Washington Nationals Editorial: Why The Nats Should Bring Back Craig Stammen


With the non-tender deadline being tonight at midnight, the Nats should bring Craig Stammen back to their bullpen for 2016.

One of the main plans this winter for the Washington Nationals and their front office is to fix the bullpen. There have been rumors about the team pursuing Darren O’Day in free agency or Aroldis Chapman via trade. Before those rumors heat up in Nashville next week at the Winter Meetings, today is another important day on the baseball calendar.

By 11:59 PM ET tonight, teams have to decide whether or not to tender contracts to players who are eligible for arbitration. Today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and MLB Network reported that the Nats have settled on a one-year contract for first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore:

Moore was one of those names on the bubble of receiving a deal from the Nats. The other player appears to be reliever Craig Stammen. Stammen underwent surgery last April to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm. It would depend on how his rehab is going, but if healthy, the Nats need to bring the veteran right-hander back.

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Through all of the bullpen’s struggles this season, Stammen was one of those relievers the team missed. He was that dependable reliever the team needed when they were using young pitchers such as Rafael Martin, Matt Grace, Blake Treinen, or Aaron Barrett, to name a few. While Washington needs to figure out who will close out games, they also need to figure out the bridge to those relievers.

Before this past season, the 31-year-old right-hander had appeared in 49 or more games each of the last three seasons. Even though his strikeouts per nine innings went down from 8.7 in 2013 to 6.9 in 2014, his walks per nine decreased from three to 1.7.

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According to MLB Trade Rumors, Stammen is projected to make $2.4 million if he does go to arbitration. If the club was able to avoid going to arbitration with Moore, they should be able to do so with Stammen, who could be one of the versatile pieces in their bullpen in 2016. However, it’s important to keep in mind the team went to arbitration with left-hander Jerry Blevins last season over a $200,000 difference.

Yes, Stammen does not blow people away with the fastball (average velocity of 91 miles per hour according to Fangraphs), but he does have the ability to keep opposing hitters from hitting the ball out of the park. His home run rate per nine innings has been less than one since his rookie season when he made 19 starts (2009).

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With the Washington Nationals looking to make changes to their bullpen, you will likely see a lot of new faces when the team opens the 2016 season. However, if he is healthy, Craig Stammen should be a part of this team’s bullpen when the team hits Spring Training in February.