The bullpen-needy Nationals are taking a flier on Francisco Rodriguez

The first-place Washington Nationals are going to spend the next several weeks looking for ways to upgrade their bullpen prior to the July 31 trade deadline. Expect them to be very active.

The Nationals decided to roll the dice on veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez, who had been released by the Tigers last week. The team has reportedly agreed to a minor league deal with K-Rod after rumors of their interest circulated for days.

The July 12 opt-out gives the Nationals roughly two weeks to evaluate K-Rod in the minors. If he looks good, they'll call him up. If not, they'll move on. It's a zero risk move.

Rodriguez, now 35, had a 7.82 ERA with nine home runs allowed in 25 1/3 innings with the Tigers before being released. Just last season he saved 44 games with a 3.24 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings for Detroit.

The Nationals, despite being in first place, currently rank 29th among the 30 teams in bullpen ERA (4.98) and 29th in bullpen WAR (minus-0.1). Only the Tigers, K-Rod's former team, have been worse (5.20 ERA and minus-0.8 WAR).

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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