The Nationals have shown interest in Phillies righty Pat Neshek, reports FOX’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Other clubs are interested in the veteran setup man as well, he notes, which comes as little surprise given Neshek’s affordable salary and strong work thus far in 2017.
Indeed, the 36-year-old Neshek has been nothing short of exceptional for the Phillies since being acquired in an offseason swap with Houston. Through 28 innings out of manager Pete Mackanin’s bullpen, the side-armer has worked to a minuscule 0.64 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent ground-ball rate. Though he’s had issues against left-handed batters in recent years, Neshek has held them to a mere .163/.205/.244 slash through an admittedly small sample of 45 batters faced in 2017. He’s had some good fortune on balls in play against lefties, but he’s also significantly dipped his walk rate against hitters that hold the platoon advantage.
Neshek is earning $6.5MM in 2017, and he’s still owed roughly $3.6MM of that sum through season’s end. While trades between division rivals aren’t especially common and are often trickier to work out, Neshek’s status as a rental likely makes it a bit easier for the two sides to align. And, it should of course be noted that the Nats and Phillies have lined up on trades in the past, with Philadelphia recently trading Jonathan Papelbon to Washington in a 2015 swap that netted the Phils right-hander Nick Pivetta.
Much of the focus on the Nationals has been on their need for an established closer, but in reality the team could benefit simply from adding multiple quality relievers. While names like David Robertson, Alex Colome and AJ Ramos may well be kicked around in connection with Washington, the Nats have seen what were perhaps projected as their top four arms — Blake Treinen, Koda Glover, Shawn Kelley and Joe Blanton — each post an ERA north of 5.00 this season. Deepening the relief corps as a whole, and not merely fortifying the ninth inning, figures to be the priority for the Nationals over the summer.