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Nationals’ closer search: In-house options; Deal for David Robertson still a possibility?

Will the Washington Nationals stick with their plan to find a closer in-house, or will they find a way to make a trade in the next few weeks to land a closer before Opening Day?

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at Washington Nationals Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Reports of interest in Matt Wieters persisted all winter until the Washington Nationals finally signed the veteran catcher to a 1-year/$10.5M free agent deal. In spite of what has been said about finding the Nats’ next closer in-house at this point, after a number of swings and misses this offseason, rumors of a potential deal for Chicago White Sox’ closer David Robertson go back to last July, when the Nationals were in the market for a late-inning arm.

That chatter has continued this winter as well, with FanRag’s Jon Heyman writing even today that, “the Nats’ closer situation is dicier than ever,” and the possibility of a deal for Robertson remains, with the White Sox even reportedly willing, “to pay down some of the $25 million remaining over two years on Robertson’s deal,” if a trade is possible at this late date.

As Heyman has noted before, his sources say the Nationals felt the White Sox weren’t really interested in trading Robertson when they talked about a trade earlier this winter, and from what he heard, “ChiSox people don’t think the Nats have been very aggressive on this front, and if so, that could be a mistake.”:

“The Nats have a great team with no proven closer, a formula that’s helped them finish with 95-plus wins three of the past five seasons but fail to get out of the first round all three times.”

If the two sides can’t eventually work out a deal?

Heyman wrote about the Nationals’ in-house options as well, in his article on the eleven biggest questions remaining at this point:

“The scouts seem to like Blake Treinen’s stuff while some Nats people seem intrigued by Koda Glover, who’s thought to have the right makeup for the job.

“In any case, this kind of closer roulette usually doesn’t work, and in the end they’ll probably need to pick up a bona fide closer.”

And Shawn Kelley? He’s made just three appearances in Grapefruit League action, but Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters today that the right-hander is “not hurt” and, as Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes wrote on Twitter, the Nationals are just “managing his workload.”

Heyman wrote today that, “Shawn Kelley [is] not considered a closer candidate due to two past Tommy John surgeries,” something that has come up before, with Baker even saying that while Kelley, “... seems the likely candidate,” the Nationals have to see if, “... his arm sustain or else we’ll be looking for somebody else and be without him too.”

Glover, who tossed another 1-2-3 frame this afternoon, has given up just one hit and a walk in six scoreless innings, striking out 10 batters while holding opposing hitters to a .053 AVG so far this Spring.

Treinen has thrown three scoreless, striking out six and he’s yet to give up a hit in his three innings of work.

Kelley has allowed four hits and one run in three innings, walking one and striking out three.

While they’re all competing for the role this Spring, Treinen told reporters, as quoted by WTOP’s Jonathan Warner, that they’re pulling for one another and willing to accept whatever decision the Nationals make.:

“We’re all cheering for each other,” said Treinen. “When our bullpen was healthy last year, it didn’t matter who was throwing in the ninth, didn’t matter who was throwing in the eighth. We had guys in the back of the bullpen that could do whatever role they needed to and that’s how it’s going to be this year.”

Baker said he and his coaches and catchers will discuss the options and make a decision before the start of the season, since he’s on record saying he doesn’t think a closer-by-committee approach can work.

Opening Day is just weeks away, so we should have more clarity on how the bullpen arms will line up in the near future...