It looks like the Washington Nationals are ready to roll the dice on yet another veteran bullpen arm this season...
According to Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post, the Nationals are nearing a minor league pact with veteran right-handed reliever Brad Boxberger.
Boxberger was recently released by the Kansas City Royals who signed him for $2.2 million this past offseason, hoping he would compete for the closer’s role with a view to potentially dealing him at the deadline for prospects.
It’s safe to say it didn’t go to plan. Boxberger ended his 29-game stint with the Royals with a 5.40 ERA, 4.66 FIP, and just 27 strikeouts compared to 17 walks in 26.2 innings.
The right-hander has had plenty of success in his major league career. He was one of the best relievers in baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015, making the All-Star team and finishing the year with a league-leading 41 saves.
He’s posted an impressive 12.1 K/9 between 2017 and 2018, even if the 4.03 ERA and 104 ERA+ do underwhelm slightly.
However, one of the primary reasons that Boxberger struggled seemed to be a slight loss in velocity. This season, according to FanGraphs, his fastball averaged just 90.2mph, down from the 91.4mph he posted last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Boxberger is just the latest in an ever-growing line of veteran arms that the Nats have taken a chance on in an attempt to add to an improving — but still lackluster — bullpen.
Some have worked out well so far, including Fernando Rodney and Javy Guerra. Others haven’t gone quite as well, with Dan Jennings already in and out of the door while the jury is still out whether Jonny Venters can recapture his youth.
At this point, it’s a low-cost flier that the Nationals may as well take to see if Boxberger can be the next Rodney. Plus, if he makes it to Player’s Weekend, prepare yourself for emojis...