“It kind of worried me,” Johnson said. “I was looking around, seeing all the brass from the front office. I said, ‘Holy, moly. Maybe they’re getting ready to trade me.’ ”
Along with General Manager Mike Rizzo, the Nationals sent Director of Player Development Doug Harris, assistant GM Bryan Minniti, Director of Baseball Operations Adam Cromie and Director of Minor League Operations Mark Scialabba to Milwaukee. In the event the Nationals are near a deal, Rizzo will have by his side two of his top lieutenants and the two executives with the most knowledge of their minor league system.
The Nationals believe they have no glaring needs. They had been intrigued by the idea of adding a starting pitcher, but that seems to have lost steam, with the price too high for their liking for a top starter who could replace Stephen Strasburg in September. The most likely targets for the Nationals remain a veteran catcher and middle infield depth.
Johnson has said he’s against making any major moves, especially for a starting pitcher. He made his opinion known before Ian Desmond went down for about a month with a left oblique strain.
But he still believes the Nationals have enough insurance internally to not make a deal for an infielder. Johnson mentioned Mark DeRosa, Class AAA Syracuse shortstop Josh Johnson and Class AA Harrisburg shortstop Zach Walters as viable alternatives should the Nationals need a middle infielder due to injury. Johnson said “if push comes to shove,” he could even put Ryan Zimmerman at shortstop.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a glaring need,” Johnson said. “But I know Rizzo is big on insurance, probably more so than me. But I like the cast of characters I’ve got.”
Whatever the Nationals do in the coming days, the deadline will have an effect on them. Brewers ace Zack Greinke is lined up to start Saturday, but Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin told USA Today he will certainly be traded before the deadline. Johnson is preparing for Greinke to not pitch in the series.
“I’d be real surprised,” Johnson said. “It’s probably one of the reasons they have eight pitchers in the bullpen. Although we have eight, and we’re not making a move. I was surprised he’s still here.”
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