As the Nationals slowly find themselves 12 games out of the division and slipping to the cellar of the National League, rumors are beginning to swirl about how they will prepare themselves for a run in 2011. While the club has lost seven of their last 10 games, there are many who believe that with the influx of young talent in Washington, the Nationals could make a strong push in 2011 for the playoffs.
Yahoo! Sports reports that the Nationals have inquired about outfielder Carlos Quentin from the Chicago White Sox, and starting pitchers Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks:
MLB.com reports that the Nats called the Chicago White Sox to ask about the availability of outfielderCarlos Quentin as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks to see what it would take to get hurlersDan Haren or Edwin Jackson.
"Our biggest need now and at the trade deadline is starting pitching," Rizzo told the site."
Quentin, 27, is a former first rounder who had his best year at the age of 25 in 2008 when he batted .288/.394/.571 while slugging 36 homers and 100 RBI. The outfielder has struggled in the past two years however, hitting only .229/.330/.454 this season.
Haren and Jackson are both starters who finished 2009 with a sub four ERA but are struggling so far in 2010. Both, however, have a long track record of success and have plenty 30-plus start season under their belts.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the pitching strong Braves may be looking to acquire Nats left-fielder, Josh Willingham. While Willingham has another year on his contract, Morosi reports that his low salary, $2.3 million, makes him a good target for Atlanta:
"The Braves are pitching-rich, and potential trade partners are certain to ask for arms in return. It remains to be seen whether Atlanta would deal away a top pitching prospect, such as Mike Minor or Craig Kimbrel."
Analysis: Going towards the end of 2010, and the beginning of 2011, many consider the Nationals starting pitching heavy, sporting potential starting pitchers of:
However it seems from these reports that Nats GM Mike Rizzo is gung-ho about adding to that list. Considering his philosophy of organizational depth, it's not so surprising however. One of the GM's first moves when he got to Washington was to make sure that the club had talent not just at the major league level.
An acquisition of a guy like Haren or Jackson would certainly change the face of the Nats rotation.
Haren, in the past, has been one of the top pitchers in the Major Leagues. However this year he is only 7-6 with a 4.56 ERA. There is reason to believe this has just been bad luck as his K/9 rate is the highest of his career at 8.90, his BB/9 rate isn't dramatically up, and his xFIP is at about his career average of 3.90. To put it simply? The balls are just falling in on Haren this year, posting a massive career high with a .345 BABIP.
If the Nationals could add him as a number two starter behind Stephen Strasburg next year, they have a legitimate shot of pushing for the NLCS if they get their bats and gloves in order.
Jackson on the other hand is an enigma. Entering the league at age 19, many thought he could be the next Dwight Gooden. The righty struggled for six years however before finding himself in Detroit in 2009 where he went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA. His slider is as strong as it was in 2009, and he is inducing more ground balls than he did last year too, he's just not getting the help behind him.
The addition of Jackson would be less dramatic than Haren, but it would certainly add valuable depth to what is crowded, but not so talented rotation.