Washington Nationals’ General Manager Mike Rizzo told reporters earlier this winter that when the opportunity to acquire reliever Kyle Barraclough arose in October, he moved quickly to get the hard-throwing righty in a deal that sent international slot value to the Miami Marlins.
“We took advantage of —” Rizzo began in an interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies.
“Miami was trying to come up with some international spending money to do what they’re trying to do, and we thought it was a good value for Barraclough who — his stuff is terrific, has had some early success in the big leagues, struggled a little bit in the second half of last year, but we’ve seen enough of him up close and personal to know what his capabilities are.”
Overall in 2018, his fourth season in the majors, Barraclough, 28, put up a 4.20 ERA, a 4.98 FIP, 34 walks (5.50 BB/9), 60 Ks (9.70 K/9), and a .194/.325/.350 line against in 55 2⁄3 innings (.172/.308/.299 vs lefties; .215/.341/.396 vs righties), though, as Rizzo mentioned, he had a rough second half (13.50 ERA, 9.24 FIP, 7.43 BB/9, 8.78 K/9, .367/.486/.667 line against in 13 1⁄3 IP) after a dominant pre-All Star Break run (1.28 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 4.89 BB/9, 9.99 K/9, and a .126/.254/.217 line against in 42 1⁄3 IP).
During a particularly tough stretch in July/August, which saw him give up 14 hits and 14 runs over 5 2⁄3 IP, Barraclough talked to reporters, including Miami Herald writer Clark Spencer as he tried to figure out what was going wrong, especially coming after a strong June in which he threw 12 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit.
“It just seems like anything that could go wrong is going wrong and I’m compounding that with not throwing strikes, not working ahead,” Barraclough explained.
“So it’s kind of been the perfect storm in a bad way. As good as June was in a good way, this has been the bad way it can go.
It seems like it flipped overnight and now it’s spiraled and I’m trying to correct direction.”
In attempting to boil it down, Barraclough said it was about throwing strikes and command of his fastball.
“It’s always been my problem over the course of my career,” he said. “When I get ahead of guys, I have no problem. When I fall behind, that’s when issues pop up.”
Nationals’ Manager Davey Martinez told reporters at Winterfest in December that he talked to the right-hander, and the reliever was eager to get back on the mound in 2019.
“Barraclough, he’s another beast,” Martinez said as he discussed adding Trevor Rosenthal and Barraclough to the bullpen.
“[Barraclough] works out like a madman, he’s strong, and he’s itching to get back.”
He’s also apparently willing to argue for what he believes he’s worth too.
Barraclough was one of two players (along with outfielder Michael A. Taylor) to fail to reach an agreement with the Nationals this winter, so he’s set to go to arbitration looking for $2M while the team offered a raise to $1.725M from the $1.113M he earned in 2018. Taylor lost his case last week, leaving Washington 7-3 overall in arbitration cases since 2005. Think there’s any chance Barraclough comes out out top after his up and down 2018?