Nats deal Anderson, Ward for prospects
Club receives two right-handed Minor League pitchers
WASHINGTON -- Since Stan Kasten took over as president of the Nationals, he said that he wanted to stockpile the farm system with pitchers. The team took steps in doing just that as it made two trades late Thursday night.
The Nationals dealt infielder/outfielder Marlon Anderson and cash to the Dodgers for right-hander Jhonny Nunez. Washington also sent infielder Daryle Ward to the Braves for right-hander Luis Atilano. The news came about an hour after Anderson scored the game-winning run against the Phillies in Thursday's 6-5, 10-inning victory.
According to assistant general manager Mike Rizzo, the Nationals were trying to get deals done before Sept. 1, the last day in which players are eligible for the postseason.
"There's always things in play," Rizzo said. "It comes to a head when there is a deadline like there is [Thursday]. We worked all day into [Wednesday] night and all day [Thursday] to get these deals done."
Nunez went 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA in 10 games for the Gulf Coast League Dodgers this season, his first year playing in the United States. Nunez limited opposing batters to a .177 batting average en route to leading the league in wins. He also ranked among GCL leaders in innings pitched (57), strikeouts (56) and ERA.
The Nationals consider Nunez the third-best prospect in the Gulf Coast League.
"He's a big 6-foot-3 right-hander," general manager Jim Bowden said. "He has a fastball that's 90-91 [mph]. He has a real good slider, real good changeup, pounds the strike zone. He's a top guy. It's a great opportunity for us with our long-term plan."
The Nationals are taking a risk on Atilano because he had elbow reconstructive surgery 10 days ago. Atilano went 6-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 19 games for Class A Myrtle Beach. Atilano was considered a power pitcher before his injury and may not throw on the mound until sometime in 2008.
"Even if he doesn't pitch until 2008, it's worth getting a 21-year-old first-round pick," Bowden said. "It's hard to trade Marlon Anderson and Daryle Ward. They are great citizens in the clubhouse. They are two of the best bench players in the game, but for our long-term vision of building a championship, anytime you have chance to get two young starting pitchers that have a chance to be rotation guys for you down the road, you have to do it."
Anderson, 32, was hitting .274 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 109 games with Washington. His playing time had decreased in the last two weeks because the team wanted see what Bernie Castro, Alex Escobar and Ryan Church could do for the rest of the season. On Thursday, he started for the first time since Aug. 14 and went 3-for-5.
Anderson signed a two-year deal for $1.85 million in the offseason, and according to a Los Angeles source, the Dodgers will pay the rest of Anderson's salary this season and more than half of Anderson's income next year. The Nationals will pay $400,000 for next year.
Ward, 31, hit .308 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 78 games for Washington in 2006. Ward, who is making $700,000 this year, was on his way home when he found about the trade. Ward is expected to take on the same role as he did with the Nationals.
"It was surprising, because I was thinking about [Friday] and I'm on my way back to the stadium to pack," Ward said. "[The Braves] expect me to be in Atlanta on [Friday]."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.