• Trade Target Team Profile: Washington Nationals

    The Big Picture
    At the All Star Break last year, the Washington Nationals were playing .500 baseball (46-46) but were already 11.5 games back behind the National League East leading Phillies.

    To be sure, it was just their second non-losing first half of the season since they emigrated from Montreal. Prior to last season, DC had entered just one midseason classic with a winning record. When MLB moved the Expos to the nation’s capital, the newly christen Nationals posted a 52-36 record heading into the All Star Break, leading the division by two-and-a-half games. Of course, Washington would go 29-45 in the season’s back half and wind up in last place.

    This season, the Nationals, fueled by some incredible young talent (Bryce Harper) and outstanding pitching (3.21 ERA, best in MLB), have produced their second winning first-half – going 49-34 with a four game lead over the Atlanta Braves.

    Why They Will Trade With The Twins
    Selling “Hope” has played well in Washington in the political world. Now the Nationals are attempting to convince their fans that it exists for them in the NL East too. It won’t be easy with the big spending teams like the Braves, Mets and Marlins breathing down their necks so the Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo will be making calls in July to see what is available to help push his team over that hump.

    And, let’s face it: the Twins have made for very good trade partners in the past as well.

    Rizzo did a job picking Wilson Ramos (season-ending knee surgery notwithstanding) and, if you believed last trade deadline’s reports, he nearly got the Twins to hand over Denard Span for…ROGER BERNADINA. (Yes, Span was still struggling through concussion symptoms but good god, ROGER BERNADINA?) Based on those two instances, I’d say Rizzo has found himself an organization in which he can sell oceanfront property in Arizona.

    Given their need to appease the fan base in a heavily competitive DC/Baltimore market combined with the complete lack of a legitimate lead-off hitter (as a group they are posting a .306 on-base percentage), there is probably a strong chance that Rizzo would pick up the phone and see if the Twins are still interested in Span-for-Bernadina.

    Why They Won’t Trade With the Twins
    Aside from Span, there is not much on the menu that would appeal to this team.

    Their pitching staff is Jim Morrison poetry deep and even their need for a center fielder has quelled since moving uber-stud Harper to the middle of the outfield. While Span’s +21 Plus/Minus in center field is the best in baseball, Harper’s +12 is not far behind (fifth among center fielders). What’s more is the Nationals’ mix of Mike Morse in left, Andy LaRoche at first and Jayson Werth impending return from the DL to return to right field means Harper might need to stay in center.

    Also, it’s worth noting that Washington’s minor league pitching depth is fairly thin after the Nationals unloaded three of their top arms to Oakland in exchange for Gio Gonzalez. What is left might not be appealing to the Twins either.

    Conclusion
    The Nationals will be buyers but it would appear that if they are not interested in Span - or maybe a reunion with Jamey Carroll as a back-up infielder - there may not be a match with the Twins.

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    Possible Trade Targets
    Steve Lombardozzi Jr – INF/OF
    The Son of Lombo in the same lineup with the Son of Sal (Butera)? Whoa. The 23-year-old Lombardozzi has been ousted from his second base position by Danny Espinosa and has been shifted to left field where his bat is a complete miscast. He’s shown good on-base acumen in the minors (career .369 OBP) but has not had that manifest in his 238 plate appearances at the major league level (career .313 OBP). He intrigued the Twins last year when they were discussing a Span trade.

    Drew Storen – Closer
    Gosh, you’d hate to think that the Twins would target recently damaged goods like Storen but damn do they love them some Proven Closer. With Storen rehabbing his way back to the Nationals as we speak, the Twins have no clear cut plans for the backend of the bullpen in the coming years. The 24-year-old Storen would in theory give them stability at a cheap price in 2013 but comes with risks.

    Matthew Skole – Third Base
    At six-foot-four and 230 pounds, Skole is a monster at third base. His left-handed power has certainly manifested in his second professional season. In 319 plate appearances in 2011, he hit five home runs in low-A. This year, in 370 plate appearances, he’s hit 21 home runs and is leading the Sally League. His glove is questionable so he might be destined for another position than his current one.

    Rob Wort – RHRP
    If the team is in need of some bullpen depth, the 23-year-old Rob Wort might be an interesting plus-one in any potential trade. Repeating High-A ball for the second consecutive year, he’s struck out 63 in 38.1 innings while walking just 13. It is the latter that is important as Wort’s control had been terrible in 2011 (he walked 27 in 36.2 innings). He throws a low-90s fastball but can clearly miss bats.

    Roger Bernadina - OF
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    This article was originally published in blog: Trade Target Team Profile: Washington Nationals started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      I would take Desmond.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I'd still be interested in Robbie Ray, although he's not pitching as well in high A this year. He got roughed up early, but since the middle of May he's been pitching pretty well. Sammy Solis is TJ'ing it currently but he'd still interest me as a PTBNL. Perhaps the Nationals have given up on Matt Purke, he has a hard time staying healthy and currently has shoulder tendonitis, though when healthy he has obvious ace upside. I'd welcome any of these guys as a piece of a Span trade. Solis and Purke have injury concerns, but I think they'd still be worth a look.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      Perhaps the Nationals have given up on Matt Purke, he has a hard time staying healthy and currently has shoulder tendonitis, though when healthy he has obvious ace upside.
      He's another guy who signed post-August last year and would not be available in a trade or has to be a PTBNL.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Purke is damaged good, last time he threw it was reported her was mid-80's and his control has deserted him. His shoulder is mush at this point.
    1. kirbyelway's Avatar
      kirbyelway -
      I remember Ian Desmonds name being thrown around last year. He would look nice at SS right now!!!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Here is a name that I suspect will be talked about between the Twins and the Nats: LHP Dan Rosenbaum. He plays close to me (Harrisburg) and had a chance to see him a couple of time last season and this season as well and he is a guy who is in the Twins' mold. Not a hard thrower, 89-92, plus control, throws strikes and has a great change up. He can be in the mix for the Twins' rotation for 2013. Another interesting, from a trivial point at least, tidbit is that his manager at Harrisburg is Matt LeCroy. Just another name to add to the list.

      The Twins need MLB-ready starting pitching
      (I Know I Sound Like a Broken Record)
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