Adrianza, 32, signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Nationals in March. He spent 2021 with the Braves, playing six positions during their championship season. With Washington, he spent most of the year recovering from a quad injury he sustained late in spring training. He appeared in 31 games and had a .179 batting average, .255 on-base percentage and .202 slugging percentage in 94 plate appearances. He was starting more recently, mostly for Maikel Franco at third base, perhaps because the last-place Nationals wanted to showcase him before Tuesday’s deadline.
“I wish I could have seen more of Ehire here because I know the type of player he is,” manager Dave Martinez said Monday afternoon. “He got off to a slow start, and I really think it’s because he was injured. He had a serious quad injury and couldn’t really get going. But I loved having it.”
To replace Adrianza on the active and 40-man rosters, the Nationals recalled infielder Ildemaro Vargas from Class AAA Rochester. Vargas, 31, is a smooth defender and light hitter who hits from both sides of the plate. He has been with four major league teams and had a brief stint with the Chicago Cubs in May. To clear the space for Adrianza, the Braves designated Robinson Canó for assignment.
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In addition to Juan Soto, and with Adrianza moving back to Atlanta, Washington still has Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek and Kyle Finnegan to move in before 6 pm Tuesday. And given that Adrianza was something of a surprise trade token, it’s worth remembering that it’s hard to fully know what the contenders need before the final stretch. In that sense, Monday’s trade felt similar to when the Nationals sent left-hander Jon Lester to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Lane Thomas in 2021.
Harris hasn’t played above Class AA, meaning he’s far behind where Thomas was coming to Washington, and he’s yet to make his debut, under team control for six seasons once his service clock starts. to run. However, in general, a depth arm is more valuable than a light-hitting utility player.
The analogy is that, in the last chance to land players from other clubs, the Braves have a specific role in mind for Adrianza and see a limited advantage in Harris. That made them good business partners with the Nationals, even though General Manager Mike Rizzo prefers not to move players within the NL East.
For the past two seasons, Harris has been with Class AA Mississippi. And since 2019, the right-handed hitter has tried to rediscover what earned him the Hank Aaron Award, given annually to the best offensive player in the Atlanta system.
That year, Harris finished with a .323 batting average, .389 on-base percentage, and a .498 slugging percentage across three levels, with 14 home runs and 26 doubles. But a jump from full-time to Class AA has proven difficult: Harris had a .238/.338/.323 slash line in 220 plate appearances this season.
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His average and slugging percentage are a bit below where they finished last year. His on-base percentage is a few points higher. A 32nd-round draft pick out of Missouri in 2018, Harris has played all three outfield positions with a portion of his appearances in right-hander. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the Braves’ 29th-best prospect.
As De Jon Watson, director of player development for the Nationals, recently pointed out, the organization is lacking in bats and overall talent in Class AA. A thin, top-heavy system is highlighted by AAA-rated Rochester pitchers and a handful of bats at the lower levels. And while the gap will be addressed when Brady House, Jeremy De La Rosa and TJ White, among others, move on in the future, there’s nothing wrong with taking a flyer on a struggling hitter like Harris in the meantime.
The costs were minimal. The next step for the Nationals, then, is to see how many deals like this they can find.
“This is the first,” Martinez said. “Who knows what’s going to happen in the next 48 hours?”