The Nationals' September call-ups of left-hander Tommy Milone and right-hander Brad Peacock signal a big step in the organization from a talent perspective. Since the Nationals arrived in D.C., never has the team been able to bring up a pair of starters at this point of the season who show they are ready to pitch right now at the major league level.
Couple that with the resurgence of Ross Detwiler, the re-emergence of Chien-Ming Wang and steady pitching of veteran John Lannan, and general manager Mike Rizzo has value he wasn't afforded three or four years ago.
"Our pitching depth is the best I have seen it since I have been around here and the Lerners have taken over the team," Rizzo said. "We certainly would consider trading some of our pitching depth to fill some of our needs if the trade makes sense to us."
If you argue from the point that the Nationals now have the pitching chess pieces to put on the board when they talk to other teams about center fielders or other areas of need, would Rizzo give up some of that valued minor league stock to get the right player?
"We have always been willing to trade from our depth," Rizzo said. "We did the (Tom) Gorzelanny deal for three minor league players. I don't think that has ever been an issue. You just have to make the right deal."
But Rizzo was also careful to caution that he won't make a deal just to make a deal. Look at the rumors around the trading deadline for Minnesota outfielder Denard Span. Names like Drew Storen, Steve Lombardozzi and others were mentioned when that trade was swirling around.
"You can't gut your minor league prospect list to get a piece if it doesn't fit for the team," Rizzo said. "If you are creating more holes with a trade then you're filling, that doesn't seem to be the way to go either."
As much as Nationals fans have been excited to see young talent do well in their debuts this September, you could see a few of those very familiar names traded to other clubs if the value in return is good enough to start every day in D.C.
With a logjam of talented pitching appearing recently at Nationals Park, and that being by design, the ultimate prize of an everyday lead off hitter or outfielder with speed and power could be closer to becoming a reality in Washington. Rizzo has said another pitcher and a top-flight outfielder are on the offseason wish list, and one way to acquire those pieces would be to trade from their stockpile of pitching.