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State of the Nats: Trade deadline

Jul 27, 2015, 4:08 PM EDT

USA Today

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Trade deadline – The 2015 non-waiver trade deadline is coming up at 4 p.m. on Friday and already the Nationals have found themselves in the middle of all types of rumors. The common trends for the Nats in particular seem to be bench help – specifically in the outfield – and late-inning relief pitching.

The question seems to be whether the Nationals want to go big and bring in a top shelf closer like Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel or Jonathan Papelbon, or not. All three have been linked to the Nats and all three are stars at their position under team control beyond 2015.

Mike Rizzo has never made a trade deadline deal to bring in a player of that caliber. His trade for Asdrubal Cabrera in 2014 was out of character, as Cabrera was essentially a two-month rental. The Nationals usually stand pat at the deadline and make their moves in August by way of the waiver wire.

But circumstances convinced them to go for Cabrera last season and the same could be the case this year with their bullpen. Injuries forced their hand in 2014 and Cabrera proved to be a smart addition for the stretch run.

The Nationals have shown they are serious about going all-in this season by keeping impending free agents like Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Denard Span on the roster, rather than trade them for future assets. To have their bullpen hold them back in October given all that is on the line would be unfortunate.

On paper, the Nationals have a few things going for them regarding their bullpen. But, all in all, many things have not gone as planned. The effects of Craig Stammen’s injury are still being felt, Tanner Roark is going through the worst stretch of his career, Aaron Barrett and Blake Treinen have not been what they were last year and many of their rookies have been victims of their own inexperience. Even David Carpenter is injured right now and not progressing through his rehab as they initially hoped.

There’s no question the Nationals could use something more in their bullpen. Will it require bringing in a perennial All-Star like Chapman or Kimbrel? We’ll find out this week.

Injury updates  Anthony Rendon is back, but there are plenty of players still on the mend that will make more progress this week. Stephen Strasburg will begin his minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday, the Chiefs announced Monday afternoon. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth are also likely to return this week, possibly in time to face the Miami Marlins.

Zimmerman has played in five games for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, but has just one hit in 15 at-bats. The good news is that Matt Williams told reporters in Pittsburgh over the weekend that Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) has felt fine physically.

Werth (left wrist) has played in nine games on his minor league rehab assignment. He has been much better with 11 hits, two doubles, two walks and seven RBI across 30 at-bats. He began his rehab games with Single-A Potomac, but has played his last six with Syracuse.

Carpenter and Denard Span are the other two big names on the disabled list. We’ll likely get more on them when Williams addresses the media on Tuesday.

NL East Standings


Offensive game of the week: Michael Taylor 7/25 vs. Pirates – 4-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, R, SB.

Pitching game of the week: Joe Ross 7/21 vs. Mets – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 R, 4 H, 0 BB, 4 SO. 88 pitches, 59 strikes.

Quote of the week:

Desmond on receiving advice from Cal Ripken, Jr.:

It’s funny, the other day I was walking to the park and Cal Ripken was out there signing autographs in the parking lot. He kind of grabbed me and said ‘you know, back in ’93 through the first 80 games I was hitting .199 and I finished with a pretty good year. You’re going to be alright.’ That kind of gave me a little bit of hope. Alright, if he did it and grinded through it, then I can too. That’s kind of the mentality I already had, but it’s nice to have that reassurance. You never know where it’s going to come from or who is going to be the person that lifts you up. You’ve gotta keep your ears and eyes open all the time.

Tweet of the week:

Road ahead

TUE – 7:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Zimmermann)
WED – 7:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Fister)
THU – 12:10 p.m. at Miami Marlins (Scherzer)
FRI – 7:10 p.m. at New York Mets (Gonzalez)
SAT – 7:10 p.m. at New York Mets (Ross)
SUN – 8:00 p.m. at New York Mets (Zimmermann)

  1. micksback1 - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:12 PM

    could Nats get Clip back?

    • hantiaolang - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:24 PM

      Radio just announced Tyler Clippard to the Mets.

  2. Doc - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:17 PM

    On hit out of 15 ABs for Zim at AA? That makes him ready for what??????

    • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:23 PM


      The issue is health. If he’s healthy then the 1 for 15 means nothing. I never concentrate on rehabbing players stats. The more important question is are they healthy? If you take the approach that Zim hasn’t forgotten how to hit and if he’s healthy then there’s no sense keeping him down (I think there’s a limit of how long you can rehab).

      • Doc - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:29 PM

        OK, jd I’ll go with that.

        Hopefully, he really has tamped down the plantar fasciitis. Let’s hope that the .067 BA is a statistical figment.

      • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:35 PM

        Now, from what I’ve read it’s highly unlikely that Zim is healed completely and there’s a decent likelihood that it can take a turn for the worse. That’s why I said in a previous post that Rizzo better know real clearly how healthy Zim is because if he’s not he better have a plan B which does not include Clint Robinson or Tyler Moore playing 1st base every day.

      • texnat1 - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:37 PM

        I agree generally, JD, but you have to be a little leery with Zim given that he was playing everyday at the time he was shut down. It’s just that the injury was affecting him such that he wasn’t playing well. Thus, unlike with most players on a rehab assignment, I do find it somewhat worrisome that he continues to play poorly.

      • nats788 - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:42 PM

        agree, the injury may still be a bigger issue for Zim than the rehab results

      • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:43 PM

        Given that Desmond seems to be coming on now, and Rendon is back, and Escobar is healthy, I have to wonder why Danny doesn’t get the start at 1B.

      • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:01 PM


        That might just happen. I think they simply didn’t want to play Rendon 2 games in a row as he’s not in mid season shape just yet.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:15 PM

        Good point JD. But when Rendon starts, it seems to me you start Danny at 1B.

    • paulfortier - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:10 PM

      Good question, Doc. I have absolutly no confidence in Zim this year. Zéro. Niet. Void. Aucune confiance.

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:19 PM

    Now we are talking. Trade deadline. Can’t make too many trades as you can’t strip your farm system but you also can’t sit back and not improve.

    • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:28 PM


      They are gonna make some moves just maybe not the big sexy moves everyone craves. The Preller type approach bombed and it was really doomed from the get go. The biggest question is: ‘Is RZim really healthy?’ if he is then we need to concentrate on the pen and perhaps upgrade the bench, otherwise we need a bat.

      I am pretty sure that the Mets aren’t done and they may yet make a splashy move for someone like Upton (I think their biggest chip that they would use if it would land them a big bat is Zach Wheeler).

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:05 PM

        In total agreement with you except I like the bench this year.

  4. jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:31 PM

    Denard Span feeling good is the best news. Really makes our engine run. If he leaves his role may be taken by Trae Turner because I don’t think MAT brings the same skill set to the table as Span. I think Taylor will be a good player but I think he would be better as a middle of the order hitter (6th?)

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:46 PM

      feeling “pretty” good.

      I miss what he brings to the table, but don’t want him to rush back too soon and risk (another) injury related to his core.

      Agree that MAT looks like a solid CFer for the future but not a lead off man, and that Turner looks more promising there. But, I hate to hang too much on a guy who’s been in pro ball for barely a year.

  5. texnat1 - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:39 PM

    My guess is that the Nats are going to hope for the best as to position players returning and solving the offensive problems. Thus the focus will be on finding a reliever. I think they will look seriously, but Rizzo won’t go beyond whatever limit he sets for himself. And they will just roll with what they have, or get a lesser name in a trade, and see what happens.

    But then again, I have no idea what Rizzo is thinking.

    • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:52 PM

      According to Jim Duquette the Nats should be able to land Chapman with a package headlined by either A.J.Cole or Reynaldo Lopez with 1 or 2 more lesser prospects involved. I would go for this type of package but if the Reds insist on Giolito or Ross then they’l keep holding on to Chapman until he loses his value as he nears free agency.

      The problem with trying to get Kimbrel is that Preller made such bad deals in acquiring talent that he now must try to recoup some prestige by getting top notch prospects in return for the players he acquired. His problem is that there aren’t too many Prellers still employed by MLB teams.

