NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Ryan Dempster #46 of the Chicago Cubs piches in the first inning against the New York Mets at CitiField on July 8, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
It's that time of year again, the time when rumors start flying around and the Washington Nationals are finally getting mentioned this afternoon. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote today, in an article entitled, "Nationals exploring pitching options", that the Nats are not about to let Stephen Strasburg get shut down without at least exploring the available arms on the pitching market. "The team is exploring trades for starting pitchers," the bow-tied FOXSports.com reporter writes, "including Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster, according to major-league sources."
Mr. Rosenthal also notes that the Nationals are not just looking at the right-handed Cubs' veteran. "Brewers righty Zack Greinke and Twins lefty Francisco Liriano are among their other potential targets," according to his sources.
With the Nationals and Nats' GM Mike Rizzo still "adamant" that they're going to shut Stephen Strasburg down, it makes sense that they might pursue a free agent arm. However, when Nationals' principal owner Mark Lerner was asked about potential deadline deals a few weeks back, he told reporters, including the Washington Post's James Wagner, that the team wasn't necessarily interested in "rentals" as he put it, but added, "'If [General Manager Mike Rizzo] feels there’s a part out there that he thinks will help us, we’ll talk to them.'"
The Nationals have, of course, pursued Zack Greinke before, but the right-hander, who has struggled in recent starts, blocked a trade to Washington before he was dealt to Milwaukee (thinking the Brewers were closer to competing for the postseason at the time) in spite of the fact that the Nationals were reportedly willing to offer an extension somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-years/$90M.
Mr. Rosenthal adds that the Nationals are also considering dealing for, "... an everyday catcher, with the Rockies’ Ramon Hernandez among their potential targets," since they've struggled to replace what Wilson Ramos offered before he suffered a torn ACL in his knee earlier this season that ended his 2012 campaign.
The Face of the Nats' Franchise was asked about potential deadline deals this afternoon in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Mike Wise and he told the host he thought it might be a possibility. "I think any time you're a team that has a chance to kind of make a playoff push," Zimmerman said, "If something presents itself that's going to make the team better kind of without giving up something that's going to cripple the farm system or cripple your team in the future, I think it makes sense to do it. You sort of have to weigh in on whether it's going to be a rental, I guess. If a pitcher's going to come for a couple months and then have no intentions of resigning here... there's a lot of things you have to weigh in here."
• Listen to Zimmerman's interview with 106.7 the FAN's Mike Wise Here: