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Washington Nationals Rumors: Nats express interest in Bud Norris

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Will the Nationals add free agent reliever Bud Norris to the bullpen mix?

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Davey Martinez believes the Washington Nationals’ bullpen will turn things around. He really does. He was also realistic when he spoke about the issues the Nats’ relievers have had over the first nine games of the 2019 campaign before last night’s series opener in Philadelphia.

“You need everyone in the bullpen,” Martinez said. “You can’t just rely on three or four guys in the bullpen. Everybody has got to be available and everybody has got to pitch. We’ve said that since Day 1, and they understand that. Like I’ve said before, they’re going to come around. The biggest thing for me is for them to just kind of relax, go out there, throw strikes, get ahead, and just get outs.

“You get outs, and that’s what we’re trying to ask them to do. Hey, just simplify everything and don’t worry about the moments, don’t worry about what’s transpiring, just get outs.”

The starting pitching has been solid early, but as Martinez put it, “... you don’t want to kill those guys neither.”

So will the Nationals, who are luxury-tax-threshold-conscious this year after going over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, add an arm to the bullpen mix when they’re close to the $206M threshold already?

According to Jon Heyman, they’re at least considering it...

Norris, 34, posted a 3.59 ERA, a 3.99 FIP, 21 walks (3.28 BB/9), 67 Ks (10.46 K/9), and earned 28 saves in 33 opportunities for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018.

He signed on with Toronto over the winter, on a deal that would have paid him $3M in the majors (with $1.5M in bonuses available), but the Blue Jays released the righty earlier this month when the two sides couldn’t agree on how to handle him after he signed on in mid-March. Long story short: Blue Jays wanted to wait to bring him up, Norris thought he was ready.

Would Norris make sense for the Nationals? They could slot him in as a 7th or 8th inning arm with Trevor Rosenthal, who was signed to set up in D.C., struggling to retire batters early this season. Rosenthal has yet to retire any of the nine hitters he’s faced, and Martinez talked to reporters before the series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday about using the veteran right-hander in low-leverage situations for now, so there is a need at the back end of the bullpen.

Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty too wrote on Twitter this morning that the Nats did in fact, reach out to Norris’s representatives: