Now that the Major League Baseball draft is in the rearview mirror, general managers and front office executives will now shift their attention to the big league roster and the upcoming July 31st trade deadline.
The Nationals’ farm system has rebounded nicely in 2013, after a rather disappointing development year in general in 2012, and I expect GM Mike Rizzo to capitalize on this newfound prospect depth to bolster the roster this summer. Most certainly the needs of the team could change in the upcoming weeks due to injuries, or poor performance, but these are a few players I expect the Nationals to consider trading for later this summer.
Mike Gonzalez LHRP Milwaukee Brewers
Signed midseason by the Nationals in 2012, Gonzalez provided excellent veteran leadership to the relatively youthful bullpen and held left-handed batters to a .179/.257/.269 average last year. This season he has continued to pitch well in Milwaukee posting a 2.78 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 22.2 innings pitched. Fernando Abad and Ian Krol have done a nice job of late as the Nats lefty relievers, but the team could look to add a veteran left-handed relief specialist for the playoff chase. With the Brewers struggling and Gonzalez only signed through 2013, he should be readily available in trade talks next month.
Bud Norris RHSP Houston Astros
The Astros are still in the early stages of their long-term rebuilding project, and Houston has not so casually stated that everyone on the roster is available in trade for the right price. Norris is not a #1 or #2 starter, but has good stuff and would upgrade the back-end of most teams starting rotation. Under contract through 2015 and only 28-years-old, Norris should have plenty of suitors as one of the best starters available on the market.
Ricky Nolasco RHSP Miami Marlins
Similarly to Norris and the Astros above, Miami is attempting to rebuild after going for broke and failing in 2012, and needs to turn assets at the major league level into resources in their farm system. Nolasco is the Marlins highest paid player and a free agent at the end of the season, meaning he should be readily available to the highest bidder this summer. Nolasco is having a strong 2013 season, providing Miami with a 3.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 72 strikeouts in his 87.2 innings pitched. If the Nationals are looking to upgrade from Dan Haren as their 5th starter for the stretch run, Nolasco could fill the role well and should not seriously deplete the farm system.
John Buck Catcher New York Mets
As Wilson Ramos has continued to struggle to stay healthy, Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki has scuffled with the additional playing time, batting only .243/.274/.257 in May and a paltry .115/.148/.192 thus far in June. Buck has played fairly well in 2013, batting .223/.281/.416 with 11 home runs, but considering the Mets poor record and he’s a free agent at the end of the season, the Mets may want to trade Buck to clear a path for prospect Travis d’Arnaud. If Ramos cannot get himself healthy, Buck might be a nice platoon partner for Suzuki the rest of the season.
David DeJesus OF Chicago Cubs
A left-handed hitter with some power and the ability to play all three outfield positions, DeJesus should be in high demand if the Cubs decide to clear a path for centerfield prospect Brett Jackson later this summer. Considering the lousy season from Roger Bernadina and recent injuries to Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth, DeJesus could be an excellent, versatile player to add to the Nationals bench. DeJesus has a $6.5 million dollar team option for 2014, with a $1.5 million dollar buyout, so the Cubs may be inclined to keep him next season. However, for the right package, DeJesus would be a shrewd pickup for the Nationals or another team sometime in July.