Washington Nationals Must Focus All Attention on Lefty Reliever

By Brian Skinnell
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After making the major trade to acquire Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers, the Washington Nationals now find themselves down yet another arm in the bullpen as they sent left-hander Ian Krol to Detroit in the deal.

Just a few weeks ago, Washington also let go of left-hander Frenando Abad in order to protect prospect Sammy Solis in the Rule 5 Draft. Currently, the Nationals only have five left-handers on their 40-man roster and one of those, Gio Gonzalez, is a starter, so really they have four. But, one of those four is Ross Detwiler, a prospective starter, so now they are down to three.

Those three pitchers, Xavier Cedeno, Matt Purke and Solis, are nowhere near what the Nationals need in order to feel comfortable in key situations. Purke and Cedeno are inconsistent and Solis has potential, but he’s young and just recently recovered from Tommy John surgery.

Washington needs to either pull off another trade or look to the thinning free agent market for a quality left-handed reliever. Two names that come up right off the bat are J.P. Howell and Boone Logan. Recently, a new name has come up in former Atlanta Braves pitcher Eric O’Flaherty.

Any of the three will be able to fill the role. Both Howell and O’Flaherty are young, 28-year olds that had sub-2.50 ERA’s in 2012. Logan is only a year older at 29 and pitched to a 3.23 ERA by season’s end. Financially, Howell is the cheaper target, but putting down extra money to get O’Flaherty isn’t a bad move either. Like we’ve discussed before, Washington has deep pockets.

As the Winter Meetings are set to begin soon, we could see Mike Rizzo pull off another trade to get a top relief pitcher. Thanks to Mike Rizzo’s uncanny ability to keep his plans on the down-low, it’s hard to tell if anything will happen or not. One thing is for sure: the Nationals desperately need a lefty in the bullpen and they need to address that before the well runs dry in free agency.

Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer for RantSports.com and contributor at Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter and add him to your network on Google.

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