The nosedive experienced by the Washington Nationals might be the gain of the rest of Major League Baseball.
Even, possibly, the Philadelphia Phillies.
Following a series loss to the struggling New York Mets, the Nationals are rooted to the fourth-place position in the National League East, closer to the NL-worst Marlins than first place.
Not exactly the response the organization was hoping for when Bryce Harper skipped town to join the Phillies.
It seems as though the Nationals’ window for a championship is officially closed now with only four trips to the NLDS since 2012 to show for it.
A firesale seems like the next course of action for the franchise with big names possibly on the market like annual Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer.
While Scherzer’s departure may be more of a pipe dream for teams desperate to find pitching help, a far more tangible trade target will be third baseman, Anthony Rendon.
The 28-year-old is in the final year of his deal where he’s owed $18.8 million this season. That’s quite a bargain considering he’s one of the top third basemen in the game.
Over his past three seasons, Rendon is batting .292 while averaging 23 home runs and 92 RBI. He eclipsed the .300 in each of the past two seasons and his well on his way to do it again this year, slashing .325/.423/.675 over his first 35 games.
With the Nationals going nowhere and Rendon set to ask for a big-time contract this offseason, a trade is growing more and more likely with every loss.
And his bat could do wonders even as a rental for the Phillies this summer.
Philadelphia has been getting limited production from the third base position which has been one of the minusucule offensive question marks within an offense that is averaging almost five runs per game.
Maikel Franco is struggling to get to the .230 line this season as he nears the 50-game mark as his inconsistencies continue. After batting .274 last season to rebound from a .230 2017 campaign, Franco is batting just .224 this year.
He’s had to shoulder most of the third-base duties seeing as utlility infielders Scott Kingery and Phil Gosselin are also splitting time providing depth at second base and shortstop.
The price to acquire Rendon would likely be high, but snagging him this summer would give the Phillies one of the most imposing lineups in all of baseball. Rendon would settle in nicely in the middle of a well-protected lineup that already boasts Harper, JT Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins.
If the Phillies can’t find pitching depth, either in the starting rotation or the bullpen, then Rendon would help them simply outscore their opponents.
The way the NL East is shaping up though, it would allow the Phillies to run away with the division.