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Nats acquire LHP Blevins for prospect Burns

Dec 11, 2013, 2:35 PM EST

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Nationals acquired the left-handed reliever they so desired, pulling off a trade with the Athletics on Wednesday that brings veteran Jerry Blevins to Washington in exchange for minor-league outfielder Billy Burns.

Blevins, 30, was one of perhaps 10 left-handers the Nationals had expressed interest in at the Winter Meetings this week, some via trade and others via free agency.

Ultimately, they found their guy in a familiar location: Oakland. This is the seventh trade between the Nationals and A’s in the last three years, a list that includes deals involving Josh Willingham, Gio Gonzalez, Michael Morse, Fernando Abad and Kurt Suzuki (twice).

Blevins owns a 3.30 ERA over parts of the last seven seasons with the Athletics, during which time he has held left-handed hitters to a .224 batting average and .278 on-base percentage. He’s more of a matchup lefty than a full inning-eater, but he fills a void that was all too apparent for the Nationals this season.

Blevins also comes at an affordable price. He’s under team control for two seasons and figures to earn roughly $1.5 million in arbitration in 2014.

Burns was named by the Nationals as their organizational player of the year, though he wasn’t among the club’s top 10 prospects this winter, according to Baseball America. The 24-year-old outfielder does combine blazing speed (74 stolen bases this year at Class A Potomac and Class AA Harrisburg) with great plate discipline (72 walks and only 54 strikeouts).

  1. Candide - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Rizzo’s To-Do List

    Lefty outfielder bat off the bench – check.
    Lefty relief pitcher – check.
    Re-stock bench – ?

    • Candide - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      Oops – forgot “fifth starter – check”

  2. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    @thisisdspan: On my way to the winter meetings


    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      Hmm…is right. Thoughts?

      • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        Well he lives in Tampa. So he could just be going to meet Matt Williams.

        But Rizzo is known for being sneaky. Who knows.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        Would make no sense to trade him. He was in DC yesterday and will stop by Orlando to meet up with Matt Williams. Nothing to this.

    • natsjackinfl - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      Probably taking the opportunity to meet up with Matt Williams.

  3. acethehammer - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    I think Rizzo got “burned” on this one.

    • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 37s
      To give an idea of what the Nats gave up, one scout said Burns is essentially Tony Campana. Amazing speed, scant impact with bat.

      If we gave up Tony Campana, I’m okay with it.

      • nats128 - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        I agree. Speed and defense and projects as a bench player.

  4. Danny - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:46 PM


  5. Danny - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    I’ll miss BB, but his prospect status was debatable. It seems like Rizzo wanted a cheap LH relieve with years of control. Blevins is more of a LOOGY, so this signing indicates that Detwiler may start the year in the BP as the inning plus lefty. I hope T. Jordan wins the 5 spot.

    • nats128 - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      His 2013 stats say he definitely isn’t a LOOGY. Hes a reverse LH for 2013.

      • Danny - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        Look at his career stats prior to 2013, which was an outlier

      • Hiram Hover - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        Well, his career splits show him better against lefties and Oakland used him as a LOOGY (60IP in 67 appearances) last year.

        I expect the Nats to use him in a similar way.

      • nats128 - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

        You hope. Just remember that isnt a small sample size. As pitchers get older they can change their style. He sure shut done RH hitters!

    • Section 222 - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      HH, 60 IP in 67 appearances aren’t really LOOGY numbers. He pitched an inning or more in 39 out of his 67 appearances, and actually went for more than an inning 14 times, and 2 or more innings 5 times. In 2012, he went for a full inning or more in 27 out of his 63 appearances. So he sounds pretty versatile to me.

      If you’re a leftie in the bullpen you’re going to some 1-batter appearances. But he seems very capable of pitching full innings, has a good WHIP and is able to strike guys out. Sounds like a good pickup at a pretty reasonable cost.

      • Hiram Hover - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:11 PM


        Good point about his numbers. From my quick skim, it did appear that they used him more as a LOOGY at the end of the year – more 1 out appearances.

        My point, anyway, wasn’t to knock his versatility, but to make the point that he can play the LOOGY role as needed.

      • Section 222 - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:33 PM

        That’s funny. What jumped out at me were those two 2 inning appearances in the last month. And in August,in 9 of 11 appearances he pitched an inning or more. I guess when you look at numbers you see what you’re looking for if it’s there. But you’re right, in September he had mostly .1 and .2 appearances. That might have had to do with the pennant race the A’s were fighting.

