WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals lost their chance to retain reliable closer Mark Melancon, who signed with the San Francisco Giants on a record-breaking, four-year, $62 million deal.
As a result, the Nats are reportedly dipping into the trade market, interested in Kansas City Royals reliever Wade Davis as a potential replacement:
The report follows an afternoon of speculation that the Chicago Cubs would land the Royals setup guy to replace closer Aroldis Chapman, who is likely to leave for a record-breaking deal elsewhere. Rumors are that the Yankees, Dodgers and Marlins are all in on the closer and he could eclipse $80 million.
The Dodgers have also reportedly checked in on Davis:
Interest by all contenders makes sense, considering that by comparison, Davis is set to make an affordable $10 million in the final year of his contract.
This game of musical closers was expected this offseason, as a number of game-changing closers were set to hit the market. The blueprint for championship teams has also changed, as teams want not just a shutdown closer, but also a dominant setup man.
The Kansas City Royals went to back-to-back title games with Davis in a tandem with Greg Holland. He has also been rumored to be on the market, as the Royals could look to fully reboot this offseason.
Davis has reinvented himself as a late innings reliever after flaming out as a starter earlier in his career. After switching to the bullpen in 2014, Davis has registered ERAs of 1.00, 0.94 and 1.87 across 182.2 innings. He also has 47 saves in the last three seasons, serving as the primary fallback option if Holland was unavailable.
While Davis has never pitched full time in the NL East, he does have good numbers against every team except the Philadelphia Phillies. He will also thrive where many Nats closer have failed, after successfully preserving leads for a light-hitting offense in Kansas City.
Best of all, it would come without a major time or financial commitment, giving the Nats a chance to figure out if Davis is their long-term answer at closer. If not, they walk away at the end of the season.
With multiple bidders in the mix, it is unlikely that a deal will get done on Tuesday night unless the Nationals or Cubs significantly increase the offer.