Nats close to deal with reliever Rosenthal

October 31st, 2018

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are on the verge of signing free-agent reliever , a source confirmed to on Wednesday afternoon, striking for one of the first additions of the offseason. Given the task of almost completely remaking its bullpen, Washington is taking a chance on a rebound candidate like Rosenthal, who missed the entire 2018 season after Tommy John surgery.
The club has not confirmed the deal, which was first reported by USA Today Sports, but a source described the two sides as "very close" as of Wednesday afternoon, although the terms had not yet emerged.
Rosenthal held a showcase for teams earlier this month at UC-Irvine in California, where his fastball velocity reportedly sat in the upper 90s and even touched 100 mph. He is now about 14 months removed from his surgery, and the Nats came away from that showcase with the impression that Rosenthal is "healthy and in great shape," as one source described it.
And the Nationals have a ton of history dealing with players like Rosenthal. They are among the few teams who have never steered clear of drafting or signing a pitcher because of Tommy John surgery, and they pride themselves on taking care of pitchers who do. Plus, Rosenthal is represented by Scott Boras, an agent Washington has negotiated with often.
If he is healthy and able to return to his form prior to the injury, Rosenthal, 28, could provide a huge boost for the Nats' bullpen. He had developed into one of the better closers in baseball with the Cardinals, saving 45 games in 2014 and 48 in '15. Rosenthal had his issues in '16 and '17, however, posting an ERA at 3.89 and a 1.523 WHIP across those two years before eventually requiring Tommy John surgery.
With a lengthy offseason to-do list headlined by , the Nationals are shopping for values and bargains wherever they can find them. Rosenthal's tenure with the Cards was impressive overall, and the Nats are hoping he can return to that form. He is already the second addition they have made to their bullpen, after the team acquired from the Marlins on Oct. 10. Both pitchers have questions marks, but their potential could make them options as setup men for closer .