Nationals Rumors: Would The Nats Actually Trade Tyler Moore?

USA TODAY Sports

What role will Tyler Moore play for the Washington Nationals in 2014? Backup first baseman? Platoon partner for Adam LaRoche? Are there any ABs for Moore in the Nats' outfield? The Nationals wouldn't trade the slugger would they?

Back in late November, before the trade with Detroit that sent 25-year-old utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi, 22-year-old reliever Ian Krol and 22-year-old prospect Robbie Ray to the Tigers in exchange for 29-year-old right-hander Doug Fisternationals.com reporter Bill Ladson asked Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo if the Nats had the depth in the organization to trade for the pitching they were rumored to be after? "'We have a lot of desirable assets in the Minor Leagues,'" Rizzo said. "'We also have young Major League talent. I know we have had a lot of discussions with teams that like our players, our depth.'"

"'We have a lot of desirable assets in the Minor Leagues. We also have young Major League talent.'" - Nats' GM Mike Rizzo to MLB.com's Bill Ladson in November

Ten days later, Rizzo sent Lombardozzi (who's played 257 major league games), Krol (who threw 27 1/3 innings for the Nationals after debuting in the majors this year) and Ray (the top-ranked LHP in the organization according to Baseball America) to the Tigers for Fister. MASN's Dan Kolko reported last week that he had a conversation at the recently-concluded Winter Meetings with an "Astros official" who told him that Houston had interest in Lombardozzi before he was dealt.

"Bo Porter apparently really likes Lombardozzi's skillset and had hoped to bring him to Houston," Kolko wrote.

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal mentioned another Nats' bench bat as another potential trade target this weekend. Rosenthal listed Houston as one of three teams in need of a first baseman in an article on Sunday and pointed to one option in the nation's capital they could consider. "The Astros could look at the Nationals’ Tyler Moore, who played for ‘Stros manager Bo Porter in Washington when Porter was a coach with the Nationals," Rosenthal suggested.

Moore, of course, is currently the backup first baseman in D.C. Should Adam LaRoche struggle to hit left-handed pitching again this season as he did in 2013, Moore makes sense as a platoon partner at first base, though he's struggled to hit major league lefties too. With Scott Hairston, Nate McLouth, Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth in the outfield, there might not be too many innings available for Moore, who played 69 games in left field over the last two seasons.

While Moore struggled in a tough role as a relatively inexperienced bench player last season, after returning from a trip to the minors to put together a strong run late in his first major league campaign in 2012, he did manage to hit in Triple-A when the Nationals sent him down to find his swing. In 45 games and 200 plate appearances, the 26-year-old outfielder with two 31-HR seasons in the minors on his resume put up a .318/.395/.584 line with 14 doubles and 10 HRs for the Nats' top affiliate.

In the last month-plus of the season he started hitting in the majors too, finishing his second major league season with a 21-game stretch over which he was 21 for 61 (.344/.375/.459) with four doubles, a home run, two walks and 19 Ks in 65 PAs.

While he might be a good fit for the Astros, does trading Moore make sense for the Nationals? Unless they're prepared to move Ryan Zimmerman over to first base this season should something go wrong with LaRoche, what other options do the Nats have at first? The top-ranked first base prospect in the organization is Matt Skole, who played all of two games above A-ball in 2013 before he suffered a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left (non-throwing elbow). After that?

There may not be many ABs for Moore in D.C., but can the Nationals afford to trade Moore at this point?

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