We knew this would be an issue. The Nats, loaded across the lineup and starting rotation, entered the season with a very thin pen, especially on the backend.
Blake Treinen was the closer initially, and he flamed out, as have Shawn Kelley and now Koda Glover in various ways. The team, nine games up but with a league-worst relief corps, turns yet again to Fat Matt Albers to smother the fire.
All of which is to say, as they were last year with Mark Melancon and in 2015 with Jonathan Papelbarf, Washington’s a prime player in the midseason market for relief pitching. Here’s who’s out there, according to Bob Nightengale’s list of 25 players who could move (I cherrypicked the relievers and included the Robertson blurb; click for the rest):
1. Closer David Robertson, Chicago White Sox: Remember when the White Sox were trying to almost give away Robertson all winter, and nearly traded him to the Nationals for 19-year-old left-hander Jesus Luzardo and minor-league infielder Drew Ward, while willing to eat nearly half of his contract? … He’ll definitely be gone by July 31.
11. Closer Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates
12. Reliever Brad Hand, San Diego Padres
15. Reliever Kelvin Herrera, Royals
18. Reliever Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies
21. Closer A.J. Ramos, Marlins
24. Reliever Ryan Madson, Oakland A’s
So those are seven guys who could help, and Robertson is the most obvious. He’s 32 and signed through 2018 on a four-year, $48 million deal. He’s also struck out 12.2 batters per nine IP while posting a 3.29 ERA and 1.09 WHIP since becoming a closer with the Yankees in 2014.
Chicago is in last place, losers of eight of their past 10. Make them happy.
According to people with knowledge of the situation, the Nats don’t have Robertson because, when an offseason trade was in place, the club’s ownership balked. The Nats don’t have Holland, the former closer for the Royals coming back from injury, because when a deal was in place, the Lerner family wouldn’t approve it. Holland now has a 1.14 ERA and has saved all 23 of his opportunities for Colorado, which leads the NL West.