There’s no shortage of advice for Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo when it comes to finding a high-end arm or two for the back of the Nats’ bullpen.
Following the NL-leading 13th blown save of the season for the National League East-leading Nationals on Thursday, skipper Dusty Baker reiterated his stance on adding bullpen arms when he was asked if his club was a reliever away from being a good team.
“We’re a really good team now,” Baker said, “but we still need some help.”
Trea Turner went on the DL with a fractured right wrist after Thursday’s game as well, but according to at least one report, from USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale, the Nationals believe he’ll be back before the final month of the season, so they haven’t added an infielder to their list of needs as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
The #Nats fully expect Trea Turner to return before end of August and have no present plans to acquire another shortstop.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 1, 2017
Having just lost Turner, however, MLB.com’s Richard Justice argued on Friday that now is the time to make a move to solidify the back of the bullpen.
“It wouldn't just ease the sting of losing one of baseball's best players for a couple of months. It would also change the narrative,” Justice wrote.
He also noted that the cost of acquiring the reliever the Nationals need will be steep.
“Let's be clear,” Justice wrote. “General manager Mike Rizzo will have to overpay -- and probably overpay significantly -- to acquire a proven closer.”
Will Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office be willing to part with their top pitching or fielding prospects, Victor Robles or Erick Fedde?
“Rizzo knows that's where discussions would begin,” Justice added, “... since the Royals and Rays are still very much in contention and unlikely to do anything that smacks of dismantling.”
White Sox’ GM Rick Hahn too, “... may be more inclined to deal,” but, “...he has given teams no indication he's ready, either.”
If Rizzo was listening to MLB Network Radio at all on Friday, he would have received plenty of advice.
Former Nationals’ GM Jim Bowden talked about going after Cincinnati Reds’ closer Raisel Iglesias, and said he would make a deal even if it cost the Nationals their top outfield prospect:
Iglesias is under a “tremendously club friendly deal” with the Reds, which is paying the reliever $3.5M this season, $4.5M in 2018 and $5M per in 2019 and 2020.
MLB Network Radio host Jim Duquette argued that it’s going to cost Robles, Fedde or another prospect like Juan Soto to get Iglesias, but with what the Nationals think is a potential future closer in the organization in Koda Glover, he said, paying that steep price for Iglesias doesn’t make sense.
He suggested that adding David Robertson, and adding a starter to the bullpen for the postseason would likely be enough to solidify the relief corps.
Washington should also get Glover, Shawn Kelley, and Sammy Solis back at some point in the second half, and they would give the Nats’ skipper other options.
Baker talked earlier this week about the possibility of getting relievers back from the DL and having to make some tough decisions in the bullpen, but he said everyone is well-aware of how things work when it comes to competition and roster management.
“They’re big boys,’ Baker said.
“They know. And they also know that I feel that competition is healthy sometimes, or most of the time. And also know that if you can’t handle competition sometimes to keep your job, then how are you going to compete against the opposition down the stretch.
“There’s competition in every job. There’s somebody graduating tomorrow that wants each one of your guy’s jobs in here, you know what I mean? And so it goes with part of being in the world. It’s just how it is. You wish you could keep everybody, you really do, because there are very few bad guys that you don’t want on your team, but you realize that you can’t, but you also have to realize that you’ve got to do the most with your opportunities that you have, and some of these guys have done that.”
Will the Nationals make the most of their opportunity this season by solidifying the back of the bullpen and preparing for another postseason run? They do have to win the division first, of course.