He's the best pitcher in the Nationals bullpen now, but he's also left-handed and that could mean slotting into an eighth inning role he has for much of his career. Instead, Oakland received big league reliever Blake Treinen, a former A's draft pick who has had trouble finding consistency with his tantalizing high-90s sinker, and a pair of good-but-not-great talents in lefty Jesus Luzardo and infielder Sheldon Neuse.
FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the deal, which has since been made official by the teams before Sunday's series finale with the Indians. Opposing batters are also hitting.280 with an.825 OPS against Nats relievers, both the worst marks in Major League Baseball. It's also helpful that the Athletics are losing often.
Treinen got the first shot at ninth-inning duties, but faltered from almost the very beginning. He was 1-0 with three saves and a 3.38 ERA in 23 games with the A's this season. They have not been able to find a consistent option to close out games for them, as they have had seven different relievers record a save for them. But that didn't work well either, and the Nats have been seeking a closer ever since. Getting Madson and Doolittle will help the bullpen a lot as they now have two relievers who can close for them if needed. In 2011, he saved 32 games for the Phillies, while striking out 62 batters in 60.1 innings.
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Though the A's bullpen as a unit has had similar struggles this season to Washington's, Madson and Doolittle were not complicit in those struggles.
The 30-year-old Doolittle, who had suffered injuries since his 2014 All-Star Game appearance, has regained his upper 90's fastball and dominance. After all, Madson has plenty of closing experience, including 86 career saves and a 30-save season as recently as previous year with Oakland. If the deal happens, Washington gets both a closer and the setup pitcher they need.
Although Washington's payroll plumped up with the addition of Madson and Doolittle (combined, they're owed more than $5 million for the remainder of this season and just over $12 million next year), general manager Mike Rizzo didn't have to part with outfielder Victor Robles or any of the club's other most prized prospects. The 36-year-old is in the second year of a three-year contract he signed after the 2015 season. That adds another $28 million or so to the team's payroll, but that's less than the $62 million the San Francisco Giants paid Melancon in free agency. Neuse and Luzardo were not considered among Washington's top 10 minor leaguers. He has nine home runs on the season and has an.818 OPS.