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Nationals rumors: Washington exploring catcher trade market

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The Washington Nationals may look to address a roster need at catcher via the trade market.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report from Jon Heyman, the Washington Nationals have been exploring trade options for their need at catcher.

With Matt Wieters accepting his qualifying offer earlier in the off-season and no real starting catchers ever hitting the open market, if the Nationals wanted to improve at catcher Mike Rizzo would have to take to the trade market.

The current catcher for the Nationals appears to be Wilson Ramos. That's understandably a less-than-desirable option behind the dish. According to StatCorner, Ramos' framing abilities -- or lack thereof -- cost his team just over two runs in 2015. With such an elite pitching staff, Ramos' framing metrics might actually be too optimistic. Furthermore, Ramos was a liability offensively as well, posting a 63 wRC+.

The highest-profile available catcher option seems to be the Milwaukee Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy. With one year left on his contract plus a club option for 2017, it's unclear whether the Brewers are motivated to trade him away. He is an elite framing catcher with at least two excellent offensive seasons on his resume.

The problem for the Brewers however, is that Lucroy spent some time on the disabled list in 2015 and it seemed to take a toll on his performance. For David Stearns, the Brewers general manager, to be convinced to trade away such an elite asset he would have to make sure his trade value wasn't also suppressed due to one bad season.

While the Nationals prospect system seems strong enough to make such a deal, they may opt to keep their prospect strength and go after more controllable and lower profile catchers. The Boston Red Sox have a bit of a logjam at catcher right now, including Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, and Ryan Hanigan. Hanigan may be the only one the Red Sox are willing to part with and he isn't much of an improvement on Ramos or Jose Lobaton.

While it would take a significant haul, the San Francisco Giants could also be motivated to move Andrew Susac for the right price. With Buster Posey the full-time catcher and Brandon Belt at first base, Susac could be fighting for playing time in 2016.

With the 2016 season quickly approaching, the Nationals might have to commit to making their team better in short order. However, with the NL East not particularly competitive heading into 2016, the Nationals may opt to play it safe and retain prospects for the trade deadline push.