Over the weekend, Washington’s Nationals officially announced that 28-year-old veteran Trevor Rosenthal had agreed to what is reportedly a 1-year/$7M contract for 2019, which includes a conditional option for 2020.
According to information collected by Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Rosenthal’s deal pays him $6M in 2019 with a $14M player option for the 2020 campaign or a $1M buyout.
The player option for the 2020 season, is “... guaranteed with 50 games pitched or 30 games finished in 2019.”
With performance bonuses in the deal, Rosenthal could, according to reports, earn up to $28-30M over the next two seasons.
Rosenthal, who underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2017, and missed the entire 2018 season, posted a 3.40 ERA and a 2.17 FIP before the injury, with 20 walks (3.78 BB/9), and 76 Ks (14.35 K/9), holding hitters to a .206/.294/.278 line in 47 2⁄3 innings pitched, and earning 11 saves for the St. Louis Cardinals, who selected him in the 21st Round of the 2009 Draft.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Derrick Goold wrote late last month that Rosenthal expected to sign quickly after he impressed in a showcase attended by 40+ scouts.
“About 40 scouts attended Rosenthal’s 36-pitch showcase in the Los Angeles area, and they saw the Cardinals’ former All-Star closer touch 98 mph with his fastball and sit in the high 80s with his slider and changeup.”
That workout/showcase was another step in a long road back for the six-year veteran.
“I was cleared by the doctor to continue baseball activities and that’s when we looked at scheduling the workout for teams and went out to UC Irvine in California and had that workout and it went really well and it was really just kind of an extension of what I had already been doing,” Rosenthal explained in a conference call with reporters this morning.
“I showed up and just did my normal workout routine that I had been doing over the previous three months except for — I faced hitters and had a catcher and threw two innings, I think, maybe 35 pitches, but it’s gone really well though.”
“The whole process has been very smooth, no hiccups,” Rosenthal added. “I felt really good the whole time, almost too good, especially there after the  All-Star Break, and I was kind of anxious, thinking that I might be able to pitch before the season was over, but the plan all along from my doctor was just to take this year off, so we stuck with that plan and did the workout and we’re at where we’re at today now.”
With the response he received after the workout, Rosenthal said, he wasn’t surprised that a deal with the Nationals happened so quickly.
“I think I had a feeling things would progress quickly,” he said. “We received a lot of calls early in the Spring and then quite a few calls right around the trade deadline and we just kept relaying the information to teams that we were waiting until I was fully healthy and cleared by the doctor, and then after the workout even, we had a really good showing from all 30 teams, and it wasn’t but a few hours after we were done that people were already calling and wanting to progress conversations.
“I felt really good about it then, but definitely even better now having something already finished and being with Washington — it was a place that I played at a bunch with St. Louis and always really enjoyed the park and playing against the Nationals’ organization, always admired a lot of players that they had and the success that they’ve had over the years, and then also the city, being in the nation’s capital was always a fun time for me and my wife and we enjoyed traveling there, and so I’m excited to be a part of it now and looking at D.C., it seems like a really good sports town as well, so I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.”
With the Nationals, Rosenthal will be reuniting with former Cardinals’ pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, who signed on with Washington last winter after 16 years with St. Louis, one year as the Cards’ bullpen coach (2011) and five-plus seasons as their pitching coach (2012-17).
“We have a great relationship with Lilly,” Rosenthal said.
“I was in contact with him even through the course of the last offseason and just what they were doing with their staff and what their needs were and we always liked the possibility of potentially being back together, so I’m definitely, it’s definitely going to be nice going into a new place to have a familiar face, and especially in that role, where he’s worked with me and he knows what I’m capable of, and he knows the things we’ve worked on in the past, and stuff that can help me to be the best that I can be, and so that’s definitely something that I think will work to our advantage.”
Rosenthal hasn’t, however, really discussed what his role will be, with the Nats exercising an option for closer Sean Doolittle to bring the left-hander back in the role he’s filled since he was acquired from the Oakland A’s in 2017.
“I haven’t really had too many conversations,” Rosenthal said, “... obviously I think the plan is just being in high-leverage situations, and hopefully as a team we’re winning a lot of games and we have a lot of those opportunities going around, but for me it’s not something where I need to know exactly what my role has to be. It’s something that I’m used to.
“In the past, I’ve done it both ways,” he added, “I’ve done it to where I just go in and I’m just going to take care of business and do my best, and usually everything shakes out the way it should and we win a lot of games.”
“I’m just really looking forward to seeing what happens and like I said, if we’re winning a lot of games, and we have a lot of opportunities as a team to finishing things out it’s going to be really enjoyable for everybody.”