Here’s a roundup of some bullpen-related rumors about teams who may be looking to add, subtract or stand pat in regards to their relief corps…
- The Nationals, Giants and Rangers are the three teams “poised to be most aggressive in pursuit of late-inning relief help” in the opinion of rival evaluators, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (subscription required). The latter two clubs aren’t a surprise given how injuries and ineffectiveness have hampered both the San Francisco and Texas bullpens, but the Nats entered today with the fourth-lowest bullpen ERA (3.15) of any club in baseball. Despite good results overall, closer Jonathan Papelbon has outperformed his peripheral stats and seen a velocity drop, so Washington could be looking to make a midseason closer addition for the second straight year. All three teams have been linked to Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller if and when the Yankees make their star relievers available.
- Brewers relievers Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith are getting a lot of attention from scouts, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link). Jeffress was recently ranked by MLBTR’s Jeff Todd as one of the top 20 trade candidates leading up to the deadline, as the righty has performed quite well as Milwaukee’s closer. It was an injury to Smith that opened the door for Jeffress to take over the ninth-inning role, and Smith has pitched well himself in 17 innings since returning from the DL.
- The Cubs have been heavily connected to bullpen trade rumors, though they could potentially receive help from within if veteran Joe Nathan is able to regain any of his old form, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney writes. Nathan signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in May as the 41-year-old looks to return from the second Tommy John surgery of his career. Mooney and Cubs skipper Joe Maddon both provide some detail on Nathan’s promising appearances over six games for Chicago’s Double-A affiliate. Nathan struggled in 2014 and missed virtually all of 2015, of course, so you would think the Cubs would look for a more solid relief option even if Nathan does look good.