Update 9:30 p.m.: Wade Davis has a team option for 2017. Language has been changed to reflect that.
WASHINGTON — Call it due diligence or writing on the wall for embattled closer Jonathan Papelbon, but the Washington Nationals are putting out feelers for late inning relief around the league.
Just days after the one-year anniversary of trading for Papelbon, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal reports that the Nationals have reached out to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals for more dependable options:
Melancon is in the midst of his third All-Star season, coming off of 2015 in which he led Major League Baseball with 51 saves. He is putting together some of the best numbers of his career, logging 30 saves in 45 appearances, carrying only one loss. Most importantly, he is holding hitters to a 1.51 ERA.
He is due nearly $3.5 million left on his $9.65 million contract for 2016, and will become a free agent after the season. The Pirates are in a difficult position at 52-48, third place in the NL Central. While they are nine games back of the division-leading Cubs, they are only two games back of the Wild Card and probably remiss to give in.
Unless they wouldn’t be:
Since moving to the bullpen full-time in 2014, Davis has been one of the best relievers in baseball, registering season ERAs of 1.00, 0.94 and 1.60 this season. In 35 appearances this season, he has closed out 32 games with 21 saves and zero losses. He also has not been overworked, pitching just 33.2 innings this year.
He is due less than $3 million left on his 2016 salary, but has a $10 million team option for 2017 ($2.5 million buyout). Even with the Royals scuffling at 49-52 and in fourth place in the AL Central, it is unclear if the team will move him in 2016.
It is also unclear if the Nats have the prospects to match up for either player in a deal, particularly as the Aroldis Chapman set the market very high. The Pirates have already disseminated what they want in return:
The Nationals are obviously thin in the Major League bullpen, and it is unclear what quality of prospect the Pirates are expecting. Stay tuned to 106.7 The Fan for the latest on Nationals trade deadline decisions.