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Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo on the price you pay for “a piece of our championship puzzle”

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Washington dealt late-round draft pick Max Schrock to the Oakland A’s to add an important piece to the Nationals’ bullpen.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

After drafting Max Schrock out of the University of South Carolina in the 13th Round of the 2015 Draft, the Washington Nationals signed the infielder to a $500,000 bonus which MLB.com’s Jim Callis noted was the highest bonus after the 10th Round to that point.

In a 46-game stint with the New York/Penn League’s Auburn Doubledays in 2015, the 20-going-on-21-year-old put up a .308/.355/.448 line with 10 doubles, four triples and two home runs in 186 plate appearances.

At two levels of A-ball in the Nationals’ system this season, Schrock put up a combined .333/.378/.456 line with 31 doubles and nine home runs in 121 games and 543 plate appearances before he was dealt to the Oakland A’s for lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski.

Dusty Baker told reporters after the deal that it provided something the Nationals needed in their bullpen.

“I think it was a necessary move because we’ve only got one left-hander [Oliver Perez] and especially with [Sammy] Solis down,” Baker said.

“We were hoping that we would get some reinforcements, especially on the left side, and his stats and his track record looks very good, I think he can help us.”

Rzepczynski had the second-highest ground-ball rate among major league pitchers at the time of the deal and does to this day (71.1%), behind only Baltimore Orioles’ left-hander Zach Britton (80.0%), with Blake Treinen third in the majors (65.2%) amongst qualified pitchers.

“It’s always a plus when you can induce ground balls, because then you have a chance to turn double plays, you have a chance to get out of trouble,” Baker said.

“So now I have one that’s one of the best at inducing ground balls in Treinen and now I’ve got one on the left side. So you can always use those guys to induce ground balls and it’s a welcome sign and a welcome addition and then when we get Sammy back we can have three [lefties].”

In four appearances and five innings pitched for the Nationals, including Wednesday night’s 1 13 scoreless against the Philadelphia Phillies, Rzepczynski has allowed one unearned run.

After finishing off the eighth inning in Philly, Rzepczynski gave up a leadoff walk in the ninth, but quickly erased that runner on a 6-4-3 DP.

Baker was asked after the Nationals’ 2-1 win for his early impressions of the veteran lefty.

“My impressions were, like you read the stats, and this guy, I think this guy is second in ground balls and that’s what he got,” Baker said.

“And if a guy is throwing ground balls — and we’ve got a couple of them now — we’ve got Treinen that can get you a ground ball and we have ‘Z’ that can get us a ground ball, so he’s been in pressure situations before, he’s probably pitching a little longer than he was pitching in Oakland, but he’s performing well for us.”

In order to get him though, the Nationals gave up a prospect in Schrock who has put up a .325/.369/.450 line, 41 doubles, six triples and 11 HRs in 170 games and 742 plate appearances in the minors.

In an interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. on Wednesday, GM Mike Rizzo talked about the difficult decision to trade a prospect like Schrock for a two-month rental who’s headed for free agency this winter.

“Every player that you trade is difficult,” Rizzo told The Sports Junkies.

“There are difficult decisions that you make, you really get a really good sense of the player when he’s here, you have a fondness for him, but you’ve got to give to get.

“We needed a left-handed relief pitcher. We wanted a veteran guy that can get out left-handed and right-handers with a track record, playoff savvy and that type of thing.

“Marc fit all that criteria that we had and we’re blessed to be pretty deep in that position and when you talk to your evaluators and the minor league guys and the guys who have seen this kid for a long time we felt that this was a reasonable price to pay and again, it goes back to scouting.

“This is a guy that we turned into a piece of our championship puzzle for a low-round draft choice and we polished him up and made him into a prospect enough where we traded him to the Oakland A’s for a Marc Rzepczynski.

“So it’s really a credit to our scouts and player development for getting these kind of players into the system so that you are able to trade those guys for pieces in a pennant race that you need to try to win.”