Mike Rizzo spoke about the Nationals’ trade deadline plans via MLB Network Radio.
The Nationals haven’t been trade deadline sellers since the 2011 season, the last season they weren’t expected to be World Series contenders. The Nats President of Baseball Ops, said that the Nationals will “try and improve our club.”
Washington is currently atop the Wild Card standings and five-and-half back in the NL East standings. After May 24 it seemed like the Nationals would be sellers at the trade deadline and were the second worst team (record-wise) in the National League and were only ahead of the rebuilding Marlins.
Since then the Nats have the best record in baseball and look to be among the National League’s best moving forward to October.
Rizzo told MLB Network Radio that the Nationals aren’t exactly looking to trade prospects for purely rentals.
“We’d like to improve ourselves this year but also for the future,” Rizzo said. “When you’re giving away the assets that you have to give away at the trade deadline, you kind of like to get a little bit of control in the players that you acquire.”
It’s highly doubtful that the Nationals will scratch every trade target that is a pending free agent but they may look to acquire players who are controllable beyond this season.
The Nationals obviously have a hole in the bullpen and even the fifth starter position. The Nationals currently have one of the worst bullpens in baseball in terms of ERA.
“Our priority is going to be on pitching,” Rizzo said, “probably bullpen arms that could give us some veteran leadership and possibly shorten the game up for our starting rotation.”
The Nationals have already been connected to relievers Mychael Givens and Jake Diekman. If the Nationals want to be competitive down the stretch and into October they’ll likely need to acquire a few bullpen pieces to patch up the issues in their bullpen.