Are the Washington Nationals desperate enough to give the embattled Francisco Rodriguez a shot? It sounds like it. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the Nationals' interest in K-Rod on Monday morning. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports that it would be a minor-league deal, so it's not like the Nats would be immediately handing him the keys to the ninth inning or anything.
Still, signing K-Rod right now seems like a desperate move and that's because, well, the Nats are desperate.
Despite leading the terrible NL East by nine games, the Nationals rank 26th in baseball with a 4.88 bullpen ERA. Of their 30 losses, 12 have been given to the bullpen. They have 12 blown saves and have tried a handful of pitchers in that role without having stumbled into one to use regularly for long stretches.
We know the Nationals have been connected in rumors to White Sox closer David Robertson ever since they lost out on Mark Melancon in the offseason, but now we've seen the back-end of the bullpen struggle and it sounds like even the players are desperate for the situation to be sorted out.
Check this out, from Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post in a Q&A with readers:
On Friday, yet ANOTHER National simply walked up to me and said, "When the hell are they going to get this done? What are they waiting for? Waiting is just doing more damage."
He didn't even have to say what subject he was talking about or whom "they" were but it's the bullpen and the Lerners.
A team has a problem when all a reporter has to do is say, "How's it going?" and an established part of the team blasts the owners for not understanding what's happening in their own dugout/clubhouse.
Yikes. The Lerner family would be the Nationals' ownership for those unable to connect those dots.
So, yeah, things are a bit dicey when it comes to getting bullpen help. Would K-Rod really be part of the solution, though?
At age 35, there could be something left in the tank for Rodriguez, but he looked pretty well cooked this season for the Tigers. He posted a 7.82 ERA, 1.66 WHIP and allowed nine home runs in 25 1/3 innings. He was great for the Brewers in 2015 and pretty good for the Tigers last year, but Father Time is undefeated and there's a ton of mileage on K-Rod's arm. Oh, and in the days before his release.
Obviously a minor-league deal doesn't carry much risk and adding K-Rod wouldn't prevent the Nationals from going after someone like Robertson in front of the trade deadline, but all the pieces seem to fit here. The Nationals are in desperation mode when it comes to shoring up the bullpen. Even the players feel it.