Already twice during the Natioanls’ off-season, they have been on “quick strike” to add to their bullpen. On October 10th, the Nationals added Kyle Barraclough to the bullpen via a trade, and today following that theme they made the first free agent signing of the official off-season. Usually general manager Mike Rizzo waits for the market to firm up during the Winter Meetings to start to make moves, and so far since the end of the season, Rizzo has not waited.
The Nationals on Monday wasted no time solidifying the option on closer Sean Doolittle which will now give the Nationals 9 or 10 relievers for what will be 7 or temporarily 8 spots in the bullpen.
Add to that list relievers like Jimmy Cordero, Koda Glover, Wander Suero, and Sammy Solis who are arbitration eligible plus the possibilities that someone like Jefry Rodriguez could be a long-man in the bullpen. It is looking like a chance that Solis could be non-tendered, but the Nats then would only have Matt Grace as the only lefty leading up to Doolittle as the only other lefty. The Nationals are in need of a lefty in the middle of the bullpen who can get a tough lefty batter out, and that was a point of need for manager Dave Martinez in 2018.
On Rosenthal, our sources have told us that it will be a Major League deal and his former pitching coach with the St. Louis Cardinals and current pitching coach Derek Lilliquist supported the signing.
Both Rosenthal and Barraclough have closer experience with their previous teams. Each has found success but have also endured struggles. What these moves might signal is that the Nationals may not be in the market to re-sign Greg Holland who was excellent in a small sample size for the Nationals after they signed him from the scrap heap after he was DFA’d by the Cardinals. If anything, the Nationals could use a tough lefty reliever and a proven hybrid reliever like Joe Kelly who showed in High Leverage how excellent he was in the post-season, and Kelly is now a free agent.
Another name already tied to the Nats is free agent Adam Ottavino who projects as a strong set-up man, but the Nationals with these two recent acquisitions might be looking at hybrid arms who can bolster different needs in the bullpen. The Nationals have not carried a true “long man” in the bullpen in several years.
It appears that Rosenthal will be guaranteed $7 million ($6 million base salary for 2018 with a $1 million option buyout for 2020) with another $7 million in incentives that could more than double his compensation. All incentives figure into the final numbers for tax purposes as they are earned. Here is the updated payroll to include Rosenthal’s salary: