With the new MLB rules that have limited teams to only one trade deadline on July 31st this year, general managers will be at the ready to make deals sooner than later. Last year, Nationals’ general manager was the early bird when he acquired Kelvin Herrera in mid-June from the Royals. What is Mike Rizzo waiting for? The Nationals have a greater need than they did last year for bullpen help as they are still last in the Majors at a 6.30 ERA.
When Tanner Rainey looked like the answer for the bullpen, he just became another question as he was charged with two of the bullpen’s four losses in the month of June, and he has struggled with command. Rainey has walked batters to a 6.9 BB/9 which is unacceptable at this level. It has really been an issue in his last four appearances due to seven walks in 2 2/3 innings which is a 23.68 BB/9. Maybe the issue is overuse or maybe it is regression to the mean. Whatever the issue is, the Nationals might not want to gamble with the thought that Fernando Rodney is their answer. The 42-year-old has made two impressive appearances for manager Dave Martinez including one save, but can you take the chance and wait to see how this all shakes out?
Since there many intriguing ways the Nats can go, they could look at adding a set-up man, five names that Yoan Lopez, Tyler Clippard, Jose LeClerc, Sam Dyson, and Aaron Bummer. Yes, Tyler Clippard is having a resurgent season with a 0.88 WHIP this season, but the Indians are 45-38 and probably not looking to trade rather they might be in acquisition mode. Dyson could be available if the Giants go in sell-mode, and Aaron Bummer would be very expensive as he has several years of control remaining for the White Sox. If Tampa goes into sell-mode, Emilio Pagan is a 28 year old righty who has been battle tested in the AL East with four saves and five holds. Tony Watson and Will Smith of the Giants will almost certainly be traded.
The biggest gems could be Smith, Felipe Vazquez and Shane Greene for teams looking for closers, and if the Indians drop out of the race Brad Hand could be traded. Other names like Alex Colome, Sergio Romo and Raisel Iglesias will be talked about too, and there is also the expensive Ian Kennedy as well as the resurgent Ken Giles or even looking back at Greg Holland who the Nats passed on to sign Trevor Rosenthal. There are certainly plenty of names if Rizzo looks hard enough and mostly it comes down to which teams are selling? Add some and subtract some.
Another need for the Nats could be to get a second baseman who bats lefty and two names that might fit are Eric Sogard of Toronto who is batting .308 against RHPs and Scooter Gennett if he shows he is recovered from his injury as he was just called up this week. Sogard plays multiple positions, and could fly under the radar.
With the Nats struggles in the #5 starter’s spot in the rotation, Rizzo should certainly kick the tires for an American League starter with a high 3’s ERA if he can find one or look for change of scenery candidates or the route of looking for salary dumps for some veterans. Some might think adding a veteran starter is not needed, but you never know what can happen to your depth if something unforeseen happens. You only need four starters for the postseason, but an upgrade at the back of the rotation is smart money.
There is usually a time when Mike Rizzo says “we like the team we have” then he makes a move. It happens every year.
“When we see opportunities we usually jump on them and take them,” Rizzo said. “We’re aggressive by nature. I don’t think it changes us a whole lot.”
The Nationals will find themselves as of Monday just 1 ½ games outside of the Wild Card race trailing the Rockies and Phillies who are both tied for the second Wild Card spot, and the Nats trail the Cubs by two games for the first Wild Card spot. In the NL East, the Nationals trail the Braves by 7.0 games with 78 games remaining in the regular season.
Mike Rizzo — you are on the clock.