The Washington Times - July 31, 2012, 10:45AM

As today’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline approaches, follow along with our Nationals beat writer, Amanda Comak (Twitter:@acomak), and Nathan Fenno (Twitter: @nathanfenno) for the latest trade tidbits, rumors and news involving the Nationals and the National League East. The most recent updates will be at the top of the blog. Check back often.

UPDATE 4:46 p.m.: To recap, no deals for the Nationals at the non-waiver deadline. A few minutes ago, Davey Johnson walked into the interview room for his pregame availability and quipped: “I’m still here.” 


“I never thought we were going to do anything,” Johnson said. 

The Nationals can still swing a deal since baseball’s real trade deadline is the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason rosters. To make an August deal, players must pass through waivers or not be on 40-man rosters.

UPDATE 4 p.m.: The non-waiver trade deadline has passed. No word on any deals involving the Nationals. But trades usually trickle out in the hour or so following the deadline. So, the waiting continues.

UPDATE 3:39 p.m.: Curious to hear MLB Network report Twins outfielder Denard Span rejected a trade to the Reds. He’s in the midst of a five-year, $16.5 million contract, but when he was repeatedly linked to the Nationals last July, a no-trade clause was never mentioned. Interesting what the truth is on the contract.

UPDATE 3:27 p.m.: Nationals Park has acquired a tarp over the infield as a cloudburst with streaks of lightening toward the Capitol. No news with the Nationals, but Ken Rosenthal reported hard-throwing reliever Jonathan Broxton is headed from the Royals to the Reds, who have the National League’s second-best record. 

UPDATE 2:59 p.m.: The Nationals just made a move, but, no, it’s not deadline blockbuster. Instead, Chad Tracy was activated from the 15-day disabled list and Corey Brown was optioned to Syracuse.

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.: From Amanda — With just more than an hour to go there’s not much new to report with regard to the Nationals. It sounds as though Torrealba isn’t a prime target for them at this point — which goes along with what team officials have said about feeling relatively comfortable already with their catching corps. 

To reiterate, though, that doesn’t mean the Nationals won’t continue to pursue possible insurance in this area, as well as other areas, as much of that type of thing is available through waiver trades in August. 

Across the diamond, the clubhouse is getting emptier and emptier as the Phillies shipped out two of their starting outfielders in Victorino and Pence, and are reportedly still working on a few other things (including possibly sending Joe Blanton to the Orioles according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun).

The clubhouses will open in a half hour or so and we’ll have more (whether trade related or otherwise) later this afternoon. 

UPDATE 2:40 p.m.: Greetings from Nationals Park. A few drops of rain and, well, that’s it. An hour and 20 minutes until the deadline and nothing from the Nationals. We’ll see if they pull off a move as the clock winds down.

UPDATE 12:25 p.m.: And Jon Heyman of CBS tweets that Hunter Pence is off to the Giants. Lots of new faces for the Phillies tonight.

UPDATE 12:05 p.m.: There will be at least one lineup change for the Phillies tonight at Nationals Park. Shane Victorino has been traded to the Dodgers for pitchers Josh Lindbloom and Ethan Martin, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb reports Domonic Brown was scratched from Triple-A Lehigh Valley’s lineup and will join the Phillies in Washington. Brown’s name may be familiar, for reasons other than being a perennial prospect. In 2010, Brown was at the plate when Stephen Strasburg threw the fateful 1-1 change-up that left the right-hander shaking his arm in pain. You know what happened next.

UPDATE 11:54 a.m.: As approach four hours until the deadline, it’s worth looking back at the two minor leaguers Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo acquired in two (almost) deadline moves last July 30. 

Centerfielder Erik Komatsu came over from the Brewers for utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. Komatsu took a circuitous route to Syracuse this season after the Cardinals nabbed him in the Rule 5 draft, then was claimed by the Twins who eventually returned him to the Nationals in May. After all that, Komatsu is on the seven-day disabled list while hitting .269/.355 in 123 at-bats. 

Zach Walters, the shortstop obtained from the Diamondbacks for Jason Marquis, has enjoyed a smoother season. Splitting time between Potomac and Harrisburg, he’s batting .279/.312 with 11 home runs over 365 at-bats. A bit troubling, through, is Walters walking 17 times compared to 77 strikeouts.

The Marquis-Walters deal didn’t work well for the Diamondbacks, as the right-hander allowed 22 hits and 16 runs in 11.1 innings before fracturing his right fibula.

UPDATE 11:10 a.m.: Multiple reports have Phillies’ centerfielder Shane Victorino on the verge of being dealt to the Dodgers before tonight’s game with the Nationals. A free agent after the season, Victorino is batting .261/.324 in the final year a of a three-year, $22 million contract.

After five consecutive National League East titles, the Phillies have been one of baseball’s biggest disappointments. Debacle may be more accurate. Our Steve Whyno surveyed the situation in Philadelphia and penned an extensive piece in today’s Washington Times on the litany of things that went wrong.

All that adds up to the Phillies being one of the most interesting teams at the deadline. Will they deal left-hander Cliff Lee, in the midst of his five-year, $120 million contract? Perhaps right-fielder Hunter Pence, who Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly just tweeted could go to the Giants? The visitor’s clubhouse at Nationals Park should be a fascinating place today.

UPDATE 11:02 a.m.: Amanda has a bit more on the Nationals’ catching situation in light of a deal by the Rangers late Monday:

The Nationals could have two interesting targets as they look into possible insurance in their catching corps: Yorvit Torrealba and Kelly Shoppach.

The Nationals have said publicly that they’re satisfied with what they’ve gotten out of a group of catchers whose depth has been tested with injury this season — starting with the ACL and meniscus tears in Wilson Ramos’ right knee — and the impending return of Jhonatan Solano (down with an oblique strain) was used recently as an example of why they’re not necessarily desperate for a backup catcher.

But Torrealba, who was designated for assignment on Monday night when the Rangers acquired Geovany Soto from the Cubs, is known as a strong defensive catcher and has been to the playoffs multiple times and was once a strong offensive presence before he fell off this year. It is probably not a good sign when Soto is acquired as an upgrade over you at the position, but Torrealba may have some of the qualities the Nationals find attractive as backup to Flores. He is, however, owed roughly $1.5 million for the rest of this season and is 34.

Most of the same things can be said about Shoppach, who is the Red Sox best defensive catcher, but he’s put together a nice year offensively as well in 42 games for Boston this season. Shoppach’s hitting .261 with a .343 on-base percentage and a .513 slugging percentage — which means he’d likely come with a higher price tag than someone like Torrealba, who has already been DFA’d.

Both players, however, will likely be available after today’s deadline as well.

UPDATE 10:52 a.m.: Here’s Amanda Comak’s look at the Nationals’ low-key  trade deadline needs from Monday: middle infield depth, a backup catcher and the much-discussed addition to the starting rotation. It’s a vastly different situation than a year ago, when the Nationals, of course, didn’t own baseball’s best record and were linked to Denard Span while unloading Jerry Hairston and Jason Marquis.

UPDATE 10:39 a.m.: All quiet for the Nationals with a bit over five hours remaining until the deadline. Kelly Shoppach, the Red Sox catcher hitting .261/.343 in limited action this season, was linked to the Nationals and Brewers by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe earlier today.