Wednesday, June 30, 2010, 8:19 a.m.
By Holden Kushner
Interleague play is complete and general managers are gearing up for open trade season.
One general manager and a former general manager told me they believe that it will be a quiet month leading up to the July 31 deadline because not as many teams need to dump salary.
For the most part, GMs did a good job of spending money wisely in the offseason.
The Nationals have few trade pieces that would bring them valueand could help them contend by 2012.
The biggest commodity they have is Adam Dunn. He should not be traded. I am assuming Dunn can be signed at an affordable four-year contract. He wants to stay at first base as opposed to becoming a designated hitter and seems comfortable in D.C..
There wont be a big-power first baseman on the free agent market until big-money bats in Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez are available after the 2011 season. Both players may be traded and signed to long-term deals after a possible deal.
The Nationals dont have the prospects to pull the trigger on a deal to land a big bat right now.
The Angels and White Sox are reported to be interested in Dunns service. It would be logical for Oakland to pull off a deal if the As believe they can make a run in the AL West. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo should settle for nothing less than a major league-ready front line starter and a starting position player if he trades Dunn.
Left fielder Josh Willingham would be the perfect trade candidate for the Nationals. While he wont bring a large return, he could bring back a future starting position player at either catcher, second base or in the outfield, which are some of the the Nats' biggest needs for the future.
The Giants and Padres are two teams who could use another bat. Atlanta hasnt gotten much production from left field. Willingham is affordable with only the remainder of his one-year, 4.6 million contract remaining. Willingham is on pace to exceed his 2009 total of 25 home runs.
Finally, Pudge Rodriguez might bring back a position player or pitcher than can contribute at the big league level within the next two seasons. As bad as the two-year, 6 million deal looked in the offseason, it looks equally as good right now.
Rodriguez has managed to play in 51 of the 77 games played this season, while hitting for average and more importantly serving as an on- and off-field mentor to Stephen Strasburg.
The Nationals shouldnt be busy at the trade deadline, but Mike Rizzo will be under the gun to improve his team with the limited trade chips he has.