MILWAUKEE — With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline coming up, the Nationals’ front office staff is out in full force on the team’s current trip. At least five top front office officials are in Milwaukee, including Rizzo, assistant GM Bryan Minniti and director of player development Doug Harris.
As he spoke during his usual pre-game media session, Johnson looked around at the increased presence and couldn’t not make mention of it.
“Kind of worried me a little bit,” Johnson said. “I’m looking around seeing all the brass from the front office and I’m saying ‘Holy moly. Maybe they’re getting ready to trade me? Who knows.’
“I guess you get all your battleships lined up in case you make a move.”
The Nationals needs at the deadline, however, are minimal. Johnson has gone on record as saying he doesn’t like the idea of the team spending big in prospects for a two-month rental player and he reiterated that stance on Thursday, the first time he’s addressed the topic since Ian Desmond was placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain.
“I don’t see us going out there and doing a whole lot,” Johnson said.
According to sources, the Nationals do have some interest in acquiring a veteran middle infielder as an insurance policy with Desmond out until at least Aug. 6. But Johnson didn’t view it as a glaring need, listing Mark DeRosa and minor leaguers Josh Johnson and Zachary Walters as in-house options on an in-case basis.
Worst-case scenario, Johnson said, (and this sounds like it’d have to be really dire straits) he could put Ryan Zimmerman at shortstop if need be and allow infielders like DeRosa and (soon) Chad Tracy to play the corners where they’re more comfortable.
“We’re going to get an outfielder (Jayson Werth) and an infielder (Chad Tracy) soon,” Johnson said. “I’ve got a lot of healthy arms. If push comes to shove, somebody else got hurt. I could always put Zim at short.
“As far as I’m concerned (middle infield’s) not a growing need right now. Although I know Rizzo is big on insurance. I like the cast of characters I got. I haven’t been talking about anything specifically.”