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Pirates claim Thompson off waivers

Dec 23, 2010, 7:56 PM EDT

The Nationals have lost left-hander Aaron Thompson to the Pirates on a waiver claim, a move that brings the club’s 40-man roster back down to its maximum allowable number.

Thompson, 23, went a combined 5-13 with a 5.65 ERA at Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse this season. He was originally acquired by the Nationals in the July 2009 trade that sent Nick Johnson to the Marlins.

Needing to clear a spot on the 40-man roster when outfielder Rick Ankiel signed earlier this week, the Nationals placed Thompson on waivers. Had he cleared, he could have been outrighted to the minors. The Pirates, though, put in a claim and today were awarded Thompson’s rights.

Thus, the Nats’ 40-man roster is now at 40 players again. For those wondering whether they needed to drop another person to make room for right-hander Ryan Mattheus, a club official explained that while Mattheus did sign a major-league contract this fall, he did so before getting outrighted to Syracuse. Basically, he’s a minor-leaguer not on the 40-man roster with a major-league contract.

  1. Anonymous - Dec 23, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    So Mattheus basically made room for himself by being outrighted and clearing waivers?

  2. He's Not Werth It - Dec 23, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    Hey Mark, speaking of Nick Johnson, has there been any interest in him at all? If he could stay healthy (big if) he seems like a cheap option that could split time with Morse at 1B and provide some quality lefty at bats.

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 23, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    Anonymous 3:07 ….Sure sounds that way.I saw him in the Fall Instructional League and he was so good he stood out almost as much as A.J. Morris.I don't know if anybody saw the list but BA had Morris as having the best slider in our system.He boke at least two bats in each of the 6 innngs I saw him pitch. Plus hit hit 94-95 regularly on the gun. Mattheus was in the same range with his fastball at 92-94.

  4. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 23, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    And with Johnson, the training staff probably still has several splints, braces, slings that were custom made for him.

  5. Mark - Dec 23, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    Justin Maxwell uses up his 10th life so I think with his 9 lives he owes us Nats fans one right now.I don't get it!

  6. phil dunn - Dec 23, 2010 at 9:02 PM

    Thompson was the "nothing" that the Nats got when they gave Nick Johnson to the Marlins and paid his salary not to play for the Nats. Just further proof that these highly touted minor league pitching prospects usually turn out to be duds.

  7. phil dunn - Dec 23, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    I'd rather have an ailing Nick Johnson this season platooning with Mike Morse than end up with Casey Kotchman, who will be about the only option left if Lee and Laroche sign elsewhere.

  8. He's Not Werth It - Dec 23, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    The more I think about it, the more I like it. It would free up some starting pitcher money. It would be a temporary fix at 1B until something better than Lee for 1 year or LaRoche for 3(neither of which I am in love with) comes along. It would get Morse AND Bernadina more at bats in order to see what we really have with them. In a pinch Matt Stairs could fill in at first (in case of emergency, use stairs). Plus I just flat out love Nick Johnson and his ballin' OBP, and the clubhouse would to.Of course he could always end up being hurt the whole season, but what if he isn't?

  9. Wally - Dec 23, 2010 at 9:45 PM

    I think they keep Maxwell because he can play CF, and that position is so unsettled. Not a fan of it, though.Keith Law said in his chat today that the Nats offer for Greinke was JZimm, Storen and Norris. Wow. I am a big Greinke fan, but I would not have liked that trade at all.

  10. sjm 308 - Dec 23, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    I really had hopes for Thompson but he was given every opportunity this past year and had a horrible year. Hard to believe the Pirates took this gamble but you can't blame them for trying. Mark, does he go on their 40 man roster?, or is he just given a chance to make the club in spring training.The more I think about Nick, the more I like it even though we all know he can just not make it through a season. How many games did he play last year? It could not have been many.Not that anyone cares but I would like Lee for 1 year much more than LaRoche for 3 but I am not thrilled with either.

  11. Sunderland - Dec 23, 2010 at 10:09 PM

    I would prefer to sign LaRoche for 3 years. If we don't want him after one or two years, then we trade him for a prospect and kick in some cash for his salary. (it's only money)It's not like if we sign him for three years he has to play every day for 3 years. Plus I don't think we're gonna have a good 1B coming up from the farm for at least 2 years. And if it's Tyler Moore, and his first year he shares time with LaRoche, that's not the worst thing.I hear the talk of getting a placeholder for 2011 and going after Fielder next year. That's counting your chickens before the rooster crows. Remember, we were gonna get some legit SP this offseason? Circumstances now seem to show we may not. Don't walk away from LaRoche because you think you can get Fielder.

