The Nationals have agreed to sign left-handed reliever Tony Sipp to a one-year, $1.25 million deal, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Sipp, 35, had a 1.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings last season. Only four of the 37 runners he inherited scored and he held opposing hitters to a .200/.272/.311 line.
Of course, his 2017 season was a disaster (5.79 ERA, .507 slugging percentage allowed) and he wasn’t very good in 2016. He was awesome in 2015, though. It’s been a roller coaster.
If the Nationals get the good version of Sipp, it’s yet another under-the-radar move that beefs up their 2019 bullpen.
Right hander Trevor Rosenthal missed all of 2018 after having Tommy John surgery, but he’s back now and the Nats grabbed him on a one-year deal. Rosenthal is capable of hitting triple digits and before falling injured had pitched to a 0.52 ERA in his previous 15 outings in 2017 — with 28 strikeouts and just three walks in 17 1/3 innings. He was also one of the best closers in baseball in 2015.
As with Sipp, there’s possible downside in Rosenthal, but the upside is huge here.
Then there’s Kyle Barraclough. The Nationals got him for international bonus slot money in a trade with the Marlins last October. Barraclough was another buy-low acquisition, as he wasn’t very good in 2018. From 2015-17, though, Barraclough pitched to a 2.87 ERA (137 ERA+) with 219 strikeouts in 163 innings. He walks too many, but the ability to miss bats in a high volume makes the upside big here.
The Nationals had a lot of work to do in shoring up the bullpen in front of All-Star closer Sean Doolittle this offseason and general manager Mike Rizzo has landed three arms on the cheap that certainly carry possible pratfalls, but also some nice upside.