The Washington Nationals currently have a need for another late-inning reliever. If they elect to fill it via free agency, Bryan Shaw could be a great fit.
The Washington Nationals had one of the best bullpens in the league in the second half of 2017, anchored by mid-season acquisitions Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson, and Sean Doolittle. Unfortunately, Kintzler is now a free agent and may play elsewhere in 2018.
If Kintzler departs in free agency, the Nats will have a need for another late-inning reliever. Koda Glover is an excellent young reliever with endless potential, but he cannot be relied upon due to his inability to remain healthy.
If the Nats elect to fill their need through free agency, Bryan Shaw could be a great fit. Shaw, a 30-year-old reliever, has spent the last five seasons with the Cleveland Indians, but is now a free agent.
With the Indians, Shaw was among the most reliable relievers in the league. Over the last five seasons, he has made 378 appearances, which is more than any other reliever. He has also produced great results. Throughout his seven-year career, he has pitched to a solid 3.13 ERA. He had a career-high ERA in 2017, but even that was just 3.52.
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If the Nats sign Shaw, he could be an enormous asset on several levels. His exceptional durability would be a welcome addition to a team who consistently suffers countless injuries. Shaw has never been placed on the disabled list, which could be beneficial for the Nats.
Several of the Nats’ top relievers, Doolittle, Madson, Glover, and Shawn Kelley, have been extremely injury-prone in the past. If they are unable to remain healthy moving forward, it would be nice to have Shaw, who has never spent any time on the disabled list.
Shaw could also provide a great veteran presence for the Nats’ younger relievers. Glover, Enny Romero, and Wander Suero are all in the early stages of their careers, and could use as much veteran leadership as possible. Being able to pick Shaw’s brain in the bullpen could be beneficial for the three moving forward.
In addition to general major league experience, Shaw provides lots of postseason experience. Throughout his career, he has pitched to a 2.45 ERA in 19 postseason games, including a trip to the World Series in 2016. For a team who has yet to advance past the National League Division Series, this could prove to be a tremendous asset.
If Shaw signs with the Nats, he would likely fill the seventh inning role that belonged to Kintzler in 2017. With a big three of Shaw, Madson, and Doolittle pitching the seventh, eighth, and ninth, and Glover, Romero, and Sammy Solis setting them up, any lead would appear to be safe.
Shaw is reportedly seeking a multi-year deal, and he will likely get it. According to Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com, two teams have already offered him contracts of at least three years. The Mets are also believed to be one of the two teams, so the Nats could potentially sign him to keep him from them, or at least negotiate to drive up his price.
The Nats’ bullpen was a disaster in the first half of 2017, which made winning much more difficult. This was an absolute nightmare, and the Nats must learn from it. Now that Kintzler is a free agent, they should consider signing Bryan Shaw to ensure the bullpen remains a strength in 2018.