Nationals trade Ehire Adrianza – The Washington Post

Nationals trade Ehire Adrianza - The Washington Post


Fighting their way through the trade deadline, the Washington Nationals traded utility Ehire Adrianza to the Atlanta Braves on Monday for 26-year-old outfielder Trey Harris. When the deal was announced by the two clubs, there were around 30 hours left for the domestic championships to take place a liquidation for the second consecutive year. That they found a landing spot for Adrianza – and tagged a low-risk, low-cost player in the process – was a quick win on the margins.

Adrianza, 32, signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Nationals in March. Prior to that, he spent 2021 with the Braves, playing in six different positions throughout their title season. With Washington, he spent most of the year recovering from a quad injury sustained near the end of spring training. He appeared in 31 games and had a .179 batting average, .255 on-base percentage and .202 hitting percentage in 94 plate appearances. He was starting more recently, mainly for Maikel Franco in third, maybe because last place nationals wanted to present it before the Tuesday deadline.

To replace Adrianza on the 26- and 40-man rosters, the Nationals will recall infielder Ildemaro Vargas from the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Vargas, 31, is a slick defender, light hitter and bats on both sides of the plate. He was on four major league teams and had a short stint with the Chicago Cubs in May. To make room for Adrianza, the Braves picked Robinson Canó for assignment.

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Aside from Juan Soto, and with Adrianza back in Atlanta, Washington still has Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek and Kyle Finnegan to potentially move before 6 p.m. ET Tuesday. And since Adrianza was something of a surprise trade chip, it’s worth remembering that it’s hard to fully know what the contenders need before the stretch race. In this sense, the exchange was like when the Nationals sent left-handed starter Jon Lester to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Lane Thomas in 2021.

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Harris hasn’t played above Class AA, meaning he’s well behind Thomas when he arrived in Washington – and hasn’t made his debut yet, under scrutiny team for six seasons once his service clock starts ticking. Generally, though, a depth arm is more valuable than a light-hitting utility drive. The analog is that, at the last chance to get players from other clubs, the Braves have a specific role in mind for Adrianza and likely see limited upside with Harris. That made them good business partners with the Nationals, even with general manager Mike Rizzo’s loose rule of not buying players into the division.

For the past two seasons, Harris has been with the Class AA Mississippi Braves. And since 2019, the right-handed hitter has tried to rediscover what earned him the Hank Aaron Award, given 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 hitting percentage on three levels, smashing 14 home runs and 26 doubles. But a full-time jump to AA proved difficult, as Harris had a .238/.338/.323 slant line in 220 plate appearances with Mississippi this season.

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His average and slugging percentage are down a notch from last year. His base percentage is a few ticks higher. Missouri’s 32nd round pick in 2018, Harris has played all three outfield positions with a share of his appearances on the right. MLB Pipeline listed him as the Braves’ 29th-best prospect.

As De Jon Watson recently noted, Nationals director of player development, the organization lacks bats and overall talent in AA. A thin, heavy system is highlighted by Rochester AAA-class pitchers and a handful of bats on the lower level. And while the gap will be closed when Brady House, Jeremy De La Rosa and TJ White, among others, advance in the future, there’s no harm in picking up a flyer on a struggling hitter like Harris between- time.

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

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