Washington Nationals quietly put together a very productive offseason

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Sep 28, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo addresses the media after the game between the Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo addresses the media after the game between the Washington Nationals and the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 13, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Trevor Gott (62) throws the ball in the sixth against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The The Astros won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Trevor Gott (62) throws the ball in the sixth against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The The Astros won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

3) Cleanup Duty: The Bullpen

There’s no doubt that the bullpen was the Nationals’ most glaring weakness in 2015. Apart from occasional bright moments from players like Matt Thornton, Blake Treinen and Felipe Rivero, the ‘pen was a disaster for most of the season and it was one of Rizzo’s most important tasks to address this winter.

Going into the offseason, many expected the Nationals to completely overhaul the bullpen that let them down in 2015. And three month into the offseason, that’s exactly what they’ve done.

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To fill the middle of the bullpen, the Nationals added proven relievers Shawn Kelley, Oliver Perez and Yusmeiro Petit.

In what is probably the most exciting bullpen move the team made this offseason, the Nationals also acquired Trevor Gott from the Angels in the Yunel Escobar trade. Gott saw success in his first big league season in 2015, going 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA, and should only get better as he gains more experience. The 23-year-old right-hander is under team control until 2022, giving the Nationals a powerful young bullpen option for years to come.

With these additions, the Nationals should be able to make up for the loss of veterans Craig Stammen, Thornton and Casey Janssen. Furthermore, the team will no longer have to rely solely on youngsters like Blake Treinen, Matt Grace and Felipe Rivero in high-pressure situations.

While the bullpen still has some weaknesses — the Drew Storen trade cost the Nationals one of their best late-inning relievers, for example — the ‘pen looks far better today than it did at the end of the 2015 season.

Next: 4) With Bulk of the Work Done, Some Questions Remain

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