      • masterfishkeeper - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:07 PM

        I’d do Cole, but I’d be hesitant to include Lopez. He seems to have a very high ceiling, from what I’ve read. Of course, I don’t know 1/100th of what Rizzo knows.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:24 PM

        I believe Rizzo would offer Cole+ (and maybe already has). My guess would be the Reds are holding out for Lopez or Ross. If that’s the case, I hope Rizzo just says no.

      • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:28 PM


        I’ve read mixed reviews on Lopez. Keith Law says he doesn’t use his lower body at all and he said he has never seen anyone pitch that way and be successful in the majors. I have never seen him pitch so what do I know?

    • jeffreycbullock - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:21 AM

      I wouldn’t trade Ross for my mother!

  6. nats788 - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    To be fair, Roark had ERAs in the 4’s as recently as 2012

    • Section 222 - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:07 PM

      In the minors? That’s pretty meaningless I think.

  7. 9rhrssy01 - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    I would appreciate anyones thoughts as to why Chapman or Papelbon would be considered. They don’t need another closer and it seems 8th inning guys have been ok lately ;it’s the Stammen role that has not been filled adequately.

    • nats788 - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:55 PM

      In theory, Chapman/Papelbon would bump everyone down a rung, allowing Williams to go with Thorton, Barret, Janssen in the 5th/6th/7th when necessary. Agree with you though that it doesn’t seem worth the price to pay to get a “proven closer”

      • manassasnatsfan - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:47 PM

        Chapman would Popalbon would be the 8th inning guy.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:56 PM

        Papelbon has said he won’t go to a team unless he is the closer and the Nats are on his do not trade list.

    • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:56 PM

      It’s not a crazy idea 9rhs. Many teams are now looking at multi closer type bullpens ALA the Royals, heck the Yankees have Miller and Betances and they are looking at Chapman.

      Also, when you bring in a high quality reliever such as Chapman you are moving lesser members of the pen down a notch to lower leverage situations thereby reducing the chance for blown leads late in games. There is the school of thought that such an acquisition would not sit well with Storen and it may well be so. You have to be careful you are not resolving one problem and creating another.

    • therealjohnc - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:07 PM

      Well, the idea of the acquisition is sound; if you have “closer quality” to mix & match in the 8th & 9th innings – make sure to line up Storen against the RH batters, for example – then the game essentially shortens up. It also would mean that the guys forming the “bridge” between the starter and the closer(s) wouldn’t have to get as many outs. You’d have two guys from the right side (Janssen and, when he’s healthy again, Carpenter) to go with two guys from the left side (Thornton and Rivero) to get through the 6th and 7th innings. With Tanner Roark as the long man/swing starter unless/until you have someone else (Joe Ross?) fill that role if Roark continues to struggle and if Strasburg comes back strong.

      The problem, of course, is the price. Is it enough better than what they have to justify taking out a piece that has been looked at as a centerpiece of the future?

    • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:18 PM

      Agreed with the points about pushing every one else down a notch. But I do agree that the injury to Stammen was a killer and that perhaps what we need is a replacement for Stammen. But I don’t think there are many of them. But maybe Rizzo has his eyes on such a player – perhaps as an August waiver wire pick-up.

    • exposedindc - Jul 27, 2015 at 7:44 PM

      Very simple to me….game 1….1 run lead….9th inning…who ya taking ? Chapman or Storen ? To me this is the only reason to consider moving a top level prospect. Papelbon to me makes more sense in the 8th inning role, no way I would trade tier 1 talent for him.

  8. mdmcommish - Jul 27, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    I love all you guys and love reading your opinions, there is a ton of well considered conversation on this site. But I want all of you to ask yourself this question, “If you had been in charge of this Nats ship the last four years, could you have ever possibly steered us into the enviable position we are now in as a franchise?” The answer is ” of course not.” Rizzo isn’t perfect, no one is. But he is flat out one of the best in the game at this point and I trust his judgment implicitly. He’s earned it.

