Washington Nationals: Pass on Tony Watson

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 14: Tony Watson
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 14: Tony Watson /

Although Tony Watson would be a valuable bullpen asset somewhere, the Washington Nationals should not bite as they search for help.

The Washington Nationals face a key decision as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. Are they content with the bullpen now after trading for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle or will they nab another closer?

Without a true ace closer on the market, the move to nab Oakland’s duo is a good move. But any trades to come are to strengthen their chances for October. Because the marquee names are missing, the Nats are looking at all options.

This includes Pittsburgh Pirates lefty and current closer Tony Watson. Spending his entire seven-year major-league career with the Pirates, his greatest success came from setting up during Pittsburgh’s Wild Card years.

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With 15 saves on his stat page this year, naturally Washington is interested. A deeper look suggests they should pass.

For starters, Watson is a pure rental. His $5.6 million deal runs out when the season is over. Unless he turns into Aroldis Chapman, this is not someone you want to invest big closer money into.

But, as with Felipe Rivero for Mark Melancon last year, the cost of getting Watson is probably not high. Along with the current Nats pen, he can be mixed and matched as needed.

Overall, the numbers are below average. Watson sports a 3.50 ERA with a WHIP of 1.489. His 6.6 K/9 is a career low while the 2.5 BB/9 is his average. Unlike in the past where he baffled hitters, the National League has solved him. In 43.2 innings, he surrendered 53 hits. Already one more than last year spread over 67.2 frames.

Balls have a hard time staying in the yard too. Seven homers so far this year on top of 2016’s ten. His Fielding Independent Pitching ERA, or FIP, of 4.78 is by far the highest of his career. Those numbers suggest a player the Nats would trade away, not get to win a World Series.

As the Pirates remain in the tick of the race for the NL Central, it is not clear they will be sellers as the end of July approaches. If they have no use for him, a prospect is better than straight loss to free agency. After letting Melancon walk, it is not in Washington’s best interests to repeat that mistake.

As Koda Glover rehabs, along with the new pitchers already in place, a trade for Watson solves nothing. The Nats have plenty of left-handed relievers. Doolittle can close, although not back-to-back games, while Madson, Matt Grace and Matt Albers have filled in too.

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If Justin Wilson or Raisel Iglesias talks become serious then sure. Watson is not on that level. Pass.