Stephen Strasburg's innings limit has been one of the hotter topics in baseball, and it's clear that the Washington Nationals will have a tough decision to make.
However, it seems like the Nationals are already preparing to move on without Strasburg.
According to MLB.com, Washington has interest in Ryan Dempster and Rockies catcher Ramon Hernandez. The Nationals have John Lannan in the minors, but they would definitely benefit from trading for Dempster.
The consistent ace is 5-3 with a league-leading 1.86 ERA this year. A lot of teams will be pursuing Dempster, since Chicago is looking to stockpile prospects for future success. Washington has a great farm system, so they could definitely make a trade.
If the Nationals did trade for Dempster, they would probably have Strasburg, Dempster, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson in their rotation. After Strasburg leaves, Ross Detwiler would join the rotation.
Washington would have to give up a lot, but it would definitely be worth it. Dempster is a great pitcher who could really help the Nationals. Even if the Nationals decided to keep Strasburg in the rotation, Dempster would still help the team and just make the best pitching staff in baseball even better.
The team's four best pitchers would wreak havoc on the league and greatly enhance Washington's chances of winning a championship. Just imagine a playoff rotation of Dempster, Gonzalez, Strasburg and Zimmerman (if Strasburg pitches). All have ERA's under 3, and all have a WHIP under 1.12.
If the Nationals didn't trade for Dempster, they would probably call up John Lannan to pitch in September. Lannan has had a nice career in Washington, but he is 6-8 with a 4.60 ERA with Triple-A Syracuse. Dempster is definitely better than Lannan, and he would definitely help the Nationals a lot.
Washington is known for having a young, well-rounded team. They have the lowest team ERA in baseball, even though two inconsistent pitchers, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler, reside in their rotation. Just imagine how much better the rotation would be with Dempster, even if Strasburg gets shut down or skipped.
Dempster would welcome a trade to just about any contender, and, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, he would likely be happy with a trade to Washington. Dempster is in the last year of his contract, but Washington could re-sign him and have he, Strasburg, Zimmerman and Gonzalez dominate hitters for a couple more years.
It will take a lot, but the Nationals would definitely benefit from trading a few prospects for Dempster. Washington would undoubtedly have the best rotation in baseball during the month of August, and they would still have a great rotation without Strasburg in September. If the Nats re-signed Dempster, they'd have the best rotation for a few more years.
And it's always good to have the best rotation. The Nationals may have the best rotation right now, but in September, their pitching will take a major hit. If Strasburg is shut down and Dempster isn't brought in to Washington, imagine how Jackson and Detwiler would pitch in the playoffs.
I'm sure Nationals fans don't want to imagine that. So that's why the Nats need to bring in Dempster.