Surveying the market and finding the cost of the available free agent relief options prohibitive, Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo instead turned to the trade market where he found a controllable left-handed reliever, making an addition he said yesterday in an MLB Network Radio interview would solidify the Nats' 2014 bullpen. This afternoon's deal with the Oakland A's for 6'6'', 30-year-old lefty Jerry Blevins, which sent 24-year-old, 2013 Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year Billy Burns to the Athletics, will reportedly end the Nationals' search for bullpen help, which Rizzo has said since the end of the season was one of the key items on the offseason checklist along with a rotation addition and a bench bat.
Last Monday, the Nationals' general manager acquired 29-year-old right-hander Doug Fister, who is under team control through 2015 (and projected to make around $7M this season), from the Detroit Tigers in return for 25-year-old infielder Steve Lombardozzi and 22-year-old lefties Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. On Friday, the Nats signed 32-year-old, nine-year veteran Nate McLouth to a 2-year/$10.75M deal that brought the fourth outfielder they were after to D.C. Rizzo said this afternoon's deal for Blevins provided the Nationals with what they were looking for in terms of bullpen help, telling reporters, including MASN's Dan Kolko, that he was a reliever who could get both right and left-handed hitters out.
"I personally like a lefty specialist, if you will, that can come in and ‑‑ for that two‑out situation and get them out," Williams told reporters in a wide-ranging discussion at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. "I also like a guy that can do that, that we can stretch to another inning."
The Nationals think they've found that guy in Blevins, whose 2014 salary is projected to be around $1.5M. In his seventh major season, the A's lefty was (5-0) in 67 appearances, with a 3.15 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 17 walks (2.55 BB/9) and 52 Ks (7.80 K/9) in 60 IP. Blevins has a career .224/.278/.358 line against left-handed hitters, and he's held right-handers to a .240/.326/.385 line so far in the majors. In 2013, as Rizzo noted today, the lefty had a reverse split with a better line (.184/.267/.314) against right-handed batters than against lefties (.242/.299/.442).
In an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier last week, the Nationals' GM said Doug Fister gave the Nats a fourth starter who was a, "...well-rounded pitcher who really knows his craft, he controls the running game extremely well, fields his position well, and... pounds the strike zone, doesn't walk anybody [and] doesn't give up many home runs." McLouth, Rizzo told nationals.com writer Bill Ladson last week, "'..brings some speed, athleticism and some power off the bench. And the other aspect of it is, if one of your guys goes down, this guy has been an everyday player.'"
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Blevins, Rizzo said tonight, as quoted by NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, "'...was the best option we could find with the combination of talent, role, cost. This was our best option.'" Today's acquisition gave the Nationals 40 players on the 40-Man Roster.
When he spoke to reporters earlier this week in Orlando, the Nats' GM played down the possibility of going after a catcher who could fill in should Wilson Ramos have any injury issues this season.
With the Nationals' stated offseason needs met and the money they've saved by finding relatively cheap controllable alternatives to the big names on the market... maybe they can now turn to locking up some of their in-house talent to long-rumored, long-term deals?
Rizzo was asked about a potential deal for Jordan Zimmermann today, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweeted the GM's response:
I asked #Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, who said, "We’d certainly love to get something done with him. But like any premium guy on your team, if …— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
"…there is something that can’t be done, then you would think about a trade. But that’s the furthest thing from our minds." #Nationals— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
Will the Nats lock Zimmermann up long-term this winter? What about Ian Desmond? How would you grade Rizzo's offseason so far? Think the Nats are done dealing?
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