LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Nationals will leave the Winter Meetings having accomplished their lone remaining major goal - acquiring a left-handed reliever.
For the sixth time in the last two years, the Nats and Athletics have combined on a trade, with the A’s sending Jerry Blevins to the Nationals for minor league outfielder Billy Burns.
Blevins, 30, had a 3.15 ERA and 1.067 WHIP in 60 innings in 2013, and had a 3.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He had reverse splits last season, as right-handers hit .190/.267/.314 off him last season, while left-handers hit .253/.299/.442. Over his seven-year big league career, however, Blevins has held lefties to a .224/.278/.358 slash line, compared to .240/.326/.385 by righties.
Over the last three seasons, Blevins has allowed 0.9 home runs per nine innings, struck out 7.7 per nine and put up a 138 ERA+.
He was drafted by the Cubs in the 17th round of the 2004 draft.
Blevins has two more years of team control, and is projected to make $1.5 million in arbitration this season, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.
Blevins pitched at the University of Dayton alongside fellow Nationals reliever Craig Stammen.
In exchange for Blevins, the Nats give up Burns, their 2013 minor league Player of the Year.
Burns hit .315/.425/.383 between high Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg with nine triples, no home runs and a whopping 74 stolen bases in 81 tries. He was a 32nd-round pick of the Nats back in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
The Nats really liked the progress Burns made the last couple of years (and the fact that he recently taught himself to switch-hit), but he wasn’t viewed as one of their top up-and-comers. Baseball America didn’t include him among their recent list of the Nats’ top 10 prospects, although his speed and plate discipline makes him an intriguing guy going forward.
The trade was first reported by MLB Daily Dish.
Previous deals between the Nats and A’s in the last two years include the Nats acquiring Gio Gonzalez from Oakland in December 2011, Kurt Suzuki being sent to D.C. last summer and then being shipped back to the A’s midway through the 2013 season, the Nats getting A.J. Cole, Ian Krol and Blake Treinen from the A’s in the three-team deal that shipped Michael Morse to Seattle last offseason, and the recent deal that sent southpaw Fernando Abad to Oakland for minor league outfielder John Wooten.
This time, the Nats sent a minor league outfielder to the A’s, and ironically, it will benefit Abad, who now has a better shot to crack the Oakland bullpen.
The Nats’ lone remaining needs this offseason are to possibly improve the bench and add a backup catcher, but in Blevins, they fill a clear need and get their proven lefty reliever.