- The Washington Times - Friday, July 30, 2021

The final chips of the Washington Nationals’ fire sale fell into play shortly before the 4 p.m. Friday trade deadline, with catcher Yan Gomes and utility man Josh Harrison heading to the Oakland Athletics and left-hander Jon Lester joining the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nationals, entering play Friday 7 1/2 games back of the National League East lead, began a full rebuild ahead of the trade deadline. The first domino fell Thursday, when General Manager Mike Rizzo agreed a deal to send closer Brad Hand to the Toronto Blue Jays. Then a flurry of deals followed, with left fielder Kyle Schwarber headed to the Boston Red Sox and reliever Daniel Hudson traded to the San Diego Padres.

The blockbuster came Thursday night, when a trade was agreed to ship starter Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The deal was finalized shortly before Friday’s deadline.

The last chip to move was a package of Gomes and Harrison, headed to Oakland to help push the Athletics toward the playoffs. Those moves signaled the end of Washington’s title window — for the better part of a decade, the Nationals have made playoff pushes, adding rather than selling at the deadline.

While Washington entered the season with those expectations once more, planning to fight for another World Series after capturing the franchise’s first in 2019, the reality has been far different. Rizzo saw no choice but to restart.

Harrison was an intriguing trade piece for Oakland since he can play all over the field, and he’s been hitting well of late. The 34-year-old is hitting .294 this season with an .800 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, and his average is .375 in his last 19 games.

Gomes just came off the injured list after an oblique strain, but the catcher homered in the first game of Thursday’s double-header. Gomes is batting .271 on the season with nine long balls.

In return, Washington is getting catcher Drew Millas and right-handers Seth Shuman and Richard Guasch. All three prospects play at Oakland’s High-A affiliate.

Millas is ranked the Athletics’ No. 28 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and the 23-year-old is hitting .255 in 59 games. Millas is one of three catchers the Nationals received in their trades ahead of the deadline. Guasch has a 4.67 ERA, and Shuman holds a 2.25 ERA.

In exchange for Lester, outfielder Lane Thomas is heading back to Washington. In 32 games at the major-league level this season, Thomas is batting .104. In Triple-A, though, the 25-year-old is hitting .265.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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