Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving complete with some mix of family, food and football. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be munching away on turkey and stuffing for the next dozen meals or so, thanks to bags upon bags of leftovers that are now jammed into my fridge.
Not that I’m in any way complaining. I think I could eat stuffing all day, every day.
The market for left-handed relievers was fairly deep when free agency began a little less than a month ago, but over the last few weeks, we’ve seen things start to thin out a bit.
Javier Lopez signed a three-year, $13 million deal to remain with the Giants. Manny Parra recently signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Reds. And the Nationals are still out there looking for ways to improve the left-handed side of their ‘pen.
Here are the left-handed relievers that are still available on the free agent market, via MLBTradeRumors.com, with the players’ ages in parentheses:
Travis Blackley (31)
Scott Downs (38)
Mike Gonzalez (36)
Rich Hill (34)
J.P. Howell (31)
Boone Logan (29)
Eric O’Flaherty (29)
Oliver Perez (32)
Matt Thornton (37)
Howell and Logan are probably the top two options remaining at this point, with Perez a cheaper alternative and O’Flaherty more of a risky play because he’s coming off Tommy John surgery.
The Nats have shown in the last couple seasons that they haven’t been willing to dive too deep into the market for left-handed relievers, deciding not to throw around eight-figure deals or hand out pricey multi-year contracts.
If that’s a policy that the Nats would like to continue following, there’s another option that Mike Rizzo could consider as he tries to bolster his bullpen. He could acquire a left-handed reliever via a trade, and there is a name that’s been floated in the rumor mill that could be a nice fit.
Left-hander Brett Cecil is among the relief options that the Blue Jays are considering making available, according to Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi, and Cecil is an intriguing option for the Nats for a few reasons.
First, he’s coming off a stellar 2013 season, in which he pitched to a 2.82 ERA over 60 2/3 innings, with 70 strikeouts, 23 walks and a 1.104 WHIP. Cecil dominated left-handed hitters, holding them to a .191/.223/.235 slash line, allowing just three extra-base hits to lefties in 115 at-bats.
Cecil, 27, is under contract through the 2016 season and as a Super-Two player, this upcoming season will be his first time going through the arbitration process, making him still pretty affordable.
On top of that, he’s a local guy, having gone to DeMatha High School in Hyattsville and the University of Maryland. Cecil was a first-round pick of the Jays back in 2007, and while his major league career didn’t pan out as a starter, he seems to have found his calling as a reliever.
The Blue Jays won’t be giving Cecil away now that he’s shown that he can be an effective bullpen option, but they apparently are open to dealing from their surplus of relief arms, and the Nats might be willing to pry Cecil away with a decent offer. If Rizzo isn’t keen on giving Howell or Logan a multi-year deal worth upwards of $3 million a season, this is an option that might start to seem more attractive.