NEW YORK -- A few weeks ago, the Nationals were in first place and general manager Mike Rizzo said the team wasn't perfect. It didn't help that the bullpen was inconsistent and several of the club's major players were on the disabled list.
A couple of hours after the non-waiver Trade Deadline passed on Friday, Rizzo said he is happy with the team that he has assembled after acquiring closer Jonathan Papelbon on Tuesday in a trade to strengthen the bullpen, combined with Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman all coming off the DL.
"We like the ballclub that we have. We felt that we improved it at the Trade Deadline," Rizzo said. "We like where we are and look forward to playing good, consistent baseball the rest of the way.
"We thought improving the bullpen was something that we would like to do. We thought if there was room to improve ourselves, we were fortunate to come up with a deal that worked for us. [We] acquired a close-down relief pitcher and we are happy to have [Papelbon]."
Keep in mind, Rizzo may not be done dealing. He is known to make waiver trades in August. Remember, he traded for catcher Kurt Suzuki in 2012.
"We are looking for opportunities to help the club," Rizzo said. "We'll take every opportunity to enrich ourselves at the big leagues or in the Minor Leagues. We'll be looking for values in the market and [see if there is something that could help us]."
The Nationals were not the only ones in the National League East to improve themselves before the Deadline. The Mets acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers and reliever Tyler Clippard from the Athletics. Nats manager Matt Williams felt the Mets will stay close in in the NL East race because of the players they acquired. Entering Friday's action, the Nationals were three games ahead of the Mets.
"Those are good moves. They improved their club. They filled needs that they thought were missing for them," Williams said. "We know Clip very well. He is a quality pitcher. Don't know Cespedes that much because he was in the American League. He is a powerful guy. He knows how to play the outfield really well and he knows how to drive runs in. The Mets have some good pieces."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.