Nationals president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo took to the airwaves to discuss his organization’s approach to the upcoming trade deadline. The audio from MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM is available on Twitter.
Unsurprisingly, the long-time D.C. baseball ops leader says that the front office will work for the rest of the month to “try and improve our club.” Any other approach would’ve been quite a surprise given that the Nats entered the season with expectations of contending and have scraped and clawed their way into that status after a brutal start.
The Nationals are sitting in Wild Card position and 5.5 games back of the Braves entering play today. While the postseason position is promising, there’s still a lot of work to do — especially in the division.
Rizzo did seem to suggest that the club won’t be especially motivated to pay up for pure rental players. As he put it:
“We’d like to improve ourselves this year but also for the future. 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 doubtful the club will scratch targets off its list entirely because they are slated to reach free agency at season’s end. But it appears the Washington organization will be disinclined to part with its best farm pieces for short-term pieces.
In terms of need, Rizzo unsurprisingly anointed the bullpen as the area most in need of improvement. “Our priority is going to be on pitching,” he 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 linked to relievers Mychal Givens (link) and Jake Diekman (link). It seems likely they’ll come away from the trade period with multiple new pen pieces.