The Nationals’ deadline fire sale unfolded in a matter of days. But it was years in the making.

On July 23, injuries had sapped the Nationals of Strasburg, Schwarber, another starting pitcher, both of their catchers and two key relievers. A handful of healthy players, including Patrick Corbin, Brad Hand, Victor Robles and Jon Lester, were performing well below expectations. Hand, signed in the offseason as the best reliever on the market, was in his worst stretch of the season, blowing back-to-back saves against the Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies.

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