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Wilson, Blevins among lefty trade targets

Dec 10, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Determined to add a much-needed, experienced left-hander to their bullpen, the Nationals have been exploring the trade market at the Winter Meetings, with several potential targets beginning to emerge.

Among the names added to the list of free agents on the Nationals’ radar: the Pirates’ Justin Wilson and the Athletics’ Jerry Blevins.

Several clubs reportedly have asked the Pirates about Wilson, and it’s believed the Nationals are among the clubs who have expressed interest in the 26-year-old lefty. A fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft, Wilson owns a 2.07 ERA in 66 career big-league games and allowed only 50 hits in 73 2/3 innings this season with a fastball that averaged more than 95 mph.

Wilson was equally effective against batters from both sides of the plate this year, with lefties hitting just .195 against him and righties hitting a scant .186.

Because Wilson has only one full year of major-league service time and can’t become a free agent until 2019, the Pirates can set a high price for him, which could be an obstacle for a Nationals club that has been reluctant to part ways with top prospects or big leaguers who figure to hold significant roles in 2014.

Blevins, who becomes a free agent in 2016, could be a more affordable option. The 30-year-old owns a 3.30 ERA over parts of the last seven seasons with the A’s, during which time he has held left-handed hitters to a .224 batting average and .278 on-base percentage.

The Nationals have discussed Blevins as a trade target, according to club sources, and wouldn’t be scared off by his rising salary. He made $1.1 million this year and will be due a slight raise through arbitration this winter.

General manager Mike Rizzo continues to explore the free agent market for lefties and may yet land one of several available relievers from a group that includes Eric O’Flaherty, Boone Logan, J.P. Howell, Scott Downs and Oliver Perez. (O’Flaherty is reportedly in discussions with the Braves and could wind up returning to Atlanta.)

“We’re talking to free agents, and we’ve got some irons in the fire on the trade market,” Rizzo said. “It’s a position, I think, of depth this year, on the free agent market and the trade market. I think that benefits us.”

  1. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Blevins makes a lot of sense, I think. And given the propensity Beane and Rizzo have for working together…well, it seems like a foregone conclusion almost.

  2. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 51s
    #Nationals search for a lefty reliever seems to be gaining steam. Free agent and trade options remain possible.

    • David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:11 PM

      Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 1m
      Hearing #Nationals and #Athletics talking about possible deals. Blevins, Doolittle, Espinosa all potential names.

      Yep, knew the A’s would be involved.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    If the Nats got Justin Wilson — which would be a great acquisition — I would always associate him with the late-Cajun story teller and comedian of the same name: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyyRNLDVx6k

    • David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:12 PM

      Looks like we’re dealing with the A’s (shocker!), per the tweet above.

      Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 1m
      Hearing #Nationals and #Athletics talking about possible deals. Blevins, Doolittle, Espinosa all potential names.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:24 PM

        Fine with me. Those Nats-A’s deals have mostly worked out for both teams. And I like the notion of getting either Sean Doolittle or Jerry Blevins. Moreover, if Billy Beane is willing to treat Danny Espinosa as a legitimate asset and not as a ‘buy low’ bargain, there’s probably something to be said for a trade now that reduces the possibility for friction (and a media sideshow) during Spring Training.

  4. scnatsfan - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    Why would the Bucs trade Wilson?

    • knoxvillenat - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:32 PM

      Good question. Only way I see that happening is if Rizzo gives up multiple prospects or a prospect and a proven player with a couple of years left still under team control.

      • therealjohnc - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:42 PM

        Apparently Bucs fans think very highly of Wilson. One fan on MLBTR flatly rejected the idea of a Giolito-for-Wilson trade (which the Nationals aren’t offering), saying he’s rather keep Wilson.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:36 AM

        Coincidental that his name was Johnc.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 7:51 AM

        Coincidental that his name was johnc?

  5. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    If we got Doolittle, you’d have to think that’s the end of Clippard or Storen. One of those two would be traded. We don’t have room for yet another RH setup man.

    • David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:26 PM

      Nevermind, he’s left-handed, obviously. Dunno why I thought he was right-handed.

  6. masterfishkeeper - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    Doolittle would be a major improvement. Wonder if he’d be straight up for Espinosa?

    • trochlis318 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:42 PM

      Rizzo values Espi too highly for a 1 for 1 trade, remember guys he is 1 season removed from back to back 3 WAR seasons

  7. scnatsfan - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Bucs looking for 1b help…. Wonder if they are interested in Moore. From what I read Wilson is the real deal and under team control for a couple of years.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      The Pirates are looking to extend on last season’s success, win the NL Central, and advance deep into the playoffs. I don’t think they’re going to hand the 1B job to Tyler Moore (no disrespect intended). I don’t know what they’d be asking for Justin Wilson, but I’m guessing it will be beyond what the Nats are willing to give. Given the history (as David Proctor notes above), I could see the A’s and Nats working something out that involves multiple players at multiple levels. We’ll see.

      • nats128 - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:04 PM

        They had Adam Laroche once.

  8. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    “Apparently Bucs fans think very highly of Wilson. One fan on MLBTR flatly rejected the idea of a Giolito-for-Wilson trade (which the Nationals aren’t offering), saying he’s rather keep Wilson.” – Johnc

    HAHAHAHAHA. They must be insane.

    • trochlis318 - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      the fans might be delusional but huntington sure isn’t and he won’t give rizzo a discount for their setup guy who is under team control.

      • David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:14 PM

        Yeah sure, but Rizzo would never offer Giolito for a setup guy in a million years. If that was offered to Huntington, he’d take it in a heartbeat.

      • trochlis318 - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:29 PM

        no doubt about it

  9. sjm308 - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Of the two names mentioned, Wilson is obviously the most valued (both age, team control, and numbers) but I have to agree that we have worked well in the past with Mr. Beane and neither side came away thinking they were fleeced. Just hoping its not Espinosa.

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