Rumors: Washington Nationals Looking For Bullpen Help

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Sep 26, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Tommy Hunter (21) throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eight inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Tommy Hunter (21) throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eight inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Despite all of their acquisitions this offseason, the Nats are reportedly still looking to add to the bullpen

While all of the attention around the Washington Nationals lately has been their pursuit of free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the organization is also looking to improve the team. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network yesterday, Washington is still searching for more arms to add into their bullpen:

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This offseason, the Nationals have added Shawn Kelley, Oliver Perez, and Yusmeiro Petit to their bullpen via free agency and they acquired Trevor Gott from the Angels in the Yunel Escobar deal. However, there is a hole in the eighth inning with Drew Storen going to the Blue Jays in the deal for Ben Revere. Plus, there is still the question of whether or not Jonathan Papelbon will be in a Nats’ uniform when spring training begins next month.

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This week, there have been a couple relievers signed in free agency such as Fernando Rodney (San Diego Padres), Matt Albers (Chicago White Sox), and Antonio Bastardo (New York Mets). Even though most of the notable free agent relievers are off the board, there are still a couple names out there that the Nationals could add.

One name that stands out is a former National, Tyler Clippard. Clippard, who will be 31 on Valentine’s Day, was 5-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 69 games with the A’s and Mets last season. While his walks per nine innings went up from 2.9 in 2014 to 3.9 in 2015, he has proven to be durable considering he has pitched in 69+ games every season since 2010. Plus, he has closer experience if the Nationals do decide to part ways with Papelbon.

Another pitcher to keep an eye on is former Oriole, Tommy Hunter. Hunter, who will be 30 in July, was 4-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 58 games last season with the Orioles and Cubs. Hunter was dealt to Chicago at the deadline for Junior Lake, but he did not pitch in the postseason for Joe Maddon’s team. The right-hander has had a FIP of sub- four each of the last three seasons (3.83 in 2015). Hunter did have seven strikeouts per nine innings last season, which was the third highest total of his career.

Next: District Daily: What Should Be Expected From Nats' Rotation

All in all, Clippard and Hunter would be good fits for the Nationals if they can acquire them on one-year deals. Yes, the Nationals have upgraded their bullpen already this winter, but it remains to be seen whether Papelbon will be pitching in the ninth inning. I think it is more likely the Nats will look to the free agent market to find a reliever then trading for a closer such as Andrew Miller from the Yankees or Mark Melancon from the Pirates.

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