- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Walt Jocketty, did you see Trea Turner at the Futures Game from your general manager’s office at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati? You saw how he ran like a flash around the bases with a triple, which followed a double in his first at-bat, right?

You checked his stats and you saw that, after spending 10 days at Double-A Harrisburg, the 22-year-old shortstop batted .359, and has already been promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, right?

Wouldn’t he look good in a Reds uniform? You want him? He’s yours. Just ship to Washington the guy in the bullpen we saw at Nationals Park two weeks ago — you know, the guy who came out and threw 100 miles an hour in the strike zone consistently.

Turner for Aroldis Chapman? Done.

Or maybe you would rather have a young starting pitcher. Did you see 22-year-old Joe Ross strike out 11 batters against the Pirates a few weeks ago? Would you prefer him?

Done. We’ll pick up Chapman at the airport.

What’s that you say? Lucas Giolito? Let’s not get crazy, Walt.

The upcoming trading deadline will focus much of its attention, like the All-Star Game, on Cincinnati, where the Reds, with a 39-47 record and out of the running in the National League Central Division, will likely be baseball’s version of the Home Shopping Network.

They’ve got a front line starter in Johnny Cueto, an outfielder in Jay Bruce and the 100-mile closer in Chapman, all the subject of trade rumors. The rumor that should intrigue Washington the most is Chapman — the Cuban fireballer who the Nationals bid on in 2010 and lost out to Cincinnati.

He is the game-changer in postseason play. For Washington, he could be the difference-maker between 2012, 2014, and this coming postseason.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Sunday at Camden Yards that he likes the roster he has, but they will be looking at the trade market as the July 31 deadline approaches.

“We’re not a perfect team, but we like the team that we have and we like the roster that we have,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to look at all aspects of our club and figure out what trades, if any, make sense to us, what internal answers we have first, and we’ll try to attack the trade market after that.”

If you’re going to attack, why not come away with a clear-cut victory in Chapman?

There were reports earlier this season that the Nationals already had trade talks with the Reds about Chapman. Those reports were false, but that doesn’t mean Washington wouldn’t be interested in him.

I know, they have a closer in Drew Storen — a good one, who is having a tremendous season, with 27 saves and a 1.89 ERA in 35 appearances. It would seem terribly unfair for Storen to be bumped out of the closer role, and there is a risk of upsetting clubhouse chemistry with such a well-liked player such as Storen if you make a move like this.

Giving up a young pitcher like Ross — or, if need be, a future all-star position player like Turner — may appear to be way too much to surrender. But Washington has options at shortstop for the future, such as Danny Espinosa. Yes, it is a costly proposition.

But come on. Chapman? No one coming up to bat for the Los Angeles Dodgers or St. Louis Cardinals will fear Storen coming out of the bullpen in the ninth inning of a Division Series game.

Chapman? Some hitters will be beaten before they even step in the box against a guy who has thrown the 50 fastest pitches this year, all over 100 mph, and the guy who has struck out 65 hitters in 37 innings.

The vision of the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants in the World Series last year, with one power arm after another coming out of the bullpen, is hard to shake. Washington may have a bullpen that’s effective enough to finally deliver in a tough spot in this year’s playoffs — but it’s not the kind of bullpen we saw in the World Series last year.

Bryce Harper joked in the offseason when Washington signed Max Scherzer, “Where’s my ring?”

It could be in the Cincinnati Reds‘ bullpen.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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