Hanging with some Nationals fans Saturday at Maryland’s college football game versus Virginia (Terps won 27-26 in a very competitive battle), a lot of them asked me what left-handed relievers might be available next season to fire pitches at Nationals Park.
Here is a quick list of available veteran free agent left-handed relievers, according to MLBTradeRumors.com:
Scott Downs (38)
Mike Gonzalez (36)
Rich Hill (34)
J.P. Howell (31)
Boone Logan (29)
Javier Lopez (36)
Eric O’Flaherty (29)
Darren Oliver (43)
Manny Parra (31)
Oliver Perez (32)
Matt Thornton (37) - $6 million club option with a $1 million buyout
The number in parentheses is each player’s current age.
All the above pitchers are listed by FanGraphs as having positive WAR numbers, with the exception of former Nationals reliever Michael Gonzalez (-0.6).
There are some good possibilities on this list, as the Nationals will most likely return to looking for veteran left-handed relief help after difficulty at the position in 2013. The experiment of Zach Duke as the only lefty out of the bullpen and responsibility placed on Tyler Clippard to get left-handers out did not work out.
Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Burnett and Gonzalez made a pretty good corps in 2012. Fernando Abad, Xavier Cedeno and Ian Krol should get some serious consideration next season, but I would expect some big-name free agents to also get offers to come to spring training.
We can break down each candidate as the offseason rolls along. Which ones look good to you? Any others not on this list that should be considered?
NOTE: I was asked by Washingtonian.com to handicap the Nationals’ managerial search. Check out the results here.