Early this morning, FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Brewers were interested in acquiring a versatile “IF/OF” type player. With Rickie Weeks injured and Casey McGehee struggling, they wanted a veteran who could step in and give them 10-20 at-bats per week at multiple positions. I suggested that they look into Jerry Hairston, Jr. Clearly, they took my advice and dealt for him before noon.
Alright, fine – the Brewers probably did not use me as inspiration for the deal. Instead, the liked Hairston for the same reason the Nationals did this Winter – he can competently play just about any position, he has played in a World Series, and knows how to handle the bat. The Nationals are DFL at the moment, so they were more than happy to make a deal.
In return, the Nationals got a decent little prospect. Erik Komatsu is a 23-year-old AA outfielder. An 8th round pick by the Brew Crew in 2008 out of Cal State-Fullerton, Komatsu has posted a career average of .310 and OBP of .398 in four minor league seasons (he is at .294/.393 this season). He does not have a ton of pop (slugging just .416 this year), but he stole 28 bases last season and was named the Milwaukee Minor League Player of the Year. After last season, he explained that an increased devotion to strength training made him a better player.
Nats fans have to love this. At the worst, he projects as a fifth outfielder/pinch runner (a Jerry Hairston-type, you could say), and at best he is a prospect who will only get better and could improve the team in perhaps their weakest offensive areas (OBP and speed). All of this for the price of Jerry Hairston, Jr.
If that is what the Nats can get for Hairston, there is no reason not to deal some of their other “tradeable” pieces. A RHP is on many teams wishlist, and Jason Marquis is being looked at by the Detroit Tigers. In fact, the Nationals have Yunesky Maya hanging around DC today just in case Marquis is moved for tonight’s start (of course, normally when Cuban athletes hang around DC, they are hiding out in a hotel and defecting from the national team). Livan Hernandez also could tempt some teams, and while we are on the subject you might as well include Todd Coffey (Angels are among a host of teams looking for a reliever) and Laynce Nix (Indians, Braves, others need an OF bat).
We must remember there is absolutely no reason why the Nationals should hang onto these guys. The team is in last place, and none of the aforementioned players have such gaudy WAR (wins above replacement) numbers that their absence will severely impact the team. Most importantly, all of these players will become free agents this offseason. No matter who they finish the season for, if the Nationals want to have any of them back (Nix and Coffey would probably be the only two, if any), they would still have to sign them as free agents.
Many people associate teams “selling” at the trade deadline as a team being in rebuilding mode. For the Astros dealing Hunter Pence (under team control for two more seasons), that is exactly the case. For the Nationals (who I must remind you again, are in last place), they would only be dealing players who are going to be free agents anyways. Why not cash in on what you have?
The most compelling argument I can make for dealing these guys actually pertains to future trade deadlines. Komatsu may never be a starter for the Nats, nor may any other pieces acquired in trades for Marquis, Livo, etc. What those trades would do is add much-needed depth to a top-heavy but very thin Nationals farm system.
Stockpiling prospects is crucial if you want to be “buyers” in future years. Because most of the Nationals few “desirable” minor leaguers are off-limits (Strasburg, Harper, Peacock), the team is forced to discuss guys like Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard in trades. The more prospects they pick up, the more valuble veterans can acquire in future seasons when they are in the race. Look at the Phillies as a model – thanks to a deep, talented farm system, they have acquired Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Pence on three consecutive July 29ths (and Roy Halladay in the offseason). If the Nats want to be players in those kinds of deals in 2012-14, they should start piling up the pieces now.
The trade deadline is less than 36 hours away, so expect Mike Rizzo to be busy this weekend. Of course, thanks to their age and contracts, guys like Livo and Marquis could easily be moved in August in waiver-wire deals and therefore go nowhere right now. However, if the Nationals end the season with Nix, Marquis, Lvio, and Coffey ALL still on the roster, they should be ashamed of themselves. Remember, teams who think they can win right now are always willing to make short-sited deals for quick fixes. This leads to trades like Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos, Clevelend getting Carlos Santana for Casey Blake, and maybe someday the list will include Erik Komatsu for Jerry Hairston, Jr.
News and notes from Nationals Park:
- The Astros are said to want MLB-ready prospects for Michael Bourn. More reasons to make some of the above trades.
- Chien-Ming Wang showed some rust in his first game in two seasons. We will talk about this later today.
- We could be less than a month away from Strasmas, part II.
Small notes from around the Bigs: The Phillies are in full out “World Series or Bust” mode. A day after the Carlos Beltran to San Francisco deal was completed, the Phillies added an outfield bat of their own. The Phils were able to snag Houston’s best player, Hunter Pence, in a blockbuster deal. In doing so, they parted with four prospects, including two of their best minor league hitters (Jonathon Singleton and Jarred Cosart). The Phillies hung onto their most prized asset, OF Dominic Brown, but are clearly willing to risk their future on making a run at the World Series right now. The stakes are high, but Philly clearly has the talent to win it all this season.
As always, check out my homepage for all of my thoughts on the Nationals. Please share your thoughts, complaints and comments below. For daily updates, you can subscribe to these articles (free at the top of the page) or follow me on Twitter (@Neuman85). Enjoy today’s entertainment below!
Song of the Day: LCD Soundsystem – “All of my Friends”
Nats Video of the Day: A long time coming, here is Wang’s first strikeout with the Nats. We will not hold it against him that is was the opposing pitcher.