Weirdest trade of the year award goes to the Nationals, who attached Trea Turner to Max Scherzer’s remaining contract and moved about 130 million dollars off the payroll over the next seven years for the pre-free-agency life cycles of Dodgers’ prospects RHP Josiah Gray and C Keibert Ruiz. It’s an intriguing build, provided they get anything from Stephen Strasburg, Carter Kieboom, Victor Robles, Patrick Corbin and Luis Garcia. The team doesn’t look particularly close at first blush, but if they can find a few clever free agent moves, I can see the bones of a contender if I squint hard enough. 

 

Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA

1. C Keibert Ruiz | 23 | MLB | 2020

Ruiz has never struck out much but added power in 2021 and posted a drool-inducing .310/.377/.616 slash line and 21 HR along with 30/33 BB/K clip across 101 AAA games. Washington is a cozy place to hit, and Ruiz holds the key to igniting this rebuild. He’s not a piece I’d be trading for in dynasty because I just don’t feel that kind of way about young catchers, especially high priced catchers, but I am interested in Ruiz at the right price in redraft.

 

2. RHP Cade Cavalli| 23 | AAA | 2022

A late convert to full-time pitching, Cavalli brought some untapped upside to the MLB draft and landed at 22nd overall to the Nationals, who are never afraid to snag a first-round arm talent with question marks. Cavalli thrived as a pro and climbed three levels, dominating in A+ and AA before getting knocked around in his final stop: six starts at AAA spanning 24 innings resulting in a 7.30 ERA. Everyone has a bad month in them, and I’m not fussed about that underwhelming last lap. Cavalli suppressed home runs and induced ground balls all year, striking out 175 batters in 123.1 innings along the way. He’s a thick 6’4” 235 and looks like a linebacker on the mound.

 

3. SS Brady House | 18 | CPX | 2024

The 11th pick in this summer’s draft, Brady House looks like a big win for Washington so far. At 6’4” 215 lbs, he’s smooth enough to stay at shortstop for the immediate future, but third base could be his long term destination, which would be a win for us in fantasy. In 16 games on the complex, House hammered four home runs and slashed .322/.394/.576, vaulting himself firmly into the top 5 for First-Year-Player Drafts this winter.

 

4. RHP Cole Henry | 22 | A+ | 2023

High-A hitters were no match for Cole Henry. The 6’4” 215 pounder with a plus fastball and solid curveball, changeup combo sliced through the league with 63 strikeouts, 11 walks and a 0.79 WHIP across 43 innings. If not for an injury that interrupted his season from June until mid August, Henry would’ve spent a month or more at AA and leaped up the lists this off-season. As is, his current low profile presents an inviting buy-low window.

 

5. OF Roismar Quintana | 19 | CPX | 2025

Quintana checks the boxes that matter to us in 5×5 leagues: he’s 6’1” 175 lbs and can hit, thump and run. Whether or not he’ll do all three all the way up the chain remains to be seen, but so far so good across seven games at the complex: .308/.550/.692 with a home run. Buy low opportunities don’t get much lower than this. I will be adding him at the very first signs of signal across all my leagues.

 

6. OF TJ White | 18 | CPX | 2025

A physical switch hitter at 6’2” 210 lbs, TJ White stands out among a handful of upside plays in the club’s lower minors. White played well for 15 games on the complex after being drafted in the 5th round, slashing .283/.356/.547 with 4 HR and SB while playing mostly centerfield. He was among the younger players in his class and will be 18 until July 23. A promotion to High-A around that time is within his grasp if he starts the season well in Low A—something I’m anticipating given White’s advanced physicality and functional blend of patience and power with just contact to let his skills manifest on the field.

 

7. RHP Jackson Rutledge | 23 | A+ | 2023

An enormous human at 6’8” 245, Rutledge was the 17th overall pick in 2019 on the strength of a nasty fastball, slider combination that helped him click right away in pro ball. By the end of his draft year, he had dominated for six starts at full season Low A (2.30 ERA, 0.91 WHIP). Rutledge hasn’t recaptured the magic of that season, but he’s got a ton of topside if he does. As of today, I’d bet he spends most of his big league life in the bullpen.

 

8. 3B Yasel Antuna | 22 | A+ | 2024

Antuna has yet to make the club look smart for spending $3.9 million to sign him back in 2016. It’s not all his fault though. He lost almost three full seasons due to Tommy John surgery, leg issues and the covid shutdown before returning to the field this season. I got a live look at him when Wilmington came to Cedar Rapids, and he looks all of his listed 6’ 195 lbs. Antuna batted cleanup that night, but his stats are ugly so far: 12 HR and 4 SB across 106 games with a .227/.307/.385 slash line. He’s been over-owned in dynasty leagues for a while now in my opinion, but he still has enough upside that I’m on the fence about his future. Still not someone I’m looking to acquire, but I’m open to the possibilities going forward.

 

9. SS Armando Cruz | 18 | DSL | 2026

Cruz tied with Antuna for the biggest bonus the club has ever spent on an international amateur: $3.9 million. The majority of that coin is invested in his glove, the best on the market this year—a no doubt, long term shortstop on the defensive side of the ball but a work in progress with a lot of questions on offense. He’ll be something of a honey trap this Supp draft season, ensnaring dynasty players who focus on dollar signs and defense-inclusive list makers.

 

10. LHP Seth Romero | 25 | MLB | 2020

Romero is a proximity play as much as anything, but he still offers a lot of upside even as an end game draft and hold redraft piece. His stop-and-start journey through the minors leaves us with little to parse, statistically speaking, but Romero has always piled up the strikeouts, and he has a good chance to contribute as a starting pitcher next season and solidify his spot in the rotation for years to come. More likely, his spotty command relegates him to a bullpen role, but multi-inning, high-dominance-rate relievers are returning value these days, so a relief role might be fine for deeper leagues.

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

  1. Ray says:
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    Hi Itch,

    Nice work once again.
    You previously mentioned you are interested in acquiring Robles after his AAA performance.
    He is available in an NL only keeper. What are you willing to deal for his services?

    Ray

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Ray!

      He has a lot of value to me in that format. Tough to pull names from the ether, but I’m not pinching pennies if someone is willing to be reasonable about moving Robles in NL Only. I’m happy to overpay a little bit to roll those dice.

  2. Natty says:
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    Where do you see Jeremy De La Rosa coming in at?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      He’s 11 for me right now. Tough year for him, but he was young for full season ball.

  3. junior56 says:
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    How do you like Daylin Lile? How do you rate his hit tool?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I had him inside the ten at one point. He’s 12th now, but 5-12 are kinda close in this group. Hit will be Lile’s carrying tool. I’d give it a 50. Feels a bit generous at the moment, but I’m eager to see where he opens 2022 and will adjust as needed as we see more of him.

  4. Nordberg says:
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    Would you keep Ruiz in a 20 player 12 team keeper. I like his upside and what he showed us this year in the majors (limited time of course).

    What are your thoughts long term on him?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Depends who you’re throwing back instead, but yeah I can definitely see Keibert as a keeper in a 12×20.

      I’d love to wait before proclaiming my long term thoughts on any catcher, but that’s not the gig. Catching in the majors is like driving the bobsled in Cool Runnings. Nothing can really prepare a guy for the prep work involved. Except maybe the Dodgers development team. Ruiz feels like a high average catcher with pop—a top five/ ten type at the position for a limb time.

  5. Nordberg says:
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    Thank you, that is where my head was also.

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