I am going to post my thoughts here about the Nationals as a trade partner for Joakim Soria. They do have one potential piece that could be very attractive to the Royals, however I don't think they have the prospect flair to get a deal done.
Here is why I am going to briefly touch on the Nationals though. First I imagine the two teams have good relations with one another given that they nearly were able to complete a deal that would have sent Zack Greinke to Washington for Jordan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, and Drew Storen. It is a shame that Dayton Moore didn't follow his mentor's advice and never include no trade clauses in contracts, because that haul would have been sweet. But I digress...
Back to why I believe the Nationals should be discussed. It seems that the Nationals are in win now mode. This sounds strange, but I truly do believe that they want to do everything it takes to win soon and build up a fan base in the Washington D.C. area. If they could win no, while the Orioles are struggling it would only be that much more beneficial to their growing fan base.
The Nationals have also blown more saves than any other team in baseball in 2011. They are currently 23 for 41 on converting save opportunities into wins. Despite this horrible figure they are one of the surprises of baseball and are currently 41-41.
I am sure the Nationals, like every other team in baseball would love to add Soria to their bullpen and his team friendly contract. Since they wouldn't be adding a one year guy they could knock out a primary offseason priority and when Strasburg returns next year and some of their young players are another year along in their development they could be ready to really contend.
There is one piece in the Nationals farm system not named Bryce Harper that would be extremely appealing to the Royals and his name is Derek Norris. Norris entered the season rated as the number 72 prospect in the game and the second best prospect in the Nationals organization.
Norris is said to have plus power potential, which was on display in low-A when he hit 23 home runs for Hagerstown. What really makes Norris stand out though his his plate discipline. For his career he has walked 308 times and struck out just 361 times. In fact in this season in his first stop in double-A, as a twenty-two year old he has walked 41 times to 57 strikeouts.
His discipline has also been his falling. He often watches too many pitches and because of it gets himself into bad counts. He is only hitting .207 but the offensive potential is definitely there. Despite this dreadful batting average he is still getting on base at a .371 clip.
He is still a bit raw defensively, but he did throw out 51% of would be base stealers a season ago. However, that number is down to 37% in 2011. Norris is said to have all star potential and is one of the top catching prospects in the minors.
The Royals would also surely be interested in acquiring Drew Storen, one of the players they thought they had acquired last winter in the nixed deal. Storen ironically was the man the Nationals drafted with the compensation pick they received for their failure to sign Aaron Crow.
It hasn't taken long for Storen to establish himself not just as an up and comer but as one of the better relief pitchers in the game. This season he has a 2.90 era and a 32:12 strikeout to walk ratio.
There are also two primary pitching prospects that would be discussed in the deal. The first is the Nationals 4th rated prospect: A.J. Cole. Cole is a 6-4, nineteen year old righty. Thus far in his first full season he has posted a 2.92 era with 46 Ks to 9 walks in 37 innings.
Cole sits in the mid 90s with above average command and a smooth delivery. His curve could be a plus pitch and his changeup is developing but as of now hit or miss. He doesn't fit in the first wave but could be a great arm to that second wave.
The other young arm that would be extremely appealing to the Royals, because of how it could play into the second wave that they are trying to build is Sammy Solis. Solis is twenty-two years old and is also pitching in Low-A. He has a 40 to 12 strikeout to walk ratio and has pitched better than his 4.02 era suggests.
In my opinion because of how far away these three prospects are (Norris, Cole, and Solis) the Nationals would have to include all four of the aforementioned players in the deal to make it worthwhile for the Royals. The only safe and Major League ready player is Drew Storen so the Nationals would really have to go above and beyond in the prospect side of things to make it worth it for the Royals.
Like the Cardinals I don't know that the Nationals have enough depth in the system to give up as much talent as it would take to make the Royals happy in a deal like this. I also could easily see the Nationals balking at the idea of trading one young closer plus prospects for another closer. But there it is, what do you think? Which of these makes the most since? Do any of these deals justify trading Soria in your mind? What do you think?