The Nationals got a jump on the Hot Stove League today and sought to begin making over their bullpen, acquiring Kyle Barraclough from the Marlins in exchange for international bonus slot money, a rare October trade that brings an experienced late-inning reliever to Washington.
Barraclough, 28, has spent the last four seasons in Miami’s bullpen, and though he struggled when given an opportunity to close this year, he had been a successful setup man prior to that.
The hard-throwing right-hander has struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings during his career (although that rate dropped to 9.7 this year) while allowing only 6.2 hits per nine innings. His issue has always involved command, which has led to a hefty walk rate of 5.5 per nine innings.
Nonetheless, the Nationals have added an experienced late-inning reliever who is under club control for three more seasons to a bullpen that needs an offseason makeover after the late-summer trades of Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler and Shawn Kelley.
Barraclough made $1.113 million this season for the Marlins. He’ll be eligible for arbitration each of the next three winters; this week MLBTradeRumors.com projected he’ll make $1.9 million in 2019, which would be well below Madson’s, Kintzler’s and Kelley’s 2018 salaries.
The Nationals for now know they’ll have Sean Doolittle back as closer next season. Barraclough joins a group of returning relievers including Wander Suero, Justin Miller and Matt Grace, but the club is expected to pursue more bullpen arms over the course of the winter.
The international bonus money the Nats are sending to the Marlins likely wouldn’t have made a lot of difference because they are prevented from giving more than $300,000 to any individual international signee during this period. The Marlins, meanwhile, are attempting to stockpile as much bonus slot money as possible in their pursuit of top Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa.