WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – After making it to the first round of the playoffs, the Washington Nationals should be able to repeat their run for the National League East crown. Their most pressing issue right now is finding a closer.
After starting with Jonathan Papelbon and finishing with Mark Melancon after a mid-season trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, they still don’t have an official closer.
The Nationals signed Joe Nathan on Tuesday to a minor deal. Sources say he may become their closer.
On Jan. 28, the Nationals signed Vance Worley, starting pitcher, to a minor league contract with a spring training invite. His contract includes a $1 million base salary if he makes the major league roster with up to 1.65 million in incentives, according to a source at the Washington Post.
“The lineup is loaded with young stars like Bryce Harper and Trea Turner, and the rotation still features a perennial Cy Young Award candidate in Max Scherzer and a promising youngster in Tanner Roark,” said Chris Bahr, a reporter for Fox Sports.
As for the Nationals’ pitchers, Stephen Strasburg started the 2016 season well with a 2.90 ERA, 10-0 on June 15. Then came a trip to the disabled list because of a lat strain. His attempted return on Sept. 7 lasted 2 1/3 innings, and he never threw another pitch.
Outfielder Victor Robles ranked among top 10 prospects in baseball, MLB Pipeline said. In the 2016 season, the 19-year-old showed a lot of promise, with a .354 overall batting average and a .993 fielding percentage.
Pitchers and catchers are due Feb. 14 and the players report back to West Palm Beach Feb. 17. The Nationals open Feb. 25 against the New York Mets at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie.