NL East Notes: Nationals, Phillies, Bruce, Cano, Smith

As the Nationals try to claw their way back into contention in the NL East, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post writes that the team’s lackluster draft results in recent years have been a notable factor in their current struggles. From 2011-15, Anthony Rendon is the lone, established impact player the team managed to draft and develop into a star, and there have only been 18 Nationals draftees to reach the Majors (with any team) in that span — tied for second-fewest in MLB. Looking at those 2011-15 drafts, only four players selected by Washington have more than one career WAR, and those results include the since-traded Lucas Giolito and Nick Pivetta. The Nats have had better success on the international market (Victor Robles, Juan Soto), but Svrluga notes that an organization built on scouting needs to get back to finding more impactful talent in the draft if it hopes to continue its run as a near-regular NL East contender. It’s a well-researched piece that any Nationals fan will want to take in in its entirety.

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More from the division…

  • This weekend’s Jay Bruce trade is the first of what figure to be multiple deals made by the Phillies between now and July 31, general manager Matt Klentak implied following the completion of the swap (link via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com). Philadelphia’s outfield depth has compromised early in the year, but Bruce will give them some coverage at either corner spot and can be a backup option for Rhys Hoskins (or a replacement in the event of an injury). “He’s excited to come to a contending team and understands that for the next year and a half there may be times when he’s playing regularly and there may be times when he’s playing off the bench,” said Klentak of Bruce. The Phillies, per Zolecki, are paying only $2.75MM of what remains on Bruce’s contract between now and the end of the 2020 season.
  • The Mets won’t activate Robinson Cano from the injured list until “at least” Tuesday, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. Out since May 23 due to a strained quadriceps, Cano was eligible to be activated for either Saturday or Sunday’s contest but was not reinstated. He’s struggled in his return to New York City, hitting .241/.287/.371 with three homers and 13 doubles while logging a career-worst 19.9 percent strikeout rate as a member of the Mets.
  • Newsday’s Tim Healey tweets that Mets fist baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith is headed for an MRI after hyperextending his right thumb on a swing in Saturday night’s game. Smith doesn’t feel it’s a major issue — he ripped a home run even after incurring the injury — but will still be checked out to ensure that there’s no serious damage. The 23-year-old has been red hot for the Mets in a limited role this year, hitting .365/.467/.571 with three homers and four doubles in just 75 plate appearances through 48 games.

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