How did the Nationals fare at the trade deadline?

We’re doing a bit of trade deadline analysis around here today - I talked to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo about it for his weekly blog, which should be posted later tonight - l and I thought I’d add a few observations of my own.


The Nationals, of course, made two trades leading up to Saturday’s deadline, sending Matt Capps to the Minnesota Twins and infielder Cristian Guzman to the Texas Rangers, getting two players back for each. in both cases, the deals offered relatively clear choices; Guzman is a free agent after the year, and the deadline represented the Nationals’ last real shot to get something of value for him. And though Rizzo said it was hard to part with Capps, the reality is he was a luxury - and about to become a rather expensive one - in a bullpen that has enough depth to survive his departure.

Ever since they signed Ivan Rodriguez, the Nationals have been preparing for a future without Jesus Flores. He’s still trying to make his way back from shoulder surgery, and it’s questionable whether Flores will be an everyday player again in the majors. If he is, the Nationals have an extra piece at catcher. If he doesn’t, Ramos is capable of taking the majority of the work there, possibly as soon as September.

Keeping Capps was an option, and it’s one Rizzo said he was prepared to take. But the reality is, with Drew Storen getting better every day and Capps due a big raise in arbitration, the Nationals were right to trade him now. There are cheaper ways to get outs in the ninth inning in 2011 than Capps, and especially when there’s a player available like Ramos, the deal makes too much sense not to do it.

The Guzman deal was a no-brainer; the Nationals got two pitchers back for him, and $1.1 million of salary relief in the form of the cash the Rangers sent to cover part of Guzman’s remaining contract. Whether or not either Ryan Tatusko or Tanner Roark amount to much (and both had solid numbers for Double-A Frisco), the deal looks like a good move.

The key to the deadline’s success, though, is whether or not the Nationals resign Adam Dunn. The team still wants to keep him, and locking him up for the next several years becomes the goal now. Rizzo said the Nationals didn’t have any offers that would have brought back an impact player good enough to pry Dunn away from them. And when I talked to him yesterday for his blog entry, he sounded perfectly willing to take draft picks for the first baseman if the Nationals can’t get a deal done. The offers were either underwhelming enough that Rizzo saw two compensation picks as being better than the players offered, or he’s relatively confident of getting a contract for Dunn. I’m guessing it’s the former, but I still think the Nationals resign the first baseman.

Any other thoughts or questions on the deadline? Let me know. The first part of Rizzo’s blog for the week is here. The second part will be posted later in the week.