Nationals

Rizzo: Nats weren't playing well enough for big deadline deal

Nationals

The Nationals' decision to stand pat at the trade deadline this year could be considered a head-scratching move.

The defending World Series champions, stricken by injuries to their starting rotation, declined to make a move to bolster their staff and give themselves everything they need to make a run at an expanded playoff field in a shortened 60-game season. 

However, as general manager Mike Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday, the 12-21 Nats weren't playing well enough to justify a major move at the deadline. 

"Every team has to assess where they're at in their planning stages," Rizzo told the Junkies. "In my opinion, we weren't playing well enough for me to go ask ownership to add payroll and to give away prospects to make any kind of big, significant move for a short-term player this year."

The Nationals' lineup has been a top-10 offense by just about every metric so far this season. Led by Juan Soto and Trea Turner, the Nats are second in the league in batting average, eighth in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging and eighth in OPS. 

The problems have come from the starting pitching. Stephen Strasburg's season-ending injury and Joe Ross' decision to opt-out of the 2020 season certainly put the rotation in a tough spot and as a result, Washington has had to rely heavily on their bullpen. 

The problem with acquiring starting pitching at the deadline is the fact that everyone wants and needs starting pitching. You have to pay a premium for it. 

 

"We took the trade deadline very seriously and the price of starting pitching at the trade deadline is astronomical because of the supply and demand game," Rizzo said. "The supply was low and the demand was high for good, impactful starting pitching so we felt it wasn't in our best interest to do it this year."

So while fans will want to see their team make a serious push at back-to-back titles, shortened season or not, it's hard to justify giving up good prospects for a rental starting pitcher that will make maybe five starts for you before the postseason begins. 

So for now, the Nats will rely on what they have, and who knows? Maybe they can get on a little run here and sneak into the playoffs. One winning streak puts you right back into the picture, just look at the Phillies. 

"We also felt that this group of players deserves a chance to stay together and see if you can get on a little bit of a roll and make a run," he said. "Our goal is to get into the [playoff] bubble. Get into the bubble and see what happens."

And if the Nats get in, you can bet no team will want to see them. All bets are off at that point.