The non-waiver trade deadline has passed and the Washington Nationals have continued to accumulate critical pieces to their future championship puzzle.
There was no purge of all veteran players for prospects, but there were deft moves to acquire highly thought of prospects, including Wilson Ramos, and create major league openings for young talent already in their system.
Ramos, 22, was the top catching prospect in the Twins organization and only cost them an overachieving Matt Capps. Ramos helps the Nationals solidify the catching position and could arrive in Washington during September call-ups.
Although the Nationals already have Ivan Rodriguez mentoring their young staff and Derek Norris developing at minor league level, Ramos sheds some light into what Rizzo wants in his backstop. It would make great sense for Ramos to spend the next year or so picking Pudge Rodriguez’s brain about the art of catching.
For all the things said about Pudge, Rizzo should be applauded for recognizing Pudge’s ability to bring along a young staff. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Nationals transition him to a coaching position within the next five years. His great understanding of the game would translate well into a solid managerial career.
The move, or lack thereof, that baffled many was the keeping of Adam Dunn. Dunn was rumored to be in several deals and at one point he seemed fated to go to the White Sox in exchange for the enigmatic Edwin Jackson. Instead Rizzo held on to his slugging first baseman with the hopes to re-sign him to a multi-year deal.
However, if Rizzo loses him during free agency the Nationals could receive to premium compensatory picks that could become future contributors for this developing powerhouse. The ultimate in terms of a win-win proposition one can find outside of a lopsided prospect package deal.
The Nationals also found a way to unload veteran Christian Guzman and continue to augment their pitching depth in the farm system. Guzman was set to be a free agent after this season and was most likely not going to be brought back or garner high quality draft picks via free agency.
Another key point was losing a bit of salary that will most certainly go into the Bryce Harper fund as the Nationals continue to negotiate with the powerful prodigy. With the Ramos trade, it also solidifies the organization’s stance that Harper’s future is as an outfielder and not a catcher.
With September call-ups a month away, it will be interesting to get a glimpse of future major league talent that could be apart of Washington’s ascension through the next levels on their way to being the top team in the NL East and a perennial championship contender. Names like Marrero, Zimmermann, Norris and Espinosa could surface on the big team. While others like Marquis, Walker, Martin, and Atilano try to prove healthy and could create some value as possible trade chips during the upcoming hot stove.
This could make the end of the season appointment television for both fans and scouts.
For hopeful devout fans and eager front-runners ready to reserve their seat on the Nationals freight train that is poised to roll through everyone shortly and for a better part of this decade, possibly the next as well.
Stephen Strasburg’s recovery will coincide with this potential unveiling of something special. His place on this team has been carved out and all the fans are waiting on is for the leashes to be removed so Strasburg can mow down opponents and claim his place baseball’s top pitcher. A title that can only elude his grasp if he suffers major injuries preventing him from reaching his considerable potential.
And the craziest thing is that this is all a prelude to the arrival of Bryce. Harper’s arrival may be a year or more away, but his shadow will loom over division foes like an hourglass counting down to the moment of truth.
The moment Washington is ready. A moment Rizzo has been carefully building to.