WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have been quiet when it comes to the Trade Deadline, but, according to baseball sources, reliever Jon Rauch has been the most sought after member of the team.
One source said at least 10 teams are seriously interested in Rauch, but the source wouldn't say which teams had Rauch on their radar screens because a deal isn't close. It's no secret that a team such as the Red Sox needs bullpen help, and Rauch would be a perfect fit for them.
Don't expect the Nationals to give Rauch away. They want top prospects or young Major League-ready players in return.
Washington signed Rauch to a reasonable contract last February. He will make $1.2 million in 2008 and $2 million in '09. There's also a $2.9 million club option for the 2010 season. The option must be picked up within five days after the 2008 World Series.
Rauch was a workhorse for the Nationals in 2006 and '07, appearing in 173 games. This year, Rauch clearly is the team's best pitcher. He took over the closer role, he had 17 saves and a 2.91 ERA heading into Friday's game.
Rauch and general manager Jim Bowden were not available for comment.
Rauch isn't the only one on the block. The Nationals are trying to trade players such as Felipe Lopez, Dmitri Young and Wily Mo Pena, but there are no takers right now because they are having off seasons.
Lopez and Pena each were hitting below .250, while Young had a .129 batting average (3-for-31) with runners in scoring position entering Friday's action.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.