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Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo on the trade deadline; no non-waiver deadline this year + more...

During his weekly visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday, GM Mike Rizzo discussed the July 31st trade deadline and more...

Kansas City Royals v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

After a rough 19-31 start to the season that Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s The Sports Junkies on Wednesday was, “the most frustrating two months that I’ve ever had as an executive and as a baseball guy,” Davey Martinez’s squad had gone 31-12 with wins in 13 of the last 16, 18 of the last 23, and 27 of their last 38 games going into last night’s series finale to get back into the race in the NL East (6.5 back before the start of play on Wednesday) and into the lead in the National League’s Wild Card race (+2.0).

So will Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office be looking to tweak things on the roster at the upcoming July 31st trade deadline?

“We always try to plan — actually our preseason plan — we always factor in that there is a possibility we could make a move at the deadline,” Rizzo told the Junkies.

“We budget for it,” he explained, “we prepare for it, and there’s often seasons that we have acquired a player or players, and there are also seasons where we trade players away, and I think that we’ve been most recently in acquire-mode because we had a chance to win the last eight seasons and I think we’re in that mode again, but that’s not to say that you can’t be a hybrid, you can’t move some pieces and make yourself better for this year and beyond.

“And we’re always strategizing and forecasting where we’re going to be at, not only this year but in years beyond this year and we have to be prepared for all those scenarios, but we’re an aggressive front office, we’re an aggressive ownership group, and if there is a deal to be made that would help us prepare for meaningful games in September and beyond, we’ve shown in the past that we’re capable of doing that, we’re not afraid to make a trade and we always have our ears open and are preparing to do it.”

Fix the back end of the bullpen? Add to the starting mix? Those seem to be the top needs on the Nationals’ roster at the moment unless Austin Voth or Erick Fedde (both of whom made strong starts this week) can lock down a spot. But, Rizzo was asked, who are other teams asking about when they call his office (or his cell phone probably)?

Do teams want to know about Anthony Rendon, who’s set to become a free agent if he and the Nationals don’t agree on an extension before the end of the season? Or has that ship sailed now that the Nats are back in the race?

Does anybody bother asking about Juan Soto or Victor Robles anymore?

“It depends on what situation you’re in,” Rizzo said, responding generally at first.

“If you’re a team that’s buying, everybody wants your players that are performing well, that usually have control. We get calls about [Sean] Doolittle a lot, you get calls about Rendon, you get calls about [Trea] Turner, calls have kind of stopped about Soto and Robles — they’re untouchable as you can be as a player, just because they’re good players and they’re controlled and they’re cost-efficient and that type of thing. But once teams see that you’re kind of in playing well-mode and you’re going to be buyers instead of sellers, then kind of the conversations switch to, ‘How can we make a deal that helps us both this year and beyond?’ and if you can get a match there then talks continue and move on briskly, but oftentimes they’re tire-kicking types of conversation, say, ‘What are you guys looking for?’

“‘We’re looking to buy,’ ‘We’re looking to sell,’ and that type of thing, ‘What are you looking to do?’ and if it doesn’t fit what you’re trying to do then you rarely circle back to them.

“But there’s a list of teams that we’ve contacted this year and that we’ve talked to and there’s certain lists of teams that have contacted us.”

With the MLB rule changes over the winter there will also be no second chance, without a non-waiver deadline this year, so some big decisions will have to be made before July 31st. So will there be more activity this time around versus previous seasons since teams have to decide where they’re at and what they will do in the next two weeks?

“I expect a little bit more activity than normal just because there’s only one deadline,” Rizzo said. “We made a lot of deals after that July 31st deadline and so have a lot of other teams. It kind of forces your hand to make a decision on the route that you’re going to take for the ‘19 season, and I think that it will be an active trading deadline and I think you’ll see teams that are both buyers and sellers at the same time and I think that you’ll see a lot more activity.”