If Andrew Miller Isn’t A National on August 1st, Mike Rizzo Should be Fired

Shots fired, Mike Rizzo. The Cubs’ acquisition of Aroldis Chapman should put you on notice that Theo Epstein isn’t playing. He went out and picked up the one reliever you coveted.

With roughly five days left to make a move and another implosion from Jonathan Papelbon imminent, the Nats GM must respond in kind. The only appropriate response is trading for Andrew Miller. If Rizzo can’t earnestly get a deal done, he should be fired.

Miller is the perfect fit for the Nationals: he’s signed for two more seasons at a reasonable price, has excellent postseason experience and possesses no ego. He can set-up for the DC Strangler until Dusty finally feels it’s safe to put Miller in the closer role and Papelbon mercifully out to pasture.

Unlike the Indians, Giants or Rangers, the Nationals can sacrifice any number of top prospects without damaging their current lineup: Lucas Giolito, Michael Taylor, Erick Fedde, Victor Robles and Reynaldo Lopez are all fine talents, but other than Giolito, is it realistic they’d be able to contribute as much as Miller in the next two years?

Yes, the cost will be steep, but the Nationals’ window for winning a title is getting smaller. With Miller in the fold through 2018, it guarantees the team will have a lock-down closer for at least the next two and a half seasons, coincidentally the same amount of time Bryce Harper is contractually tied to the team. If Bryce leaves and ownership decides to blow the Nats up after 2018, more likely than not Miller would bring back a draft pick.

Beyond the sheer performance upgrade, Rizzo owes it to the players and the fans to make a splash, something he’s been averse to since 2012. To wit:

Trader Mike Rizzo’s Big, Bad Deadline Deals

2012 acquisitions: No one

(Playoff result: bullpen choked against Cardinals in NLDS)

2013 acquisitions: No one

(Playoff result: missed)

2014 acquisitions: Asdrubal Cabrera

(Playoff result: lineup choked against Giants in NLDS)

2015 acquisitions: Papelbon

(Playoff result: missed, but Papelbon still choked the team’s best player)

There comes a time in every GM’s career when he must decide it is time for his team to go all-in. For some GMs, they decide too early and jump the gun on giving up prospects that are key to the team’s immediate future. Other GMs wait too late, when the championship window for their squad is no longer open. Some GMs know when the time is just right.

Memo to Mike Rizzo: the time is right.

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