Top-5: Ranking the best trades in Nationals history

Posted on October 21, 2013 by Ryan Sullivan

Photo Credit: Curly W Blog

One of the many negatives to the Nationals' early season exit from the playoffs has been my loss of the remote control to my wife, as I can no longer claim watching the Nats in the evenings as "work." She was channel-surfing the other evening in a quest for anything non-sports related and stumbled upon the Oliver Stone masterpiece, Wall Street.

As the Michael Douglas' character, Gordon Gekko, begins his famous diatribe -- "You see that building? I bought that building ten years ago -- my first real estate deal. Sold it two years later, made an $800,000 profit" -- and  it got me thinking about which trades have worked out the best for the Nationals in the short history of the franchise. After researching each of the team's transactions with the precision of lead character Bud Fox, these are the five best trades in team history.

05. June 29, 2009: Washington trades OF Ryan Langerhans to the Seattle Mariners for OF Mike Morse

Considered a relatively small transaction at the time, the Nationals sent depth outfielder Ryan Langerhans to the Mariners and decided to take a chance on over-sized but powerful shortstop named Mike Morse. Langerhans gave Seattle 260 rather forgettable at-bats over three seasons, while Morse hit .294/.343/.514 with 67 home runs and 208 runs batted in over his four years in Washington and evolved into one of the most popular players in team history. Mike Rizzo later utilized a sell-high strategy on his previous penny stock player, trading him to Seattle last winter to replenish the ailing Washington farm system.

04. December 8, 2005: Washington trades OFs Terrmel Sledge and Brad Wilkerson plus RHP Armando Galarraga to the Texas Rangers for 2B/LF Alfonso Soriano

In search of a marquee name and superstar for the then reputation-less franchise, Jim Bowden packaged underrated player and lead-off hitter Brad Wilkerson, along with Terrmel Sledge and Armando Galarraga for superstar Alfonso Soriano. A poor fielder at second base and with all-star second baseman Jose Vidro still in Washington, the Nationals famously engaged in a public battle to move Soriano to left field. After some tense moments of displeasure over the position shift, Soriano went on to produce perhaps the greatest offensive season in Nationals' history, hitting .277/.351/.560 with 46 home runs, 95 runs batted in, and 41 stolen bases while playing his home games in cavernous RFK Stadium.

An impending free agent, the Nationals could not match the Cubs massive eight-year, $136 million offer that off-season, deciding instead to accept compensation picks in the following MLB Draft. One of those draft picks was a little known right-handed pitcher from Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point, current Nationals superstar Jordan Zimmermann. 

03. December 4, 2007: Washington trades RHP Jon Albaladejo to the New York Yankees for RHP Tyler Clippard

The Nationals traded Jon Albaladejo after an impressive 14.1 inning debut in 2007, sending him to the Yankees for long-time starting pitching prospect Tyler Clippard. A shift to the bullpen unleashed a beast in Clippard, who has made 70+ relief appearances in four straight seasons including an all-star appearance in 2011. This trade is a perfect example of the "Buy-Low, Sell-High" concept and would make Mr. Gekko grin proudly.

02. July 29, 2010: Washington trades RHP Matt Capps to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Catcher Wilson Ramos and LHP Joe Testa

Recognizing an undervalued asset, the Nationals capitalized on Minnesota's need for a relief pitcher, and the fact that the Twins had just signed catcher Joe Mauer to a lengthy contract extension, to send all-star pitcher Matt Capps to the Twins for Nats' catcher of the future, Wilson Ramos. Although he has battled injury issues, Ramos is one of the most promising young catchers in baseball, and Washington should reap the benefits of this shrewd deal for many years.

01. December 23, 2011: Washington trades prospects A.J. Cole, Tom Milone, Derek Norris, and Brad Peacock to the Oakland A's for LHP Gio Gonzalez and prospect Robert Gilliam

Two winters ago the Washington Nationals decided to part with some promising but risky "penny stocks" (A.J. Cole, Tommy Milone, Derek Norris, and Brad Peacock) in exchange for a sound long-term blue chip investment in hard-throwing pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Oakland’s haul was impressive when the trade was made, but aside from Milone, the other players have struggled or been traded to other organizations. On the other hand, Gonzalez has provided the Nationals with back-to-back outstanding seasons and should be a key component of the starting rotation through 2018.


- November 10, 2005: Washington trades Emilio Bonifacio, Jake Smolinski, PJ Dean to the Florida Marlins for LHP Scott Olsen and OF Josh Willingham

- July 13, 2006: Washington trades Bill Bray, Royce Clayton, Brendan Harris, Gary Majewski, and Daryl Thompson to the Cincinnati Reds for Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez, and Ryan Wagner

- November 29, 2012: Washington sends RHP Alex Meyer to the Minnesota Twins for OF Denard Span

- January 16, 2013: Washington trades OF Mike Morse to the Seattle Mariners in a three-way trade in exchange for A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen, and a PTBNL (eventually named Ian Krol)

next up:

Top-5: Ranking our favorite current Nationals

October 18, 2013

We ranked and chatted about our favorite current Nationals players.


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