The Washington Nationals flat out got fleeced by the Los Angeles Dodgers back at the 2021 trade deadline when they traded Max Scherzer and Trea Turner across the country for top prospects Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz.
Gray, already entering his age-25 season, led the NL in home runs and walks allowed last year, which was his first full big-league campaign. He has a 5.11 ERA, 5.81 FIP and 1.35 WHIP in 40 starts with the Nats. He still has a long road ahead, but those initial returns are disastrous.
Then there's Ruiz, who was believed to be the best catching prospect in all of MLB back in 2021. Though he could certainly still pan out to be a capable big-leaguer, his first full big-league season wasn't all that great.
In 112 games last year, Ruiz hit .251 with a .673 OPS, 95 OPS+ (5% below average), 33 runs scored, 7 home runs, 36 RBI and 6 stolen bases. The positives? The man doesn't strike out (just an 11.6% rate)! He's also a solid defender, but there's room for improvement on that end. He logged a 0.5 dWAR ... but also compiled -5 Defensive Runs Saved and ranked in the 23rd percentile for pitch framing. Not great.
Somehow, the Nationals deemed that worth $50 million over eight years? When they could've just waited things out because Ruiz was still a pre-arbitration player?
Former Dodgers C Keibert Ruiz's contract extension feels like desperation from Nationals
First and foremost, congratulations to Ruiz. He just secured his future in a way he deemed important to himself and his family. The eight-year deal guarantees him $50 million and could be worth up to $76 million.
The catching landscape is a tough one in MLB. There are very few accomplished ones. There are very few surefire All-Stars. But that's probably why the Nationals didn't need to do this? Let Ruiz play out the next few years and see where things stand. It's not like he blew the lid off his rookie campaign, which would've been the exact reason to initiate contract talks in order to save in the long run.
All this tells Dodgers fans is that the Nationals were desperate to secure one of the pieces from the 2021 blockbuster trade in a way that makes it seem like they're forcing this to work.
After all, you can't tell your fanbase that you pretty much got absolutely nothing impactful for two of the best (and now richest) players in MLB?
At least they didn't make the same mistake when dealing Juan Soto to the Padres. They cleaned AJ Preller's clock as best they could in that swap.