Will the Nats Make a Move at the deadline?
Talk about possible additions to the Nationals roster will start to dominate talk radio and water coolers throughout the region over the next month as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches on July 31st.
The pitching staff and bullpen are all but set as they continue to post unbelievable numbers. Tom Boswell wrote a great column over the weekend highlighting the numbers and where they rank in the history of the game, it’s a must read for any Nats fan.
For the better part of the past year there have been rumors of the Nationals looking for a true leadoff hitter and centerfielder. Last year there was talk of Denard Span for Drew Storen, and Michael Bourn for Ross Detwiler, neither of which came to fruition. Once again, rumor of Denard Span coming home to DC is making its way to the ESPN homepage.
While Span would fit the bill, his addition would create a logjam in the outfield.
The main difference between last season and this year is the fact that the outfield is all but set once Jayson Werth returns from the DL in late July. A combination of Werth, Bryce Harper and Michael Morse will patrol the outfield unless Mike Rizzo decides to move Morse or Adam LaRoche.
Morse showed the ability to play first last season when LaRoche went down with a shoulder injury, but there is a drastic drop off in defense between the two players. LaRoche has been the unquestioned offensive MVP to this point of the season and is on pace to top his career high in homeruns of 32 that he set back in 2006 with Atlanta. I don’t see Rizzo, a man who places high value on defense, moving LaRoche this year.
LaRoche and the club have a mutual option of $10 million for the 2013 season. The team could elect to decline the option in the off-season in an effort to open up first for Morse. Then they could target one of the many free agent centerfielders like Bourn, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino and Melky Cabrera.
One position where I could see the team adding a player is at catcher. While Jesus Flores has done a decent job filling in for injured starter Wilson Ramos, he has never played more than 90 games in a season.
A few catchers may be available like Kurt Suzuki, Ramon Hernandez, Kelly Shoppach and Nick Hundley and the team should try to upgrade on their backup backstop as soon as possible.
If there’s one thing I have learned about this team, it is to trust Mike Rizzo — he hasn’t made a bad deal yet.