The Nationals were reportedly looking at a reunion with Tyler Clippard before the Athletics traded him to the Mets tonight, but there’s a chance they could do something a lot bigger to strengthen the back-end of their bullpen.
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are the “hottest” among teams for Padres closer Craig Kimbrel. The team has also reportedly been linked to Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. With that in mind, Rosenthal was told by a friend of Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo that he would “almost bet my house that he will do something big.”
The Nationals already have an All-Star closer with Drew Storen, who has posted a 1.73 ERA and 44/9 K/BB ratio over 36 1/3 innings this season while going 29-for-31 in save chances. However, the bridge to the ninth inning for Washington has been shakier than in previous seasons. If the Nationals were to acquire Kimbrel or Chapman, Storen could be moved back into a set-up role.
Kimbrel, 27, has posted a 2.75 ERA and 55/15 K/BB ratio over 39 1/3 innings this season while compiling 29 saves. He’s owed $24 million from 2016-2017 and his contract includes a $13 million club option or a $1 million buyout for 2018. It would be a costly acquisition, but he’s still one of the top closers in the game and the Nationals have the kind of payroll to bring him aboard.
Interestingly, Rosenthal also confirmed that the Padres asked the Nationals about prospect shortstop Trea Turner in talks for Kimbrel. They were shot down. Of course, the Padres dealt Turner to the Nationals as a player to be named later in the three-team Wil Myers trade.
Yasiel Puig’s name has been floated in trade speculation this week, but CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers have told the outfielder that they don’t plan to trade him this season.
Puig asked the Dodgers about his status after he heard about a rumor which linked him to the Reds. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the rumored return package included Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto. That would be quite a blockbuster, but it turns out it was never actually discussed. Meanwhile, Heyman hears that the Dodgers “are not having any conversations about Puig and are not interested in moving him.”
Puig missed a large chunk of the early part of the season due to hamstring injury and has had a pretty quiet year when healthy enough to play, batting .259 with six home runs and a .759 OPS. Still, he’s just 24 years old and remains under team control through 2019. He might not be the most popular guy in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, but you don’t give up on this sort of talent unless there’s a monster deal coming down the pike. That scenario hasn’t presented itself yet.
The Pirates acquired veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers this afternoon, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that they aren’t done making moves.
It’s unclear who the Pirates could be targeting. They already have an All-Star closer with Mark Melancon and a top set-up man with Tony Watson, so don’t look for someone like Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez, or Craig Kimbrel to end up in Pittsburgh. However, names like Tyler Clippard, Joaquin Benoit, Steve Cishek, and Jim Johnson could make some sense.
Entering tonight’s action, Pirates relievers ranked third in the majors with a 2.50 ERA. It never hurts to look for ways to improve, though.