The Nationals made it clear they were going to be players at this year’s Winter Meetings in Dallas. They may not have made as big a splash as fellow NL East-ers Miami, but with names like C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, and B.J. Upton being thrown around, there’s never a dull moment. Take a look at the highlights from the first couple of days!
As you have certainly heard, the Nationals broke the waters and made a trade yesterday! It was far from the moved everyone was waiting for…the team acquired left fielder Jonny Gomes from the Cincinnati Reds for a pair of prospects.
The move took everyone by surprise. It was a player know one thought of as available, and there was no buildup or rumors leading up to the announcement. This is what trade season is like: secretive and low key until something happens.
At face value, this trade looks random and unnecessary. Gomes is 30 with a .211/.339/.399 like for the year, not exactly the type of player in the Nats’ long-term plans. Short term, he could boost the offense a bit, though he is in the middle of one of the worst seasons of his career.
What the Nats gave up in the deal isn’t a big deal. The prospects they gave up were Bill Rhinehart and Christopher Manno. Rhinehart is an outfielder currently with the Harrisburg Senators, and he played in the Eastern League All-Star game this season. He isn’t regarded particularly high in the Nats’ depth chart. Manno is a LHP, and the Nats have a nuclear-attack ready supply of pitchers in the system.
Of course there are rumors flying every which way approaching the trade deadline, but one has been sticking to the Nats since Spring Training: BJ Upton.Â The Nationals denied the rumors then, saying they were just doing some general scouting without a specific interest.Â However, rumors are heating up now that the deadline is approaching and the Rays appear to be shopping Upton around.
Rumors peaking late last night when Upton was held out of the Rays lineup and an apparent call-up had been made to reportedly replace Upton.Â Ian Desmond was reportedly held out of the Nats lineup in the morning version before being added later, leading to the Desmond-for-Upton rumors.
As of this morning, each remains on their team.
Most baseball analysts and reporters agree that BJ Upton likely won’t be a member of the Tamps Bay Rays past July 31st.Â He is their best bargaining chip that they would be willing to part with, and they have to keep up with the Red Sox and the Yankees who are both playing very well this season.
The dark of Upton is that he has always had “personality issues,” leading many to question his work ethic or desire to play.Â This will make a lot of teams balk at giving up too much for him.Â Skill and talent can be developed and grown, but problems in the clubhouse can be much more difficult to remedy.Â A lot of teams will think twice before taking him on.