Nationals Trade Rumors: Do Nats Need Pitching Help? Another Bench Bat?

Greg Fiume

Whereas in years past, the Washington Nationals have been in the market for pitching help, they're saying this season that they like what they have in the majors and in the pipeline. Will the Nats stand pat when the Trade Deadline arrives later this month? Will they deal Adam LaRoche? Wait, what?

Have Dan Haren's two starts (11 IP, 1.64 ERA, .244/.311/.244 opponents' line) after coming off the DL convinced the Washington Nationals they don't need to look for pitching as the 2013 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline approaches? Have they seen enough from the pitchers who have filled in when needed and whichever other prospects they might consider turning to this season to be comfortable that they have the pitching to make a run in the so-called "second half"? Jordan Zimmermann's neck is fine, right? No concerns about Stephen Strasburg's last start? Ross Detwiler's going to be back after the All-Star Break, isn't he?

"We think that it's as good a rotation as any in the big leagues," Rizzo said, "and Davey's got great confidence in 'The Big Three' and Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler, as do I." - Nats' GM Mike Rizzo on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.

While industry sources have told reporters they hear the Nats are interested in pitching and "aggressively" pursuing help as some reports have claimed, publicly at least, Nationals' GM GM Mike Rizzo has maintained that the defending NL East Champs are comfortable with what they have available in the organization.

"We think Dan Haren is going to pitch well for us down the stretch," the Nats' general manager told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier on "The Mike Rizzo Show earlier this month. "We feel that we've got great depth in our minor league system with Taylor Jordan, Ross Ohlendorf and Nathan Karns."

"We feel that we've got great depth in our minor league system with Taylor Jordan, Ross Ohlendorf and Nathan Karns." - Mike Rizzo on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.

"We think that it's as good a rotation as any in the big leagues," Rizzo continued, "and Davey's got great confidence in 'The Big Three' and Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler, as do I."

The one move the Nationals have made was to bolster their bench, as the GM had hinted they might.

The Nationals traded for Scott Hairston and after acquiring the right-handed bat from the Cubs, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters, including MLB.com's Bill Ladson, that he thought they might need another, but it was unlikely the team would acquire more pitching:

"'One of the areas that we have very little depth in is starting pitching. But after this year, going into next year, some of our young starters will be knocking on the door. So as far as making a move -- picking up somebody at least for the short term -- I don't think that's in our plans, because I think we have enough talent here and enough coming that we wouldn't do that.'"

Johnson added that he was sure Rizzo would make a deal if the right one was out there.

So far this month, though, the Nationals are not getting mentioned too often when the big names out there come up for discussion. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore reported that the Nats had "kicked the tires" on the Cubs' Matt Garza. Late last month, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark threw Adam LaRoche's name out there on a list of "Five bats who could get traded." LaRoche, 33, who signed a 2-year/$24M deal this past winter, started the season slow with a .136/.213/.259 April. Since May 1st, the Nationals' first baseman has a .289/.371/.483 line.

While noting that Rizzo told ESPN recently, "we could be buyers and we could be sellers," at the end of the month, Mr. Stark wrote that, "Other clubs get the vibe that if the Nationals do sell, they wouldn't mind finding a landing spot for LaRoche."

This scenario, of course, ends with Ryan Zimmerman moving across the diamond while Anthony Rendon goes to third and Danny Espinosa comes back up to play second, but LaRoche's name, the reporter added, "isn't out there at the moment," so it's just, "... a scenario worth watching," as the deadline approaches.

Asked about the possibility that the Nationals might actually trade LaRoche and move Zimmerman to first, etc., in a chat with readers on Tuesday, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell asked a question in return, "You got somebody out there that wants to give you real value for LaRoche?" Besides, he added, Zimmerman's coming around at third:

"[Zimmerman's] throwing is FINALLY improving. Some. Let that play out. It's a big positive for the Nats if Z'man is a fine all-around third baseman again in '14-'15. And he might be. There are signs. At last."

Probably not what Danny Espinosa wants to hear. 14 days until the 2013 Trade Deadline. Do the Nationals stick with the team just about every preseason prognosticator picked to win the National League and hope those players that aren't playing up to their capabilities do so over the next two and half months?

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