The Washington Times - July 18, 2011, 07:58PM

HOUSTON — With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline now just two weeks away, the Nationals are “moderately busy,” Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said today. They’ve been getting a lot of calls on their bullpen, their veteran starting pitchers and catcher Ivan Rodriguez, despite his current disabled list status.

“We’re fielding more calls than we’re making,” Rizzo said. “The business has been pretty brisk. It’s not probably as busy as we’ve been in the last couple years. Not anything more than that.”

Rizzo reiterated that the team is still “buyers and sellers” as he’s said they’d be for much of this season. Certainly, he said, they’re not buyers in a sense that they’re going to be buying with an eye on just the 2011 season.

“I don’t know any other way to be,” Rizzo said. “If you can make a trade to better yourself long-term (we will.) … If we’re buyers, it’ll be a long-term asset that will help us this year and down the road. We could also be sellers, too.”

The Nationals have been rumored to be in the market for a leadoff hitting center fielder and have reportedly fielded calls on bullpen arms Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Todd Coffey, their veteran starters — as Rizzo said — Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis, and, as always, some guys who are most likely not going anywhere.

“We got calls early on a lot of players and we kind of dismiss a lot of them,” Rizzo said. “After a while, they don’t ask for (second baseman Danny) Espinosa.”

Rizzo would not go so far as to say that anybody is untouchable but “there’s certain core guys. We’re not going to touch our core.”

Overall, the GM said he feels the Nationals are in a strong position at this deadline because of the depth they’ve built up through the farm system. There’s still plenty of time for things to shake out before the deadline but Rizzo said the essence of his philosophy at this time of year “Do we better ourselves by making this move, or are we better off standing pat?”

“You always trade from depth and strength,” he said. “We feel that we’ve put together some depth at certain positions. That’s usually what you trade from.”


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