3:20pm: A source disputes the reporting from the Nationals’ perspective, per Chelsea Janes and Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post (Twitter links). The Washington organization does not have interest in Harvey and “seems unlikely” to be a real bidder on Iglesias, according to the WaPo duo. The Nats are said to have shown some interest in Iglesias as a reliever, but that came before they acquired Kelvin Herrera.
10:07am: The Nationals have been in touch with the Reds recently and are eyeing right-handers Matt Harvey and Raisel Iglesias, in particular, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link). Perhaps most interestingly, Heyman notes that several clubs are intrigued by the idea of using Iglesias as a starter.
Harvey, 29, has undeniably raised his stock since joining the Reds in a trade nearly two months ago in a trade that sent Devin Mesoraco to New York. Through 53 2/3 innings out of the Cincinnati rotation, he’s worked to a 3.86 ERA with 6.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 1.17 HR/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate. More encouraging than the bottom-line numbers is the fact that Harvey has steadily improved his velocity over the course of his tenure in Cincinnati; he’s averaged nearly 95 mph on his fastball over his past five starts and is averaging 94.2 mph on his heater as a Red after averaging 92.6 mph as a Met.
Harvey would be a pure rental for any team that acquires him, as he’s slated to hit free agency at season’s end. From the Nationals’ vantage point, though, it’s not clear he’d be a definitive upgrade over their in-house options. The Nats’ current top three of Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez is a strong trio, and while it’s not known exactly when Stephen Strasburg will rejoin the team, he did recently throw a bullpen session. If Strasburg’s absence proves to be lengthy, the need for a starter would be more pronounced. If he can return in the reasonably near future, though, it’s tougher to call Harvey a demonstrative upgrade over current fifth starter Jeremy Hellickson, who has turned in a perhaps surprisingly effective season to date (2.63 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 3.51 FIP, 3.55 xFIP through 48 innings).
As for Iglesias, he stands out as a reasonable target for virtually any team with postseason aspirations. The 28-year-old has stepped up as Cincinnati’s closer over the past two seasons and pitched quite well, regularly pitching more than an inning per appearance. Since Opening Day 2017, he’s pitched 112 2/3 innings (97 appearances) and posted a 2.48 ERA with 10.6 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 0.8 HR/9. Beyond that, he’s controlled for three more years after the 2018 season, making him a long-term piece for any club to add to its staff — be it in the bullpen or rotation.
The Nationals’ bullpen is much improved from a year ago, as they’ve since added Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler and Kelvin Herrera, to say nothing of the surprisingly dominant Justin Miller. But Iglesias would nonetheless further deepen an increasingly productive relief corps for manager Dave Martinez or, perhaps, serve as an upside play to plug into the fifth spot in the Washington rotation. If that proved to be a role in which he could thrive, he’d give the team a valuable option there with Gonzalez and Hellickson set to hit free agency at season’s end and Roark controlled only through 2019.