Despite being just 15 for 20 in SVO for the Royals, Joakim Soria has an excellent track record and could help to solidify the Nationals 'pen.
The Washington Nationals are having a great year, as they are an even .500 with a 46-46 mark going into the season's second half. Despite having their best year since moving to Washington in 2005, the Nationals do have several sizable holes. Filling them would put the team over the top and into the wild-card race in the National League, as the Phillies will likely be too hard to catch.
I feel that the Nationals will need four pieces to take them from fringe postseason contenders to a legitimate threat. They will need the following:
2 quality relievers (one lefty, one righty)
1 leadoff hitter
1 veteran No. 2 or No. 3 starting pitcher
For the record, none of these players have been directly linked to the Nationals in trade talks. I don't believe the Nationals could afford to bring in all four players without wrecking their minor league system, but a guy can dream, can't he?
Their will be players that are repeated in the following trades. Think of it more as a case-by-case basis, with many of the players being interchangeable.
Joakim Soria is having his worst year as a closer with five BS in 20 chances in the first half. That would make his stock about as low as it has ever been and would make it the perfect time for the Nationals to buy.
Soria wouldn't come at a cheap price though. I see the Nationals sending at least 2 major league-ready players along with a few prospects for a guy like Soria, who still has a track record of being "money" in the ninth inning.
SS/2B Ian Desmond (ML)
1B/3B/DH Chris Marrero (Triple-A)
OF Destin Hood (Advanced A)
RHP Cameron Selik (Advanced A)
RHP Joakim Soria
The Nationals would likely use Soria in the seventh and eighth inning to complement Tyler Clippard and occasionally give Drew Storen much needed rest when he pitches two or three days in a row or three out of four days.
Craig Breslow has quietly been on of the busiest relievers the past 2 1/2 seasons with 152 appearance between 2009-10
Craig Breslow has quietly been a very good LH reliever for some time. Breslow has appeared in 266 games since debuting with San Diego in 2005 and has a career era of 2.89. Breslow does have a high WHIP of 1.52 in 32.1 innings, but his track record suggests that he is capable of a WHIP in the low 1.00s.
OF Laynce Nix (ML)
2B/SS Steve Lombardozzi (Triple-A)
LHP Craig Breslow
Interesting side note: Breslow has been named the smartest man in baseball by The Sporting News and is one of baseball's most giving players.
I love Roger Bernadina as much as the next Nationals fan, but it seems very unlikely the he can solve the Nationals issues at the top of the lineup.
The Astros are once again going to be sellers and Michael Bourn can bring them a solid return. Bourn has a career OBP of .335 and holds a .351 mark this season with 35 SB in the first half. The Nationals have been a very aggressive team in the first half with hit-and-runs, sacrifice squeezes/bunts and rank sixth in SB with 78. Bourn could put the Nats running game in overdrive and solve their leadoff woes.
1B Chris Marrero (Triple-A)
RHP Brad Meyers (Triple-A)
OF Eury Perez (High A)
OF Michael Bourn
Gavin Floyd took a while to truly establish himself as a quality starter. After being up and down for parts of three years with the Phillies, Floyd was traded to the White Sox in 2007 and didn't establish himself until the next year when he went 17-8 with a 3.84 era in 33 starts over 206.1 innings.
Floyd's ERA has been in the low to mid fours since 2008, and he holds a mark of 6-9 with a 4.59 ERA in 111.2 first half innings. A change in league might just be a good thing for Floyd. Being on a team that is in the hunt for the postseason could inspire him to improve his average marks and solidify the Nationals rotation for 2011.
White Sox Receive:
RHP Brad Meyers (Triple-A)
1B Chris Marrero (Triple-A, originally drafted as a 3B)
OF J.P. Ramirez (High A)
RHP Gavin Floyd
If the Nationals could acquire all four players (which they may not even have the players to do it with without seriously crippling themselves for the long haul), I'd imagine their line up would look something like this (assuming Nix and Desmond are traded):
1. CF Michael Bourn
2. LF Roger Bernadina
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4. 1B Michael Morse
5. SS Danny Espinosa
6. RF Jayson Werth
7. C Wilson Ramos
8. 2B Matt Antonelli (.308 in AAA)/Jerry Hairston/Alex Cora
9. P Hernandez/Zimmerman/Floyd/Marquis/Lannan
The back end of their bullpen would look like this:
CL Drew Storen
SU Tyler Clippard
SU Joakim Soria
LH specialist Craig Breslow
The rotation would look like this:
1. Jordan Zimmerman
2. Gavin Floyd
3. Jason Marquis
4. Livan Hernandez
5. John Lannan
I do believe that if the Nationals could find a way to acquire these players while still holding onto a number of high caliber prospects. This team could not only win the National League Wild Card with ease, but could go on to win for years to come.