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Nationals have options for trade to bolster starting rotation
Question of the Day
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
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.
What it could take to get him: According to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, the Astros are looking for “volume” in any deal at the deadline, so a package of youth sounds like the price for Norris. Astros manager Bo Porter, formerly the third base coach for Washington, is intimately aware of what the Nationals have, on their major league roster and in the minor leagues. Some of their young MLB talent, like first baseman-outfielder Tyler Moore, could be among those the Astros target in a deal.
MATT GARZA, CUBS
Cubs officials told Chicago reporters Tuesday that between GM Jed Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein they’ve spoken with every GM in the major leagues in the past five days. They’re in sell mode as they continue their rebuilding process and Garza is one of the pieces they could move. Garza has only made seven starts after starting the season on the disabled list, but he’s been continually improving.
Why he could be moved: The Cubs are aggressively shopping some of their top trade pieces and reports say they aren’t interested in Garza’s asking price for a new contract. He is a free agent after the season.
What it could take to get him: Young talent. The Cubs are looking to stockpile prospects as they continue their rebuild and they have very few positions locked down for multiple years in the future.
SCOTT FELDMAN, CUBS
Feldman falls into the same category as Garza as far as pieces the Cubs are willing to move, and his numbers are better. Feldman has made 14 starts and has a 3.39 ERA for the Cubs with a 6-6 record.
Why he could be moved: Feldman signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Cubs this offseason after spending the previous eight years in Texas. He’s a versatile guy, having served as a starter and a reliever in his career, and the Cubs could get something for him.
What it could take to get him: Again, the Cubs are looking for youth and talent to help speed up their rebuilding process. It’s unclear if they’d be willing to move both Garza and Feldman, but if there’s enough interest — which there likely will be — both could go.
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH
White Sox RHP Jake Peavy, Brewers RHP Yovani Gallardo and Phillies LHP Cliff Lee also could be on the move this summer.
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About the Author
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
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