Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo has said often that he trusts his right-handed relievers against lefties, but the possibility of the Nats adding a late-inning specialist is still being discussed with FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal the latest reporter to explore the possibility of the Nationals making additional moves this winter.
Quit moving Ross Detwiler to the bullpen! The chatter about moving '07 1st Round pick Ross Detwiler to the bullpen to fill the one role the Washington Nationals have yet to fill this winter, a left-handed specialist, has been around since the rumors of the Nats signing free agent right-hander Javier Vazquez surfaced a few weeks back.
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal mentioned the possibility again this morning, in an article that brings up the idea of the Nationals making additional moves including (separately) trading Tyler Clippard and signing free agent starter Kyle Lohse. When D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was asked about the possibility of adding a left-hander to the pen in an MLB Network Radio interview last week, he repeated what he's said often this winter when discussing the idea that the team needs a late-inning lefty:
"[Davey Johnson is] not the type of manager who is going to go left-on-left a whole lot, and he likes his relief pitchers to pitch a complete inning. So it's not a vital component for us. If the right guy fell to us and we could make a deal, we would certainly be open-minded about it but when you look at Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus, those guys really can get out left-handed hitters and it wouldn't be something that we would be fearful going into the season with just one lefty in the bullpen."
The Nationals have Zach Duke as the left-handed long man Davey Johnson likes in the pen. The Nats have signed Bill Bray to compete for the role of the lefty specialist. Washington's GM has repeatedly expressed faith in his right-hander's abilities against lefties. As Mr. Rosenthal mentions in this morning's article, however, after acknowledging Clippard and Drew Storen's splits vs left-handers, "one rival executive" told him that keeping the Nationals' relationship with super agent Scott Boras in mind, he believes that the Nationals might consider adding veteran starter Kyle Lohse to the mix in their rotation. The Nats, the executive tells Mr. Rosenthal, "... could sign Lohse and move left-hander Ross Detwiler to the bullpen."
"Such a possibility cannot be dismissed," Mr. Rosenthal writes, "but the Nats like the emerging Detwiler as a starter, and his ERA-plus of 117 last season was reasonably close to Lohse’s 134." Detwiler, 26, finished his fifth MLB season with a (10-8) record, a 3.40 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 52 walks (2.85 BB/9) and 105 Ks (5.75 K/9) in 33 games, 27 starts and 164.1 innings pitched. The more likely scenario, the FOXSports.com reporter suggests, has the Nationals signing Vazquez, "... who would give the team needed rotation depth at a much lower price than Lohse," though the 36-year-old Vazquez reportedly wants to sign a major league deal and is going to wait until after he pitches for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic before making a decision.
Elsewhere in the article, Mr. Rosenthal mentions the Texas Rangers as a team with interest in adding to their bullpen and rotation, with Lohse one possibility. The FOXSports.com reporter also notes that sources tell him the Rangers, "... engaged in discussions with the Washington Nationals for right-handed setup man Tyler Clippard earlier this off-season." Are the Nats done dealing this winter? Could they trade Clippard or Storen now that they have Rafael Soriano in the pen? Do they need a left-handed specialist? Why is everyone so eager to move Ross Detwiler to the pen after his breakthrough season in 2012?