The Washington Times - July 24, 2012, 02:10PM

NEW YORK — Yesterday was a busy day for MLB trades, the busiest one we’ve had this year with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching.

The Marlins sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers for highly-touted prospects. The Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki and the Braves attempted to trade for right-hander Ryan Dempster. That one is still up in the air.


As things pertain to the Nationals, though, the action’s not all that fast at this point.

The Nationals’ position as far as acquiring a starting pitcher is this: they are not interested in a rental (and that really isn’t a new development).

Yes, Stephen Strasburg will be shut down at some point (and that point has been kept purposely vague for a reason). Yes, the Nationals look primed for a playoff spot, and if they get one they’ll be without Strasburg at that point. But the Nationals do not feel they need to give up elite prospects for a two-month rental.

This is the position manager Davey Johnson has taken publicly, but also the one the organization has taken privately. If the return for an elite starting pitcher is two months of work, the Nationals are not interested in the high price it’d take to get that.

They are, however, keeping an open mind about another kind of starting pitcher: one with some control left on their contract. This is not, however, unique across the league. The Nationals would be more willing to part with the prospects it’d take to get an elite pitcher if that pitcher is under contract after the 2012 season. Those, however, are not plentiful and the ones that are you can expect to be in high demand.

– Changing gears a little, I am told two things about how Ian Desmond’s injury will affect the Nationals’ plans.

First, it will not impact Jayson Werth’s rehab at all. The loss of Desmond’s bat is significant but the Nationals know it’s not prudent for the team or the player if they speed up Werth’s recovery from a major injury because of need at the major league level. 

Werth was 0-for-3 at Triple-A Syracuse Monday night, and while he’s been pleased — if not downright impressed — with how he’s felt as he’s begun to play again, he also acknowledges how far he has to go to get back to being himself. That is not a process the Nationals want to rush.

Second, the Nationals are not actively seeking a starting middle infielder in a trade knowing that Desmond will be on the shelf for at least the next two weeks and most likely more. The team is comfortable with Danny Espinosa at shortstop and with Steve Lombardozzi at second base. But right now, Mark DeRosa is the main backup at each of those positions.

It would not, however, be all that surprising to see them go after a utility type of middle infielder player as a fallback plan — in fact sources say they are exploring that route. But right now they have no intention of making a splash with a move at the position and, as always, the cost of acquiring a non-splashy type of player will have to fit what the Nationals would be willing to give up. They are aware, however, that their depth there is perhaps thinner than at any other spot when it comes to their current 40-man roster. 

The only infielders on the Nationals’ 40-man roster that aren’t either on the disabled list or on the major league team are Anthony Rendon and Carlos Rivero. Both are actually third basemen, though Rendon did work in spring training all over the infield but an ankle fracture earlier this season wiped out most of his first pro season and he’s in no position to help the big league team at this point.