The non-waiver trade deadline is just three weeks away. The defending NL East Champion Washington Nationals, who have been hammered by injuries this season, are 3.0 games up in the division over the New York Mets. Thus far this summer, they've been mentioned in connection to a couple big ticket items like the Cincinnati Reds' flamethrowing reliever Aroldis Chapman and Colorado Rockies' shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, if either actually becomes available.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal speculated last month about the possibility of the Nats dealing struggling infielder Ian Desmond in an article in which he acknowledged that with the way things are going for the 29-year-old infielder, the Nationals, "... might not do better than the draft pick they would receive if they made him a qualifying offer at the end of the season."
They might also, Rosenthal suggested, risk disrupting the Nationals' clubhouse if they were to trade Desmond, who is an "established leader" in the nation's capital, but, he writes, the Nats could use the money left on the shortstop's 2-year/$17.5M extenstion to help cover the cost of one of the players they're rumored to have interest in:
"Desmond still will be owed more than $3.5 million of his $11 million salary at the July 31 non-waiver deadline. The Nats could redirect that money to a player such as Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, Athletics closer Tyler Clippard or Athletics super-utility man Ben Zobrist, and in theory, end up better for it. Chapman and Clippard will be owed less than $3 million at the deadline, Zobrist about $2.5 million."
Rosenthal ended his speculation by noting that, "there is zero indication that the Nats are discussing Desmond with other clubs."
On Wednesday, former Nationals' GM and current Sirius/XM radio host and ESPN analyst Jim Bowden offered his take on what each of the 30 MLB teams are looking to trade or acquire as the deadline approaches.
The Nationals were included on Bowden's "Tweakers" list, which featured "teams looking to improve with one or two smaller pieces.":
"The Nats would like to acquire another setup reliever, but other than that, they're good to go. Remember, a few of their top position players are on the disabled list -- Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon -- and this team will be a lot better once they are healthy."
Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter yesterday that the Nationals were one of six teams with scouts in Yankee Stadium yesterday to watch New York and the Oakland A's play with Scott Kazmir on the mound for the Athletics... or were they one of the teams watching someone else?:
Teams with scouts at Kazmir's start tonight at Yankee Stadium include: TOR, HOU, KC, DET, WAS, PIT. Some monitoring Zobrist, Clippard.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 8, 2015
When Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo discussed potential bullpen upgrades with reporters last month, including the Washington Post's James Wagner, he mentioned a lot of in-house options who could help.
"'We still think we have the talent and players with the ability level to have an effective bullpen,'" Rizzo said.
Will he look outside of the organization for relief help? Will the Nationals try to upgrade their bench? Will Rizzo and co. look for a first baseman/outfielder with all the injury issues to the likes of Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman?
Will they trade one of their free-agents-to-be like Doug Fister, Span, Desmond or... I'm not going to say Jordan Zimmermann's name, sorry.