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Q&A with MLB Trade Rumors

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Q&A with MLB Trade Rumors

By Doug McKinney
CSNwashington.com

In the latest Nationals Q&A, CSN producer Doug McKinney talks with Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBtraderumors.com. Nicholson-Smith specializes in reports of trades and roster moves in Major League Baseball. You can read his stuff here.

CSN:Ben, thanks for joining us. With the trade deadline just a month away, what type of market will the Washington Nationals be in on the trade front?

MLBTR: Let's start with the obvious: the Nationals figure to be buyers with an interest in adding offense. They're averaging fewer than four runs per game, and unless they expect to replicate the success of the pitching-first 2010 Giants, Washingtons front office members will want to look around for some bats.

No team in baseball has obtained a lower OPS from its left fielders (.561), which makes the outfield a natural starting point. The Nationals could consider trade candidates such as Carlos Quentin if theyre looking for some power on an expiring contract. However many outfielders rumored to be available are unappealing given their salaries and production.

CSN: The Nationals pitching staff is a big reason the club is in first place in the NL East, while the hitting has lagged behind. What type of bats arecould be available that you think may intrigue the Nats? (They were tied to B.J. Upton, Denard Span and Peter Bourjos earlier in the offseasonseason)
MLBTR: The Nationals will likely be intrigued by outfielders, as I mentioned. Left field has proven to be a particularly weak position so far, but Bryce Harper and Michael Morse offer enough versatility that GM Mike Rizzo could also pursue right or center fielders and adjust his outfield accordingly.

Specifically, I expect the Nationals will monitor the trade market for Quentin, Upton, Span, Shane Victorino, David DeJesus and Gerardo Parra. Some of these players wont be available in trades, but other names will no doubt surface between now and the end of July.

CSN: Going back to DC's pitching, it's no secret that the Nats think tank plans on shutting down Stephen Strasburg at some point this year. With Ken Rosenthal's recent report about Zack Greinke possibly being available down the road, do you see the Nats matching up well with the Brewers and beingplayers for his services?

MLBTR: I would be surprised if the Nationals landed Greinke. Hes going to cost a tremendous amount in terms of prospects and young players because hell be the best starting pitcher available, assuming the Phillies hold onto Cole Hamels this summer. I dont see the Nationals out-bidding other teams for starting pitching, which is arguably the organizations biggest strength. Instead, I expect Davey Johnson to add Chien-Ming Wang, Tom Gorzelanny or John Lannan to his rotation when Strasburg gets shut down.

CSN:The Nationals have signed all of their top 10 selections from the 2012 MLB Draft, with the exception of their number one pick Lucas Giolito. Any news on him and do you think a deal gets done?
MLBTR: I don't have inside info on this one, but I expect he'll sign. The Nationals can spend more than 3 million on Giolito without losing future draft picks, according to Baseball America. That kind of money would be tough to walk away from.

If Giolito goes to college and emerges as a top-five pick a few years from now he could earn more than 3 million, but that would delay the start of his pro career. Plus, theres an informal cap on bonuses under baseballs new collective bargaining agreement, so theres less financial incentive for high schoolers selected in the first round to go to college and boost their draft stock.

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Nats' Joe Ross to begin minor league rehab assignment on Sunday

Nats' Joe Ross to begin minor league rehab assignment on Sunday

Okay, let's try this again.

Nearly a month after Joe Ross' initial minor league rehab assignment was halted due to a setback in his recovery from right shoulder inflammation, the Nationals' starter will now go on another rehab stint beginning Sunday with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. He will face the Pawtucket Red Sox in Syracuse.

This is a major step for the Nats' right-hander, who hasn't appeared in a big league game since July 2. Ross threw two bullpen sessions this week, one on Tuesday in Baltimore and another on Thursday in Washington. It was an encouraging series of days for Ross, who last pitched in a game on July 30 with Syracuse. He also pitched for Syracuse on July 24.

Ross is now well on his way to returning, but whether he can build his innings up to come back as a starter is still hard to tell. The minor league regular season only runs through the first week of September, so it's still possible Ross will need to return to the Nats as a relief pitcher.

