The Nationals Should Trade For Brandon Belt and Kevin Gausman

Brandon Belt takes batting practice on Feb. 19, 2018 at Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Nationals have some room to improve in their bullpen and lineup. With losses like Anthony Rendon, coupled with the bullpen not getting a ton better, they could use some help. The Nationals will probably not have Ryan Zimmerman for the future, as he signed a one-year deal, but he opted out. This leaves them with a hole at first that they’ll have to platoon in order to get the issue fixed. What if the Nationals could cover the hole at first base AND get a bullpen arm at the same time? If the Nationals trade for Brandon Belt and Kevin Gausman, they easily could.

Belting Balls At the Wrong Park

The major criticism of a move like this is that Brandon Belt is seen as a average hitter, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Brandon Belt’s a product of the horrible run environment in Oracle Park, which ranked last in Home Runs Factor and Runs Scored Factor. Brandon Belt’s metrics are actually pretty good, with them being much better than he is given credit for.

Stats (2019)xwOBAxSLGBB%OAA
Brandon Belt.348 .46013.5%4

The defensive numbers are great, and offensively they’re pretty solid as well, which is realistically all the Nationals would need out of Belt. He has 2two years left on his six-year/$79 million deal, so he wouldn’t be on the books for long, nor for that much money.

What about Kevin Gausman though?

Kevin Gausman’s Elite Relief Performance

Kevin Gausman has been an elite reliever in the 55.1 innings we’ve seen from him out of the bullpen. Gausman sports a 2.78 xFIP and 2.79 FIP, with a 3.58 ERA with 11.22 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. He also only has one year and $9 million on his deal, which would not hurt the Nationals payroll at all. He would be a complimentary piece for the Nationals alongside Brandon Belt, and he would elevate a bullpen that was bottom-20 in all peripheral and run prevention metrics.

Now, let’s make a deal!

Potential Brandon Belt and Kevin Gausman Trade For the Nationals

The Washington Nationals need to take all of the $23.56 million for the 2020 season and the $14.56 million for 2021, as it limits the amount of prospects the Nationals would have to deal in the trade. I think the Nationals would send 20-year-old 2B/SS Luis Garcia and SP Erick Fedde in the deal and would get a lineup and bullpen that would look like this:

Adam Eaton RF
Juan Soto LF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Brandon Belt 1B
Eric Thames DH
Trea Turner SS
Carter Kieboom 3B
Victor Robles CF
Yan Gomes/Kurt Suzuki C

That lineup looks pretty good, with some good depth off of the bench against matchups that are better against righties. The lineup looks like a contending one, but what about the bullpen?

Roenis Elias
Wander Suero
Aaron Barrett
Sean Doolittle
Ryne Harper
Kevin Gausman
Daniel Husdon
Will Harris

That bullpen isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s a solid, and there will be more than eight relievers. Bear in mind, we aren’t sure yet what the official roster will be come Opening Day.

Would this move help the Nationals win the division and go back to the Fall Classic? I think it does. It gives them a much deeper bullpen and a better lineup, and with their starting staff being elite, I think it makes them an elite team overall. If the Nationals trade for Kevin Gausman and Brandon Belt, this team is going to do some more damage.

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