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The Nats Made A Very Big Deal

Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson are not very big names, but the Nats getting them from Oakland was a very big deal.

Washington has (had?) the worst bullpen in baseball, you see, despite leading the NL East by 9.5 games and playing to a 98-win pace. Each guy that they had lined up to pitch the 7th, 8th and 9th innings this year (Koda Glover, Shawn Kelley and Blake Treinen, respectively) has bottomed out.

So they sent Treinen and last year’s 2nd- and 3rd-round picks to the A’s to shore up the 8th and 9th. The takes, as they come in …

Nats Baseball (from last week, but still):

Doolittle is good, and he has been good … he’s under a real contract that will pay him real money. It’s only 2.7 mill this year, but it jumps up to 4.4 next and is in the 6 million range in 2019 and 2020. The good news for the Nats is 2019 is a team option, and 2020 might be (mutual if certain things hit). He’s had a little injury history but all in all everything here seems acceptable for how the Nats deal.

And a little more from Nats Baseball:

Madson is a great arm, even at 36, but to get him you have to swallow a nearly 8 million dollar salary next year (and whatever is left on this year). Even though the Nats have been paying more for middle relief that still seems high for them.

A lovely tidbit from Barry Svrluga:

“They bring with them WHIPs (walks and hits per inning pitched) that rank fourth and eighth among relievers in all of baseball (minimum: 20 innings pitched).”

Also from Barry, about the prospects the Nats sent to Oakland:

Left-hander Jesus Luzardo, just 19, might turn into something someday. The Nats very much liked his upside, but he is at rookie ball. Infielder Sheldon Neuse, a second-round pick last year, was playing well at low-Class A Hagerstown and may well hit at the major league level.

The additional salaries were another cost, but maybe that’s a good sign. From Nats Blog:

“The Lerners finally ponied up. They’ve famously resisted adding salary at the trade deadline (going so far as to make the Phillies pay down Jonathan Papelbon’s contract) and in paying relievers (they reportedly sunk deals with Greg Holland and David Robertson, two of the league’s best closers this year, over salary concerns).”

The Comeback on the right-handed Madson and left-handed Doolittle as closers:

“In 2011, Madson saved 32 games for the Phillies, while striking out 62 batters in 60.1 innings. He underwent Tommy John surgery in Spring 2012 and was out of baseball until 2015 when he signed with the Royals. After showing he could be an effective late-inning reliever again, Madson signed a three-year deal with the A’s and racked up 30 saves for them last season …

Doolittle also has closing experience, having saved 22 games (with 89 strikeouts in 62.2 innings) in 2014. He underwent shoulder surgery the following season, but has been a reliable reliever for Oakland during the past two seasons.”

And the downside of these two, from Fangraphs:

“Madson might be over-performing. With Doolittle, the stats are terrific, but in the last two and a half seasons, he’s had four separate stints on the disabled list, with shoulder problems.”

It’s unclear which will close, and the Nats may not be done yet. From Nats Journal:

“White Sox closer David Robertson is still available, though he might be too expensive now that the Nationals have taken on considerable money with Doolittle and Madson. Pat Neshek, Brad Hand, Justin Wilson and A.J. Ramos remain obtainable, too.”

Bonus: Doolittle’s Twitter handle is @whatwouldDOOdo. Heh. He’s a good follow, too.


Triple-bonus: We went deeper on the deal in podcast form …

D.C. sports fan and digital media guy that's been doing this since 2004. Once threw a football further than Chris Cooley.

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