David Huzzard: Nats should look at other trade possibilities

The 2017 Nationals are a confusing team to follow. They are a combination of the best run-producing team in baseball, a huge division lead, a strong top of the rotation and one of the worst bullpens ever constructed. That last one gets most of the attention and it needs to be addressed, but it is not the Nationals' only weakness heading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The bullpen is the obvious area of concern and it's where the Nationals focus will be, but it will also be where potential trading partners will try and milk them. If the Nationals want to know exactly where they stand and how much they need to give up to fix the bullpen, it would be beneficial to call up Erick Fedde as soon as possible to see what they have in him as a major league reliever before July 31 comes and goes.

Other areas of weakness for the Nationals include the back of the starting rotation. Both Tanner Roark and Joe Ross have struggled this season. Gio Gonzalez has both performed above his age and his peripherals, and some correction to the mean should be expected. Meaning the Nats can and should jump into the bidding for a starting pitcher. This is also a way to improve the bullpen. Shoring up the back of the rotation with a pitcher that can go deeper in games means the bullpen has to pitch less, but it also could mean the Nats could move Ross to the bullpen and improve it that way as well.

The final weakness of the Nationals has more to do with injuries than roster construction. If the Nationals are lucky, Adam Eaton will return sometime during the playoffs and Jayson Werth will return at some point, but he may not be able to stay healthy for the rest of the season when he does. Michael A. Taylor and Brian Goodwin have done well filling in, but a .295 average and .291 on-base percentage are far from impressive. The Nationals could use an additional outfielder and with Werth becoming a free agent after this season, it would be even better if they were under a multi-year deal.

General manager Mike Rizzo likes to make the unexpected trade. He is going to have to make the expected one for a reliever or two if the Nationals are going to go deep in the playoffs. But there is still room on this roster for improvement in other areas, and while everyone talks about the Nationals' closer situation, few notice the holes at the back of the rotation and up the middle in the outfield. That is where Rizzo has a chance to jump into a market no one expects him to be in and snag a really good player. Remember the trade deadline a couple years ago when the A's traded for Jon Lester and the Tigers traded for David Price? Those were two teams that no one expected to be in the starting pitching market and that made two of the biggest deals of that deadline.

Big crazy trades are what make the deadline fun, and while the Nationals have to do the boring work of improving the bullpen, they could make this deadline very interesting. And who knows, maybe Fedde comes up and is awesome, Koda Glover returns from injury and stays healthy, and the Nats trade for a starting pitcher and Ross thrives as a reliever. Improving the bullpen doesn't have to happen via a direct trade for a reliever, but I think we all know even if everything above happens, the Nats will still need a solid reliever or two to round out the bullpen. Next weekend is July, and I, for one, am ready for the rumors to start flying.

David Huzzard blogs about the Nationals at Citizens of Natstown. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHuzzard. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our regular roster of writers.

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