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Could The Nationals Be Trade Deadline Buyers?

The Nationals are off to a 14-13 start, which puts them two games behind the Phillies in the NL East.  However, based on their runs scored and allowed totals, the Nationals project to finish with 72 wins.  If they can hang around in contention for another month, should the Nats add reinforcements for an unexpected playoff run?

The Nationals' rotation has a 5.19 ERA, third-worst in the NL.  Their starters are averaging only 5.32 innings per outing.  If Livan Hernandez comes back to Earth (0.99 ERA in 36.3 innings), they could be in really bad shape.  Multiple starters are already on the way:

  • Jason Marquis, dealing with bone chips in his elbow, is on a throwing program according to MASN's Ben Goessling.
  • Goessling says Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang, and Ross Detwiler will all begin rehab assignments several weeks from now, with Detwiler being the closest.  While the reports are promising and we should see these three in the second half, it'd be unwise to rely on them.
  • Stephen Strasburg could join the big club in June (and avoid Super Two status), giving the team a potential ace.
  • The Nationals' rotation could really use a shot in the arm right now as opposed to June or July.  They could try to sign Pedro Martinez or Jarrod Washburn, but the free agents would need weeks to be big league ready.  In May only a couple of teams will be realistic about their playoff chances.  Potentially, the Orioles or Indians could be willing to deal.  Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, and Jake Westbrook might be available. 
  • The Nationals' bullpen has been respectable, and Drew Storen was promoted to Triple A a week ago.

How about the offense?  At 4.30 runs scored per game, the Nats rank 13th in the NL.  They're lacking at second base, where Cristian Guzman and Adam Kennedy have combined for a .261/.284/.351 line.  Dan Uggla would be a huge addition, but it's hard to picture the Marlins making that deal right now.  Ty Wigginton might be easier to acquire.  Right field has been a bigger problem, with a .157/.294/.326 aggregate performance.  The Nationals acknowledged this a month ago upon releasing Elijah Dukes, as they inquired on Corey Hart, Kosuke Fukudome, and B.J. Upton in trade talks and had discussions with free agents Gary Sheffield and Jermaine Dye.  Sheffield or Dye would require sacrificing defense for offense.  Another name to consider could be the Royals' David DeJesus.








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