The Nationals, Phillies, Cubs, Mariners and Rangers are all interested in free agent reliever J.P. Howell, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Howell said last month that "a handful" of teams were pursuing him, and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times speculated that the Angels could be one of those suitors. The Brewers were also known to be looking for left-handed relief help, though Howell was not one of the names recently mentioned as targets by Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin.
Howell posted strong numbers out of the Rays' bullpen in 2008-09 before missing the entire 2010 season due to shoulder surgery and struggling to a 6.16 ERA in 30 2/3 innings in 2011. The southpaw returned to form in 2012, however, posting a 3.04 ERA, 1.91 K/BB ratio, 7.5 K/9 rate and 48.9% groundball rate, though some advanced metrics (4.78 FIP and a .250 BABIP) indicate that Howell benefited from some good fortune.
The Legacy Sports Group client has held left-handed batters to a .675 OPS in his career, topping that mark in 2012 when lefty hitters managed only a .200/.306/.306 slash line.