Mike Rizzo pulls off a blockbuster trade for Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle

Graphic from ESPN

“We made a trade we think shortens the game,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said.

Ryan Madson turns 37-years-old next month, and Sean Doolittle turns 31-years-old in September. The pair was traded by Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane to the Nationals for a package that included Jesus Luzardo who was born on September 30, 1997. Ryan Madson was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 9th round in 1998 out of Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, CA before Luzardo’s first birthday. The youth of Luzardo and his projectibility by scouts is what every team was looking for in a trade for a future frontline lefty starter.  Along with Luzardo, Rizzo traded to the A’s a Low-A infielder Sheldon Neuse who was a top-10 prospect and fireballer Blake Treinen.

“You hate to give up Blake Treinen [in the trade],” Dusty Baker said. “But you have to give up something to get something.”

This trade was about “October” for the Washington Nationals, and the A’s traded for 2021 and beyond. The Nationals took on the imperfections of Doolittle and Madson, and their future salaries. Doolittle went on the DL in May for shoulder soreness and returned with a different repertoire throwing more fastballs then ever. Madson dealt with his own injuries including a UCL tear which required “Tommy John” surgery, and he was out of the Majors from 2012 through 2014 and has a new training regimen that he has adhered to.

To also put this trade into perspective, -neither- Doolittle or Madson were primary closers for the Oakland Athletics this season. That’s right. They were set-up men in 2017 even though Madson has that closer pedigree, and Doolittle has saved games before also. Times have changed.  Both pitchers have been super stingy with allowing runners to get on-base as both have sub-1.000 WHIPs, and neither give up much power to the opponents. Nationals fans will like that neither of these new bullpen arms walk batters much. Madson has the lowest BB/9 of his career at 1.4 this season, and Doolittle also has the lowest BB/9 of his career at 0.8 this season.

“We needed some help,” Dusty Baker said. “We got two quality guys and both of them have been closers at some point in time… Both of them have been closers to shore up the back end of our bullpen so, hopefully, everybody can settle back into their roles and everybody can relax. I got to talk to [A’s manager] Bob Melvin. Like I said, both of them have closed. And both of them have had some arm problems in the past. So it could be both of them. We’ll see.”

While Doolittle is a set-up man, the lefty this season has dominated left-handed batters who are 0-for-23 with 12 strikeouts and no walks against him this season. The Nats need a set-up man for those spots against the Dodgers who are lefty dominant in their line-up.

The other plus that Madson and Doolittle have is post-season experience. Madson was Werth’s teammate on the Phillies team that won the World Series in 2008, and Madson got another ring with the Royals in 2015. Doolittle was on some of those playoff teams with the A’s. Doolittle was also a 2005 college teammate of Ryan Zimmerman at the University of Virginia. Both players have ties to players on this team, and Mike Rizzo believes they will fit in well.

Is Mike Rizzo done with trades?

“I think we’ve done what we came to do at the trade deadline,” Mike Rizzo said. “That’s not to say that we’re going to stop scouting. As we’ve shown in the past — if there’s an opportunity to improve the ball club, we’ll certainly continue to be aggressive and try to help us out any way we can.”

If we project a playoff bullpen, we hope this year it is 8-men instead of the mistake of 2017 when Dusty Baker went with 7-men. Playoff baseball is about matchups and domination.

  1. Ryan Madson RHP
  2. Sean Doolittle LHP
  3. Koda Glover RHP
  4. Enny Romero LHP
  5. Matt Albers RHP
  6. Oliver Perez LHP
  7. Joe Blanton RHP
  8. Matt Grace LHP
  9. Shawn Kelley RHP

That’s right again. Nine players for eight spots right now and Mike Rizzo might not be done. Kelley and Glover are on the disabled list. We will see. Having too many players is a good problem to have.

When will Madson and Doolittle meet up with their new team? Either tomorrow or Tuesday in Los Angeles.


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