    Second guessing is what makes it fun and some guys out there, like Ghost especially, really know what they are talking about, but all these choices are tough judgment calls. Will Zim be productive this year? Can Werth contribute when he returns? Will Tony two-bags get hurt again? Can Taylor man center next year? Do you put Esco at SS for two months next year before calling up Trea? Again, Rizzo will manage it great. He has earned our trust. Imagine where we would be without him. How many of us would have stood by Espi? We will win the East, then it’s a crap-shoot, hopefully with a Field manager that does NOT “do it the way we did it all year!”

    • adcwonk - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:05 PM

      But he is flat out one of the best in the game at this point and I trust his judgment implicitly. He’s earned it.

      Just because he took a perennial cellar-dweller with no farm system and with multiple 100+ loss seasons to a perennial contender with a deep bench and a bunch of solid prospects in the minors in just a few years? 😉

      • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:13 PM


    • chaz11963 - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:43 PM

      well said

  9. destewart01 - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    here’s an idea for a cheap power bench guy that could be insurance if Werth goes down again. Joey Butler from the Rays? He’s having a breakout year at 30 and is proving he can hit AL pitching. hitting .295 with a .780 OPS in 200 AB’s. and can play LF/RF better than Den Dekker, Moore or Robinson.

    • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:37 PM

      Outfield is kind of crowded with Werth and Span coming back. I think if you get a bat it has to be 1st base.

    • rlndtln - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:39 PM

      Robinson needs to play1B until Zim comes maybe using TYMO against lefties.The real need is a left fielder until Werth comes back.Danny maybe better choice in left.Robinson is a better left handed hitter than Danny.

      • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:55 PM

        I think Werth is returning tomorrow.

      • jd - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:56 PM


        Robinson might be but he’s such a bad 1st baseman that you really prefer he didn’t get on the field at all other than to hit.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:03 PM

        Again small sample size. He has 20 PAs against lefties, including 5 walks.

        And then there is the issue that Danny can play defense and he’s fast once he gets on base.

        Sorry, but I don’t see any reasonable defense for starting Clint over Danny when Desmond, Rendon and Escobar are all starting.

  10. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:11 PM

    “jd – Jul 27, 2015 at 5:55 PM
    I think Werth is returning tomorrow.

    jd – Jul 27, 2015 at 5:56 PM

    Robinson might be but he’s such a bad 1st baseman that you really prefer he didn’t get on the field at all other than to hit.”

    Yes and yes. Werth is being activated tomorrow for either MdD or Burriss. It might be MdD just because he has options left

    I also agree on Robinson. I think when Span comes back you reassess the situation and I wouldn’t mind seeing MAT going back to LF and Werth at 1st base. Werth is 6’5″ and would be a big upgrade over CRob.

    Now all that depends on how well Werth is doing with the bat and glove.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:14 PM

      I thought the same thing earlier today re Werth at first.

      Clint is fine as a bench bat and occasional starter. But his lack of defense is a killer.

    • jeffreycbullock - Jul 28, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      Maybe shop CRob in the AL as a DH?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 28, 2015 at 11:47 AM

        If they got Lind that would make sense. Still need his lefty bat on the bench.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:18 PM

    The Mets pulled it off and got Tyler Clippard. That sickens me.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:21 PM

      me too. :-(.

    • rlndtln - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:22 PM

      We are getting in big trouble with the Mets.I do not think the Nats will try Werth at a new position after coming off DL.I am not sure Danny is any better than CROB at first.I remember a game when Danny did not look too comfortable there and was not used again.

      • rlndtln - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:23 PM

        Better get Chapman.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:27 PM

        Span won’t be back for a while. Espi is much better than CRob at 1st. In no exaggeration, I think the awful Adam Dunn was better on defense than CRob.

    • natsfan1a - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:23 PM


      • natsfan1a - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:24 PM

        Oh, I see. We’re out of sync again with posts. Well, mine is for Clip to the Mets.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:32 PM

        A’s didn’t get much back for Clippard. Meisner was the Mets #15 prospect on Baseball America.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:34 PM

        Which makes me think the Nats weren’t serious about bringing him back.

      • natsfan1a - Jul 27, 2015 at 7:05 PM


        “A’s didn’t get much back for Clippard. Meisner was the Mets #15 prospect on Baseball America.”

