Source: Nats signing former Red Sox closer Matt Barnes to minor league deal

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Still searching for more experienced bullpen help, the Nationals have agreed to a minor league contract with former Red sox closer Matt Barnes, according to a source familiar with the deal.

Barnes, who still needs to pass a physical before his signing is official, will become the latest veteran reliever to join the Nats’ major league camp on a non-guaranteed deal, hoping to seize one of a couple of open spots in the Opening Day bullpen.

The 33-year-old right-hander owns a 4.13 ERA, 1.355 WHIP and 47 saves across 10 big league seasons, the first of those with the Red Sox. A reliable setup man on Boston’s 2018 World Series championship team, he ascended to the closer’s role in 2021 and earned his first All-Star selection in the process.

Traded to the Marlins for left-hander Richard Bleier (also in Nats camp on a minor league deal) prior to the 2023 season, Barnes missed significant time with a hip injury and struggled to a 5.48 ERA in 24 games. Club officials believe he’s healthy again and throwing with no issues.

The Nationals already entered camp in the market for more relievers, and their interest has only grown after watching Mason Thompson and Dylan Floro deal with arm injuries. Thompson, who was shut down prior to camp with a sore elbow, was re-examined by doctors Monday and is awaiting word on the diagnosis, though there is concern among team officials the injury is serious. Floro, who reported a tight shoulder last week, has resumed throwing and threw 15 pitches off a mound at 70 percent velocity Monday.

Over the last several weeks, the Nats have signed Barnes, Bleier, Derek Law, Robert Gsellman, Luis Perdomo and Jacob Barnes (no relation to Matt) to minor league deals with invitations to big league camp. All are competing to make an Opening Day bullpen that is expected to be led by right-handers Kyle Finnegan, Hunter Harvey, Tanner Rainey, Floro, Jordan Weems and lefty Robert Garcia.

“You can’t have enough. You really can’t,” Martinez said. “We’re looking at different guys, we’re talking to different guys that are still available. But you can’t have enough. … I’d like to have as many of them as possible.” was first to report progress on a potential deal between Barnes and the Nationals.

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