chicago Cubs in May. To free up space for Adrianza, the Braves designated Robinson CanĂ³ for assignment.

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Aside from Juan Soto, and with Adrianza heading back to Atlanta, Washington still has Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek and Kyle Finnegan who may be leaving before 6 p.m. Tuesday. And since Adrianza was somewhat of a surprise trading ship, it’s worth remembering that it’s hard to fully know what contenders need ahead of the stretch run. In that sense, Monday’s trade felt the same as when the Nationals sent left-handed Jon Lester to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Lane Thomas in 2021.

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Harris has not played above Class AA, meaning he is well behind Thomas’s level when he arrives in Washington – and hasn’t debuted yet, under team control for six seasons once his service clock starts ticking. In general, however, a depth arm is more valuable than a light hitting utility player.

The analogy is that, at the last chance to get players from other clubs, the Braves have a specific role in mind for Adrianza and see limited advantage in Harris. That made them good trading partners with the Nationals, even though General Manager Mike Rizzo prefers not to move players within the National League East.

Harris has been with Class AA Mississippi for the past two seasons. And since 2019, the right-handed batter has been trying to rediscover what earned him the Hank Aaron Award, which is presented annually to the best offensive player in the Atlanta system.

That year, Harris finished with a .323 batting average, .389 on-base percentage and .498 three-level slugging percentage, with 14 home runs and 26 doubles. But a full jump to Class AA has proved difficult: Harris had a .238/.338/.323 slashline this season in 220 at bats.

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His average and slugging percentage are a bit lower than where they ended up last year. His on-base percentage is a few taps higher. Harris, a 32nd round draft pick from Missouri in 2018, played all three outfield positions with some of his appearances on the right. MLB Pipeline ranked him the Braves’ 29th best prospect.

As recently noted by De Jon Watson, the Nationals’ director of player development, the organization is short of bats and overall talent in Class AA. A thin, top-heavy system is emphasized by Grade AAA Rochester pitchers and a handful of lower-level bats. And while the gap will be closed when the likes of Brady House, Jeremy De La Rosa and TJ White make progress in the future, it can’t hurt to take a kite on a struggling batter like Harris in the meantime.

The costs were minimal. The next step for the Nationals then is to see how many deals like this they can find.

“This is the first,” Martinez said. “Who knows what’s going to happen in the next 48 hours?”

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