Getting 24-year-old closer Drew Storen and 33-year-old outfielder Jayson Werth back is just like making a trade to acquire an arm to shore up the bullpen and an outfield bat to supplement the offense of the NL East's first-place team, right? A deal for a top-of-the-rotation arm like Zack Greinke, who got traded to the LA Angels Friday, or the Cubs' right-hander Ryan Dempster has never seemed likely, though the Nationals have been mentioned as being on the "periphery" of the discussions surrounding each pitcher. Most reports have said that they're more likely to add a back-of-the-rotation arm to fill in for Stephen Strasburg late this year or more likely some infield help with Ian Desmond down, or a catcher since Jesus Flores, Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon might not be strong enough in any combination for what lies ahead...
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote this afternoon, in a new "Rumblings and Grumblings" column that Washington is still looking for a pitcher, but not an ace, more likely, "... a low-cost veteran starter," and the team, Mr. Stark writes, as Monday afternoon's 4:00 pm Non-Waiver Trade Deadline approaches, "... [has] shifted their trade focus more to infield depth. You name the middle infielder or multiposition infielder who might be available, and they've checked in on him."
When Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore reported earlier this week, in an article entitled, "Source: Nationals’ top trade deadline concern is improving middle infield depth", that with Desmond down, "The Nationals’ most urgent concern is improving their middle infield depth," he wrote that the Nats had, "... discussed a list of 15-20 names in the mold of Marco Scutaro, Nick Punto and Jamey Carroll," or potentially other infielders who could be an improvement, "... over the Nationals’ infielders at Class AAA Syracuse." (Note: "Scutaro's no longer an option, w/ the Rockies trading him to the Giants.")
MLB.com's Bill Ladson's sources too told him that Nationals were in the market for middle infield depth:
NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman's "club source", however, thought otherwise. In an article this week entitled, "Nats not actively pursuing infielder", the CSNWashington.com reporter wrote that he'd heard the Nationals, "... are content to move forward with Danny Espinosa at shortstop, Steve Lombardozzi at second base and Mark DeRosa as their backup infielder," and that Washington isn't likely to trade away their top prospects for any player pitcher or fielder that would be a "rental" or, "take on a hefty contract for such a player," which he notes would rule out the likes of Carroll and Scutaro.
As the Nationals have said all along this summer when talk of potential deals have come up, they'll consider any deal that helps them long-term, but only, as Mr. Zuckerman writes, "... if such a player [is] under team control for several seasons," but even then, not at the cost of their top prospects.
Besides, Drew Storen's just getting back into action. Davey Johnson's working the right-hander back slowly, but in his last three appearances, two of them one-batter-and-out, Storen's been looking like his old self. Last night in Milwaukee the right-hander threw a full inning in the Nats' 6-0 loss, surrendering a hit but still retiring the side on nine pitches. "Storen was outstanding," Davey Johnson said after the game, "He looked like when he was here last year when I was here. Threw a good hard fastball, movement, great breaking ball. Went right after them."
Asked about Jayson Werth when he appeared on MLB Network Radio's Ripken Baseball Friday afternoon, Johnson told the hosts/brothers it won't be long now before the Nationals finally have the outfield (Michael Morse, Bryce Harper and Werth) that Davey Johnson wanted to start the season with this Spring. "He's way ahead of schedule," the Nats' skipper said, "I didn't have him coming back until the middle of August. He's had about three games down in Triple A and his timing's off, but otherwise he feels great. He's playing the field. He's probably going to be back within a week."
The chatter at the 2010 deadline was about Adam Dunn and whether or not the Nats would deal the big middle-of-the-order bat. They didn't, though they did acquire Wilson Ramos at the deadline that year. The picks that Washington received in compensation for Dunn leaving were turned into the 23rd and 34th picks in the 2011 Draft, which were used to select right-handed pitching prospect Alex Meyer (Class-A Potomac) and outfield prospect Brian Goodwin (Double-A Harrisburg), both of whom were moved up in the organization after strong starts to their respective careers this year.
Last summer the talk was about acquiring a center fielder with Drew Storen's name bandied about in the press in a rumored deal for the Twins' Denard Span that never transpired. The Nats did trade Jason Marquis last year, however, for D-Backs' minor league infielder Zack Walters (who has a .278/.313/.455 line w/ 18 doubles and 11 HR's between High-and Double-A this season). What will D.C. GM Mike Rizzo do at the 2012 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline? We'll know by Tuesday at the latest...