Washington Nationals: 2012 MLB Trade Deadline Chatter... Ryan Dempster? Middle Infielder?

February 23, 2012; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo on the fields during camp at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

We're now under twenty-four hours away from the 2012 MLB Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, but there aren't too many rumors out there involving the 61-40 Washington Nationals, who sit atop the NL East after a 6-1 road trip that ended with Sunday night's extra-inning win over the Milwaukee Brewers. There are some rumors out there, of course. Former D.C. GM Jim Bowden wrote on Twitter (@JimBowdenESPNXM) this morning when word surfaced that the Phillies were in fact considering dealing Cliff Lee that he thinks the, "Rangers, Dodgers, Nationals [are] all possible matches for Phillies in a Cliff Lee deal," though just about everyone out there thinks Texas is the most-likely destination for the veteran left-hander who has 3-years and more than $90M remaining on his current deal.

While most rumors around Ryan Dempster have the Cubs' right-hander ending up in LA with the Dodgers, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote this afternoon, in his latest "Rumblings and Grumblings" column, that a source from another club that spoke to the Nationals, "... reports they have positioned themselves as the Cubs' perfect fallback," should Chicago and Los Angeles fail to agree on a deal:

"The Nationals are going to trade for a veteran starter at some point, but they're clearly hanging loose, waiting to see if a more attractive option develops -- somebody kinda like, well, Ryan Dempster.

"What isn't known, of course, is whether Dempster would approve a deal to Washington. But it wouldn't be a total stunner if it turns out we're about to find out."

Both ESPN.com's Mr. Stark and CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman have mentioned the Nationals having interest in Dempster in recent weeks, but the Nationals' stance, as it's been stated repeatedly recently, is that they're unwilling to part with their top prospects for a "rental" player like Dempster, who's in the final year of a 4-year/$52M dollar deal or the recently-dealt Zack Greinke, who went from Milwaukee to LA's Angels this weekend while maintaining that he intended to test the free agent market this winter.

As for the middle infielder/utility man the Nationals are rumored to be looking for (though there's even some disagreement as to whether or not they're even looking for that), FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning on Twitter (@Ken_Rosenthal) the he'd heard Washington liked a utility man on the roster of one of their NL East rivals:

Following up on that report, Yahoo!Sports.com's Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) wrote on Twitter that he heard the Nationals were still looking:

There's not much chatter in NatsTown today, so if the Nationals are up to something it's a case of the Nats' leak-proof front office keeping a lid on any discussions...

One last update, again from ESPN.com's Mr. Stark on Twitter (@Jaysonst):

I'm pretty sure he means "Dempster"...

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