The Washington Nationals haven't come close to a playoff appearance since they won the World Series in 2019, but they might well be the envy of some of the other perennial losers across Major League Baseball. After doing well in the Juan Soto trade and drafting some excellent prospects these past few seasons, the Nats are starting to appear well-positioned to compete in an always-changing NL East for many years to come.

But make no mistake, 2024 is not when that window of contention opens. Washington flirted with .500 until mid-May, but it's clear the roster has gaping holes still yet to be fixed and until top prospects James Wood and Dylan Crews are both called up and fully adjusted to big-league pitching, winning isn't yet the top priority anyway. The starting rotation needs support too, which is something the Nationals can get a jumpstart on fixing with trades.

And in another stroke of good fortune, Washington once again did a nice job loading up on free agent trade chips before this season. They signed some veteran stragglers and reclamation projects, much like Jeimer Candelario a season ago, and are now set to reap the benefits. Now, we'll discuss those trade chips and the new homes that make the most sense for each of them.

Trade OF Eddie Rosario to Royals

A playoff race in the 2020s without Eddie Rosario in it simply wouldn't feel right. And it's a pretty fair assumption that when Rosario signed a one-year deal with the Nationals, he did so with the intent of moving to a contender at the earliest possible chance, assuming Washington was indeed still a year away. He hit so poorly during April that his trade value may have been in danger of melting away, but his last few weeks have made him appealing to teams that need outfield help once again.

And you can't talk about teams that need outfield help without mentioning the Kansas City Royals, who have yet to find a single corner outfielder who can hit at a big-league level so far this season. Whether it's been Nelson Velazquez, MJ Melendez, Dairon Blanco or Hunter Renfroe, no one with a “7” or “9” next to their name on the lineup card has been able to produce at the plate. Rosario has the pedigree and the bat to make a difference even in pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium, plus his switch-hitting gives manager Matt Quatraro versatility.

From the Nats' perspective, getting any promising prospects for a one-year rental is a bonus and obviously, the further Rosario can distance himself from the .170s in the batting average department, the better their return will be. Since their rebuild seems to be in the latter stages, they can look for prospects at any level of the minors as long as they like the talent. A realistic package might look something like the Royals' No. 11 and 16 prospects, RHP Chandler Champlain and OF Carson Roccaforte.

Trade SP Trevor Williams to Guardians

Trevor Williams signed a two-year deal with the Nationals prior to 2023 and turned in an awful first season, surrendering a 5.55 ERA and a NL-worst 34 home runs. Entering his walk year, all Washington could do was pray that Williams would somehow turn it around so they could ship him to a contender. And perhaps not even Trevor Williams himself would have predicted just how drastically he would do so.

With a 4-0 record, 2.29 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, the 32-year-old Williams is on track to have his best season yet, and by a fairly wide margin. And perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the peripherals match, as his 2.77 FIP and 3.18 xERA are both among the game's best. Though he's far from a fireballer, Williams seems to have figured out the perfect pitch mix this offseason, having heavily increased usage of a nasty sweeper, and someone lucky will get to add him to their rotation sometime soon.

And consider this a humble plea for the Cleveland Guardians to be that team adding Williams in the not-so-distant future. With Carlos Carrasco on the IL now, it would be almost impossible for Cleveland to say there are five healthy starters on the team that they fully trust and now that they are the odds-on favorites to win the AL Central, there's no excuse to stand pat or sell at this year's deadline. Meanwhile, Washington can shoot for the stars and try and grab a top-10 prospect for Williams, such as either RHP Daniel Espino or LHP Alex Clemmey.

Trade OF Jesse Winker to Diamondbacks

Everyone associated with baseball should be rooting for Jesse Winker at this stage of his career. The 2021 All-Star clearly had some setbacks the past couple of seasons, but hopefully he has truly turned a corner and returned to being a productive player to have in the lineup. Though he hasn't kept up the torrid pace he was setting through the first few weeks of the season, his 118 OPS+ is more than enough to improve the outlook of several teams vying for outfield production, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the squads that could use him the most.

Everyone knows about the struggles of Corbin Carroll, but the D-Backs' outfield issues actually run much deeper. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk and Pavin Smith have been ineffective at the plate and Alek Thomas has spent nearly the entire season on the IL. Thank goodness for Jake McCarthy, who was not a certainty to stay with the team this season, or Arizona wouldn't have one solid-hitting outfielder right now. Adding Winker to the mix would be a low-risk move that gives them another crack at finding some much-needed production.

And once again, though just a rental, there's a chance Winker could net the Nationals a future big-league starter if their player development program comes through. Someone like No. 10 Prospect Ruben Santana, a 19-year-old third baseman, could be a huge piece of the ballclub in three to four years' time. It's always a game of chance you play with prospects, but that's why it's important that this season, the Nationals give themselves as many poker chips to play with as possible.