Adam Eaton’s injury puts a damper on Nationals hot start

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Updated: May 2, 2017

One of the big moves of the offseason was the Nationals’ trade for Adam Eaton. They give up a big package to add him and thus far he was exactly what they needed. He’s been a steadying presence in center field and has been the perfect bat in front of Bryce Harper in the lineup. The Nationals gave up a lot to get him this year, but if he had played like that all season long: it would’ve been worth it. Washington leads baseball in run differential and they look to be on their way to running away with the NL East. (Thanks, Mets.)

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Injuries change everything though and Adam Eaton’s torn ACL will keep him out for the rest of the 2017 season. This is a huge blow and suddenly creates a huge hole for the Nationals. They’ve gotten great starts from Harper and Trea Turner while Ryan Zimmerman is finally healthy and killing baseballs on the daily. Daniel Murphy is still as good as he was last year and this offense, even without Eaton, will be good as long as everyone stays healthy. However, it does take them from that upper echelon with the Cubs and Dodgers to a slot just below and that hurts more than anything.

They are really in a tough spot here as there wasn’t really a back-up plan. Michael Taylor should slot into center field, but his career 69 WRC+ isn’t very inspiring. They could hypothetically move Turner back to center where he was great last year, but that opens up a spot at shortstop. Wilmer Difo is no more inspiring at short than Taylor in center. The team traded away last year’s shortstop Danny Espinosa and they could regret that now.

A trade is always possible, but they don’t have as much to trade as they did thanks to the Eaton move. Dane Dunning, Lucas Gilioto and Reynaldo Lopez was a hefty price to pay and they’ll have to dig deep to make a move. That’s before you even consider that they still need help in the back of the bullpen and will need to find something to trade for that.

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs floated the idea of trading for Lorenzo Cain and Kelvin Herrera as that would solve the Nationals two main problems, but there is no way that deal gets done without Victor Robles who is one of the top prospects in the game. Robles is only in High-A right now, but he is projected to be a major star in this league and I’m not sure the Nationals could afford to let him go with Bryce Harper’s free agency clock ticking.

Luckily for the Nationals their lead in the NL East is so big right now that they don’t need to do anything right now. They can roll with Taylor, Chris Heisey and whoever else they can dig up and hope that something clicks. Maybe something will. Maybe something will fall in their lap.

The odds are that it won’t though and the Nationals will have to do something. This is their window with Harper, Murphy, Turner, Zimmerman, Strasburg and Scherzer are all healthy and playing well. There could never be a better chance for them to win the World Series than this season right here. The cost could be high, maybe too high, but it’s hard to imagine this team not doing whatever it takes to win now.

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