So count FOXSports.com reporter Ken Rosenthal, if he wasn't already on the list, among those who think that the Washington Nationals are in the market for a back-end of the bullpen arm.
In a new story this morning looking at all 30 major league teams' wants and needs with the July 31st Non-Waiver Trade Deadline approaching, the bow-tied reporter writes that the Nationals', "... biggest need is an eighth-inning setup man — or better, a dominant closer such as Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel who would reduce Drew Storen to an eighth-inning setup man."
Rosenthal joins his colleague, FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi, who reported that the Nationals expressed interest in Chapman, the Cincinnati Reds' closer, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, who wrote recently that the "pen is the main area of interest" for Washington, along with "some added positional depth," Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell, who said in a chat this week that the Nats, "... don't have enough to cover the 6th-7th-8th in the post-season as they are currently built. It's obvious," and New York Post writer Joel Sherman, who earlier this season proposed a trade that would send prospects Wilmer Difo and Reynaldo Lopez to the Reds for Chapman and last week suggested the same deal for the San Diego Padres' Kimbrel.
Whether it's a set-up man, or a closer, depending upon which report you're reading, there seems to be a lot of chatter out there about the Nationals looking for relief help.
Storen saved 27 games in the so-called "first-half" of the 2015 campaign, posting a 1.89 ERA, a 2.09 FIP, eight walks (2.16 BB/90) and 38 Ks (10.26 K/9) in 33 ⅓ IP over which he's given up just one home run while holding opposing hitters to a combined .208/.267/.250 line.
If Storen struggles in the second half, or is injured, who'd be called upon in save situations?
Are the Nationals on the hunt for a late-inning option who can pitch in the eighth and back Storen up in the ninth if necessary? In inquiring as to Chapman's availability, are the Nats thinking of going the same route the New York Yankees did at the start of the season with left and right-handed closers depending on the matchups in the ninth?
We are, of course, talking about Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, who added Max Scherzer to an already-strong rotation this winter. While it seemed excessive at the time, the struggles of Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg this season have made the signing seem like a good idea in hindsight... if you had a problem with the deal at the time.
Will Rizzo and the Nats strengthen a strength and bolster the back of the bullpen for the stretch run?
In addition to the need for relief help, Rosenthal, like Heyman, wrote today that a "lesser priority" for the Nats, "would be a left-handed hitter who could play first base and/or outfield," in case Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman don't return from injury and return to form. Add Denard Span to that list.
Which possibility seems more likely? Relief help? A backup first baseman/outfielder? Should we take all of this with a grain of salt, keeping in mind that Rizzo has said in the past that if you hear about it, it's probably not true since the GM and his front office play things close to the vest? Should we just start scouring the rest of the rosters around the majors for unheralded, hard-throwing, controllable arms? That's more Rizzo, right?
Check out the rest of what Ken Rosenthal had to say about the Nationals and the Trade Deadline through the link below:
Trade deadline preview: Thoughts on all 30 teams.... http://t.co/zrW0LnLKqj— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 17, 2015