    • chaz11963 - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      very sad

  12. sillsfan - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:30 PM

    I hope Rizzo is seriously going after Chapman now.

  13. rlndtln - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:39 PM

    MW will leave CROB at first against righties,.He is flat out a much better lefty hitter than Danny and Danny has never played first.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:46 PM

      Repeating yourself?

      So I will offer a similar reply. He has a grand total of 25 PAs against lefties, so hard to make a serious inference from such a small sample size.

      And given how bad he is in the field, I don’t care if he is better than Danny against lefties.

      I’d take RZ batting .000 over CRob (and yes, partly sarcastic to make a point). Defense matters.

  14. manassasnatsfan - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:44 PM

    I see the Mets got Clippard for nothing. Rizzo could have him for next to nothing.

    • JayB - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:58 PM

      Rizzo is a dope to not getting exactly what he needs just because he would have to admit he was wrong about his evaluation of bull pen

      • knoxvillenat - Jul 27, 2015 at 9:14 PM

        Well look who crawled out from under his rock! JayB is back and runing his mouth in criticism before the trading deadline is even over! Shocker!!

      • therealjohnc - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:24 AM

        Interesting comment about the bullpen. How do you feel about the bench, JayB?

    • zmunchkin - Jul 27, 2015 at 7:03 PM

      Must be nice to be so absolutely sure.

      Did you ever consider that that maybe Rizzo properly evaluated the BP, but the Stammen injury combined with Roark not working out as expected is the reason for the BP issues.

      That and Jansen being on the DL to open the season.

      And so on, and so on. . . . .

      • therealjohnc - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:25 AM

        JayB: often wrong, never in doubt.

  15. rlndtln - Jul 27, 2015 at 6:45 PM

    What are the projected dates back for Span and ZIM.I hope we are back at full strength before somebody else goes down.Like to have the starting 8 for at least a week.

  16. manassasnatsfan - Jul 27, 2015 at 7:02 PM

    Rizzo must be close to finalizing a Chapman trade or was asleep at the wheel on Clippard. A 15th prospect?

    • JayB - Jul 27, 2015 at 7:03 PM

      Naw he is the best GM with a huge blind spot his ego

      • JayB - Jul 27, 2015 at 7:06 PM

        He could of had chapman for money only 4 years back but he personally did the evaluation sawing he was not worth 35 m for what 5 years

        Rizzo like Maya and Martin much more

      • therealjohnc - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:28 AM

        Rizzo and the Nats threw a big stack of money at Chapman – more than 28 other teams, including all the big money teams like the Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees and Dodgers.

        It’s a lot easier to scout prospects in hindsight than in real time. Rizzo’s track record is pretty good. Certainly better than can be found on anonymous internet boards.

  17. jfmii - Jul 27, 2015 at 7:10 PM

    Don’t be so sure Clippard is going to be lights out.

  18. jfmii - Jul 27, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    CRob has good at-bats, wish he had a little more pop. And his D, whether it be 1st or outfield is very Dunn/Morse esque. Maybe worse as Ghost of Steve M allowed.

    • rlndtln - Jul 27, 2015 at 8:30 PM

      Clip for nothing would have been a great deal no matter whether we get Chapman or not.We had better lower level prospects to give.But the real issue is the Mets would not have gotten him.All of a sudden Clip stinks?give me a break.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 28, 2015 at 9:32 AM

        “We had better lower level prospects to give.” Really? You may evaluate the Nationals’ lower level prospects one way, but that’s completely irrelevant. What matters is how Billy Beane evaluates those prospects. I’ve seen plenty of post-trade chatter among prospect types that think that Beane did very well in getting Meisner, who is pitching at high A at the age of 20. I don’t think that Pivetta or Voth are generally considered equivalent prospects in non-Nats world. To beat that offer the Nats likely would have had to go someone like A.J. Cole. If that – the A’s already traded him back to the Nats once. Reynaldo Lopez certainly does it – but do you give up several seasons of a cost-effective potential TOR starter for two months/30 innings of Tyler Clippard?





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