Johnson on adding a starting pitcher: “I don’t think that’s in our plans”

PHILADELPHIA - Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the other day that he doesn’t envision making any major deals prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, feeling that there are no “big splashy moves that are remaining” for the Nats this season.

Still, there are those who feel that with Ross Detwiler having landed on the DL twice in the last two months and Dan Haren proving to be inconsistent in the first half of the season, the Nats would be wise to add another starting pitcher.

The Nats have indeed been looking around the league at various starter, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s discussions, although it’s unclear what level of interest they have in acquiring outside pitching help. They’ve been linked to the Cubs’ Matt Garza, a guy who will draw plenty of interest before the deadline.

For what it’s worth, manager Davey Johnson backed up his GM’s comments today, saying that after the Nationals’ acquisition of outfielder Scott Hairston Sunday night, he feels the Nats have what they need in-house to put up a strong second half and make a run towards the postseason.

“We have the talent here to do it,” Johnson said. “One of our areas that we have very little depth in, obviously, is starting pitching. But after this year and early into next year, some of our young starters should be knocking at the door here. As far as making a move and picking up somebody, a lease just for the short-term, I don’t think that’s in our plans because I think we have enough talent here and enough coming that we wouldn’t do that.

“I’m sure Mike is looking at everything. I’m sure if anything becomes available that could help us, he’ll be on it.”

A couple of the young starting pitchers Johnson is likely referring to are right-hander Matt Purke (shoulder) and left-hander Sammy Solis (Tommy John surgery), two high draft picks who are both working back from injuries. Nathan Karns also came up to the Nats this season and showed potential, and Taylor Jordan has impressed Nationals officials with the way he’s thrown in his first three big league starts.

Rizzo isn’t a fan of acquiring “rental” type players, meaning ones in the final year of their contract that are acquired for just a couple months, and with the Nats having a handful of promising young arms a year or two away from being major league-ready, Johnson feels that it doesn’t make much sense to add a starter with multiple years on his contract. That would block the minor league arms on the way.

A note on Jordan, by the way: In his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander is under an innings limit this year, and will be shut down at some point before the major league regular season wraps up.

That’s part of the reason why these next three weeks leading up to the trading deadline will be big for the Nats. They’ll be able to monitor Haren’s progress and see how Detwiler comes back from his back injury. If they then feel that they need another arm, they can make a move.

Same goes for possibly adding another bench bat, should Chad Tracy (batting .136 this season), for example, continue to struggle.

“I think the next couple weeks, more clarity will come to that picture,” Johnson said. “You know, Tracy’s an outstanding left-handed hitter, and he hasn’t done it. We had a young right-handed hitter and he wasn’t doing the things he did last year. So we made (the Hairston) move, because that gives Tyler Moore a chance to go play. So that was two-fold. It helped this club and it helped in his development.

“We should have Det back right after the break. It looks like Haren’s back on track. So I don’t see anything that’s out there that we would go spend a lot of money to get.”

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