  12. phil dunn - Dec 23, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    Fielder is not worth going after. He's so fat he can't bend over. He's nearly eaten his way out of baseball, just like his father did. We had enough of that with Dimitri Young. Beyond that, Fielder is worse defensively than Dunn and he wants twice as much money as Dunn wanted. Signing Fielder would wreck the franchise.

  13. Anonymous8 - Dec 24, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    Wally, I hope Keith Law was wrong. I can't imagine Rizzo willing to do that. I'd never say never but like we saw with all the counter intelligence that goes on in the Nats war room, I just don't buy it.

  14. Golfersal - Dec 24, 2010 at 12:58 AM

    What a waste.This is what I hate about getting rid of a player like Nick Johnson for guys like Thompson. Sorry but we got nothing for Johnson since this guy never panned out, it's surprising how many of these deals don't pan out

  15. Ernie - Dec 24, 2010 at 1:09 AM

    Before we get too upset about losing Nick Johnson for a prospect who never panned out, let's remember that he only played in 35 games with the Marlins before getting hurt again. It's not like we really gave up a lot to get Thompson in the first place.And for those upset at Maxwell's continued presence on the 40-man (we can't drop this guy fast enough for me), remember that the off-season is not over yet and we presumably will need to make room for any FA first baseman we sign. At some point J-Max's number has to be up…

  16. David - Dec 24, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    Anonymous8If it is true it shows how much Rizzo is drooling for another ace pitcher!Using that as the premise I would say that there still is a good chance that the Nats sign Webb if they can get an incentive laden deal worked out that gives them an option for 2012. All speculation but the risk reward is definitely there if it looks like he can pitch this year.

  17. Anonymous8 - Dec 24, 2010 at 1:49 AM

    David, one season in Greinke's career he was an Ace. For Cliff Lee, absolutely you make that trade. Greinke is far from a sure thing. No way to you trade away 3 studs.

  18. Anonymous8 - Dec 24, 2010 at 1:50 AM

    This is how big a joke the Orioles are as someone is speading propaganda which had to be denied:http://twitter.com/Britt_Ghiroli/status/18034342672465920

  19. David - Dec 24, 2010 at 2:55 AM

    Anonymous8,I don't make that trade for either of them considering where the Nats are now but it does let you get inside Rizzo head unless he was certain Greinke would not approve it. Is Rizzo that good?Greinke is only 27 and few pitcher have the year he had in 2009 without being pretty good unless they get injured. Lee does have the pedigree for pitching in important games so that does count for something. Any thoughts on Webb? Worth the risk of 10 million like his agent has asked for? I say if he makes 25-30 starts with a reasonable number of innings and ERA and the Nat get the option for 2012 it is worth the risk. A Texas paper said Webb only wants a one year contract because he thinks he will be worth a lot more in 2012 so he seems confident. So the Nats might lose 5 to 10 million on this gamble who else are they going to spend it on? If it pays off 2012 with Strasburg and Webb you can dream of the playoffs.

  20. Will - Dec 24, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    Anonymous8, essentially you have to be in the top 30 best SPs to be considered an ace, which means that you are the best pitcher on your team.I don't know which year you're referring to, but last year he was the 11th best pitcher in baseball according to WAR. The year before, he was the best pitcher in baseball. The year before that, 2008, he was the 16th best pitcher. Over the past three years, Zack Greinke has been the 4th best pitcher in baseball.So, basically, you're wrong. Greinke is a fantastic pitcher. Just because Cliff Lee is a great player doesn't mean that Greinke isn't. There's a reason Rizzo apparently threw the farm system away for Greinke, because he's one of the best pitchers in baseball.

  21. Anonymous8 - Dec 24, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Will, we had that discussion a couple of years ago about John Lannan when he was the #1 starter at the time on the staff but not an ace so using that logic, yes, there are 30 #1's in the Majors but probably 20 aces in the league of which the Phillies have 3.Wiki backs up the "Ace" theory:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ace_(baseball)

  22. Sunderland - Dec 24, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    fpcsteve – props to youI think we'd all have an easier time solving the world's economic woes than we would agreeing on the definition of an ace. So I'll leave that alone.sec3 and 1a, if you're out there, just want to say thanks cause you often make me smile and you help mellow the argumentative side of me.sec3, hoping St Nick brings you a comfy new sofa. Here's hoping Lerner and Rizzo bring us something wonderful for the new year….

