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OPINION: Washington Nationals should take a flier on Archie Bradley...

A flier implies cheapness. Archie Bradley isn’t cheap, but the Washington Nationals should take a “flier” on him, nonetheless.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Earlier in the week, the Cincinnati Reds non-tendered relief pitcher Archie Bradley, formerly of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article outlining potential bullpen help for the Washington Nationals — a unit that finished with the eighth worst relief ERA in the bigs at 4.68.

One strong candidate was Trevor May, who’s now off the board and has joined the Nats’ division rival, the New York Mets. May and the Mets worked out a 2-year/$15 million deal.

If the Nationals had any plans to focus on May, they’ll have to shift their attention elsewhere.

While Brad Hand remains an interesting target, it should be Bradley the Nationals focus on to shore up bullpen woes.

Over 16 games a season ago, Bradley had a 2.95 ERA (2.59 FIP) and a 1.09 WHIP.

The two years prior, he controlled a solid mid-3.00’s in ERA, with his FIP suggesting he was performing about as expected.

But in 2017, Bradley had a rockstar 1.73 ERA (2.61 FIP), making him a strong option to bolster the backend of the bullpen.

Bradley will turn 29 in August of next season, so it’s hard to say whether or not he could regain his 2017 form, but he managed to still put up solid numbers, even in the turbulent and trying COVID year of 2020.

His 2020 arbitration-settled contract called for over $4 million, so the Nationals should expect to pay more than that this time around. In all likelihood, offering a deal to Bradley would still be cheaper than going after Hand, whose $10 million tag didn’t garner interest from any of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams.

While Bradley wouldn’t fill the need for a lefty reliever, he could possibly do a lot to help a struggling relief corps.

If the Nationals are intent on figuring out the lefty dilemma, the newly non-tendered Chasen Shreve just entered the market after the Mets decided to part ways with him. Shreve would be quite affordable, as his 2020 salary was set to be $1.5 million before it was pro-rated.

Even if Washington wanted to pay him that amount, it wouldn’t break the bank.

In 2020, Shreve had a 3.96 ERA (3.99 FIP). That output has been consistent the last few years, with the exception of 2019 when he only pitched in two innings for the Cardinals.

While I liked May’s output more than Bradley’s, the latter is the more affordable option in the end, anyway. If May’s making $7.5 million per year, then anything under $7 million per year to Bradley is something the Nats’ front office needs to carefully consider, particularly if they can remain in the 2-year, $5-$6 million per year range. But if additions to the club are meant to be financially strict, then Shreve might be worth giving a go.

Either way, if the Nationals want to compete, one of their many problems that needs addressed is the bullpen. A bad bullpen results in a lot of heartache. Just ask the Phillies.