Originally written on Blog So Hard Sports  |  Last updated 10/29/14
  The hot stove is heating up with the non-waiver trade deadline coming up on July 31st. Now seems like the right time to look at what players the Nationals could go after and what players Washington could offer in order to make a deal happen. Last month we talked about the limitations the Nats may face as the deadline approaches.  Now that we have seen Bryce Harper show that he can man center and Roger Bernadina’s defensive prowess can be used in late game situations when Davey Johnson decides to go with a strong defensive alignment (I’m looking at you Michael Morse), I don’t think the Nats will look to add help in center. Depending on how John Lannan does tomorrow night against Atlanta may have a huge influence on how Mike Rizzo decides to shape his plan to replace Stephen Strasburg.  However, this morning trusted baseball insider Jon Heyman tweeted that the Nats are going hard after Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster. Dempster is a sure bet to be moved and is arguably the best arm on the current market.  Most sources have had him linked to the Dodgers over the past week or so but apparently the two teams have been unable to agree on what players to exchange. The 35-year old would be a welcome addition in D.C. and provide a major upgrade over current in house Strasburg replacements John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang.  Dempster holds a no-trade clause, but I would be shocked to see him turn down a potential deal to come to DC.  He is also in the final year of his contract so he could become a 4-month rental which can be viewed as a positive or a negative. I would prefer to see the team go after his teammate Matt Garza instead.  First off he’s under contract through the 2013 season, he is seven years younger than Dempster, and he has pitched well in the playoffs — winning two starts for the Rays in their 2008 World Series run. With Edwin Jackson scheduled to hit free agency this off-season, the Nats would have a staff of Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Garza and Detwiler heading into next season.  That’s about as good as it gets and would make the team unquestioned NL favorites in 2013. ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted this afternoon that the Nationals are pursuing 4-5 pitchers and I think that Zach Grienke, James Shields, Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez may be among the players they are looking at. As some of you may remember Greinke rejected a trade that would have brought him to DC in a package that was rumored to include Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Derek Norris back in the winter of 2010. I don’t see Rizzo being able to offer the caliber of prospects a team like Texas or Atlanta could if the Brewers decide to cut ties with him.  There have been reports of Milwaukee offering an extension north of 100 million dollars to keep him in Wisconsin but nothing has happened yet.  I would steer clear of this guy and look elsewhere. Shields, Liriano and Rodriguez are all wild cards but would come at a significant discount compared to the other three guys.  When these pitchers are in the zone they are as good as it gets in the bigs, but when they go cold it is not pretty.  Having said that, I think the Nats could make a deal for one of these pitchers if things fall through with Dempster or Garza. Liriano may make the most sense here since he has experience in the bullpen and could be used there until he is needed to take over for Strasburg sometime in September.  This move would give Davey another left handed option to go to out of the pen.  On top of that, pitching coach Steve McCatty has done a great job with the Nats and could help Francisco find his mojo.  This is the move I think makes the most sense.  Low-risk, high-reward deals always make this Nats fan happy. The Nationals could dangle outfielder Corey Brown, who has been mashing in AAA.  Due to the current outfield situation he seems like the perfect trade bait for the Nats to use.  Only 27 years old, the former first round pick could be the center piece of any deal that Washington makes.  He was part of the Willingham trade with the A’s that also garnered Henry Rodriguez. Pitcher Alex Meyer, picked 23rd overall in last year’s draft, could also be moved to acquire a quality established pitcher.  He throws in the upper 90’s and showed off a devastating slider in the Future’s Game over All-Star weekend.  The Nats are working with him as a starter after he was used primarily as a closer while at Kentucky.  If moved on a bullpen path, another team could be looking at a pitcher on the fast track to the bigs. After the haul it took to land Gio Gonzalez, I hope the Nats can make a deal without tapping their farm system too much. Ultimately the front office hasn’t let us down yet. I say in Rizzo we trust!   As a fan what would you like to see the Nationals do?  Discuss in the comments section below.
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