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The Nationals got to celebrate after snapping a six-game losing streak.
It's no secret Mike Rizzo is desperately seeking a center fielder. And it's no secret Minnesota's Denard Span is at the top of his wish list. The only remaining question is whether Rizzo and Twins GM Bill Smith can agree upon the names it would require to get this done.
Smith, of course, wants Drew Storen. And probably more. Rizzo is reluctant to deal Storen, though willing if he feels like he's getting something significant in return. As best as I can tell right now, Span alone isn't enough to trade away the 23-year-old closer.
In the meantime, perhaps the Nationals' best fallback option in case they can't get Span is no longer available. The Astros traded Michael Bourn to the Braves this morning for four players: center fielder Jordan Schafer and minor-league pitchers Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu. That's a pretty big haul for Bourn, who by all accounts would have a lower asking price than Span.
So we'll just have to wait and see what happens. I'll be updating this thread throughout the day with updates until the 4 p.m. deadline arrives, so please check back here. I'll post today's game thread in a little while...
12:36 p.m. -- We do have one roster move to report, though it doesn't involve a trade. Left-hander Atahualpa Severino was called up from Syracuse and Yunesky Maya was optioned back to Syracuse. This is really about giving Davey Johnson an extra bullpen arm today, which he needs. Severino had a 3.00 ERA in 23 games at Syracuse, striking out 24 while walking 13 in 21 innings. Maya's strained oblique apparently isn't bad enough to require a DL stint, so he's heading back to the minors. As for trade talk, nothing new to report. Drew Storen has been in the clubhouse all morning, obviously anxious to find out what's going on. Otherwise, it's business as usual.
1:04 p.m. -- By the way, Brian Bixler is making his first career start in center field today. That makes him incredibly the 27th different center fielder the Nats have used since 2005. Hmm, kind of makes you wonder if Mike Rizzo has considered trying to acquire someone who could hold down that position long-term...
1:39 p.m. -- As today's game gets underway -- you can follow along with my colleague Chase Hughes on the game thread -- there are reports out from both Scott Miller of CBSsports.com and Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports that the Span-Storen deal is looking less and less likely. Miller says that the Nats so far have been unwilling to include Storen in the deal, which would not surprise me given what Mike Rizzo has been saying about him all along. Doesn't mean that might not change before 4 p.m., but I think it's safe to say that Rizzo is REALLY hesitant to trade Storen.
2:04 p.m. -- For whatever this is worth: Steve Lombardozzi (whose name has come up in these talks) has been posted in Syracuse's lineup for tonight's game. Doesn't mean he couldn't be scratched at any point, but further evidence that nothing has been consummated yet. Also, for those wondering: Roger Bernadina has not reported to Syracuse yet. Guys get 72 hours after their demotion, and I'm told Roger is supposed to join the Chiefs tomorrow (again, assuming he's not traded).
2:25 p.m. -- A major-league closer has been traded to a contender. Just not the closer from this local major-league team. Heath Bell going to the Rangers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
2:33 p.m. -- Whoa, major goof by Rosenthal (who is normally one of the very best in the business). It's not Heath Bell to the Rangers. It's setup man Mike Adams instead.
3:00 p.m. -- We're heading to the sixth inning here at Nationals Park, the game still scoreless. Drew Storen (along with everyone else in the Nats' relief corps) remains seated in the right-field bullpen. One hour to go.
3:30 p.m. -- Thirty minutes to go. Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the chance of the Twins completing any deal now are "bleak." Meanwhile, with the Nats taking the lead in the bottom of the sixth, this is shaping up to be the kind of game in which Drew Storen will be needed.
3:38 p.m. -- Storen, if you're wondering, remains in the Nats bullpen and is curently starting to stretch and prepare as though he's going to pitch the ninth inning.
3:55 p.m. -- Here comes Tyler Clippard to pitch the top of the eighth, with the Nats up 2-1, as Storen prepares to warm up for the ninth.
4:00 p.m. -- And the stroke of 4 p.m. has arrived, with no trades to report ... for now. Though it sure looks like the Nats haven't done anything, remember that any deals only need to be sent to MLB headquarters by 4 p.m. It can take a good 15-30 minutes for word to trickle down.
4:05 p.m. -- Storen is now warming in the pen, which he would not be allowed to do if he had been traded. Here's my new story on the deadline passing without any deals.