The Washington Nationals‘ offseason just continues to get better. Just this past week, the Nationals traded to acquire Doug Fister and signed outfielder Nate McLouth. On Wednesday afternoon, Mike Rizzo made a deal with the Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane that sent left-handed pitcher Jerry Blevins to Washington for a minor league prospect.
The Nationals filled a major offseason need with this trade. They desperately needed a left-handed pitcher. They’ve already lost Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, and were able to get a promising young talent to put in the bullpen. In 60 innings of relief work for the Athletics in 2013, Blevins pitched to a 3.15 ERA with 52 strikeouts 17 walks.
Financially, Blevins comes cheap for the Nationals. He is expected to make $1.5 million in arbitration next season. One of the early left-handed pitching targets for the Nationals, Javier Lopez, signed a $13 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. It appears as though the market for left-handed relief help was a bit steep for Rizzo, so a trade certainly makes sense if he was trying to save some cash while still getting a good deal.
On the other side, the Athletics receive quite a promising prospect in Billy Burns. In 2013, Burns batted .315 across single-A and double-A with 37 RBIs and 12 doubles. The outfielder has made his name known thanks to his speed, and that’s something that will be missed. In 2013, he stole a whopping 74 bases while being caught just seven times.
He is widely known as the fastest player in the minor leagues and was Washington’s minor league player of the year in 2013. That’s not bad for a 32nd-round draft pick.
It’s a testament to Rizzo and his ability to put together a minor league system that is so filled with talent. He’s been able to make numerous trades without having to give up core players to get bona fide big-league talent. It may have taken a little while for his plan to play out and pay off, but Washington is now reaping the benefit from all those days on the scouting trail.
For the third time in a little over a week, Rizzo has put together a deal that favors Washington. He traded away three expendable players for a top-10 starting pitching in Fister, solidified the outfield and bench with the McLouth signing (albeit a tad pricey) and was able to fill a huge void in the bullpen with a new left-handed arm in Blevins.