Nationals shooting for stars of Sale and McCutchen?

The Washington Nationals may not have pulled off a trade for Andrew McCutchen—yet—but apparently it’s not from lack of trying. In fact, they may even have plans on pulling off a couple of big-time blockbuster deals. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Nationals are also in on Chris Sale and are actively trying to get both of them.

Obviously, this would have massive ramifications on the landscape of the National League if the Nationals were able to pull off a deal for both of them. Washington has been perpetually stuck at the door of the Divisional Playoffs, and adding an ace like Sale and a talent like McCutchen to their outfield could not only get them over that hump, but potentially give them what it takes to really battle at the top of the National League.

Of course, you have to think about the cost from both a financial standpoint and a prospect standpoint. As Jon Heyman notes, the Nats would have to keep a close eye on the luxury tax when it comes to adding on those players. That means that they’d likely be unable to get Mark Melancon as well (who they’ve been rumored to be on), and would have to settle for two out of the three of Sale, McCutchen, and Melancon should they be able to acquire them.

Meanwhile, the prospect cost if they pulled off the two trades would be substantial to the point where their minor league system would be stripped pretty bare. The White Sox have had an understandably high asking price for Sale, and the Pirates have had their eyes on some of Washington’s top prospects in exchange for McCutchen, so you’d have to imagine that this would probably clear out their biggest trade chips like Victor Robles and Lucas Giolito, along with eating up much of that next tier as well. That’s the price you have to pay for becoming a legitimate contender, though, and these blockbusters would put the Nats right up there if they could pull it off.

Braves won’t give up Swanson in potential Sale trade

In further Chris Sale news, one team that’s been linked to a potential trade for the White Sox’s ace has been the Atlanta Braves. There may be a bit of debate as to whether or not the Braves should be pulling off a deal like this at this point in their rebuild, but there’s no debating that they have the depth in their organization to pull it off. With that being said, Joel Sherman has pointed out that the Braves have declared that one player in particular is untouchable: Dansby Swanson.

Freddie Freeman may be the face of the Braves, but it’s clear that the Braves intend on Swanson to be the cornerstone at the keystone for the team’s future. Therefore, it’s understandable that the Braves have decided to put the “untouchable” tag on Swanson and his magnificent hair. Swanson doesn’t project to be a superstar, but he projects to be an incredibly dependable player and never looked out of his depth during his initial stint at the major league level, so that’s definitely a player that you want to keep around.

On the other hand, Sherman did note that the Braves are considering throwing Ozzie Albies into any potential deal. Ideally, the Braves would like to have Swanson at shortstop and Albies at second base for the future, but you have to figure that if the Braves actually have a chance to land Sale, then they’d have to consider giving up on that particular dream in favor of adding the 27-year-old pitcher to their rotation. Either way, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Braves and Nationals are the two major players for Sale at this point and it could simply come down to which team is willing to pay the most in prospect values and MLB-ready talent.

Marlins could be ready to give Kenley Jansen $80 million

The Miami Marlins have been rumored to be a dark horse candidate to potentially blow up the market for one of the top three free agent relievers on the market, be it Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon, or Kenley Jansen. In the case of Jansen, Ken Rosenthal has tweeted out that rival clubs think that the Marlins are ready to hand the closer from Curacao a five-year deal worth around $80 million and also give up the no. 14 overall draft pick in order to land him.

There are a couple of intriguing factors here. First, the Marlins may already have a perfectly capable closer in the form of A.J. Ramos. Additionally, their bullpen already has the likes of Kyle Barraclough and David Phelps in it, so the Marlins appear to be set when it comes to late-game situations. This is actually a position of strength for Miami, so why would they feel the need to sacrifice a top-15 draft pick and that much money just to fortify what’s already a pretty good bullpen?

Then there’s the financial number being bandied about. For reference, Mark Melancon was rumored to have a few offers on the table worth $60 million over four years. That would be the most expensive contract ever for a closer, but apparently the Marlins — or any other team that’s considering signing Jansen — are ready to break a record that hasn’t even been set yet. Then Aroldis Chapman’s camp is reportedly shooting for a contract that’s even more expensive than that. This may be a weak free agent class, but it’s clearly a good time to be reliever if these are the numbers that are being thrown around.

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