By Doug McKinney
In the latest Nationals Q&A, CSN producer Doug McKinney talks with Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBtraderumors.com. Nicholson-Smith specializes in reports of trades and roster moves in Major League Baseball. You can read his stuff here.
CSN:Ben, thanks for joining us. With the trade deadline just a month away, what type of market will the Washington Nationals be in on the trade front?
MLBTR: Let's start with the obvious: the Nationals figure to be buyers with an interest in adding offense. They're averaging fewer than four runs per game, and unless they expect to replicate the success of the pitching-first 2010 Giants, Washingtons front office members will want to look around for some bats.
No team in baseball has obtained a lower OPS from its left fielders (.561), which makes the outfield a natural starting point. The Nationals could consider trade candidates such as Carlos Quentin if theyre looking for some power on an expiring contract. However many outfielders rumored to be available are unappealing given their salaries and production.
CSN: The Nationals pitching staff is a big reason the club is in first place in the NL East, while the hitting has lagged behind. What type of bats arecould be available that you think may intrigue the Nats? (They were tied to B.J. Upton, Denard Span and Peter Bourjos earlier in the offseasonseason)
MLBTR: The Nationals will likely be intrigued by outfielders, as I mentioned. Left field has proven to be a particularly weak position so far, but Bryce Harper and Michael Morse offer enough versatility that GM Mike Rizzo could also pursue right or center fielders and adjust his outfield accordingly.
Specifically, I expect the Nationals will monitor the trade market for Quentin, Upton, Span, Shane Victorino, David DeJesus and Gerardo Parra. Some of these players wont be available in trades, but other names will no doubt surface between now and the end of July.
CSN: Going back to DC's pitching, it's no secret that the Nats think tank plans on shutting down Stephen Strasburg at some point this year. With Ken Rosenthal's recent report about Zack Greinke possibly being available down the road, do you see the Nats matching up well with the Brewers and beingplayers for his services?
MLBTR: I would be surprised if the Nationals landed Greinke. Hes going to cost a tremendous amount in terms of prospects and young players because hell be the best starting pitcher available, assuming the Phillies hold onto Cole Hamels this summer. I dont see the Nationals out-bidding other teams for starting pitching, which is arguably the organizations biggest strength. Instead, I expect Davey Johnson to add Chien-Ming Wang, Tom Gorzelanny or John Lannan to his rotation when Strasburg gets shut down.
CSN:The Nationals have signed all of their top 10 selections from the 2012 MLB Draft, with the exception of their number one pick Lucas Giolito. Any news on him and do you think a deal gets done?
MLBTR: I don't have inside info on this one, but I expect he'll sign. The Nationals can spend more than 3 million on Giolito without losing future draft picks, according to Baseball America. That kind of money would be tough to walk away from.
If Giolito goes to college and emerges as a top-five pick a few years from now he could earn more than 3 million, but that would delay the start of his pro career. Plus, theres an informal cap on bonuses under baseballs new collective bargaining agreement, so theres less financial incentive for high schoolers selected in the first round to go to college and boost their draft stock.