The Nationals decided to trade future potential for playoff experience and depth for their infield on Thursday, sending prospect Zach Walters to the Cleveland Indians for veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera.
Manager Matt Williams said Walters thought he was in trouble when his skipper called him into the office early Thursday to deliver the news.
“Shocked as anybody else would (be),” Williams said. “I said, ‘No,’ ” when Walters suggested he might have done something wrong.
“We’ve made this trade. It’s shock, because you don’t know what to do. You don’t know who to call or who to talk to. When you need to leave or what you need to do or where they are at because you never think about that.”
President of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo was certainly proud of how much Walters had grown up and improved in the Nationals organization since being acquired in 2011 from the Diamondbacks for pitcher Jason Marquis.
“Zach was a guy we acquired in the Marquis deal, played well through our minor league system,” Rizzo said. “Our developers did a great job with him. We (traded for him) as a young A-ball player that was really kind of unproven. Our scouts recognized something in him. He’s a player that has some tools and some athleticism and has shown power from both sides of the plate.”
Was Rizzo impressed that someone from a seemingly small trade in 2011 could be flipped for a veteran with All-Star and playoff experience in Cabrera?
“If there’s one thing that we’ve shown here, there are no small trades,” he said. “All trades are important to us. They can be characterized at the time you make them as a small deal, but some time the small deals turned into gold.”
Williams sees a bright future for Walters in Cleveland and his potential could be boundless if he gets to start every day.
“I think Zach certainly has a really high ceiling, power from both sides,” Williams said. “The ability to play all three infield positions now with him playing a lot of second base this summer. More of a true shortstop than anything else, I think. I see him potentially as a corner guy because of his power. Certainly, it’s special if it’s power from both sides and he can play shortstop.”
Williams told Walters it was a big deal because Cleveland really wanted him to make the deal.
“They were very interested in Zach,” he said. “So that speaks highly of their thoughts of him and his potential future. I like him. I like Zach a lot. He works hard. He’s willing to do anything a team asks him to do to improve, and to help. I told him today to look at this as a compliment, that another team wanted you really badly and hopefully he gets a great chance to play over there.
“He’s prepared to go over there and play as well as he can and help them win. It’s the reality of the business of baseball sometimes. You care for people. I would like to see him do well over there. He’s got big potential.”