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Nationals trade Drew Storen to Blue Jays


Nationals trade Drew Storen to Blue Jays

Updated 11:00 p.m.

The Nationals found a change of scenery for embattled reliever Drew Storen and their starting center fielder for 2016 and 2017 all in one deal, as Storen was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for speedy, .300-hitting Ben Revere and a player to be named later.

CSN Mid-Atlantic has confirmed the deal, which was first reported by CBS Sports.

Storen, 28, departs the Nationals after six seasons. He was a first round pick back in 2009, taken in the same class as starter Stephen Strasburg.

Storen leaves with 95 saves in  355 total appearances with the Nationals. He was their primary closer in 2011 and, when healthy, in 2012. He then lost the job to Rafael Soriano the next season, before regaining the role in 2014.

Storen will be long remembered in Washington for his extreme highs and lows. At his best, he was one of the most prolific closers in baseball with a career-best 43 saves in 2011. At his worst, he played a part in two infamous playoff collapses for the Nats. In 2012, he allowed the game-tying and game-winning runs to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS. And in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS, he allowed the game-tying run to lose a Jordan Zimmermann shutout against the Giants. The game would go to extras, where the Nationals lost in 18 innings. Both mistakes played key roles in playoff series the Nats would lose.

In Revere, the Nationals are getting a 27-year-old who provides exactly what they were missing with the departure of Denard Span on Thursday. He bats lefty, has tremendous speed and is under team control through 2017. Revere now projects as their starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.

Revere is a .295 career hitter who batted at least .305 in each of the past three seasons. He stole 31 bases in 2015.

Michael Taylor was expected to be the team's starting center fielder when Span left, but now Revere appears to have the upper hand with Jayson Werth in left field and Bryce Harper in right. However, all four outfielders will likely play plenty with Werth's age and problems staying healthy.

With Storen gone, the question now becomes what the Nationals do with Jonathan Papelbon, who they still hope to trade. Papelbon was suspended by the team for the final week of the season after he attacked Harper in the team's dugout during a September game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

[RELATED: Nats hire former Marlins GM and HOF scout to front office]

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5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera


5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals traded for Royals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera this evening. 

Not only did the Nationals trade for Kelvin Herrera, but they did so without losing Juan Soto, Victor Robles, or Andrew Stevenson. The first two were never in any real danger of being traded for a relief pitcher who will be a free agent at year's end, but the Nats escaped only giving up their 10th and 11th ranked prospects:

On the surface, this deal looks exceptional for the Nationals. Herrera is another back-of-the-bullpen type that only further deepens the Nats' options in that department. Here are a handful of things you should know about the Nationals' newest pitcher:

1. Herrera's strikeout "issue" is complicated 

Herrera, like many other closers over the last half-decade, has made his name in strikeouts. He topped out at a 30.4 percent strikeout rate in 2016, and has a 23.4 percent clip for his career. His K% this season sits at 23.2 percent, which is both higher than last season and lower than his career average. 

People will look at his dramatic K/9 drop as a red flag, but "per/9" stats are flawed and not generally a worthwhile stat to build an argument around. A pitcher who gets knocked around for five runs in an inning -- but gets three strikeouts -- can have the same K/9 of a different (much more efficient) pitcher who strikes out the side in order. 

2. Herrera has basically stopped walking batters 

His career BB% sits at 7.1 percent. His highest clip is nine percent (2014, 2015) and his lowest was a shade over four percent (2016). 

This season, he's walking batters at a two percent  rate. In 27 games this season, he's walked two batters. Two! 

3. The jury seems to still be out on how good of a year he's had so far

Analytics are frustrating. On one hand, they can serve wonderfully as tools to help peel back the curtains and tell a deeper story - or dispel lazy narratives. On the other hand, they can be contradictory, confusing, and at times downright misleading. 

Take, for instance, Herrera's baseline pitching stats. His ERA sits at 1.05, while his FIP sits at 2.62. On their own, both numbers are impressive. On their own, both numbers are All-Star level stats. 

When you stack them against each other, however, the picture turns negative. While ERA is the more common stat, it's widely accepted that FIP more accurately represents a pitcher's true value (ERA's calculation makes the same per/9 mistakes that were mentioned above). 

More often than not, when a pitcher's ERA is lower than his FIP, that indicates said pitcher has benefited from luck. 

Throw in a 3.51 xFIP (which is the same as FIP, but park-adjusted) and we suddenly have a real mess on our hands. Is he the pitcher with the great ERA, the pitcher with the Very Good FIP, or the pitcher with the medicore xFIP? 

4. He was a fastball pitcher, and then he wasn't, and now he is again

Take a look at Herrera's pitch usage over his career in Kansas City:

In only three years, he's gone from throwing a sinker 31 percent of the time to completely giving up on the pitch. That's pretty wild. 

Since 2014, he's gone to the slider more and more in every year. 

His current fastball usage would be the highest of his career. He only appeared in two games during the 2011 season, so those numbers aren't reliable. Going away from the sinker probably helps explain why his Ground Ball rate has dropped 10 percentage points, too. 

5. The Nats finally have the bullpen they've been dreaming about for years

Doolittle, Herrera, Kintzler, and Madson is about as deep and talented as any bullpen in baseball.

Justin Miller, Sammy Solis, and Wander Suero all have flashed serious potential at points throughout the year. Austin Voth is waiting for roster expansion in September. 

The Nats have been trying to build this type of bullpen for the better part of the last decade. Health obviously remains an important factor, but Rizzo's got the deepest pen of his time in D.C. 


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Nationals trade for Royals' closer Kelvin Herrera


Nationals trade for Royals' closer Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals made the first major trade of the season this evening. 

Midway through their Monday night game against the Yankees, the team announced that they had completed a trade for Royals' relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera:

Herrera's a major acquisition for the Nationals, as the pitcher is in the middle of a career year. He's currently pitched 25 innings so far, posting a 1.05 FIP, 2.62 ERA and 0.82 WHIP. His 2.1 percent walk rate this season is a career low.