Nats weren't 'playing well enough' to add payroll at MLB trade deadline

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The Nationals stood still as the 2020 MLB Trade Deadline passed without making any moves to improve, the most realistic outcome for a club that's 12-21 and whose opportunity is quickly escaping in this shortened season.

The most pressing concern for Washington was starting pitching, as its rotation has faltered with the loss of Stephen Strasburg for the season and through an uncharacteristically slow start from Max Scherzer.

"We had spoken to a lot of teams about starting pitching and an added bat, and bullpen help and all sorts of things," Nats GM Mike Rizzo said during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies, presented by Burke & Herbert Bank.

"But I think every team has to assess where they're at in their planning stages," he said. "We went in there and, in my opinion, we weren't playing well enough for me to go ask ownership to add payroll and to give away prospects to make any kind of big, significant move for a short-term player this year."

The reigning World Series champions are eight games off the pace in the NL East. Even as the playoffs expand from 10 to 16 teams this year, it'll be a tough row to hoe for the Nats to sneak into the postseason.

Under this current format, the top two clubs in each division will qualify along with the two other best clubs in each league. The Nats currently rank 14th out of 15 National League clubs, so you can see their challenge.

"We also felt that this group of players deserves a chance to stay together and see if you can get on a little bit of a roll and make a run in this," Rizzo said.

"Our goal is to get into the bubble," he said, referencing the figurative bubble in which the postseason will be played, walled off from outside influences of the pandemic. "That's kind of our mantra: Get into the bubble this year and see what happens. Once we're in this tournament, we'll take our chances."

Only 27 games remain for the Nats to get on a roll and fulfill their mantra.

"We took the trade deadline very seriously," Rizzo said. "The price of starting pitching obviously in the trade deadline is astronomical because it's a supply-and-demand game, and the supply was low and the demand was high for good, impactful starting pitching.

"We felt that it wasn't in our best interest to do it this year. We've done it in the past when we were in a little bit different situation time frame-wise and that was the route we chose."

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