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Chico Harlan, Trade Deadline Buzzkill

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We already knew that Washington Post Nationals beat Chico Harlan doesn't like covering baseball. But does he have ruin the party for everyone else excited about the pending trade deadline? Obviously, this is just the opinion of someone who covers the Washington Nationals, but Harlan doesn't think the team should trade outfielder Josh Willingham.

Willingham, in the final days before Friday's trading deadline, will draw plenty of suitors. But the Nats should not deal the guy unless they're absolutely blown away. In this case, they have all the leverage. This is not some trade-him-or-you-lose-him scenario. Willingham is under club control through 2011. He's arbitration-eligible, but he'll be making less than his value on the open market. And these are his peak performance years. Let's just say -- in the best-case scenario -- that Washington has a chance to contend in 2011. A corner outfielder who hits .285 and gets 25 homers ... and is probably making no more than $6 million ... is definitely worth having around.

And really, he's right. A guy in his arguable prime who can stay under club control while he's putting up his best numbers is extremely valuable. For all the reasons mentioned, Willingham will probably be a little more expensive in any kind of deal. (And this was before his two grand slams last night. Call him... Willingslam?)

Harlan also notes that Willingham has the second-highest slugging average in baseball since May 1. (Don't the words "slugging average" associated with any bat the Tigers might pursue give you a tingle? Lil' bit?)

So the question becomes, can Dave Dombrowski come up with something that blows the Nationals away? In the meantime, let us have our fantasies and speculation, Chico Harlan. They're what make this time of year so fun.