Back at the Winter Meetings in December, Davey Johnson said that he’d ideally like to add another left-handed reliever to his bullpen, giving him better match-up options late in games.
General manager Mike Rizzo echoed that sentiment, but said that the Nationals don’t necessarily need to add a late-inning lefty. Rizzo’s reasoning was that with Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus in the Nationals’ bullpen, Johnson has three righties who possess good track records against left-handed hitters.
Rizzo’s mindset hasn’t changed since the Winter Meetings, even with the start of spring training now less than five weeks away.
“I think that the right left-handed reliever would be great,” Rizzo said. “Davey likes to have at least two left-handed relievers in his bullpen, but we have a very unique and special type of bullpen. Our right-handers get out left-handed hitters better than most left-handed specialists get them out. So it’s not something that we feel like we have to do.”
Clippard held left-handed hitters to a .170 batting average last season, Stammen allowed lefties to hit just .198 in 2012, and over his brief major league career, lefties are batting .214 off Mattheus.
The Nationals have Zach Duke on board as their left-handed long-reliever, and they signed Bill Bray to a minor league contract, as well. Bray, who posted a 1.07 WHIP and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011 before having injury issues last year, could end up winning a spot on the 25-man roster in camp.
With all that said, the Nationals have missed out on a chance to add a proven late-inning lefty a few times already this offseason.
Sean Burnett signed a two-year deal with the Angels with a vesting option for a third year and will make $8 million guaranteed. Michael Gonzalez inked a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Brewers. J.P Howell ended up joining the Dodgers, signing a one-year, $2.85 million contract.
Burnett might have been out of the Nationals’ price range, but they were certainly interested in landing either Gonzalez or Howell.
“We played in the free agent market on several of the left-handed relievers and couldn’t get a deal done, and the reason for that is we feel that our right-handed relievers get out lefties,” Rizzo said. “Davey’s not a big left-on-left, one-batter-at-a-time type of manager, anyways.
“We feel good about our bullpen and it’s not a necessity to get a left-handed specialist type of reliever, but if one made sense for us, we certainly wouldn’t rule it out.”
When you look at the lefty relievers still out there on the free agent market, there don’t appear to be any real attractive options.
The Nationals could look to add a southpaw as part of a Michael Morse trade, but it sure doesn’t look like Rizzo will force the issue.
Update: I was away from my laptop for much of the afternoon thanks to a doctor’s appointment, but while I was away, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced that no new members will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year.
This is the first time since 1996 that no new members have been voted into the Hall, but it’s not much of a surprise given all the chaos around this year’s crop of candidates.
Craig Biggio was named on 68.2 percent of ballots, making him the closest player to the required 75 percent total for induction. Here’s a full list of how the voting played out.
I did not have a vote, and thus didn’t take the proper time to go over the candidates’ careers and break down who would’ve been a part of my ballot. While I certainly respect the process, I think it’s a shame no one made it in this year, because there are certainly worthy candidates on the ballot, be they linked to performance-enhancing drugs or not.