Washington Nationals Mailbag: Sean Doolittle talk and trade acquisitions
By Blake Finney
We take another mailbag of your questions about the Washington Nationals. In this edition, we look at Sean Doolittle and possible trade targets.
We’re back again answering your Washington Nationals questions in our third Monday Mailbag. The offseason got underway at 9am on Monday morning, free agents are now free to talk to other teams while the qualifying offer process starts.
Last offseason took a while to kick into gear, as lots of high-profile free agents didn’t sign until springtime. This offseason may well revert back to the normal with plenty of top-end talent on the market, and they should be heavily pursued this winter.
The only Nats player likely to receive a qualifying offer in the next few days is Bryce Harper, and he will almost certainly decline it. But the team also has an option decision to make with their closer in the coming days, which leads nicely to our first question.
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TemporarySoxFan (@Daschinster316): Do you think they’ll actually pay to keep Doolittle or let him go?
Quite frankly, it would be absolutely stunning if the Nationals didn’t pick up the team option they hold on Sean Doolittle. The team has options for $6 million in 2019 and $6.5 million in 2020, so expect to see confirmation of the team picking up the option in the next couple of days.
The left-hander wrapped up a season where he had a 1.60 ERA and recorded 25 saves in 26 opportunities. It’s fair to say he’s among the best closers in the game, so when you consider that Wade Davis got an annual average of $17.3 million last offseason, the options the team has over him are a bargain.
In theory, they could try to extend him after activating the option, and he would probably be open to staying in the long-term. However, that would be low on the priority list when Harper, and fixing their other needs come first when they don’t need to commit the money to him yet.
#8MoreFor34 (@scherzday): What potential trades could we see from the Nats and for whom?
As just about everything does this offseason, their trade targets are going to depend on the Bryce Harper situation. If they end up signing the outfielder to a mammoth contract, then they’ll have to address several needs via free agency, but if they miss out on Harper, they may look to free agency for some.
I think one need they’re going to have to target in a trade rather than in free agency is starting pitching. I get the sense that Mike Rizzo wants to add a pair of starting pitchers this offseason, so it’s entirely possible they grab one via free agency and one via trade.
In terms of names, we’ve looked at why Sonny Gray is a fit, but also the likes of Marcus Stroman, Michael Fulmer, and Kyle Gibson could make sense.
They could also be looking to trade for relief pitching, rather them spending on the likes of Andrew Miller and Craig Kimbrel who come with red flags. Raisel Iglesias is a name to keep an eye on there and is a personal favorite of mine who the Nats have had interest previously.
Check back in next week as we answer your questions around the Washington Nationals. The offseason officially starts today, so you’re bound to have plenty of questions for us.