Nationals Trade Rumors: Does Ryan Zimmerman's "pretty substantial" hamstring strain change things?

Justin Edmonds

With the news that Ryan Zimmerman's hamstring strain is "pretty substantial" will the Washington Nationals look for some infield help at the major league level at the Trade Deadline? Will they add a reliever? Bench bat?

Before the Washington Nationals learned about the severity of Ryan Zimmerman's hamstring injury there was chatter about the NL East Division leaders pursuing young shortstops to provide organizational depth.

Both FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore spoke to sources who said the Nats were in the market for up-and-coming infielders.

"It's a pretty substantial strain of the hamstring... It's a pretty good strain. You never know how they're going to react, so we'll just take it day-by-day." -Matt Williams on Ryan Zimmerman's hamstring injury

The WaPost's beat writer spoke to a source this week who said the Nationals might attempt to bolster the bullpen depth at the major league level.

ESPN.com's Jim Bowden, who served as the Nats' GM between 2004-2009, wrote on Wednesday that he saw the Nationals pursuing a left-handed reliever or a bench bat.

The trade he'd "like to see happen" is a deal for Chicago Cubs' left-hander James Russell, the 28-year-old veteran of five major league seasons who has posted a 2.76 ERA, a 4.50 FIP, 14 walks (4.30 BB/9) and 22 Ks (6.75 K/9) in 29 ⅓ IP so far in 2014.

The cost?

Bowden suggests a trade that sends 22-year-old, 2013 Nats' 5th Round pick Austin Voth to Chicago for the left-handed reliever they need to bolster their 'pen.

Voth, who is currently pitching at High-A Potomac in the Nationals' system, started the season at Low-A Hagerstown, where he was (4-3) with a 2.45 ERA, a 2.77 FIP, 22 walks (2.84 BB/9) and 74 Ks (9.56 K/9) in 13 starts and 69 ⅔ IP before he moved up to Potomac where he's (2-1) in six starts with seven walks (1.67 BB/9) and 40 Ks (9.56 K/9) in 37 ⅔.

Is that too steep a price for a bullpen arm that would be joining an already strong relief corps?

Other targets the former general manager mentions include the Phillies' Antonio Bastardo, the Rangers' Neal Cotts, the Marlins' Mike Dunn and the Red Sox' Andrew Miller.

"Wilson's was not that bad. This is a little bit worse than Wilson's. So we'll see where he's at at the end of two weeks..." -Matt Williams on Ryan Zimmerman's hamstring strain

If the Nationals were to go after a bench bat, Bowden mentions the Astros' Chris Carter, the Padres' Chris Denorfia, the Red Sox' Jonny Gomes, the Rangers' Jake Smolinski (a former Nats' prospect) and others as potential targets.

This was all, of course, before Ryan Zimmerman suffered the hamstring injury that landed him on the 15-Day DL yesterday. The Nationals called Zach Walters up from Triple-A when Zimmerman went down, but if Zimmerman's going to miss significant time, do the Nats need to pursue a more-established infielder?

Nationals' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after the loss in the series finale in Colorado on Wednesday afternoon that the results of the MRI on Zimmerman's right leg were not good.

"It's a pretty substantial strain of the hamstring," Williams said. "So he's going to fly with us to Cincinnati and he'll get back from there in the next day or so and start getting some work done on it with the therapist at home. It's a pretty good strain. You never know how they're going to react, so we'll just take it day-by-day. It's going to be a couple weeks at least, we'll see where he's at at the end of that and go from there, but he pulled it good."

Williams declined to speculate just how much time Zimmerman is likely to miss.

"You never know," he said. "You never know. Guys heal differently, of course. Wilson [Ramos' hamstring strain] was not that bad. This is a little bit worse than Wilson's. So we'll see where he's at at the end of two weeks for sure and go from there."

As the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore noted in an article this morning, Williams said yesterday that with Zimmerman's future unclear the Nationals might, "'have to take a hard look at' adding an infielder."

Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told the WaPost reporter it was important to avoid panicking and making a move that helps in the short-term but hurts long-term, while noting that the Nationals, "'... got where we’re at with Danny [Espinosa] playing meaningful innings.'"

Can the Nationals get by with Espinosa and Walters while Zimmerman recovers? Do they need to make a move for an everyday infielder?

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