UPDATE - Shortly after we hit ”publish” on this one multiple reports have the Colorado Rockies signing Wade Davis to a 3-year/$52M free agent deal as the Rockies continue to stockpile relievers, so cross his name off the list of potential targets for the Nats:
Source: Wade Davis has agreed to a deal with the Colorado Rockies.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 29, 2017
Source: Closer Wade Davis and the Colorado Rockies have agreed on a three-year, $52M deal. It's the highest per-year salary ever for a reliever. The deal includes a fourth-year vesting option that could take the total to $66M. Full details at Yahoo Sports: https://t.co/dFgJr4Ur4o— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 29, 2017
wade davis has passed his physical. so this is a done deal with the rockies. their pen remains exceptional.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 29, 2017
ORIGINAL REPORT: Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo was asked at WinterFest earlier this month about the Nationals’ bullpen depth after set-up man Brandon Kintlzer returned to D.C. on a 2-year/$10M deal, after testing free agency, and the General Manager told reporters he was comfortable with the composition of the relief corps as it stands.
“We feel good about it,” Rizzo said. “We like the back three, and the front five, so we’ve got a lot of different looks in the bullpen. We’ve got a lot of hard throwers, we’ve got a lot of guys who can strike people out.
“We’ve got guys who have a year more experience under their belts, and we feel good about it.”
But, as Rizzo likes to say, you can never have enough pitching, though this winter he’s mostly been referring to starting depth when he says that.
How about further additions to an already impressive collection of relievers though?
According to a report by FanRag’s Jon Heyman today, the Nats are still kicking the tires on closer-types, including Wade Davis and Greg Holland:
“The Washington Nationals have inquired on both star free-agent closers — Wade Davis and Greg Holland — and are said to like both. There hasn’t been much activity among the top free agents, but things could be looking up for Davis and Holland, who stand apart from the crowd.”
Heyman notes that the Nationals, “... tried to get Holland last year,” adding that, “one source suggested that GM Mike Rizzo badly wanted to sign him to solve their closing issue.”
Washington Post columnists Thomas Boswell and Barry Svrluga both reported on the rumored interest in Holland after he signed with the Rockies last winter, with Boswell writing in late May of this past season that there was, at one point, a deal in place to bring Holland to D.C, but, “[o]wnership balked at the money needed to sign [Scott] Boras client Greg Holland, who was risky after elbow surgery and not due back until June.”
“[T]he baseball side of the franchise wanted Holland, risk and all,” Boswell added, “... and thought a deal probably could have gotten done.”
“The Nats don’t have Greg Holland,” Svrluga wrote in a June look at the Nats’ bullpen, which was struggling mightily at the time, “... because when a deal was in place, the Lerner family wouldn’t approve it.”
Heyman’s mention of the Nats’ rumored interest in Wade Davis is just the latest this winter, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic among others suggesting he might be a target for the defending NL East champs, though that was before the Nationals and Kintzler decided to reunite.
Adding either Holland or Davis would give the Nationals a powerhouse bullpen with multiple closing options.
Current closer Sean Doolittle talked earlier this month at Nationals WinterFest about the strength of the bullpen in the second half last season, after he and Ryan Madson and Kintzler were adding to the mix, telling reporters that no one cared about their roles or personal statistics.
“We didn’t care who pitched in what role or what title was attached to them, what inning a guy was pitching in,” Doolittle said.
“We kind of set a lot of the personal stuff aside as far who was getting the holds and the saves. We just wanted to win.”
Would the relievers currently on the roster take the same approach if the Nats added a closer-type like Holland or Davis to the mix and bumped everyone else back an inning?