Washington Nationals Trade Targets: Craig Kimbrel


The Washington Nationals approach the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline with a lineup riddled with injuries and a bench running out of options. While players like Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon returning off the Disabled List should help to solve this problem, there is nothing they can do to fix the struggling bullpen.

While late-inning pitching may be out of Werth or Rendon’s realm, this predicament is nothing President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo can’t handle. While Rizzo stated on MLB Network Radio last Wednesday, “there’s no trade I could make that could be as good as the guys we’re getting back [from the DL],” the need is clearly there.

More from Nationals News

The Nationals’ bullpen may not seem so bad with a collective 3.39 ERA, which ranks 12th in all of baseball. However, while their total production may be middle of the pack, only a few relievers been truly dominant, with many others playing, simply put, flat out horrible.

Closer Drew Storen ranks third in the National League with 29 saves, leading the Nats as one of the best relievers in the sport. After Storen, there isn’t much to boast about. Matt Thornton has been a reliable lefty specialist, but has struggled in the setup role on multiple occasions. Three of the relievers currently on the active roster have an ERA of 4.32 or higher. Blake Treinen (4.39 ERA in 32 appearances) was just demoted to triple-A Syracuse.

The addition of a dominant closer like Craig Kimbrel could be the final piece of the Nationals championship caliber roster. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Nats are among teams interested in the San Diego Padres’ closer, although no deal is appeared to be close. Heyman writes,

"“The Padres, in fact, suggested a return of shortstop Trea Turner in a potential package back from the Nats, according to sources, though word is the chances of that happening are somewhere between slim and none.” (h/t CBS Sports)"

Last night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network added more on the Nats’ pursuit of Craig Kimbrel and why a big deal for the bullpen could be on the way:

Kimbrel has been the best closer in all of baseball over the past five years. Since 2010, he has compiled more strikeouts (531) than any other reliever in the league. Among relievers with at least 119 strikeouts over that span, Kimbrel has the lowest ERA of any of them (1.59). The 2011 NL Rookie of the Year and four time All-Star is no stranger to the Nats, having spent five years with the Atlanta Braves prior to being traded to the Padres the day before Opening Day.

A union between Kimbrel and the Washington franchise would fortify the Nationals’ chances of bringing home a title. Not only would Nats fans be able to smugly laugh at the Braves faithful as Kimbrel closes out a D.C. win over their division rival, but he would provide stability in a ‘pen that has seriously needed it.

More from District on Deck