Inbox: Will Nats still look to add to bullpen?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers questions from fans

July 21st, 2017

ANAHEIM -- After months of speculation about how the Nationals would go about upgrading their bullpen, they finally made their move this week by acquiring left-hander and right-hander from the A's. The duo helped right away to hold a late lead in a 4-3 victory on Tuesday against the Angels.

But are the Nationals done making trades with the non-waiver Trade Deadline still about a week and a half away? The latest Inbox begins there, with fans wondering if the Nationals are finished making additions to the bullpen and perhaps the rotation.

Ideally, the Nationals would still like to add to their bullpen. They improved with their two new relievers but they want to ensure that their bullpen will not be their downfall come postseason time. So they are still interested in adding another reliever, whether he has experience as a closer or not. Manager Dusty Baker expressed some concern regarding the injury histories for Doolittle and Madson and would prefer to avoid pitching them on consecutive days or three days in a row. Perhaps another reliever with late-inning experience could help rotate with Doolittle and Madson to lock down games late.

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The issue with any additional moves is that the Nationals added nearly $5 million in salary with the trade for Doolittle and Madson, and it is unclear whether they can add much more. So whoever they can acquire either must come cheaper or the other team must be willing to pay down some of his salary. So the Nationals are interested in adding more, but my educated guess is that they are unlikely to pull off any sort of blockbuster move that would involve highly rated prospects or huge salaries.

Even though Joe Ross has been lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery Wednesday, adding another starter before the Deadline is not a priority for the Nationals at the moment. They are comfortable with their options internally, which is much easier to say after 's strong start on Tuesday. He will receive at least another start and a chance to prove the job is his. Should he falter, perhaps Erick Fedde -- the team's No. 2 prospect as rated by -- could take his spot. He is rebuilding his stamina as a starter after a stint in the bullpen earlier this season. The Nats also have , A.J. Cole and stashed away in the Minors, so they feel they have enough to get by without Ross.

It's tough to speculate on who is likely to be dealt. However, I can say who is unlikely to be traded. I have not seen any indications that the Nationals would be willing to part with any of their top few prospects to make a deal. That means Victor Robles, Fedde and Juan Soto, the club's top three prospects, will almost certainly not be available. Other than that, the Nationals still have an attractive farm system to other teams and could still pull off a deal including someone on the Major League roster, as they did by sending to the Pirates in 2016 and to the A's on Sunday.

The biggest concern for the Nats with is getting him back from the disabled list and keeping him on the field. He has struggled to remain healthy consistently since debuting last season, so the Nationals might not want to throw him directly into the fire when he returns this season from severe inflammation in his rotator cuff. That being said, once Glover works his way back to Washington and proves he is healthy, he could begin seeing high-leverage situations in the late innings alongside Doolittle and Madson, but I would doubt he becomes the primary closer because of the injury concerns.

Not yet. Baker said Wednesday that he spoke to Lopes and that he is doing well. The team has been quiet on this issue, saying only that Lopes left the team to deal with a personal matter and they are giving him all the time he needs. That has been the extent of the updates for Lopes, who has been away from the team for about a month now.