In trading for closer Mark Melancon on Saturday, the Nationals addressed what was by far their most pressing need, the one glaring weakness for a first-place team that does not have many of them. If they want, they can move forward to the finish line of the pennant race with what they currently have and few would fault them for it.
That is not to say, however, that the Nationals could not improve even further. Every team can. And as strong and deep as the Nats' roster appears to be, there are still some areas that could potentially use an upgrade.
The obvious one would be a left-handed reliever. Even after acquiring Melancon, there are questions about their bullpen depth, and removing Felipe Rivero left them with one less lefty.
Sammy Solis' emergence has changed the bullpen outlook dramatically, but every team can use more than one effective left-hander. Oliver Perez (4.20 ERA in 46 G) has been inconsistent, but he does boast a .193/.292/.298 slash line against lefty batters. Perhaps they can start using him as a lefty specialist. Otherwise, another could be used, especially if Perez continues to struggle.
The other area the Nats could potentially use some help is on their bench. The Nats are 12th in baseball in runs per game, which is good but not great. And right now there isn't a whole lot of room to improve their starting lineup, unless you plan on replacing Jayson Werth or Ryan Zimmerman, the team's two highest paid position players who both have been playing better lately.
The bench is the one spot they have some flexibility with. Also, consider this: Stephen Drew has been their best bench player this season, but he's currently sidelined with vertigo-like symptoms including dizziness. Drew has a history of concussions that have caused balance issues. His most recent problems were just last September.
Drew did not hit his head recently or do anything that would have caused a concussion, as Dusty Baker told reporters on the road last week, but either way vertigo is nothing to mess with. Alfred Hitchock even named a movie after it.
If Drew's condition turns out worse than originally believed, the Nats' bench would all of a sudden look a lot different. The same could be said for backup catcher Jose Lobaton, who is also on the DL with left elbow tendinitis.
At this point, though, the Nats do not appear to need anything significant added to their roster. They have versatility and depth, and in the minors are reinforcements at almost every position. They even have bullpen options with Koda Glover, Bryan Harper and Matt Grace all pitching well.
But none of that means the Nats are satisfied and they still have several avenues to seek upgrades. The non-waiver trade deadline hits at 4 p.m. on Monday, but there is still a full month where the Nats can add somebody through waivers and still have them available on a postseason roster.
It's not often that major additions are made in August. Every once in a while there is a blockbuster trade, like in 2012 when the Red Sox sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, James Loney and Josh Beckett - among others - to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The more common deals made in August are like when the Nats acquired lefty Matt Thornton from the Yankees off waivers in 2014. Thornton tossed 18 scoreless appearances for the Nats down the stretch of that season and made their playoff roster.
Perhaps a Thornton-type addition is just what the Nats need to deepen their bullpen before the pennant race. They already showed how serious they are by going all-in with the Melancon deal. Why stop there?
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