Cordero, Rauch focus of trade rumors
Young, Belliard among players who could be dealt
WASHINGTON -- There are 13 days left before the trade deadline and one wonders if Nationals general manager Jim Bowden is close to making a trade.
If one looks at his history dating back to the early 1990s when he was the Reds GM, Bowden usually doesn't wait until the deadline to make a move. When he acquired outfielder Preston Wilson from the Rockies, it came on July 13, 2005. Bowden acquired outfielder Austin Kearns, shortstop Felipe Lopez and reliever Ryan Wagner exactly a year later.
When asked if he was close to making any deals, Bowden didn't comment.
According to sources, there are scouts from various teams -- Angels, Braves, Cubs Diamondbacks, Indians, Mets, Padres, Phillies, Tigers and Twins -- watching Nationals players. It's no secret those teams would like to acquire players such as first baseman Dmitri Young, second baseman Ronnie Belliard and relievers Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero. If those players are traded, the Nationals are looking for prospects to replenish the farm system.
One opposing executive believes that Rauch and Cordero are the two guys the Nationals have been dangling the most.
"I keep hearing Cordero and Rauch," said the executive.
Cordero is the hottest pitcher on the Nationals. Since being taken off the bereavement list on May 14, Cordero has a 1.82 ERA and 13 saves.
Rauch continues to be a quality setup man. He has made a National League-leading 50 appearances and ranks third in holds with 19. Rauch has also proven that he can close games. When Cordero was on the bereavement list, Rauch was dominating, saving three games.
Cordero has heard his name in trade talks since December. The latest rumor has him linked to the Mets. He said the rumors don't bother him, but he'd love to stay with the Nationals for the rest of his career.
"It's part of baseball. If it happens, it happens," Cordero said. "I've been hearing the rumors for the last year, so I'm kind of used to it. I have no control over it, so I have to go out there and worry about what I have to do on the field and that's it."
If Cordero is traded to a contending team, there is a possibility that he could lose his closer's job. However, Cordero said he would accept the role as a setup man if he is traded.
"If that's going to happen, that's going to happen," Cordero said. "If I were to get traded to a team that had a closer and I have to be a setup man, I would be glad to do that. It would be whatever the manager and the team wants me to do. I would be glad to do what they want me to do."
As for Young and Belliard, they have carried the offense all year. Young is leading the National League in hitting with a .342 batting average and is on pace to drive in 93 runs in his comeback season. Manager Manny Acta has often praised Young for his leadership abilities and his improved play at first base.
Young, who said he would love to stay with the Nationals and help in the rebuilding process, has been linked to the Braves as well as numerous American League clubs such as the Twins and Angels.
Belliard has been an invaluable member of the Nationals this season. He has filled in nicely at second base since Cristian Guzman tore ligaments in his thumb, which forced Felipe Lopez to switch from second to shortstop.
Entering Thursday's action, Belliard was hitting .309 with five home runs and 29 RBIs.
"Right now, I'm not thinking about getting traded. It depends on what they want to do," Belliard said recently. "Manny knows I want to be here. I like this ballclub. They treat me very well and I think I'm friends with everybody."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.