For the Washington Nationals, the trade deadline could be quiet or quite noisy. According to certain media reports, Washington is in on the Matt Garza talks, though their potential acquisition of Garza hinges on the health of Ross Detwiler and the effectiveness of Dan Haren.
Washington’s rotation, very much a strength in 2012, has been quite inconsistent after the three headed monster of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. In fact, Washington’s winning percentage when one of the aforementioned three do not start is .351. Needless to say, an improvement in the bottom half of their rotation is much needed.
Acquiring a pitcher the caliber of a Garza or even a Yovani Gallardo, who is having a down year, will not come cheap for Washington, and they very well may not have the prospects to whet the appetites of the teams trading them nor may Mike Rizzo want to part with those prospects. Rizzo has also said, which is well documented, he prefers not to acquire “rental players.” With that in mind, a name to watch for the Nationals is probably Bud Norris.
Houston Astros GM Jeff Lunhow has gone to every extent possible to do two specific things. Much like what teams like Washington and the Tampa Bay Rays have done, Lunhow has attempted to make Houston as bad and as cheap as he possibly can, so much so that their entire 2013 payroll is equivalent to a year of salary for Alex Rodriguez. Lunhow understands that in today’s MLB, teams are either really bad or really good, and being in the middle is not the correct strategy.
Now, by no means am I implying that Norris will be a steal for Rizzo. Lunhow knows what he has in Norris, a cost controlled young starter who still has years of arbitration and has shown he is a solid major league starter in both leagues. However, when looking at the pitching market at this year’s deadline, once names like Garza and Gallardo and even perhaps Kyle Lohse come off the board, there is a precipitous drop off in quality of pitchers available.
What Lunhow will try to do is sell Norris high, perhaps to a team that strikes out, no pun intended, in the Garza talks. A team is most vulnerable when they do not get a player they want and are much more susceptible to being fleeced in a deal, which is exactly what Houston may try to do.
Rizzo is not a guy that gets fleeced often, unless you factor in his dealing of Joel Hanrahan, so Rizzo will never overpay for a player, especially not now, with the way his team has played the past year and a half. Rizzo will understand the teams he is up against, give Houston his price, and allow the chips to fall where they may.
Norris is certainly not the best option on the market, but he is the most reasonable.