Nationals have options for trade to bolster starting rotation

Dan Haren stood in front of his locker in the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and talked openly about the shoulder inflammation that has landed him on the disabled list.

An MRI on his right shoulder revealed no structural damage, and he received a cortisone shot to help combat what has been making it difficult for him to get his arm loose and perhaps contributing to his struggles.

With that diagnosis, Haren said he saw no reason why he’d need more than the minimal amount of time on the DL.

But whether it’s Haren’s injury or his major league-worst 6.15 ERA, the Nationals — who will likely call up right-hander Taylor Jordan from Double-A to start Saturday — have an open question about the fifth spot in their rotation just as the trade season begins to heat up.

“We feel like we’ve got a lot of good, young arms in the system. They can hold us in there,” manager Davey Johnson said Tuesday, asked about the team’s need for more starting pitching. “As far as us thinking about we need to go outside, I still have all the confidence in the world with Haren. I think this was probably a much-needed step back. … I’m hopeful this’ll be something that’ll get him going, too.

“But going into the year, that was the one place we kind of had a little shortfall was starting pitching … and when this year’s over, we’re going to have all that young talent knocking on the door up here, too.”

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has, in the past, not been a fan of doing rental trades, knowing the price is often far higher than the return would otherwise warrant. Still, should the Nationals expand their search for another starting pitcher beyond their organization — where most of the rotation talent is still in the system’s lower levels — there will be a number of starters on the market before the July 31 deadline they could consider.

Here are a few:

RICKY NOLASCO, MARLINS

Washington is all too familiar with Nolasco, who has become a Nationals killer during his time with the Miami Marlins. Nolasco is 4-7 with a 3.68 ERA in 16 starts this season.

Why he could be moved: The obvious: He plays for the lowly Marlins. Nolasco is also a free agent after the 2013 season. The Marlins will be looking to unload the rest of his $11.5 million salary this season, and get some return on him for the future.

What it could take to get him: A lot. The Marlins are reportedly aggressively shopping Nolasco and there are multiple teams, most from the NL West, said to be interested in him, so the Marlins could take their pick — and may not want to trade him within the division.

BUD NORRIS, ASTROS

The 28-year-old Norris may be the best asset the Astros have to move at the deadline as he’s managed a 5-7 record with a 3.60 ERA while pitching in front of one of the league’s worst teams — and in one of its toughest divisions.

Why he could be moved: The Astros may not lose 100 games as most predicted, but they are still in the rebuilding stage. Given that Norris isn’t a free agent until after the 2015 season, the Astros will most certainly be looking to get something significant in exchange for someone with his talent, who still has that many years of team control.

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