The Nationals’ bullpen is off to a dismal start to the season, with a collective 4.86 ERA through the season’s first three weeks. Blake Treinen has already been removed from the closer’s role, albeit with a relatively quick hook (he’s thrown just seven innings this year). Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley are presently sharing ninth-inning work, and they’re two of just three Nats relievers that have ERAs south of 5.00 to begin the year. (Matt Albers has not allowed a run in four innings.)
In light of those struggles, Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM reports that the Nats have “touched base” with multiple teams on their closers. Specifically, he cites a pair of names that are no stranger to trade rumors: David Robertson of the White Sox and Alex Colome of the Rays. However, Bowden adds that the Nats “aren’t even in the same ballpark” when it comes to the asking price on those players.
Robertson, 32, has allowed just one run through his first 6 2/3 innings this season and logged an impressive 12-to-3 K/BB ratio along the way. He’s earning $12MM this season (of which about $10.6MM remains) and will earn $13MM next year in the final season of a four-year, $46MM contract. The 28-year-old Colome, meanwhile, has yet to allow a run this year, though he’s curiously punched out just four hitters through nine innings after posting a gaudy 11.3 K/9 rate in a breakout 2016 campaign. He’s not yet arbitration eligible and can be controlled through the 2020 season, so it’s hardly surprising to hear that Tampa Bay’s asking price may be quite lofty.
As alternative options, Bowden lists Brandon Kintzler of the Twins, Brandon Maurer of the Padres and any of the Athletics’ late-inning arms, which include Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Santiago Casilla. It should be noted, though, that there’s no specific mention of trade talks with any of those clubs, so the suggestions seem fairly speculative in nature.
Furthermore, each of those names comes with a caveat. Kintzler’s experience as a closer is highly limited, and a year ago at this time he was in Triple-A after signing a minor league deal with Minnesota. As a free agent at season’s end, though, he’s a natural trade candidate. Maurer is controllable through 2019, which could create a significant asking price, and he hasn’t exactly established a track record of dominance himself. And when it comes to the A’s, Doolittle is on a terrific contract, while Madson’s three-year, $22MM looks to be an overpay. Casilla, meanwhile, can’t even be traded without his consent until June 15 given the fact that he only signed with Oakland as a free agent this past offseason (a two-year, $11MM deal).
The Nationals, according to Bowden, believe that the 24-year-old Glover can be their closer of the future, but there’s some question in the organization about whether it’s too early in his career to hand him the job. Glover has just 27 1/3 MLB innings under his belt and has been solid but not overpowering in that time; the former eighth-rounder has a 4.28 ERA, a 22-to-8 K/BB ratio and a 42 percent ground-ball rate in his young career.