MLB Trade Rumors: Hitters the Nationals Should Target to Stay in Playoff Hunt
The Washington Nationals have been plagued by injuries all season long, but remain in first place in the NL East.
The Nats expect Michael Morse back relatively soon, but after the loss of Wilson Ramos for the season, they could certainly use some help behind the plate.
The Nationals' starting lineup has been productive thus far and with the addition of Bryce Harper, there is no longer as much concern with their outfield depth.
So where are the weak spots in the Nats lineup that can be helped via trade, besides catcher?
Second and third base seem to be the other spots at which Washington needs a bit more depth, and there are a few options that would help the Nats in their quest for the playoffs.
Earlier in the season there was controversy about comments that manager Bobby Valentine made about Youkilis that did not sit well with him.
Aside from that, Will Middlebrooks has been a revelation in Boston and is the looming replacement to Youkilis at third base. Middlebrooks has been nothing but productive for Boston this season and it would seem that he has found a home in the lineup.
That leaves Youkilis as then potential odd man out in Boston.
With the Nats' worries about Ryan Zimmerman, it would not be a bad idea to look into Youkilis. Zimmerman's shoulder troubles seem to be something that he might have to work through all season and this is a growing concern for manager Davey Johnson.
Youkilis can also play first base, so he could be a viable replacement when Zimmerman or Adam LaRoche needs rest.
The Nats will be in a lot of trouble should Zimmerman be forced to miss any more time on the DL down the road. Youkilis will provide a legitimate threat at third if Zimmerman misses any more time.
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Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. suggested earlier in May that they could be sellers in July if the team does not turn it around:
July is so far ahead. We just have to get on track. But if July comes and we’re playing like this, we’ll be sellers. How we play now will determine whether we’ll be buyers or sellers in July.
One of the players on the trading block would presumably be outfielder Shane Victorino.
Victorino is hitting .267 with six home runs and 19 RBI this season and can be a dynamic player for the Nationals. It would be a bit difficult to acquire Victorino from the Nats' division rival but it certainly is not impossible.
Although the Nats have a great outfield which will only get better when Morse returns, Victorino would be a valuable addition to any team at the trade deadline. As the trade deadline draws nearer, the Nationals will have a better idea of how Morse is adjusting to playing every day.
If he shows any signs of not being completely healed, it would not be surprising if they give Victorino a look or two.
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Recently demoted Eduardo Nunez was an ill-fitting puzzle piece for the Yankees this season, as they tried to put him in many positions this season that just did not work.
Nunez was sent to the Minors to work on the positions that he is accustomed to—second base and shortstop.
The Nationals have Danny Espinosa at second, but he has been far from productive in 2012. After posting a .236 average last year with 66 RBI, 29 doubles and 21 home runs, he is only hitting .219 with nine RBI and four home runs this season.
The power and production last season supplemented the low average but this season his average has gone even lower and his power and production are dropping off as well.
Nunez' bat has never been in question for the Yankees and if he can play the position that he is comfortable at, then the Nats might have quite the answer at second base.
Before going to Triple-A, Nunez was hitting .294 with a .356 OBP and six stolen bases.
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Ryan Doumit is sharing time in Minnesota with Joe Mauer behind the plate, but has played all over the diamond this season. He has played 16 games at catcher, 12 at DH, six in right field and one at first base.
He is versatile, but is primarily a great offensive catcher.
Doumit is hitting .262 with five home runs, four doubles and 24 RBI in 36 games this season.
His tendency of getting clutch hits this season would benefit the Nats, who struggle to score runs. Doumit is hitting .294 with runners in scoring position with 20 RBI and an even more impressive .333 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
The Twins are not going to be competitive when the trade deadline approaches and Doumit might be one of the biggest targets that the Nats should have on their radar.
If the Twins will not let Doumit go, then there are other options behind the plate.
Once again, they might turn to the Yankees and their MLB caliber catcher who finds himself in the Minors.
Just as the season was about to begin, the Yankees optioned Francisco Cervelli to Triple-A when they acquired Chris Stewart, who was out of options. The move was a necessary one for Yanks but now leaves a Major League-worthy catcher playing in Triple-A.
As the summer approaches, Cervelli is still in Triple-A and could certainly help a big league club at this point in the season. The Nats would be a great suitor for the catcher with Ramos done for the season.
Although Cervelli is only hitting .231 in the minors, he has still been productive, driving in 17 runs in 32 games.
The average is probably more of a reflection that he is in the Minors and not in the big leagues. His career average is .272 for the Yankees and has always had a knack for being a clutch player.
He should be a target for the Nationals before the Yankees decide to call him up and rely heavily upon him themselves.
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The Nationals' lineup is solid for the most part, but what about a player that can pinch-hit and provide some pop off the bench?
That is where Jason Giambi comes in.
Giambi has been filling that role effectively for the Colorado Rockies for the last four seasons. The Rockies look to be scuffling again and probably will not be in the playoff hunt this season.
As a part time player in Colorado, Giambi has hit .258 with a .492 slugging percentage. He has the ability to come into a game late a make a big impact as a pinch-hitter.