Washington’s Nationals officially announced this afternoon that they signed right-hander Trevor Rosenthal to a one-year contract for 2019 with a conditional option for 2020.
Rosenthal, 28, missed the entire 2018 campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2017, after making 50 appearances for the St. Louis Cardinals, who drafted him out in the 21st Round of the 2009 Draft.
Rosenthal posted a 3.40 ERA and a 2.17 FIP in 2017, with 20 walks (3.78 BB/9), and 76 Ks (14.35 K/9), while holding opposing hitters to a combined .206/.294/.278 line in 47 2⁄3 IP, over which he earned 11 saves.
Nationals’ scouts were apparently comfortable enough with what they saw from Rosenthal in a showcase he threw in last month to make the offer to the reliever, which according to reports this week has a base of $6M in 2019 (+ a $1M buyout).
The conditional option in the deal can earn him, “$14M in 2019 with appearance incentives,” and he can earn, up to $40M total,” over the two years according to one report by Fancred’s Jon Heyman.
As the Nationals noted in the press release on the deal this afternoon, Rosenthal, “led Major League Baseball with 93 saves during the 2014 and 2015 seasons,” and, “broke the St. Louis Cardinals’ single-season save record in 2015 with 48 saves and in 2016,” and, “became the youngest pitcher in Cardinals’ history (8th-youngest in MLB history) to reach the 100-save mark at 25 years, 10 months and 22 days.”
Rosenthal has also appeared in 23 Postseason games with St. Louis between 2012-2015, posting a 0.69 ERA in 26 IP while earning seven saves.
“His 0.69 ERA is the second-lowest in Major League history among all pitchers with at least 20 Postseason appearances, while his 14.54 strikeouts per nine innings ranks first and his .165 opponent batting average ranks third.”
Rosenthal seems a likely fit for a set-up (or part-time/backup closer’s) role in the nation’s capital, with Sean Doolittle (whose $6M option for 2019 was exercised earlier this winter), expected to continue to serve as the main ninth-inning option.