Washington’s bullpen has been a glaring weakness all season, even during their surge in June and July. Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Average places the Nationals’ relievers as the 25th-best in Major League Baseball. Acquiring a bullpen arm or two before the deadline at 9pm BST on 31st July was crucial for the Nationals.
Shane Greene had been a trade target, but the demands were too high. With a huge gap between sellers expectations and what buyers are willing to part with, deals for players like Hudson always seemed likely as the deadline crept closer. Hudson is having a solid year, and ranks in the 82nd percentile for expected batting average.
Washington sent former fifth-round pick, high-A pitcher Kyle Johnston to the Blue Jays. That price is significantly cheaper than alternatives like Greene, Sam Dyson or Tony Watson would have been and Hudson, armed with a 96 mph fastball, slider, sinker and changeup, will slot nicely into the Nationals bullpen, providing a bridge between the excellent starting staff and lefty closer Sean Doolittle.
It has since been reported by Ken Rosenthal too that the Nationals are moving to add Seattle Mariners left hander Roenis Elias. Elias will be the third lefty in the Nationals ‘pen if the trade goes through, joining Doolittle and veteran Tony Sipp. Like Hudson, Elias will be attainable for minimal cost – he represents the value option of the relief pitchers on the market.
With a farm that was depleted through previous trades, and uncertainty over Anthony Rendon‘s future, it’s understandable that the Nationals were reluctant to deal prospects like Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia. Hudson – and maybe Elias – could give a notable improvement in the bullpen, and it’s a sensible halfway house between throwing prospects away and ignoring a need.