By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
MILWAUKEE, July 28 -- Buried in last place but stocked with attractive veterans, the Washington Nationals, at first glance, look like active participants in the trading frenzy that greets the 4 p.m. deadline on Friday. But so far, the team has been linked to few trade rumors, and might be inclined to take a quieter approach. The team's asking price for sluggers Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn remains high, league sources said. With both playing their best baseball of the season, perhaps each player's trade value is increased. But so has Washington's incentive to retain them.
Acting general manager Mike Rizzo said earlier this month, speaking about the trade deadline, "I wouldn't [envision] a lot of moving parts." Since May 1, Willingham is second in baseball with a .658 slugging percentage, trailing only Albert Pujols. Dunn has hit .338 in July. Both players are under contract through at least next season, so the Nationals face no trade-them-or-lose-them possibility.
More likely, Washington will in the next few days explore trade possibilities for reliever Joe Beimel, utility man Willie Harris and first baseman Nick Johnson. The market for Johnson has taken a serious dive, if only because Boston and San Francisco -- two teams that had an interest in the soon-to-be-free agent -- both acquired first basemen within the last week. But Beimel, currently in a one-year deal with Washington, and Harris, in a two-year deal, both have value to contenders. Beimel has a 1.89 ERA since June 1.
"I realize there's a possibility I'll get traded, but until it happens it's all just rumors," Beimel said. "I thought about maybe packing some stuff up in Washington just in case to get ready. And then I was like, 'What's the sense of doing that?' Because if I don't get traded, I just go back and unpack it all again. It's something I realize could happen. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, great, too. I'll stay here for the rest of the year."A Day of Rest
Johnson received the day off on Tuesday, with Dunn replacing him at first base. Interim manager Jim Riggleman said he plans to give each of his regulars an occasional break in the next few weeks.
The Nationals have played every day since the end of the all-star break, and don't have a day off until Aug. 10.