Towards the end of his comments about the Washington Nationals’ bullpen continuing bullpen woes this past Sunday, Dusty Baker explained that it wasn’t as easy as wanting or needing a new reliever to close out games and going out and getting one just six-plus weeks into the season.
“You’re always pushing for a trade, but ain’t nobody trading right now,” Baker opined.
“Sometimes you have no choice but to have patience. Nobody is going to drop you down a knock down closer out of the sky until there are some teams out of it.
“We have to look within right now. People know when you’re in need and when they know you’re in need then they have to rob you of your system.”
Rather than trade a prospect or two or three to fill a need at the major league level, it looks like the Nationals might try converting one of their top prospects into a reliever.
Reports tonight, including the initial one from Tim Murray (of SB Nation Radio/WTOP Sports) noted that the Nationals’ top pitching prospect, Erick Fedde, was not going to make his scheduled start tomorrow night, but would instead work out of the bullpen tonight with the Nats’ Double-A affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators.
Subsequent reports, from beat writers covering the major league squad, say that the Nationals are going to look at Fedde as a reliever and possible bullpen option.
The Nationals plan to move top pitching prospect Erick Fedde to a bullpen role, at least for this season, according to person familiar.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) May 16, 2017
The Nats still believe Fedde will be a starter long-term, but figure they can control his innings for now, while maybe addressing ML need.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) May 16, 2017
#Nats have no immediate plan to call up Fedde, but they are going to give him a serious look as a reliever, given current need.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) May 16, 2017
Fedde, 24, is the 2014 Nationals’ first-round pick out of UNLV, taken 18th overall in spite of the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery shortly before the draft.
In seven starts and 42 2⁄3 IP at Double-A this season, the hard-throwing right-hander was (2-3) with a 3.16 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 14 walks (2.95 BB/9) and 35 Ks (7.38 K/9).
If the Nationals can solve their bullpen issues from within and avoid further depleting the farm system, after this winter’s 3-for-1 trade with the White Sox, which sent top prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 1st Round pick Dane Dunning to Chicago in return for Adam Eaton, that would be one ideal solution to their bullpen issues, though they may still need more help.
Fedde became the de facto top pitching prospect in the system after the Eaton deal, and the righty impressed Dusty Baker in Spring Training.
“He’s one of the guys at the very top of the list in case something happens, or just through natural progression of pitching,” Baker told reporters, as quoted by Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post this Spring.
Could he be part of the solution to the major league pen’s so-far-season-long issues?