Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo signed veteran utility men Josh Harrison and Brock Holt in the lead-up to last Monday’s 2020 MLB Trade Deadline, but at the deadline, things were quiet in the nation’s capital.
Considering the Nationals’ situation, with a 12-19 record at that point, an injury-impacted, depleted roster, and only a month to go in the 60-game 2020 campaign, with very little in-person scouting of other teams’ players and prospects under the current COVID protocols, it’s not too surprising Rizzo did not pull off a big deal.
His own thinking on the relative inaction? “We felt that to allocate financial assets and our minor league prospects to acquire somebody to help us for about 30 days, we haven’t played well enough to do that,” Rizzo told reporters on a Zoom call on Sunday morning.
“But we did want to give this group a chance to finish this season out and see if we can get hot, so we didn’t sell off either. So the combination of where we were going into the trade deadline, performing on the field, and the fact that I didn’t feel really comfortable about making trades kind of blind where you haven’t seen one of these prospects play in a year or so, impacted us in our decision-making.”
Overall, Rizzo said, it was an odd trade deadline in an odd season.
“It was a strange deadline because we really had no current information on players other than what you see on TV,” he explained. “So that impacted our decision-making process.
“Throughout the years that we’ve been here we’ve been aggressive at the trade deadline because we’ve played well leading up to the deadline.”
Everything’s different this season, and as of the start of play on Sunday, the Nationals’ odds of returning to the postseason and defending the 2019 World Series championship were remote, with FiveThirtyEight.com giving the club just an 8% chance of making it, while at Fangraphs.com, they were down at a 2.9% chance of making the postseason.
A couple wins over the division leaders in Atlanta, however, had the club thinking positively for the first time in a few weeks.
“The club is upbeat and excited and energized and this is such a crazy season, nobody knows what to expect,” Rizzo said.
“We’re trying to win today’s game and we’ll feel better about ourselves going back home, but in this season, you go out and have yourself a really good week or week and a half you’re right back in the thick of it. So, we’ve got to get a few guys healthy and play better baseball, there’s no question about that, that’s a fact, but we feel like we’ve got the run in us. We’re going to take our chances, man, we’ve got a puncher’s chance. We put ourselves in a position again that we’ve got to do something extraordinary to get in the bubble, but we certainly haven’t given up any kind of hopes that we can do it, because we’ve been hot before, we’ve gone on streaks before, and I think once we get in, I think there’s going to be teams nervous about playing us.”