The news of other teams’ moves was all around them. Blaring at the players through multiple clubhouse televisions tuned into MLB Network with Nationals manager Davey Johnson glued to the unit in his office.
The Cincinnati Reds added to their already deep bullpen. The Atlanta Braves stockpiled another starting pitcher. The Los Angeles Dodgers revamped a good portion of their 25-man roster, adding multiple big-name players. The Pittsburgh Pirates added four players in their quest to end an interminable streak of losing and irrelevance.
But the Washington Nationals stood pat. They did not make any trades before the 4 p.m. non-waiver deadline on Tuesday, choosing to stick with the players who had brought them to the best record in the majors (61-40) before the night’s games.
“All along we said we like who we are, we like where we’re at, and we like the composition of the roster,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We didn’t see a whole lot of holes to fill. It’s not about complacency. It’s about making good, sound decisions. Not taking the short route with rental players that could [cost] us long-term.”
“I never felt we were going to do anything,” Johnson said. “I like this ballclub. Everything is functioning well.”
Essentially, Rizzo said the moves of other contenders had no impact on his inclinations because of his comfort in the team’s personnel.
“We don’t make our decisions based on what other teams are doing, just to kind of keep up with the Joneses,” he said. “We’ve got a plan and a vision in place, and we’ve stuck to it, and we’re going to continue to do so.”
Rizzo maintained a calm public face throughout the days leading up to Tuesday’s deadline, gathering the majority of his top officials in Milwaukee this past weekend to discuss their options and spitball ideas. The Nationals were involved in talks with a number of teams but never got to he point where they felt an agreement could be reached before the deadline. Trades still can be made throughout August with players who are put on waivers.
“We had conversations ramped up on a couple of different fronts,” Rizzo said. “But I don’t think any deal was ever imminent and fell through. … The deals just weren’t out there to make.”
Knowing the team will shut down ace Stephen Strasburg at some point later this season, the Nationals did explore their options for the rotation but maintained a pragmatic, long-term approach. What they found did not appear better than what the Nationals believe they have in left-hander John Lannan, who is expected to start one of the games in Friday’s doubleheader, or right-hander Chien-Ming Wang.
There were no last-minute surprises that came across Rizzo’s desk, either, even as executives for other clubs scrambled to create one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent memory.
What remained was a roster left largely intact and close to looking how the Nationals expected when Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond return healthy. Werth could be back as soon as the end of this week, though Desmond’s timetable is less firm.
“We made all our splashes this winter,” Rizzo said. “We put together and constructed this roster the way we have it right now. [When everyone’s healthy] then we’ll really take it and see what type of team we have when we’re at full strength.”
“We feel we’re in position to play meaningful games this September and beyond,” he added. “There wasn’t a whole lot of necessity to make a deal.”
NOTES: The Nationals activated utilityman Chad Tracy Tuesday afternoon, optioning outfielder Corey Brown back to Triple-A Syracuse.View Entire Story
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Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
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