Manager Dusty Baker shared the latest on that situation before Saturday's game:

"I don't know. That's a question that we're trying to answer now. If not, then hopefully in the playoffs he can be on the team and help us out of the bullpen. Usually, you're only carrying three starters on the team anyways during the playoffs. If he was number four and whoever else or whatever, that makes for a better bullpen. I have hopes that he can at least make it back to that point," he said.

That is all, of course, pending this second minor league rehab stint goes well. Last time Ross felt discomfort and didn't have his velocity quite where he wanted it to be.

Ross starting for Syracuse may give some hints as to who will start for the Nationals on Sunday against the Rockies. Lucas Giolito was lined up to pitch Sunday for the Chiefs and already was a likely candidate to be called up to the Nats. Now that theory has even more legs to it.

[RELATED: Max Scherzer digs down deep to help Nats, shut up Orioles fans]

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A.J. Cole faces Rockies as Nats look for third straight win

A.J. Cole faces Rockies as Nats look for third straight win

Nats (75-53) at Rockies (60-68) at Nationals Park

It's a quick turnaround for the Nationals and Rockies, who pick back up for a 1:05 p.m. first pitch on Saturday afternoon. Rookie A.J. Cole gets the start following his seven-inning, four-run outing against the Orioles on Aug. 22, his 2016 season debut. Cole will once again see a tough lineup, this time with a bunch of lefties including Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra.

Pitching for Colorado will be Jorge De La Rosa (8-7, 5.07). The veteran lefty faced the Nats just two starts ago and gave up four runs in six innings at Coors Field.

Wilson Ramos is back in the Nats' lineup after missing two games. He's hitting sixth behind Anthony Rendon.

First pitch: 1:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - A.J. Cole vs. Rockies - Jorge De La Rosa

NATS

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
1B Ryan Zimmerman
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP A.J. Cole

ROCKIES

CF Charlie Blackmon
2B D.J. LeMahieu
RF Carlos Gonzalez
3B Nolan Arenado
LF David Dahl
1B Gerardo Parra
C Nick Hundley
SS Daniel Descalso
LHP Jorge De La Rosa

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE STATS AND SCORES

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Gonzalez on earning career win No. 100 : 'I’m just happy it came'

Gonzalez on earning career win No. 100 : 'I’m just happy it came'

Gio Gonzalez isn’t the type to harp on his accomplishments. After quality outings, he typically deflects praise to his Nationals teammates in postgame interviews when asked to describe his personal performance.

But as much as he tends to downplay, earning his career 100th win in Friday's victory over the Colorado Rockies clearly meant something to him. 

“I’m just happy it came,” Gonzalez said. “I finally showed up and I’m happy I did it here with this organization. Oakland gave me an opportunity and Washington helped me continue that opportunity and I couldn’t be happier to do it with these colors and represent the Washington Nationals.”

The feat came after two no-decisions in his previous two starts, so the third time proved to be the charm. After the game, he had a gathering of family and friends waiting outside the Nats’ clubhouse to congratulate him, some holding gold “100” balloons and others wearing hats featuring the oft-used Twitter emoji of the same number.

“I'm sure it was [on his mind],” manager Dusty Baker said. “…He didn’t want to come out of this game. He was going to get it eventually and we needed it.”

The 30-year-old left hander accomplished the milestone thanks to six innings of two-run ball on just 85 pitches against the hard-hitting Rockies lineup. Gonzalez displayed a lot of what his skipper wanted to see from him: a low pitch count, avoiding the big inning and, as he did later in the game, deliver shutdown frames immediately after the Nats offense scores.

“He threw great tonight," added Bryce Harper. Kept a very good Rockies lineup off balance and did what he needed to do. Stuck with his approach and threw like Gio knows how. Huge for him, that hundredth win. Couldn't be happier for him and his family.”

Historic achievement aside, Gonzalez has quietly turned his season around after a rough patch. In his last nine outings, he’s 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA over 50 2/3 innings. His resurgence couldn’t have come at a better time, as he’s charged with stabilizing the back-end of a rotation that’s in flux due to injuries to Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross.

“That's the key to his success,” Baker said. “Not getting runners on base or not walking people and he had a very good game tonight, excellent game. His last couple games, few games have been good. I'm just glad we were able to get him his 100th victory.”