NL East Notes: Potential Ian Desmond Replacements, Josh Johnson Trade Rumors, Phillies Could be Buyers

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 03: Danny Espinosa #8 and Ian Desmond #20 of the Washington Nationals celebrate after a 9-3 victory against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park on July 3, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Here's the latest out of the National League East:

Washington Nationals (59-40)

The Nats lost starting shortstop Ian Desmond, who suffered a torn left oblique, for four to six weeks. They've moved second baseman Danny Espinoza to short and have been playing utility man Steve Lombardozzi at second. The team has a list of 15-20 middle infielders they've discussed, including Nick Punto of the Boston Red Sox and Jamey Carroll of the Minnesota Twins.

Atlanta Braves (55-44, -4 in East, in Wild Card spot No. 2)

To say bargain signing Ben Sheets has been a pleasant surprise would be an understatement. After not pitching at all in 2011, Sheets is 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in three starts with Atlanta. The Braves are still searching for help in their rotation, and have been linked to both Ryan Dempster and James Shields.

New York Mets (48-52, -11.5 in East, -7.5 in Wild Card)

The Mets aren't expected to be major players at the deadline, but are searching for a backup catcher and some bullpen help. They rejected an offer the San Diego Padres made for Daniel Murphy, which may not seem very newsworth, but it displays how strange a trade market we're seeing this year.

Miami Marlins (45-54, -14 in East, -10 in Wild Card)

The Marlins essentially threw in the towel when they traded away Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez over the past week, and more players could be on their way out of Miami. The team has a steep asking price for Josh Johnson, and may opt to keep the 28-year-old. The Texas Rangers are rumored to be "heavy in talks" with the Marlins about a trade for Johnson.

Philadelphia Phillies (45-55, -14.5 in East, -10.5 in Wild Card)

The Phillies made a strong statement when they signed Cole Hamels to a six-year extension this week, and they could look to add more pieces to make a run this year or ensure they have a more competitive 2013 season. The team is still kicking around the idea of trading away outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, but are in the mix for San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley.

Joecatz at The Good Phight discussed the team's need for a third baseman and Headley in particular in a great piece titled "Ty Wigginton: Future 3B. Make a trade or kill me now. (or why it's ok to buy high)."

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