The Washington Nationals announced they have traded 1B Nick Johnson to the Florida Marlins for minor league left-handed starter Aaron Thompson.

In addition, the team confirmed they sent left-handed reliever Joe Beimel to the Colorado Rockies for two minor league players.

Johnson, a free agent after this season, hit .294/.408/402 with six home runs and 44 RBIs this season for the Nats, in his sixth season with the organization.

He was the last player to wear the tri-colors of the Montreal Expos in the organization.

Thompson, 22, is 5-9 with a 4.11 ERA with Double-A Jacksonville. He was a first-round pick for the Marlins in 2005, out of high school in Texas. He was the 13th-ranked Florida prospect, according to Baseball America.

According to one scouting service, Thompson has a 87-90 MPH fastball and plus slider to go along with pinpoint command.

He posted a .268 batting average against and 1.74/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with 75 strikeouts and 43 walks in 114.0 innings. Entering this season, he was recognized as having the “Best Changeup” in the Marlins system by Baseball America.

Beimel spends less than one season with the Nats. He was 1-5 with a 3.40 ERA and a save in 45 appearances.

The players recieved for Beimel are right-handed pitcher Ryan Mattheus and right-handed pitcher Robinson Fabian.

Mattheus, 25, was 1-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 19 appearances for Colorado’s top three affiliates this season before having “Tommy John” ligament-replacement surgery performed in early July. In 26.0 innings prior the surgery, Mattheus struck out 27—or 9.3 per 9.0 innings pitched—en route to recording a .250 (24-for-96) batting average against.

Shifted to the bullpen for the first time in 2008, his efforts were rewarded, as he represented the Rockies in both the 2008 Futures Game and the Double-A Texas League All-Star Game. He earned both citations by not only posting a 3.28 ERA in the Texas League, but also by leading Tulsa with 17 saves, striking out 8.7 batters per 9.0 innings and recording a heavy 2.4/1 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio.

Fabian was 3-6 with a 6.24 ERA in 24 games (12 starts) with Asheville of the Single-A South Atlantic League at the time of the trade. In 83.2 innings, he fanned 54 and walked just 21, good for a 2.6/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has been assigned by the Nationals to Hagerstown of the Single-A South Atlantic League.

The 23 year-old is 20-30 with a 5.08 ERA in 101 games (67 starts) in seven professional seasons.

Photos 2009 © Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.