After their managerial search, the Washington Nationals need to turn their attention to their pitching staff, and have stated publicly that they would like to bolster their bullpen. The bullpen, after ranking in the top-10 in 2012 in ERA and BAA, dropped all the way down to the middle of the pack in 2013, which could be seen as a catalyst for the disappointing 2013, though they did have an established closer all year.
Aside from the bullpen, beefing up Washington’s rotation should be another place of improvement. The Nationals are counting on Ross Detwiler being able to come back from a back injury that sidelined him for the final two months of the season, but after that, the final spot in the rotation will be a toss up between in-house candidates and potential free agents, or even via trade.
With the free agent pitching crop being seen as less than stellar, the trade market is probably going to be very active this winter.
The biggest name that has bounced around to this point has been Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price, as Tampa Bay continues their regular offseason retooling. The Rays will be able to get a king’s ransom for Price, and there should be a nice bidding war as there always is for Tampa Bay’s pitchers. Recently, however, rumors have arisen that the Price market will have some competition.
The Detroit Tigers, who not only will be conducting a search for their next manager with the retirement of Jim Leyland, have also been rumored to have plans of dangling 21-game winner and AL Cy Young favourite Max Scherzer out on the trade market. Since joining the Tigers, Scherzer is 64-30 with a 3.62 ERA, and is setting himself up nicely for a sizable payday in his next contract.
The Tigers, a star-laden team with an owner who does not mind spending, still have to worry about extending Miguel Cabrera, the best hitter on the planet, and may not want to commit to buying out more arbitration years from Scherzer, who would hit the open market a year before Cabrera.
The Nationals could match up very nicely with the Tigers. First off, GM Mike Rizzo‘s last first-round draft pick when he was scouting director for the Arizona Diamondbacks was Scherzer, and we have seen that Rizzo has an affinity for getting guys he likes as we saw with David DeJesus this season before he signed with the Chicago Cubs.
The Tigers’ Achilles’ heel this season was their bullpen, as they went most of the season without an established closer and had to mix and match. Washington has, in theory, three closers they can trade, two being cheaper than the other in Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano. Storen and Clippard are still arbitration eligible, and as far as closer salaries go, both would relatively cheap for two relievers with over 70 saves between them.
Washington’s package would obviously have to start at Clippard or Storen, with Soriano coming into the picture only if Washington agrees to pay off most of his salary. Detroit could also use a second baseman, a fourth outfielder, perhaps even some catching depth.
Washington also has money they can more freely spend, so they could lock Scherzer up after acquiring him and set themselves up financially with the impending Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper extensions. Washington definitely has the pieces to match up nicely in a trade, and could be Detroit’s ideal partner.