As expected, the Washington Nationals added to their bullpen prior to Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. In fact, it qualifies as a bullpen overhaul more than a few additions. Here are the team’s trade deadline bullpen moves:
Washington comes into Wednesday with a 5.99 ERA from their bullpen, the worst in baseball. They have been better of late, pitching to a 4.81 ERA since June 1, but that is still way too high for a contending team. Aside from closer Sean Doolittle, manager Dave Martinez hasn’t had a reliable bullpen option pretty much all season.
Hudson, 32, is working on a one-year contract worth $1.5 million, so he’s a rental and a very affordable one at that. His average fastball velocity (96.0 mph) and average fastball spin rate (2,472 rpm) both rank among the top 10 percent in baseball. Hudson brings the kind of power stuff teams crave in the late innings.
As for Elias, the 30-year-old southpaw settled in as Seattle’s closer earlier this year and he is not strictly a left-on-left matchup guy. He’s holding right-handed batters to a .182/.238/.341 batting line this year. Elias, unlike Hudson, is not a rental. He will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2021.
Strickland is perhaps best known for his brawl with former Nationals star Bryce Harper two years ago. The 30-year-old hard-thrower has spent most of the season on the injured list with lat strain. He recently rejoined the team and tossed a 1-2-3 inning in his only appearance. Strickland will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2020.
Following Wednesday’s trades, the Nationals bullpen will shake out like this going forward:
MLB.com ranks Johnston as Washington’s 27th best prospect and says he has “the raw ingredients to become an effective reliever at the highest level.” The 23-year-old is heading to Toronto with a 4.03 ERA in 105 Single-A innings this year.
Guilbeau is the better of the two prospects heading to the Mariners. He has a 2.89 ERA in 43 2/3 relief innings between Double-A and Triple-A, and MLB.com ranks him 15th in Washington’s system. They say he has “potential as a left-handed specialist.“
Fletcher has a 1.79 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings at three minor league levels this season. MLB.com ranks him as the 21st best prospect in the Nationals system and says he “could be more than simply a situational left-hander.”
The Nationals have won 38 of their last 57 games to climb into the top spot in the National League wild-card race. They are 5 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East and still have plenty of time to apply pressure.