The Washington Nationals had deals reportedly in place to trade for David Robertson and sign Greg Holland, but were vetoed by ownership.
That alleged bombshell came out Wednesday in a powerful column by The Washington Post’s Barry Svurlga reporting discontent by players, the nixing of a trade with the Chicago White Sox and passing on Greg Holland before he signed with the Colorado Rockies.
Amid a huge lead in the National League East, the signs are there that the clubhouse is turning unhappy. Knowing the Lerner family nixed two potential closers from joining the team will not help. Add Dusty Baker’s constant call for bullpen help and complaining over his future and this could get ugly fast.
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On Robertson and Holland, Svurlga wrote:
"But according to people with knowledge of the situation, the Nats don’t have David Robertson of the White Sox because, when an offseason trade was in place, the club’s ownership balked. The Nats don’t have Greg Holland, the former closer for the Royals coming back from injury, because when a deal was in place, the Lerner family wouldn’t approve it. Holland now has a 1.14 ERA and has saved all 23 of his opportunities for Colorado, which leads the NL West."
Until we know who was supposed to go back to the White Sox for Robertson, it is hard to get upset over this deal not happening. We do not know when the alleged deal was agreed too. Was this part of the package for Adam Eaton or Chris sale that did not happen? The cost of prospects might have been too much.
Not knowing the whole story, you cannot get upset with the Lerner’s on this. At least, yet.
Holland is another matter.
Coming off Tommy John surgery, Holland was hoping to close again. Effective with the Kansas City Royals during 2014, he hoped to earn his spot in the ninth elsewhere. A Scott Boras client, you would give decent odds the Nationals could sign him.
He wanted a possible two-year deal. He settled for one with a vesting option. Pitch so many innings and 2018 kicks in. A much friendlier team deal than Matt Wieters certain opt-out this fall. The Lerner’s passed.
The irony is the pressure to win now came from above. Yet, knowing they had no closer—and watching how important a good one is in winning a championship—they passed on signing Holland to fill the role.
Washington does not have unlimited money. A bad television deal struck when the team moved from Montreal into Baltimore Orioles territory handcuffed their flexibility. But, the Nats carry the highest payroll in the division. The San Diego Padres, they are not.
Starting with the Wieters deal—which has worked—to these reports, it makes you wonder how solid the relationship is between President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo and ownership. Closer was the biggest offseason need, and the Nats signed Joe Nathan for camp.
If you are going all out to win why would you skimp in the bullpen? That is the same as wrapping a filet mignon in turkey bacon.
The next six weeks are crucial. The Nats have no trade leverage and their dirty laundry is hitting the papers. A long, steamy summer awaits.