Williams: Nats want to make amends for 2013
Since Mike Rizzo took over as Nationals general manager in 2009, he’s found quite the trade partner in Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics. Since late 2010, the two have orchestrated seven different trades, sometimes sending the same players back and forth in separate deals.
Rizzo and Beane clearly enjoy doing business with each other, or this trend would have stopped a long time ago. It just so happens that Beane and the A’s are always trying to shop their major league players for prospects, and Rizzo and the Nationals have generally been flush with young talent in the farm system.
Here is a look at those seven trades in three years, and what we know about their results so far. Some of the trades were very recent and therefore are ‘to be determined’ as to who came out on top.
Dec. 16, 2010 – OF Josh Willingham for RHP Henry Rodriguez and OF Corey Brown
The first deal between the two is one Rizzo would probably want to have back. Sensing Willingham would be better suited for the American League – and with one year left on his contract – the Nats sent him to Oakland for the legendarily wild Rodriguez and Brown, whom they just DFA’d. Willingham went on to post career highs in home runs in his next two seasons (29, 35) and drove in 110 runs in 2012. Those RBI were with the Twins after he signed with Minnesota as a free agent, but given the Nats’ return, this one goes to Beane.
Dec. 23, 2011 – C Derek Norris, RHP A.J. Cole, RHP Brad Peacock, LHP Tom Milone for LHP Gio Gonzalez and RHP Robert Gilliam
A year and a week after trading Willingham for prospects, Rizzo decided to flip the script and go after an All-Star in Gio Gonzalez. He paid a heavy price of four prospects, including minor league standout Brad Peacock. Looking back, however, the Nats easily got the better return in Gio who led the National League in wins in 2012 and finished third in NL Cy Young voting. Gonzalez signed an extension and figures to be a mainstay in the Nats rotation for years to come. Norris and Milone are still contributing for Oakland, but none of the prospects have produced like Gio in the two years since.
Aug. 3, 2012 – C David Freitas and cash for C Kurt Suzuki
With Wilson Ramos out after tearing his ACL, the Nationals needed a catcher to help Jesus Flores who hit just .213 in 2012. In came Suzuki who helped the Nats complete their playoff push and win the division. Freitas never made it above Triple-A Sacramento with the Athletics and is now in the Orioles’ system after being traded again. Suzuki didn’t make a massive impact with the Nats, but he did the job they asked of him and also played 79 games for the Nats in 2013. Rizzo gets the edge in this one as well.
Jan. 16, 2013 – OF Michael Morse to Seattle, C John Jaso from Seattle to Oakland, RHP A.J. Cole, LHP Ian Krol (PTBNL), RHP Blake Treinen from Oakland to Washington (3 teams)
At the time, getting A.J. Cole back plus two low level prospects seemed like a small return for Michael Morse, especially considering they probably could have used him last season with all their injuries. The outfielder had just helped lead the Nats to 98 wins in 2012 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI and was thought to be a multi-year free agent in waiting. But almost a year after the fact, you can’t blame the Nats for what they got. Krol was a nice surprise as the player to be named later, and just weeks ago helped land Doug Fister in Washington. Cole is still in the Nats’ farm system and is starting to realize his potential as a young starter. Meanwhile, Morse was traded from the Mariners to the Orioles and has now joined the Giants. All the A’s have to show for it is Jaso, who was decent last year, and Xavier Avery whom the Orioles sent over.
Aug. 23, 2013 – C Kurt Suzuki for RHP Dakota Bacus
Once the Nationals realized Ramos was ready to be the primary catcher, Suzuki and his $6.45 million salary became expendable. The catcher did, however, play very well for the A’s down the stretch and helped them reach the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Bacus, meanwhile, has yet to pitch above Single-A. His minor league numbers (2.93 ERA in 46 appearances) are solid, but the Nats haven’t felt his impact yet. For now this one goes to Beane.
Nov. 25, 2013 – LHP Fernando Abad for OF John Wooten
It’s hard to judge this one less than a month removed from the deal. The Nats will now hope Wooten will build off his 20 home run 2013 season in Single-A.
Dec. 11, 2013 – OF Billy Burns for LHP Jerry Blevins
This one also gets an ‘incomplete’ as neither has played a game for their new teams yet. On the surface it looks like a good deal for the Nationals who deemed Burns expendable and needed a lefty reliever very badly. Looking at the money some lefties have received on the free agent market since, this looks even better.