MLB trade rumors: Nationals’ deadline plans hinge on coming week; Rays interested in Nelson Cruz

MLB’s July 30 trade deadline is now fewer than 10 days away, and that means it’s time to let the rumors flow like water. Below, you can find the day’s most notable reports and trade speculation.

Nationals‘ direction remains uncertain

One of the big storylines of this deadline is whether or not the Nationals make their ace Max Scherzer available. Scherzer, an impending free agent who has earned a no-trade clause by virtue of his 10-5 rights, would immediately become the top starter on the market. Alas, the Nationals themselves don’t seem to know which direction they’ll be taking between now and then.

“We still have some games to play before we make those kind of decisions, but I think a dual path is probably the most advantageous for us right now,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters on Tuesday, according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN.

The Nationals entered Wednesday with a 45-49 record, putting them some five games back in the National League East. Washington will complete a series against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday before then beginning a seven-game road trip against the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies.

:I think if we turn into definite sellers, everything will be on the table, I would think,” Rizzo added. “…Which I don’t foresee.”

Presuming the Nationals don’t crater, it stands to reason they’ll hold onto Scherzer. Even if they do fall off, it’s possible that ownership would veto a Scherzer trade, much as they did with Bryce Harper during his walk year. As such, the smart money is on Scherzer remaining in D.C. through at least the rest of the season.

Rays interested in Cruz

The Rays are among the teams with interest in Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal

Tampa Bay has been linked to Cruz in the past, and he would be a sensible addition for a lineup that ranks 13th in FanGraphs’ wRC+ measure. Cruz, 41, entered Wednesday hitting .295/.373/.538 (153 OPS+) with 19 home runs in 84 games; he would rank first on the Rays in OPS+ and tied for second in homers.

If there is a catch as it pertains to the Rays’ interest in Cruz, it would be that they’d have to then play Austin Meadows in the outfield. The Rays, through preference or necessity, tend to prioritize defense over offense.

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