Nats achieve one Deadline goal
Washington gets younger, but unable to trade veterans
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals were able to get younger before the Trade Deadline. On July 22, they traded reliever Jon Rauch to the Diamondbacks for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio. On Thursday before the 4 p.m. ET Deadline, Minor League right-hander Jhonny Nunez was dealt to the Yankees for shortstop Alberto Gonzalez.
Bonifacio, who is playing at Triple-A Columbus, is expected to be the everyday second baseman in a week to 10 days for the big club, while Gonzalez will join Washington for its series opener on Friday against the Reds.
General manager Jim Bowden really wanted to trade his veterans for prospects. But he quickly learned that his veterans, such as Felipe Lopez and Paul Lo Duca, didn't have any trade value because they're having subpar years.
"For the most part, there isn't much of a market," Bowden said. "Rauch was our one marketable player that we traded. Look, we are a last-place team. A lot of them are underachieving. That's not surprising."
With Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young on the disabled list, it was learned that the Nationals were looking for a first baseman for the rest of the season. According to two sources, Xavier Nady was a guy they were targeting, but the Pirates traded him to the Yankees on Saturday. Nady is another guy who had another year left on his contract.
One baseball source also said there was no talk with the Reds about Adam Dunn, who is a free agent after the season. The source said if the Nationals go after Dunn, a Bowden favorite, they will wait until he becomes a free agent.
In fact, Bowden went so far as to say that the Nationals can't go into next season believing that Johnson or Young will be the team's first basemen in 2009. Both players are injury-prone. Johnson is out for the season because of a wrist injury, while Young is shut down because of diabetes and there is no timetable for his return.
"Obviously, you are concerned when they are injured," Bowden said. "The doctors will assure us that they both will be healthy and 100 percent next year, but we heard that before. So you never get enough talent."
Bowden didn't rule out prospects Chris Marrero and Bill Rhinehart getting a chance at the position next year.
There were reports that the Nationals were going to trade pitchers Joel Hanrahan and John Lannan to the White Sox for first baseman Nick Swisher, but Bowden said such talks never took place.
"I never had a discussion with the White Sox regarding John Lannan and Joel Hanrahan," Bowden said. "[White Sox general manager] Kenny Williams sent me an e-mail and it said, 'I heard I'm getting Lannan. Can you fill me in on what I gave up?' There is no truth to any of it.
"We know what we are doing here. We are building for the long term and we have been consistent, so we were not talking about our young [Major League] players unless we are trading for other young players."
Bowden did not rule out dealing some of his veterans after the Trade Deadline, although any players involved would have to clear waivers. In 2006, for example, Bowden was able to trade Livan Hernandez, Marlon Anderson and Daryle Ward before the Aug. 31 deadline.
As of now, right-hander Tim Redding is the only veteran with any trade value, but it appears the team doesn't want to let him go because he has been a good mentor to the younger starters.
"I think it's possible [I could trade some of the veterans]," Bowden said. "I wouldn't say we have a large number of players that are going to have a market a month from now. But I certainly think there is one or two players on this team that [have the potential to be traded]."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.