Washington Nationals: Can Red Hot Nats Upgrade at MLB Trade Deadline?

Ryan C. SmithContributor IIIJune 27, 2011

Will the Nats still be contenders at the July 31st deadline?
Will the Nats still be contenders at the July 31st deadline?Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals are arguably the hottest team in baseball, having won 13 of their last 15 games. They are also 17-7 in the month of June.

Tonight marks the first game of Davey Johnson's tenure as Nationals manager, and if he can keep his new team focused and winning, then the question must be asked:

"Do the Nationals have the pieces necessary to go out and get X?" 

If the Nationals are indeed buyers at the trade deadline, they have a number of serviceable pieces to give up.

Washington drafted a young infielder by the name of Chris Marrero in 2006 out of high school, and he now sits at Triple-A Syracuse—where he is hitting .292 with eight home runs and 38 RBI in 281 at-bats—waiting for his call up to the big leagues.

Marrero is a first baseman who was converted from 3B after the emergence of Ryan Zimmerman at the major league level.

With the play of Mike Morse and the return of Adam LaRoche, next year the club has no place to put Marrero—he is most certainly blocked. 

The Nationals recently sent 22-year old Double-A infielder Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A Syracuse, and in his first seven games there the second baseman has five multi-hit games and is batting .429.

Lombardozzi is blocked by both Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond, both of whom the Nationals are high on.  

Also at Triple-A Syracuse is last year's minor league player of the year in the Nationals organization, 24-year-old LHP Tom Milone.

In 13 starts for the club, Milone has pitched 81 2/3 innings, posting a 3.86 earned run average and walking just five while striking out 89.

Milone will likely be the first candidate to replace an injured member of the Nationals rotation. 

The Nationals do have very serious prospects outside of that kid named Harper that would garner attention in any big trade.

Twenty-three-year-old Brad Peacock of Double-A Harrisburg is having an amazing year to say the least.

Peacock is 8-2 with a 2.28 earned run average in 87 innings over 14 games (12 starts), yielding just 56 hits and conceding just 18 walks to 114 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .182 average. 

At the major league level, the Nationals could look to move pieces like Todd Coffey, Laynce Nix, Roger Bernadina, or even Ian Desmond if it meant acquiring Jose Reyes (although I couldn't see that happening inside the division), Hunter Pence, Andre Either, or pitchers like Jared Weaver or even a struggling Chad Billingsley.

The point is that the Nationals don't have to give up the likes of Bryce Harper (even though by rule they can't even do that yet) to go out and get talent at the deadline.

The real question is: Will Washington play well enough until then to be in the race at the deadline?