Washington Nationals: Super-bullpen possibly in the works


Although the Washington Nationals already have a solid bullpen, they are reportedly interested in adding another reliever. Could they build a super-bullpen?

Despite the fact that the Washington Nationals have won the second-most regular season games since 2012, their relieving corps have typically struggled early in the season, which has been their undoing at times.

However, their 2018 bullpen is solid as things currently stand. Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler form an elite trio in the back of the ‘pen, while Koda Glover, Sammy Solis, Enny Romero, and Shawn Kelley hold things down in the middle innings.

The Nats do not need to add to their bullpen, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that they are at least kicking the tires on a few free agent late-inning relievers.

The first reliever that Heyman mentioned is former Cubs closer Wade Davis. However, shortly after the report, Davis signed a lucrative deal with the Rockies.

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The other closer-type that Heyman mentioned is Greg Holland. Holland, a 32-year-old reliever, makes some sense, but the Nats should proceed with caution.

Holland is coming off of a great season as the Rockies’ closer, pitching to a 3.61 ERA while converting 41 of 45 save opportunities. He also dealt with a couple major obstacles, which makes his season even more impressive.

After the 2015 season, Holland underwent Tommy John Surgery, which forced him to miss all of 2016. Therefore, 2017 was his first season back, and he pitched tremendously.

Another major obstacle that Holland faced was the fact that he pitched for the Rockies. Coors Field is the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the league, which makes life extremely difficult for Rockies pitchers. Countless pitchers have had their careers ruined by pitching for the Rockies, but Holland overcame the Coors Field demons.

However, Holland may not be the Nats’ best option. Because he underwent Tommy John Surgery, he is more vulnerable to future arm injuries. At 32, he is also on the wrong side of 30, which could contribute to his vulnerability to arm injuries and decline.

Holland will also demand an enormous contract. Davis, also 32, reportedly signed the most lucrative contract ever given to a reliever. He will be paid $52 million over three years, good for about $17 million per season.

After making $13 million in 2017, Holland declined his $15 million option for 2018. Now, he will likely seek a deal similar to Davis’. Considering the several risks that come with signing Holland, he is not worth what he will demand.

The third reliever that Heyman mentioned as a possibility is Addison Reed. The 29-year-old right-hander is coming off of a solid season spent with the Mets and Red Sox.

In 77 games, Reed pitched to a 2.84 ERA, which is outstanding. His 77 appearances were also third-most in the MLB, behind only Peter Moylan and Bryan Shaw.

With 157 appearances over the last two years, Reed has established himself as one of the most durable relievers in the league. This would be a welcome addition for the Nats, who deal with seemingly countless injuries, but it could also come back to bite them.

157 appearances over two seasons is nearly unheard of nowadays, and it was likely very taxing on Reed’s arm. Because of this, he could be exceptionally vulnerable to arm injuries or a sharp decline.

Between Holland and Reed, Reed is likely the safer bet and will come much cheaper. However, late-inning relievers have been making out like bandits all off-season, so neither will come cheap.

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Since the Nats already have a solid bullpen, they should steer clear of Holland and Reed. If they are interested in adding one more reliever, re-signing Matt Albers could be a great option.