After Greg Holland’s decision to sign with the Colorado Rockies this week, FanRag’s Jon Heyman wrote on Twitter that the Washington Nationals, who reportedly pursued the veteran reliever before missing out, were continuing to look for a closer.
“Nats are still looking for closer,” Heyman noted. “[Sergio] Romo the best of the free agents. [David] Robertson, [Alex] Colome (long shot) [are] trade options.”
Having pursued free agents Mark Melancon, who opted to sign with the San Francisco Giants (4/$62M), and Kenley Jansen, who returned to the Los Angeles Dodgers (5/$80), and looked into a trade for Wade Davis (who was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Jorge Soler), the Nationals made a play for Holland as well.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning that while the Nats have pursued several high-end relievers this winter, and even though they “remain without a proven closer,” the Nationals are, “... less willing to spend on lesser relievers and reluctant to trade prospects.”
Latest notes on bullpen market: https://t.co/bsIarPzMw2— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 27, 2017
Summing up the relief market at this point, Rosenthal wrote that, “Romo and [Joe] Blanton appear to be the top right-handed targets, with [Joe] Smith, Fernando Salas and David Hernandez on the next tier. The White Sox’ David Robertson, Rays’ Alex Colome and Braves’ Arodys Vizcaino remain trade options, but the acquisition costs in each case might be prohibitive.”
When Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters last month, he was asked if he felt he had the prospect depth to trade for a closer after trading prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning to the Chicago White Sox for Adam Eaton.
“I think we do,” he said. “We have a really fertile minor league system that people have asked for throughout the winter so far.”
Rizzo has, of course, talked often this winter about the in-house options the Nationals have available if they couldn’t find a closer via free agency or trade.
“We’re all trying to create our closers in-house,” he explained. “We feel that we have candidates for closers in-house. Certainly have guys with the stuff to close, with the make-up, we just don’t have an experienced guy who has closed.”
“We’ve got internal options to pitch the back of the games, guys who have the stuff to do it, the mentality to do it and the make-up to do it.”
It’s looking more and more likely that an internal option (Shawn Kelley or Blake Treinen or Koda Glover?) might end up getting a shot at the ninth-inning role.
Do the Nationals need to add depth to the pen though, even if it’s not a closer?