If the Washington Nationals want to add another starter, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jake Odorizzi is worth a closer look. Would the Rays demand too much?
Among the many things possibly keeping worried Washington Nationals fans up at night is the lack of major-league-ready depth for starting pitching if someone gets hurt.
Although the Nats can boast Gio Gonzalez as perhaps the best fifth-starter in the business, the cupboard behind him is thin. A.J. Cole did not impress last year while Austin Voth and Erick Fedde are not ready for the show.
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A team now in the middle of a perpetual rebuild, Tampa is listening to offers for pretty much any player not tied to that carpet at Tropicana Field. Alex Colome, the closer, and Chris Archer draw interest, but the cost of prospects is too high.
What about Jake Odorizzi?
Yes, any deal for him would cost decent prospects. Sure, if the Adam Eaton trade had not happened, Washington would still have Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. They are now with the Chicago White Sox and the Nationals offense is better.
What makes Odorizzi an interesting person of interest is he has three seasons left of team control. You could easily pencil him into the rotation through the end of the decade and be comfortable.
In 96 career starts with the Rays, he has a WHIP of 1.208, gets you around six innings a start and a 3.73 ERA. If you adjust it to league and ballpark, it comes to 101 or slightly above average. He is homer prone, surrendering 29 last year. His career record is 30-30, but his control is good and pitched on bad teams.
Any trade, of course, depends on what prospects the Rays want. Odorizzi is cheap dollar-wise, but not worth a Voth, Feddie or Victor Robles. Tampa is never interested in taking on any salary, so Washington will not dump any money.
If the Nats stumble early, or the bullpen blows a few games, chatter about Colome will start again. Being the aggressor, Tampa’s price for the closer goes up on every blown Washington save. The smart money may be on Odorizzi.
He does not fix the hole on the back end, but he would buy time for the prospects to develop and give the big club insurance if something goes wrong on the injury front.
You can never have enough pitching, especially starters. Unlikely to happen, but worth a look.