“We’re going to try to improve our club,” Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said when he talked with MLB Network Radio hosts Mike Ferrin, Jim Duquette, and Jim Bowden earlier this month.
“We’re often in a situation that over the last seven or eight seasons that we’ve put ourselves in a position to win, and we think that this year is the same.”
“We’re looking to improve ourselves,” Rizzo added, without going into much detail about his plans.
“We like to improve ourselves always when we attack the trade deadline and yeah we’d like to improve ourselves this year, but also for the future.
“When you’re giving away the assets that you have to give away at the trade deadline, you kind of like to get a little bit of control in the players that you acquire. So we’ll be looking towards that, like everybody else in baseball is, trying to get controllable assets that can help us this year and beyond, but I think that we’ve pretty much with our play have made it clear that we’re going to try to acquire some talent to help us win this year and beyond and we can do that in several different categories, and we’ll see what leads us to the best outcome and helps this team take the next step.”
Asked specifically what they’d be targeting, Rizzo said, “our priority is going to be pitching, probably bullpen arms that can give us some veteran leadership, and possibly shorten the game up for our starting rotation.”
That hasn’t changed as the deadline has drawn closer, with the MLB Network’s Jon Heyman writing yesterday that the Nats are, “... looking to add not one but two pen guys if they can, preferably [one] being left-handed. They look like a threat ... especially if they can tighten up the pen.”
Nats looking to add not one but two pen guys if they can, preferably 1 being lefthanded. They look like a threat ... especially if they can tighten up the pen.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 30, 2019
A number of names have been mentioned as potential targets, with Detroit Tigers’ closer Shane Greene, the San Francisco Giants’ Sam Dyson, and more thrown out there recently, with Heyman’s colleague at the MLB Network Jon Morosi reporting Texas Rangers’ reliever José Leclerc was another pitcher of interest for Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office, and the Chicago White Sox’ Alex Colomé mentioned as a potential target as well.
Meanwhile, manager Davey Martinez, who’s led his squad on a 38-19 run since May 24th to get them in a position to be buyers, talked before Tuesday night’s game about waiting with his team to see what the Nationals’ brass can bring in to bolster the roster and reward their work over the last few months following a rough start to the 2019 campaign.
“If Rizz deems and thinks that he can get somebody to help us, I’m all for it, great,” Martinez said, “... but until then — 7:05 tonight, we’re going to play the Atlanta Braves and that’s all I worry about.”
And his players? Is the lead-up to the Trade Deadline a stressful time for the players in the clubhouse?
“I tell these guys, control the controllables,” Martinez said. “You can’t control what happens in this game, what people think and how they do business, but what you can control is coming out today and try to help us win a game today and go from there, and they’ve been pretty good.
Per source, the asking prices for closers Edwin Diaz, Felipe Vazquez, Raisel Iglesias and Kirby Yates remain very high. Shane Greene's price is "far more reasonable," the source said. Sam Dyson/Tony Watson might be on the reasonable side, too, should the Giants decide to sell.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 31, 2019
“I haven’t heard any rumblings about, ‘What are we doing? Are we getting this guy? Are we getting that guy?’ Everybody has been really focused on the day at hand, which is kind of nice.”
But what would an addition mean to the team?
“I think when you’re looking to add people it’s good because it gives the guys a sense of, ‘Hey, we’re in it, here we go,’” the second-year skipper explained.
“And on the other hand, when you’re not and you hear trade rumors about getting rid of players it can be a little downer, you know, so at this point right now the guys are hearing we’re trying to add, add, add, and so that only means that we’re playing well, we’re in a pennant race, and that’s good.”
What message will Rizzo send to the Nationals with his actions before today’s 4:00 PM EDT deadline?