Washington Nationals could make blockbuster trade with Rays

The Washington Nationals are currently in need of a starting pitcher and a late-inning reliever. They could acquire both of these in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.

As things currently stand, the Washington Nationals have one of the most complete rosters in the league. That is not to say they do not have any holes, because they certainly do, but those can be addressed throughout the off-season.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times recently reported that the Rays are likely to trade Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome, and both players could fit the Nats’ needs, considering two of their most notable needs are in the starting rotation and relief corps.

Joe Ross could potentially miss the entire 2018 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery last Summer, creating a need for a fifth starter. There are several free agent starting pitchers the Nats could covet, including Alex Cobb, Jake Arrieta, and Yu Darvish, but their best bet may be to acquire a starter via trade. One of the most intriguing trade candidates is Odorizzi, who appears to be a fit.

Odorizzi, a 27-year-old starting pitcher, is coming off of an injury-plagued season in which he struggled a bit. In 143.1 innings, he pitched to a 4.14 ERA. 2017 was not a terrible season for Odorizzi by any stretch, but it was not up to the standards he set over the previous couple seasons.

Throughout Odorizzi’s first six seasons in the majors, he has pitched to a solid 3.83 ERA. To make this even more impressive, all but two of his major league appearances have come while pitching for the Rays, who play in the juggernaut American League East.

Odorizzi is also extremely affordable, which would give the Nats a bit of financial flexibility. He is arbitration-eligible for 2018 and 2019, but he made $4.1 million in 2017. In today’s game, this is pocket change for a starting pitcher.

A move to the National League could also be beneficial for Odorizzi. As we have seen in the past, pitchers typically improve after moving from the American League to the National League. The American League East is especially difficult to pitch in, so Odorizzi could be in for a vast improvement.

Colome could also be extremely beneficial to the Nats. The 28-year-old closer is coming off of a tremendous 2017 season in which he led the MLB in saves with 47. He has been absolutely dominant over the last few seasons, mostly thanks to his cutter, resembling that of Mariano Rivera.

Amazingly enough, Colome made less than $1 million last year. 2017 was his final pre-arbitration season, and he made $547,900. This is extremely affordable in today’s game, especially for a closer of his caliber.

To put things in perspective, Colome was paid about $11,000 per save, while Craig Kimbrel was paid about $379,000 per save. In other words, Kimbrel nearly made Colome’s entire 2017 salary for each save.

The Nats currently have Sean Doolittle penciled in at closer, so Colome would not be guaranteed the closer’s role in DC. However, it may be difficult to convert the MLB-leader in saves to a mere set-up role.

If the Nats swing a trade for Odorizzi and Colome, they will kill two birds with one stone, acquiring both a starting pitcher and a late-inning reliever at a one-stop shop. The price would likely be hefty, especially considering what Colome accomplished in 2017, but it may be worth it for a team going all in for 2018.

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Could we see Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome donning the curly W in 2018? It certainly appears to be a possibility.

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