Rizzo’s primary aim, however, remains acquiring a center fielder capable of filling an area the Nationals have lacked since the team arrived in Washington in 2005.
Their main targets are Denard Span of the Minnesota Twins and B.J. Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays, with Span seemingly the more likely player to end up with the Nationals.
The Twins and Nationals have been discussing a possible deal involving closer Drew Storen, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The Twins, according to another person, have insisted that Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina also be included in a deal for Span.
Rizzo did not explicitly rule out trading Storen, but he considers him part of the Nationals’ “core” and would be loath to lose him. Still, trading a reliever — even a closer under team control for another five seasons — for an everyday center fielder who leads off, like Span, may be too tough for Rizzo to pass up if he can strike a deal with the Twins.
“Drew Storen would be a very difficult person to trade,” Rizzo said. “He’s a 23-year-old, terrific closer. He’s very dear to our hearts here, because we drafted him, signed him and developed him. He’s definitely a core piece, and he would be very difficult to trade.”
In return for Hairston, the Nationals received Komatsu, 23, who was drafted in the eighth round of the 2008 draft. At Class AA Huntsville this season, Komatsu has hit .294 with a .393 on-base percentage and a .416 slugging percentage. He has six home runs and 13 stolen bases.
Komatsu, the Brewers’ minor league player of the year in 2010, has drawn wide praise for his ability reach base: He has more walks (121) than strikeouts (105) over the past two seasons. But he projects as a solid fourth outfielder in the majors — he is not quite fast enough to play center field, and does not hit for enough power to play every day in a corner outfield spot.
Hairston, 35, filled a versatile, valuable role for the Nationals this season, acting as the regular third baseman when Ryan Zimmerman missed two months with a torn abdominal muscle. He also played left and center field and came off the bench as a right-handed pinch hitter. Hairston hit .268/.342/.385 with four homers and two stolen bases in 75 games.
“Having him around helped me tremendously,” Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said. “There’s been a couple times that maybe he saw that I was down, or see saw something in me that he wanted to pull me aside and talk to me. It’s easy to listen to a guy like that. He’s been through everything.”