MLB Trade Deadline: 4 Players Nationals Should Target If Team Keeps Rolling

Kevin BoilardCorrespondent IJune 4, 2012

MLB Trade Deadline: 4 Players Nationals Should Target If Team Keeps Rolling

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    The MLB trade deadline for non-waiver players isn’t until July 31, but it is never too soon to speculate as to which players will be on the move this summer.

    While a few teams will be shopping for a player to plug a gaping hole as they ready themselves for a postseason run, others will be selling their big-name players as they start to lay the groundwork for next season.

    The Washington Nationals fall into the former category.  With the deadline just under two months away, the Nationals are tied with the Miami Marlins for the NL East lead with a 30-22 record.

    The Nats, who are not used to leading the division, find themselves in a rare position: Buyers.

    Washington has one of the league’s best pitching rotations led by Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, who have combined for 13 wins so far on the season. 

    However, Strasburg, Gonzalez and the rest of the Nats’ rotation would benefit from a little bit more run support, as Washington’s offense tends to struggle at times.  The Nationals’ front office could be on the look out for a big bat on the market this summer.

    With 52 of the team’s 162 games already played, the Nats want to keep their hot streak going.  In order to do so, Washington may have to bring in the missing piece of the puzzle via trade.

Ryan Doumit, C, Minnesota Twins

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    The Nationals have weathered a slew of injuries at the catcher position.  The team’s top catcher, Wilson Ramos, was lost for the entire season due to a mid-May ACL injury that has required two surgeries as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports

    Ryan Doumit, who spent his first nine seasons as a Pittsburgh Pirate, now finds himself in his first season with a struggling Minnesota Twins team.  His season totals to date are nothing to write home about, but if Doumit is plugged into a winning lineup his hitting statistics could begin to rise. 

    After all, Doumit’s current .265 batting average would boost the Nationals average, as they are only hitting .241 as a team.  More importantly, Doumit would shore up a Nationals catching position that has taken a huge hit so far this season.

Ramon Hernandez, C, Colorado Rockies

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    The .215 batting average Ramon Hernandez has accumulated in 2012 may make Nats fans cringe at first.  The fact that he landed himself on the 15-day disabled list with a hand injury may make them cringe even further.

    However, at $3.2 million, Hernandez is an affordable talent with lots of experience under his belt.  His 13 seasons in the big leagues could provide the Nats, who are relatively young overall, with some much-needed veteran expertise down the stretch.

    With his statistics steadily declining at 37 years of age, Hernandez may be a bit of a long shot to work out with the Nats this season, but Washington’s dire need for a catcher combined with a shallow market could make Hernandez too hard to ignore.

Nyjer Morgan, CF, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Outfielder Nyjer Morgan has not starred in many postgame interviews as “Tony Gumbo” recently primarily because he has simply not played well in 2012.

    There has been a pretty severe drop-off in production for Morgan, who had 115 hits and a .304 batting average with the Brewers in 2011.  With only one RBI in 46 games played, Morgan is struggling this year in Milwaukee to say the least.

    However, Morgan had some of his best games in Nationals red.  It would be fitting if he made a return to D.C. and, by doing so, revived his season.

    Right now, Washington’s offense needs some consistency.  Morgan could be helpful if he could return to his 2010 form when his “Plushdamentals” helped him reach 129 hits and 34 stolen bases for the Nationals.

Huston Street, RP, San Diego Padres

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    Despite having one of the best starting rotations in Major League Baseball, the Nats are without a definite closer while Drew Storen rests an elbow injury.  While Henry Rodriguez held down the position for a short while, the Nationals have not found a permanent replacement in Storen’s absence.

    Padres closer Huston Street could be a plausible answer.  The former Rookie of the Year has four saves in 2012 and a lights-out 0.93 ERA.  If Storen is not ready to go by the All-Star break, as he promises he will be, Street would be a perfect fit in Washington’s bullpen.

    As the summer wears on, the Nationals will surely be finding themselves in many close games as the best teams in the league start to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.  If the Nats wish to keep up the run they have been making, trading for a closer like Street would lock up a lot more of those close games.