Would you believe the Nationals “are a potential sleeper team” for Cliff Lee?

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Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes that the Nationals “are a potential sleeper team in the competition to land” Cliff Lee, quoting “one baseball insider” as saying: “They’re going to step up and try to get a top free agent. They’d like to make a splash.”

Perhaps, but the odds of the top free agent on the market choosing a team that has lost 298 games in the past three seasons seems pretty slim unless the Nationals offer significantly more years and/or money than everyone else. And what are the chances of the Nationals out-bidding the Yankees for Lee?

Crasnick notes that “if the Nationals fail to land Lee”–and I’d change the wording from “if” to “when”–they’ll likely turn their attention the trade market, perhaps going after one of the Rays’ starters like Matt Garza or James Shields. That’s a whole lot more plausible, and Shields in particular has already been linked to a few teams as a possible trade target.

Mike Trout and Christian Yelich win the 2019 Hank Aaron Awards

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Major League Baseball announced today that Mike Trout and Christian Yelich have been selected as the American League and National League winners of the 2019 Hank Aaron Awards. The Hank Aaron Award, which was established in 1999, recognizes “the most outstanding offensive performers in each league.” A fan vote is part of it. A special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Hank Aaron weighs in as well.

Yellich, who is a back-to-back winner of the Award in the NL, led the Majors with a .671 slugging percentage and a 1.100 OPS, while leading the National League in batting average (.329), WAR (7.3) and OBP (.429). It was his third straight year with at least 100 runs scored and he set career-highs with 44 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He was the NL Player of the Week twice and stands a good chance of winning the NL MVP Award, though a late season injury will make it a pretty close vote.

Trout, who previously won the award in 2014, led the Majors with a .483 on-base percentage while leading the American League with a .645 slugging percentage and a 1.083 OPS. He was second in the AL with a career-best 45 home runs, was second i WAR (8.3) and, like Yelich, was a two-time Player of the Week winner. He too stands a good chance of wining the MVP though, he too, had a late season injury which could knock him down to second place.