  23. natsfan1a - Dec 24, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Thanks, Sunderland. Your posts are always reasoned and informative, imo.On the Lerner/Rizzo front, a revised version of my NJ pleas from last offseason. Oddly, most of it still holds, but I substituted a 1b for the backup catcher (okay, technically an infielder, but that was for rhyming purposes – sorry, Felipe :-))Santa baby, just slip a pitcher under the tree, for meBeen an awful good girlSanta baby, and hurry down the chimney tonightSanta baby, I’d like an infielder with some pop – not FLopI'll wait up for you, dear Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonightThink of all the fun I've missedThink of all the batters that we haven’t whiffedNext year I could be oh so goodIf you'd check off my Christmas listSanta honey, I want balls caught and really that's not a lotI've been an angel all yearSanta baby, and hurry down the chimney tonightSanta cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deedTo Na-tion-als tvSanta cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonightSanta baby, just fill my stocking with strong biceps, and checksSign your 'X' on the lineSanta baby, and hurry down the chimney tonightCome and trim my Christmas treeWith a Silver Slugger bought at Tiffany'sI really do believe in youLet's see if you believe in meSanta baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ringI don't mean on the phoneSanta baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

  24. Anonymous - Dec 24, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    That is why I think there is a distinct possibility that he will sacrifice some athleticism and defense for Prince Fielder next year.The guy is only 26, fields his position better than Dunn and because he is only 26 still may have significant upside. His weight is a problem. Easily solved contractually … they don't want another da Meat.

  25. Sunderland - Dec 24, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    When players are free agents, sometimes the most sought after players players have so much leverage that "easily solved contractually" goes out the window.Winning bids for the top end free agents are all about guaranteed money. There are rarely, if ever, provisions for reducing the value or length of contract. Fielder is like Dunn in that AL clubs will see less risk in a long term contract since they could play Prince at DH if his fielding and / or mobility declines. For several reasons, I doubt the Nats would win a bidding war for Fielder.

  26. Feel Wood - Dec 24, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    "His weight is a problem. Easily solved contractually"Nope. If the Nats insist on a weight clause, there will be some other team that won't, and he'll sign with them. Teams can only get weight clauses into contracts when the player has absolutely no other options, e.g. Ronnie Belliard with the Dodgers last year.

  27. Anonymous - Dec 24, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    Nope. If the Nats insist on a weight clause, there will be some other team that won't, and he'll sign with them. If the Nats really blow the market up again with what they pay him. He'll likely go along. Its in his own best interest and his agent (Boras) will likely remind him of that. A good excuse to get in the best of shape sometimes is all it takes …

  28. Anonymous - Dec 25, 2010 at 4:36 AM

    Fielder is likely to command a 6-8 year contract. Any kind of weight clause in a contract that long would be virtually unenforceable from a team's standpoint, and from the player's standpoint he'd never agree to it. It would be almost the same as having a "don't get hurt" policy in a contract. Just ain't gonna happen.

  29. Anonymous8 - Dec 25, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    http://mikesciosciastragicillness.com/2010/12/20/of-trade-possibility-mike-morse/It is nice to see what other team blogs think of Michael Morse. I wish Rizzo saw it the same and some of the fans of NatsTown.

  30. JaneB - Dec 25, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Love the song Natsfan1a. I'm singing it at dinner tonight.

  31. natsfan1a - Dec 25, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    Thanks, JaneB. Too bad we can't do a duet. :-)

  32. natsfan1a - Dec 25, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Nice holiday piece on sportswriting (and family):http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/23/sports/la-sp-plaschke-20101224I'm thankful for having "my" very own sportswriter this past year.

  33. Mark Zuckerman - Dec 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    NatsFan1a: Thanks for sharing. That was fantastic. Plaschke is one of the best in the business.

  34. natsfan1a - Dec 25, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    You're most welcome. I enjoyed it, too.

  35. Anonymous - Dec 26, 2010 at 9:12 PM

    Looks like Webb is gone now as well.

  36. natsfan1a - Dec 26, 2010 at 10:07 PM

    Evidently to the Rangers, per MLBTR site.

  37. Anonymous - Dec 26, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    According to Phil Wood the first base situation gets settled before the end of next week.

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