The Washington Nationals showed interest in Arizona Diamondbacks OF Gerardo Parra earlier this spring, but nothing seemed to happen immediately afterwards. That interest seems to have been reignited for the Nats front office over the last two days, as a total of six Nationals scouts have watched DBacks games where Parra has played, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
Knobler reports that the Diamondbacks want a catcher and a shortstop in a deal that would bring Parra to DC, and right now, the Nationals may have just what they’re being asked for. Jesus Flores is a quality starting catcher on a number of MLB rosters, but he’s blocked by Wilson Ramos in DC. Ramos finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting last season and has proven himself to be a great backstop for the Nationals young, talented pitching staff. Finding a backup for Ramos could be an issue, though, and Carlos Maldonado isn’t the ideal candidate.
The shortstop question lends a couple names into the mix. Ian Desmond is the obvious choice for many Nats fans, but the front office isn’t as likely to make that deal. Manager Davey Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo have been vocal supporters of Desmond and seem happy with what he provides to the lineup. However, his notoriously low OBP and high strikeout total raise lots of concerns about his ability to be the Nats lead off hitter, and his propensity for committing fielding errors has been prominent this spring, as he’s committed four in limited action in less than three weeks. If the Nationals were committed to keeping Desmond around, they could see if Arizona was willing to take middle infielder Steve Lombardozzi, though that may not be in the Nats best interested either.
For the sake of this trade, let’s assume the Nats decide to flip Flores and Desmond for Parra and possibly another less significant piece. It would be an expensive deal, there’s no doubt about that. Both Flores and Desmond are capable major league starters, and in Desmond’s case, he has significant value for a team where he’s not expected to be a lead off hitter. But the Nationals need a high on-base lead off hitter and center fielder, and Parra looks to slot into that role perfectly. Last year’s .292/.357/.427 slash line in nearly 500 PAs, combined with a 10.2 UZR/150, earned him an NL Gold Glove.
For the Nationals, the could slot Parra into CF, leaving Jayson Werth in right and Michael Morse in left when he gets healthy. On the infield, LaRoche and Zimmerman would take the corners with Espinosa and Lombardozzi at short and second, respectively. Waiting in the wings, you have Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon ready to take over relatively soon, likely moving Morse to first, and LaRoche getting offloaded or platooned against right-handed pitching. It creates some log jams, sure, but it’s the kind of log jams you really want to have. It’s the kind of problem only a good-to-great baseball team experiences, and it’s one that Nats fans would love to see.