Friday, July 30, 2010, 3:57 p.m., UPDATED 6:25 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
While continuing to field offers for slugger Adam Dunn, perhaps the most-coveted player still available before Saturday's trade deadline, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo pulled off another deal Friday when he sent infielder Cristian Guzman to the Texas Rangers for a pair of Class AA right-handers.
Guzman, the only player from the opening day 2005 Nationals who remained on the club's big-league roster the last 5 12 seasons, was due to become a free agent at season's end and didn't figure into next year's plans. Because he had 10 years of major-league service and five years with the same team, he had to approve the trade before it was completed.
Guzman's tenure in Washington featured plenty of ups and downs. Jim Bowden's first free-agent signing upon becoming GM of the former Montreal Expos in November 2004, he was often booed while hitting a paltry .219 in his first season with the Nationals, and then missed all of 2006 with a shoulder injury. But Guzman returned strong after that and earned an All-Star nod in 2008, leading to a two-year, 16 million extension.
This spring, the veteran shortstop lost his starting job to rookie Ian Desmond and wound up playing second base for the first time in his career. In 89 games this year, he hit .282 with two homers, 25 RBI and a .327 on-base percentage.
Manager Jim Riggleman said Adam Kennedy and Alberto Gonzalez will split time at second base the remainder of the season.
In exchange for Guzman, the Nationals receive Ryan Tatusko, 25, and Tanner Roark, 23, a pair of Class AA starting pitchers who are still a year or two from reaching the majors. Tatusko was 9-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 24 games (13 starts) at Frisco; Roark was 10-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 22 games (17 starts) also at Frisco.
"We got two good, young, Double-A prospects that we think will help our inventory, two starting candidates," Rizzo said. "It's a trade of a veteran player for prospects."
Though Rizzo has managed to move both Guzman and closer Matt Capps (who was sent to Minnesota Thursday night for top catching prospect Wilson Ramos and another minor-league pitcher) in last the 24 hours, he still hasn't received an offer he deems good enough to trade Dunn.
Several teams (including the White Sox, Yankees and Rays) have inquired about the veteran first baseman, who leads the club with 24 homers and 64 RBI, but Rizzo continues to insist on receiving a major haul in return. The GM insists he'll stick with his lofty demands right up to Saturday's 4 p.m. trade deadline.
"The price will not come down,"Rizzo said.
Dunn, meanwhile, is frustrated to keep hearing his name come up in trade rumors, but having been through this before, he understands the process. He has expressed his desire to remain in Washington and is willing to sign a contract extension (either now or after the season), but would relish the opportunity to spend the next two months playing for a playoff contender.
"My options are awesome," he said. "You can't have better options than what I have."