On Brown and the Rizzo/Beane dynamic (plus housekeeping note)

Before I kick off my morning blog post, I’ve got a quick housekeeping note to pass along.

I’m leaving the country later today for a 10-day trip to Europe, and will not be writing/tweeting/monitoring MLBTradeRumors during that time. I’m excited to say that I’m stepping away from the laptop for a week and a half, and will be enjoying my first European journey.

(For anyone who cares, I’ll be hitting France, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium during this trip. Should be fun.)

My colleagues Byron Kerr and Pete Kerzel will be picking up the slack and filling in for me while I’m gone, so stay tuned to MASNsports.com for all the latest news and updates leading you up to the new year.

What do I risk missing while I’m away?

The signing of a backup catcher, possibly. The addition of a veteran corner infielder, perhaps. And maybe another trade or seven between the Nationals and Athletics.

In case you missed it, the Nats and A’s combined on yet another deal yesterday when outfielder Corey Brown got shipped back to the West Coast in exchange for cash considerations.

Some wondered why the Nats didn’t get more in return for Brown, who has shown promise at the Triple-A level but never really got much extended playing time with the Nationals. There are a couple reasons, really.

First, Brown was designated for assignment last week, meaning that the Nats had 10 days to trade him, release him or try and pass him through waivers and then outright him to the minor leagues. Brown was boxed out of a roster spot with the Nats after the Nate McLouth signing, and the organization has a good amount of outfield depth rising through the minor league ranks with Steven Souza, Jeff Kobernus, Eury Perez and Michael Taylor all on the 40-man roster and Brian Goodwin coming along.

Teams rarely get much in return for players who have been designated for assignment because, well, the other 29 teams know that the player doesn’t really factor into your plans anymore. You don’t hold much bargaining power in such situations.

Second, Brown is out of options, meaning that if he doesn’t make the Athletics’ 25-man roster out of spring training, he’ll become a free agent. The A’s weren’t about to give up much for a guy they might only control for the next three months, if he’s unable to break camp with the team.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned yesterday, this is now the eighth time the Nats and A’s have combined on a trade in the last three years. Why all the deals between Mike Rizzo and Athletics GM Billy Beane?

I asked that question to a rival executive a day after the Nationals traded for Jerry Blevins at the Winter Meetings in Orlando. The executive, who has experience dealing with both Rizzo and Beane, responded that both general managers are no-nonsense negotiators and don’t waste people’s time when trying to work out a trade. They won’t present an unreasonable offer, the executive said, and the talks typically start at a fair place.

The executive felt that Rizzo and Beane are a great fit when it comes to trades because he can see one calling the other, saying that Player X is on the table and asking whether the other GM is interested. If so, they can get to work on hammering out a deal. If not, the GM will flat-out say so, and that’s the end of the discussion right there.

Both general managers came up through the ranks as scouts. Both pride themselves on being able to properly evaluate talent. And both seem to have the same negotiating style, which apparently lends itself to lots of trades.

Hope everyone who celebrates Christmas has a great holiday, and for those who don’t, enjoy some time with family and friends while I’m gone. I’ll be back just before the new year, and look forward to an exciting 2014 following the Nationals on MASNsports.com.

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