Filtering by Tag: Trade Deadline

Phil Hughes: Potential Trade Target

It’s no secret that the Nats could use some help bolsteringthe back of their rotation. While Taylor Jordan has exceeded expectations (assuming you set fairly low expectations for him) and Ross Detwiler’s injury theoretically shouldn’t be season-threatening, the Nats have gone 13-24 when pitchers other than Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann have started. That’s nowhere near good enough for the team to make the playoffs.

I don’t trust Detwiler’s oblique, Jordan’s ability to keep pitching this well (or his mechanics, or his probable innings cap) or Dan Haren at anything pitching-related. I believe the Nats need to trade for another starting pitcher (for additional thoughts on the matter, read Kolko’s piece from this morning). The Nationals Review put together a nice list of trade possibilities on June 24, but I feel that they missed one key name who hit the market today: Phil Hughes.

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Nats Start Trading Season by Addressing a Major Need

The Washington Nationals offense may rank in the bottom of the league forthe season, but recently they have been much better. As has been pointed out countless times here, and all around the Nats Blogosphere, the Nats offense has been much better since Anthony Rendon replaced Danny Espinosa at second, and a healthy Jayson Werth returned to the line-up. Of the Nats starting eight position players it would be a downgrade to replace any of them with what is available at the deadline. The only move that makes sense in any way is to acquire a corner outfield bat and move Span to the bench but the loss in defense at a premiere defensive position makes that move nonsensical.  

So the Nats started off their portion of the trading season by acquiring noted lefty killer Scott Hairston. Hairston has the ability to play all three outfield positions and has a career batting line of .268/.318/.500 against left handed pitching. The Nationals have struggled to find a right handed power hitting bench bat to come up late in the game to face tough left handed relievers. Both Tyler Moore and Chris Marrero have been used in that role and neither has an over .500 OPS. Moore performed well in that role last season, but now that opposing pitchers have figured out how to pitch him he isn't making contact the way he would like, and he has a lower OPS (.402) versus left handers this season than right handers (.541). 

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Nats Deadline Needs

With the calendar now firmly turned to the month of July trade talk is aboutthe heat up. A couple days ago The Nationals Review had an excellent piece on who the Nationals might be looking to add to the fifth starter mix. Instead of rehashing that piece, I will let you read that and then come back for some of my thoughts. At the top of that list are the big three; Garza, Feldman, Nolasco, and someone like Gallardo should be added to that mix. Of those Feldman is the most likely for the Nationals to go after. He is kind of like this year's version of Paul Maholm with Garza playing the role of Ryan Dempster. He is the less desired of the two Cubs pitchers likely to be traded, but he is also the one having the better season. Epstein is going to want to get as much as possible, but there will be a bidding war for Garza, there may not be for Feldman, and the Nationals are going to want to avoid giving up Brian Goodwin in any trade they make.

The desire to hang onto Goodwin is likely to make it impossible to trade for any of the above mentioned named. The Cubs do have Jorge Soler in their system but as every baseball fan has learned about prospects it is better to have too many than too few. With how highly touted Goodwin is and the history of Scott Feldman and the fact that Feldman is nothing more than a two month rental the Nats may be able to get him straight up for Goodwin or could substitute a lesser but still promising prospect like Michael Taylor and include some of their single A pitching depth. Speaking of that pitching depth as the Potomac Nationals continue to move pitchers up to AA Harrisburg they continue to have their rotation filled by legit prospects.

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Standing Pat

It has been a couple days since the trade deadline past, and as could have been predicted when the Nats did nothing there was a fair amount of anger lifted their way. Had they made a big and surprising trade the hate may very well have been equal from people saying they gave up too much, because if the Nats were going to make a trade to improve the team it was going to be a surprise. The types of players the Nats really need can be added in the waiver process and they may in fact be in the process of adding Yorvit Torrealba who was DFA'd by the Rangers a day before the deadline. The Rangers now have ten days to trade or release Torrealba. There are also catchers like Ramon Hernandez that should have no issue clearing waivers due to contract issues. 

The moves to come are not the issue. There will be trades in August and a couple might be made by the Nationals, but the most important thing to remember is that sometime in mid-August Werth and Desmond will be back on the field. Solano might also be progressing at a rate that made it unwise for the Nats to give up much for a catcher only marginally better. Let's assume everything goes right for the Nationals even though it hasn't all season long. Every time the Nats looked like they were going to be healthy someone else would get hurt, but just for argument's sake let's hope things go right for once.

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The Nationals are Buyers

This is a foreign situation to Nats fans so let it first be said that being a buyer is difficult. It could very well hurt. A GM of a buying team is trying his best to make it not hurt by trading from positions of strengths to fill a weakness, but selling teams are not going to accept short term pieces back in a deal. In other words the Nationals can't trade Michael Morse to a seller who views themselves being more than a year away since Morse is only signed for one more season after this. Selling teams are going to want long term, controllable pieces. In other words they want prospects or young major leaguers.

Players like Danny Espinosa or Tyler Moore could have great value to a seller even though they are no longer prospects because they are both young and controllable major league players. Trading Moore would hurt worse than trading Espinosa as the Nationals lack a first base prospect for the 2014 season unless Anthony Rendon or Matt Skole hury up the development ladder faster than projected, but this is part of the trick of trading. If Rizzo values one of those two higher than he does Moore and believes he can fill the gap at first base with at least a league average player until Rendon or Skole arrives then Moore can be traded without it hurting the future of the Nationals. The same goes for Espinosa and how the Nationals value Lombardozzi or Kobernus. 

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Mortgaging the Future

As the trade deadline nears a phrase that may be bandied about is that if the Nats do make a significant trade they will be mortgaging their future in order to win now, but here is the thing. The future is now. The Washington Nationals are no longer at a stage where they are counting on the guys in the minors to come up and make an immediate impact on the major league roster. For the next few years the guys they do call up will be looked at to be roster filler, and if they are better than that then that is just a bonus.

The first and most important thing to consider when looking at the Washington Nationals is that the average age of the team in 2012 is 27.3 years old on the offensive side and 27 years old on the pitching side. Those rank second lowest and the lowest respectively. The Washington Nationals are one of the youngest teams in baseball, and that isn't all. Here is the list of free agents the Nats are losing after this season; Edwin Jackson, Chien-Ming Wang, Rick Ankiel, Chad Tracy, and Xavier Nady. Adam LaRoche also has a mutual option and could decide to take the $1 million buyout and test his luck on the free agent market.

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