        And I guess that’s also kind of the nature of being a left handed reliever as I mentioned above. There are some games where you’ll be needed for a LH batter, but there’s a righty available to finish the inning you started. And other times, you’ll get the last out against a lefty and stay in to pitch the next inning. The need for versatility is greater in the National League, where a manager doesn’t want to burn another pitcher in the inning where the LOOGY has been brought in if the pitcher’s spot is up in the next inning.

        The bottom line seems to be that this is a guy who can be a LOOGY, or pitch a full inning or more. That’s a good guy to have, if he’s any good…

  6. nats128 - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Ghost of Steve M. – Dec 11, 2013 at 11:08 AM
    In 2013, Blevins might be LH but lefties hit him at a .253 BA and .741 OPS while RHPs hit him at a .190 BA and a .581 OPS. That doesn’t look like a pitcher the Nats want unless he’s pitching to righties.

    Blevins 2013 was certainly a reversal to his career.

    Another strange phenomena with Blevins is that he pitched much better on the road then in pitcher friendly Oakland.

    Blevins finished 2013 strong and that’s what Rizzo might be looking at.

    Blevins has question marks and his LH/LH splits are alarming. I say pass.

    Now that it is done for Billy Burns how do you feel?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      He’s not Howell and he’s not O’Flaherty. I don’t think Rizzo gave up a lot to acquire him and just hope Blevins finds his way against LHs once again.

  7. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    This is when I’d like to see the Nats also get Eric O’Flaherty (sp?) as a full-inning LH reliever. Even if he’s not going to be ready for Opening Day.

    • Danny - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:56 PM

      I think this signing implies that Detwiler is going to the pen.

      • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM


      • Section 222 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM


  8. realdealnats - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    Eugene–I’d like to see them pry O’Flaherty away from the Braves as well. I know he only wants a 1 year deal, but maybe we could pay him enough or put a horses head in his bed. As for recovery, we have time. And it’s not my money. Who knows, by the time he’s ready to seriously pitch maybe one of our starters is injured (heaven forbid), and/or maybe by then the league has figured out Jordan or Roark (hope not). I like Roark for #5. All he seems to do is win.

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Jerry Hairston retired. Will join Dodgers TV.

    • langleyclub - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      Wish his brother would retire.

    • natsjackinfl - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      Along with Orel Hersheiser and Alana Rizzo.

  10. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Sec 222,

    Matt Williams said pretty explicitly he wants 2 lefties. A LOOGY (Blevins) and a more of a long-man who could go out for 2 or more innings. Detwiler fills that second role to a tee and I’m not aware of a guy like that on the market. That, combined with the numerous hints all offseason about Det to the pen…just seems like that’s the way they’re going.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      He’s not a LOOGY and wasn’t picked up as a LOOGY.. He also better turn around that .741 OPS against lefties.

      • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        He has a career .636 OPS against lefties. His 2013 seems flukey compared to his 2012 and his career numbers.

  11. Section 222 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    DP, maybe. But while Blevins may be a LOOGY type, he can probably pitch a full inning. And it’s possible Cedeno wins a job in the bullpen too. A LH long man type is a nice luxury (see Gorzo), but not a necessity, if you’ve got Stammen and Ohlendorf for long relief.

    Soriano, Clip, Storen, Stammen, Blevins, Cedeno (or another acquistion) and Ohlendorf is a possible BP. If Det starts in ST and impresses, I still think he should and will get the job. In his one truly healthy season (2012), he was pretty darn good.

  12. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Changing subjects, but apropos of a brief discussion here a few days ago, to complement Robinson Cano, the Mariners again seem to be loading up with 1B/DH types, adding Logan Morrison (I know he can theoretically play OF, but…) and Corey Hart. Hard to figure.

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:13 PM

      This is standard operating procedure for Seattle, no? They did it last year with Morse, et al.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:54 PM

        Exactly. But it didn’t work then and I don’t see it working now.

  13. Sonny G 10 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Man, I just don’t know about this one. Sounds like a gamble that his 2014 won’t be the same as his 2013. I have to trust Rizzo, but, unless he gets a better lefty, I don’t think we’ve made any progress here.

    • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:37 PM

      Well if you’re buying solely into the 2013 numbers, we got better anyway since Abad had a nearly .900 OPS by leties against him. You’d want better than a .741 OPS by lefties, of course. But obviously Rizzo is betting on Blevins regressing toward his career numbers–which is usually a pretty safe bet for a healthy guy in his prime.

      • Sonny G 10 - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:18 PM

        Good. Well I hope you are correct on this one.

    • Danny - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:37 PM

      I don’t see how Blevins, Detwiler, Cedeno can’t be an improvement. All moves don’t have to be flashy. The Nats are making quality under the radar moves this offseason.

      • Sonny G 10 - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        Do you think its an improvement if Detwiler doesn’t go to the pen?

  14. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Billy Beane once he acquired Pomeranz planned to move him to the pen to replace Blevins.

    I still see Blevins as a full inning pitcher.

  15. unterp - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    blevins whip 2013: 1.07
    strasburg whip 2013: 1.07

    also, rather have Roarke for LR than Ohlendorf if he’s not the 5th starter…

    • Section 222 - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      i probably would too, but Roark has options. that’s a big factor in bullpen decisions.

      • unterp - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        good point…

  16. dgourds - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Blevins was at the University of Dayton with Stammen. Whoda thunk that school would put two major leaguers on the same team?

    • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      Yeah, they pitched there at the same time too, so they’re supposedly good friends. And he was with Gio in Oakland. So he’s familiar with our team.

  17. Section 222 - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    7th trade in three years with the A’s, and 8th overall. Who could forget Chris Snelling for Ryan Langerhans, who yielded Michael Morse, who yield Ian Krol, who yielded Doug Fister. Well kind of.

  18. tcostant - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Smart deal. Baseball America thought so little of Billy Burns that they didn’t include him in their top ten Nats prospects. Enough said..

  19. sunshinebobby - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    We use Oakland the way the Yankees used Kansas City back in the day. A glorified farm club.

    Rizzo picks Billy Beane’s pocket once every six months.

    The man is a thief. Hide the jewels.

    • Section 222 - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      And the way Bowden used the Reds.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      Suzuki was a salary dump in the first trade but Beane is still making amends for stealing Willingham. Beane already said that once he acquired Pomeranz from Rockies that Blevins would be traded. Could he have done better? Yes.

      Beane thought he got the better of Rizzo on Gio. Probably a good deal for both and now Beane is a good trading partner.

  20. Joe Seamhead - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    I’m a little bummed by this deal. Blevins? Not impressed. Billy Burns will make a very good bench player/5th outfielder for somebody. The kid just gets on base, and once there is pretty much unstoppable. He doesn’t often strike out and doesn’t hardly ever make an error. No power, but sometimes that isn’t everything.I like Rizzo, but I think he not only got Burned, but he also got Beened.

    • Danny - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      I’m not going to repeat myself as my opinion has been stated above. You are sorely missing out on the context behind this deal of you think Rizzo got “Beaned”

      • Joe Seamhead - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        Well, excuse me for stating my opinion. I’m very aware of the context of the trade, but I don’t like who we got. I don’t think much of Blevins. If the trade had been for Sean Doolittle I would’ve liked it a lot better. Just my opinion.

  21. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 1m
    Rizzo says #Nats discussed 3 or 4 lefty relief trade targets. Also made one offer to a free agent. Felt Blevins was the right cost and fit

    • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      James Wagner ‏@JamesWagnerWP 35s
      Mike Rizzo not making promises but “we’re happy with the group we have.” Thinks Blevins can toss full innings, face lefties & righties alike

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        Bingo. Exactly what i said. Not a LOOGY

      • Hiram Hover - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:14 PM

        I think we’re getting too literal about the term LOOGY, and too hung up on the importance of it. There are very few relief pitchers who literally come in for only one batter, all the time, every time – and very few, in this case, basically means none.

        There were only 11 relief pitchers in MLB last year (out of 200+ with at least 25 appearances) who recorded fewer than 2 outs on average per appearance (and they were all lefties).

        So even if we use that as our standard for LOOGY, basically 2/3 of MLB teams didn’t have one, including almost all of those that went to the playoffs.

  22. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      Well, he has a sense of humor!

      It’s funny reading over the comments here, and how many are at at the extremes–Rizzo picked Billy Beane’s pocket, or vice versa.

      It’s not really either – it’s a modestly beneficial deal that offers something to each side, but not a real game changer.

      • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        Yeah. It’s a 32nd round pick for a left-handed reliever. Nothing game-changing here.

  23. Manassas Nats Fan - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Mike Rizzo and Billy Beane have a good relationship as the trades generally help both teams. That makes for good trade partners.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      I think its turned into that and Rizzo is making his way into the GM club with more outreach to other teams. Getting Fister done was big.

  24. Manassas Nats Fan - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    For Bench player how about Gar-Field High School’,s Jeff Baker? He plays all 4 infield positions and can play LF and RF.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      It could be him but i think Rizzo will get another RH outfielder who can play CF. Still thinking it will be Stubbs.

  25. Jw - Dec 11, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Gaylord? That’s where they have that fancy Washington Nationals Dream Foundation shindig, right? Kind of appropriate, because if they think the average fan will go to a Nats Fest there, they’re dreaming.

  26. trochlis318 - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Amaro: “Kendrick has 64 wins. You know how many wins Garza has? Sixty-seven.”

    Oh i hope the phillies never fire RAJ

  27. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:08 PM

  28. scnatsfan - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    It’s not who I’d hoped but I trust Rizzo got what he wanted for the price he thought was reasonable. As for Burns, I concur with above that Goodwin makes the guy expendable for something we needed.

  29. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    I’ve just discovered that linking tweets causes the twee to show up here. So I’m having fun with it

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      Hoping he goes there instead of Philly. Smart move because if Morse has a good season he will be a nice deadline trade for Houston.

  30. scnatsfan - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    But do we have to drop someone from the 40 man?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      No, Burns was on the 40

      • Joe Seamhead - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        He must’ve been added recently,, Ghost. I sure can’t remember him being on the 40.

      • natsjackinfl - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        I’m with Joe on this. Sure you aren’t thinking about Taylor who was placed on the 40 man?

    • Joe Seamhead - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:19 PM

      Good question regarding the 40 man. I think we’re over capacity now, but I am not positive. I wish we could’ve traded Corey Brown back to the A’s for Blevins, but, oh well. Like I said above, I wish that we could’ve gotten Sean Doolittle, who is more of a loggy, but I hope that it works out for all concerned, especially for the Nats.

      • Joe Seamhead - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:00 PM

        We are now right at 40. I wonder who, what, when ,how it will change before opening day?

      • DaveB - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:12 PM

        I think it is actually 41 as soon as McLouth passes his physical … not looking like we will be picking up anyone in the Rule 5 draft. That could be it for Corey?

  31. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    And Bartolo Colon just signed a 2 year deal with the Mets.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:13 PM

      Yuck. I figured the Orioles wouldnt pay for Colon.

    • jd - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      I don’t get what Alderson is doing. Can Colon play short stop?

      • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        I’d pay to watch him try.

      • natsjackinfl - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:01 PM

        I talked to him on Monday and got the impression he really wanted a veteran presence on the staff.

        He really isn’t enamored with the kid at shortstop but is willing to start the season with him.

  32. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    If Beane was getting fleeced as some believe or Rizzo was getting robbed by Billy, both men are smart enough to realize that sooner.

  33. jd - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Blevins is roughly a 0.2 win a year player and Burns is roughly a non prospect so really this much ado about not much. This whole focus on a LOOGY is way overboard. Now if you get someone like O’Flaherty that’s something else entirely different.

    How is it that the Braves were able to survive and thrive without both O’Flaherty and Venters? where did they find Avilan?

    My point is that it’s not great general managership to sign or trade for(overpay in either case)an established commodity, especially in the bullpen, it’s great scouting and general managership to find the next Avilan or Carpenter etc.

  34. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Did you guys hear about the ban on home plate collisions? I am in favor of it.

  35. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    I’ve always wished Rose had been suspended for the rest of the season for what he did to Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game — a game in which his run had no existential meaning. The key to this will be the punishment. If somebody gets hurt, it needs to be for the length of time the injured player is out.

  36. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    It’s possible Burns gets to the big leagues — but it will be two years from now, if then. In the meantime the Nats get two years of Blevins and maybe he’s a piece in two more runs at the WS. It’s a good get. Help now beats a big if somewhere down the road. It puts the spotlight on people who have been promising Goodwin will start to live up to his hype. I’m pretty confident Span’s 2015 option is going to look like a bargain. By 2016 it will be Goodwin, Souza or the rental market.





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