Despite the pending return of Mark DeRosa from the disabled list*, there are rumblings that the Washington Nationals have started searching for a right-handed hitting corner infielder, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It would seem the team has some internal concerns about DeRosa’s ability to remain healthy and whether he can be productive upon a return to the bench.
The risks associated with DeRosa were clear when the team first signed him this past offseason. He’s missed nearly the entirety of the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries and many organizations felt the risk was too high to even consider taking a chance on him. Washington took that chance and so far has failed to see any reward from it. DeRosa was just 3 for 37 before getting hurt in late April so it’s entirely possible he’ll be on a short leash upon returning.
The problem the Nationals are facing, as Rosenthal points out, is there is a limit to what’s available on the open market at this point in time. More teams are waiting before they start to make their players available as there are more teams who still feel they have a chance at the postseason given the addition of a second wild card team this year. There is also some concern over whether the team could find enough at bats for a potential acquisition for a deal to be worthwhile.
One factor that remains up in the air is whether or not Ryan Zimmerman will need to spend some time on the DL due to his troublesome right shoulder. If he does, the options to fill in at third base are somewhat limited. DeRosa may see some time, further magnifying the need for him to produce at the plate, but many of the at bats will also go to Steve Lombardozzi. Either way, a DL stint for Zimmerman would have significant ramifications on the team’s bench and overall depth across the infield.
Third base is the key in any deal, as the team has multiple options to fill in at first base in the event they develop a need. Michael Morse spent the bulk of the 2011 season there and Tyler Moore is naturally a first baseman. Both are already on the active roster. Chris Marrero was also activated from his rehab assignment and assigned to Triple-A Syracuse in recent days, providing another option. But the options across the diamond are limited without much help waiting in the upper minor leagues aside from possibly Mark Teahen.
Should Washington look to bolster their bench before the July trade deadline finding a player capable of providing some depth at third base might be an important factor. How active the team will be leading up to the trade deadline is an unknown. In some ways, the team already has two deadline acquisitions pending – as Drew Storen is set to return mid-July and Jayson Werth is targeting August 1st for his return to the lineup.