By the time a rumor makes the rounds a few times in the world of Major League Baseball websites, it usually can pretty well be considered fact. At least it could be considered as close to a fact as any rumor could be. Considering that, what about the rumor that the Washington Nationals are interested in signing top closer Grant Balfour before the 2014 season? Outside of the fact that Balfour is a near automatic closer and the Nationals are a baseball team, it makes zero sense at all.
Many teams have a closer already but not every team has a closer like Rafael Soriano. Soriano could well be considered one of the more automatic closers in the game himself. Certainly he is every bit as an autopilot closer as Balfour is. Why then would they want another one? Some teams with one lights out closer might enjoy having two for insurance and so one can pitch in the eighth inning as a set-up man.
That could make sense if the Nats didn’t also already have closer-caliber eighth inning man Tyler Clippard. Oh and they also have Drew Storen who has closer DNA as well. What is going on here? Even if they were willing to trade Storen as some reports suggest, it still makes no sense to have three closer able pitchers when two of them are of the alpha male-closer variety.
Neither Balfour nor Soriano would feel good pitching less than the ninth inning of close games and would consider anything else a demotion which neither pitcher deserves. Best case scenario is that they try to co-exist but end up trying to battle each other for the role of actual closer which would upend the stable structure of the bullpen that is currently in place.
The last possibility suggested by at least one insider is that the Nats could get Balfour for insurance purposes and because they do not want Soriano to pitch a certain number of innings for the season and trip his next season $14M option. That doesn’t make sense either though because it is flatly insulting to Soriano. They signed the deal with this man only so they could spend more money bringing someone else in for the apparent purpose of not paying him the money they agreed to pay?
I’m not sure what the situation is here with the Nats. Maybe someone out there can explain this to me. I don’t begrudge them solidifying their ‘pen but the back end isn’t where they need anything. Clippard and Soriano are about as good as they are going to get in those spots. Why mess with a good thing just to avoid tripping an option? Couldn’t they just use Clippard in his place to do that anyway? Seriously, someone explain why Balfour makes sense with this team please.