Nationals could upgrade bench at the trade deadline

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post) (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

With the trade deadline four days away and the Nationals teetering on the brink of contention, General Manager Mike Rizzo has not changed his approached to July 31. As GM, Rizzo has never seen the Nationals as strictly a buyer or a seller, and he has never viewed the deadline as a means to push for one season.

With any deal the Nationals make between now and Wednesday, Rizzo will aim to shape the organization’s future as much as the present.

“We’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve made calls. We’re received calls. I’m not going to go much more into it than that,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to do what we do at every trade deadline. We’re going to try to include this ball club for 2013 and beyond.”

Reading between the lines, Rizzo said what had already been assumed. If they try to bolster their starting rotation with Ross Detwiler out another month and Taylor Jordan on an innings limit — something many rivals expect them to do — then the Nationals will likely target a pitcher under control beyond this year. The best bet would be White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy.

Rizzo divulged little about his specific deadline plan. He has said he believes there is no hitter available who could markedly improve the Nationals’ lineup, even if they’re 14th in the National League in runs per game. But he did allow the Nationals could look to improve their struggling bench beyond the addition of Scott Hairston.

“If we could tweak and improve certain spots on the bench, I think that could be one place we could attack,” Rizzo said. “We’ve got ourselves a pretty talented group of guys that we’re committed to, and we like where we’re at.”

Adam Kilgore covers national sports for the Washington Post. Previously he served as the Post's Washington Nationals beat writer from 2010 to 2014.
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James Wagner · July 27, 2013