There have been some national media members who have said or written that they expect the Nationals to be major players before the trade deadline.
Some have talked about the Nats being in the mix for a big-name position player, like Justin Upton. Others have discussed the need for the Nationals to go get another starting pitcher to fill in for Stephen Strasburg once he’s shut down.
I’ve opined that such moves aren’t necessary, barring some sort of injury over the next couple weeks. Nationals manager Davey Johnson shares that mindset.
“I have gone into that area with general managers, saying, ‘I need so-and-so,’ or this, that and the other,” Johnson said. “But I like what we have here. I don’t see any emergency move needed.”
Strasburg will be shut down once he reaches his innings limit, likely sometime in early September. We’ve discussed this ad nauseam.
Knowing Strasburg’s shutdown date is approaching, the Nats could look to add another starter to fill out the rotation for the stretch run, but Johnson doesn’t feel that’s necessary. The Nationals will still have a pretty strong top four in Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, and they also have John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang within the organization, two guys who could be candidates for that fifth starter spot late in the regular season.
“Why pick up a pitcher or something? We’ve got other options,” Johnson said. “We don’t have to ship away a couple talented minor leaguers for somebody. It’s not a wise move for a month.”
With Drew Storen back from elbow surgery, the Nationals’ bullpen is as deep and talented as it’s been all season. With Jayson Werth on his way back from a broken wrist, the Nats will get back their starting right fielder and add some more pop to their lineup. With Chad Tracy nearing a return from groin surgery, the bench will be filled out.
In many ways, those three guys will act as new pieces, improving a team which already has the best record in the National League.
For the most part, the current starting position players are all performing at a fairly high level. Danny Espinosa is starting to heat up lately, the Nats will have their outfield set once Werth returns and they’re pleased with the defensive efforts of Jesus Flores behind the plate.
“Where we’re at as an organization and as a ballclub is (what) we’ve built from the ground up, and the talent that we’re high on is getting the opportunity to play and fill the need now,” Johnson said. “You don’t go ahead and make a trade to regress that process. You play it out. I like the way our club is put together, and I don’t see any glaring weakness.”