Source: Nats adding veteran lefty Sipp to bullpen

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Nationals are bringing in an experienced left-handed reliever after all.

The Nats have agreed to terms with veteran Tony Sipp on a one-year contract with an option for 2020, a source familiar with the deal confirmed. Sipp, 35, will need to pass a physical before the contract is official, but he's expected to report to spring training within the next few days.

Sipp fills an obvious need for the Nationals, though one club officials had been downplaying in significance all winter and even this week after they released lefty Sammy Solís after nine years in the organization.

Sipp-Astros-sidebar.jpgReluctant to spend money on matchup lefties, the Nats nevertheless have been burned in recent years by an inability to get big left-handed batters out in big moments, including the playoffs. They'll now hope Sipp helps correct that issue, banking on a repeat of his dominant 2018 performance for the Astros.

Sipp posted a 1.86 ERA and 1.034 WHIP last season and held left-handed batters to a .191 average and .557 OPS. Most telling, he made 54 appearances and totaled only 38 2/3 innings, averaging fewer than three batters faced per outing.

Not that righties hit Sipp well, either. They managed only a .209 average and .608 OPS against him last season.

With Sipp set to join the roster, the Nationals bullpen is looking far more solidified than it did only yesterday. He'll join closer Sean Doolittle and fellow lefty Matt Grace, plus newly acquired right-handers Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough as locks to make the opening day roster. Right-handers Wander Suero and Justin Miller are probably frontrunners for the final two job openings, though the Nationals could decide to keep a more traditional long reliever, with lefty Vidal Nuño III, righty Henderson Alvarez III or even young starter Joe Ross among the candidates.

Fancred's Jon Heyman was first to report the Sipp agreement this morning.

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