The Nationals looked poised to make one of the bigger splashes of the 2011 trade deadline, in talks all week with the Minnesota Twins to acquire center fielder and leadoff man Denard Span but when Sunday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline came and went, they chose instead to stand pat.
The deadline passed somewhat uneventfully with the Nationals clinging to a 2-1 lead over the Mets in the eighth inning of a rubber match and Drew Storen preparing to take the mound in the bullpen to warm for a save situation the ninth.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a busy deadline for Washington, which traded away veterans Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jason Marquis for minor leaguers on Saturday and added Jonny Gomes on Tuesday, but when it came down to it, the Nationals and Twins obviously couldn’t agree on terms to make a deal. Instead they held on to one of the game’s best young closers in Storen — as well as the rest of their top relief help which Minnesota was presumably angling for — but remained without a player they were coveting.
The Nationals consider their outfield depth — particularly in center field — to be the thinnest spot in their organization when it comes to the major leagues and near-major league ready players. They also lack a true leadoff hitter and have been hurt by a collection of players combining for a .195 batting average and .264 on-base percentage this season, far below where they’d like those numbers to be. Sunday afternoon, Brian Bixler was playing center field and leading off for the first time in his entire career.
There was no movement elsewhere for the Nationals either, who could have traded away veteran pitchers Todd Coffey or Livan Hernandez as well and were getting calls earlier in the week on shortstop Ian Desmond.