The Washington Nationals need bullpen help. You know it, , they know it, everyone knows it.
What everyone didn't know is how close the Nationals came to acquiring Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson before spring training -- and what they were willing to give up in order to make a trade happen."Didn't know" is the key phrasing there, because Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported over the weekend on the trade that would've been:
The Nationals, according to executives with direct knowledge of the deal, were to send 19-year-old left-hander Jesus Luzardo and minor league infielder Drew Ward to the White Sox for Robertson, with the White Sox eating about half of the $25 million remaining in his contract. But the deal got hung up over money.
Luzardo and Ward are Nationals' No. 10 and 12 prospects, according to MLB.com. Per the provided scouting reports, Luzardo is a potential No. 3 or 4 starter, while Ward's ceiling hinges on if he can stick at third base. Given that Luzardo hasn't pitched since being drafted in 2016 due to Tommy John surgery, it's fair to say both prospects have significant downside.
As such, it's hard to blame the White Sox for being unwilling to eat too much money to move Robertson. After all, what's the rush? Robertson has continued to be a productive end-game reliever -- thus far he's posting better numbers across the board in 2017 than he did in 2016 -- and his contract shouldn't be prohibitive for other contenders. It's possible the White Sox can get a better package before the deadline than they would have received from the Nats.
And who knows? Maybe that better package comes courtesy of the Nationals. They could sure use some help. Washington entered Monday with the second-worst bullpen ERA in baseball and a murky ninth-inning situation.