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The Market For Trades Is Limited

By Mark Viera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 31, 2008

With today's 4 p.m. trade deadline approaching, the Washington Nationals have fielded inquiries confirming what they already knew: They have plenty of quality prospects in the minor leagues and plenty of underachieving veterans in the majors.

"Well, I mean, our veteran players, obviously, there's not much of a market," General Manager Jim Bowden said. Reliever Jon Rauch "was our marketable guy that we traded. The other ones, there's not much of a market for. Obviously, look, we're a last-place team, and a lot of them are underachieving. So that's not surprising."

The Nationals have prized depth in their farm system, especially pitchers Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Cory VanAllen. Ideally, Bowden said, the goal is to swap veterans for prospects.

"We'd be open to a prospect-for-prospect kind of deal, sure," Bowden said yesterday. "If we can fill a void that we need -- if we can find a deal that makes us better -- sure, we're open to that. We've had a lot of discussions with a lot of clubs about a lot of players in our farm system. That's taken most of our time."

Washington has stockpiled arms, the latest being first-round selection Aaron Crow. But the Missouri product has not yet signed with the Nationals. Asked if progress had been made in contract negations, Bowden said, "No." Washington has until Aug. 15 to sign Crow or it will lose his rights and receive a compensatory draft pick next year.

Because there has been little interest in veterans such as Paul Lo Duca (.237, zero home runs) and Felipe López (.233, 2 home runs, 53 strikeouts), Washington's only viable trading option would be to draw from its deep well of young pitching talent.

"[You] can never get enough pitching; don't get me wrong," Bowden said. "So I never look to trade pitching. That being said, if there was a three-, four-hole future hitter or a shortstop up the middle long-term, we're always looking for that."

Guzmán Update

A precautionary MRI exam yesterday of shortstop Cristian Guzmán's left thumb revealed no new injury. Guzmán, who is considered day-to-day, has suffered from a soft-tissue contusion at the base of his thumb for the past month.

"Really good news knowing that he's not going to be added to that list of guys that are going to miss an extended period of time," Manager Manny Acta said. "That being said, it's still gonna take a few days to get him back on the field."

Guzmán, the Nationals' only all-star, is batting .303 with a team-leading 27 doubles. He was not in the starting lineup last night, and Acta said Guzmán will not be taking batting practice for the next few days.

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