Mike Rizzo’s Washington Nationals lead the National League East by 4 1/2 games, and he says he doesn’t feel pressure to make a big move at this month’s non-waiver trade deadline.
“We’re always looking to upgrade, if there’s an upgrade we can make and it fits for us in the long term,” the general manager said in an interview this week with FOXSports.com. “We’re always looking long term. We’re never going to do a knee-jerk reaction to win now.
“I’m not looking to do anything (at the moment), but we’re certainly always open for ideas that would help improve the club.”
Given Rizzo’s insistence on a “long-term” element in trades, the optimal rotation upgrade would be a pitcher under control for next season (like Matt Garza of the Cubs) or one willing to sign a long-term contract; it’s unclear if Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke, a prospective free agent after this season, is willing to do that.
At present, the Nationals’ seven-man bullpen includes only one pitcher — left-hander Michael Gonzalez — who has postseason experience. Closer Drew Storen, due to come off the disabled list after the All-Star break, has not pitched in the playoffs, either.
It would appear the Nationals need at least one more reliever accustomed to big moments in September and October, but Rizzo said, “I like the depth and talent level we have in the bullpen. I think they’re pretty battle-tested. I’m satisfied with the roster as it is, but you’re always on the lookout.”
The Nationals have scored 69 runs over their past eight games — during which they are 6-2 — and Rizzo sounds (understandably) content with the state of his lineup. Rizzo said right fielder Jayson Werth is due to return from a broken left wrist at some point between the All-Star break and Aug. 1.
“He’ll be a big addition,” said Rizzo. “He brings veteran stability and gives us a longer, deeper lineup.
“These guys have grinded through the season. We haven’t had our 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup (together) one game yet. We’re looking to get some consistency from our middle lineup guys. It’s been a work in progress. Zim (Ryan Zimmerman) is coming off the injury. Mike (Morse) is coming off his injury. They’re finally getting past that spring training mode and hitting their stride.
“Desi (Ian Desmond) has been a terrific piece for us, a guy we counted on coming into the season, a guy we thought would be a run producer. When we finally got him comfortable in that sixth spot, he’s really taken off and become a clutch run-producing guy for us.
“We feel good about the lineup. We’re starting to swing it much better. When I look at my lineup, it’s a two-way lineup. That’s what we’ve been looking for here. It’s athletic. They all play defense. The offense has finally started to catch up with athleticism and defense.”
— Jon Paul Morosi