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Nats in discussions with Kelley, but no deal yet


Nats in discussions with Kelley, but no deal yet

NASHVILLE — The Nationals have been in discussions with right-hander Shawn Kelley at the Winter Meetings, general manager Mike Rizzo said, but the club has not come to terms with the free-agent reliever yet.

“We have not completed a deal with Kelly, no,” Rizzo said during his Tuesday afternoon session with reporters at the Opryland Resort.

The Nationals have made no secret about their interest in overhauling their bullpen this winter and have talked with just about every available free agent, as well as clubs willing to listen to trade offers for relievers. Kelley wouldn’t necessarily fall at the top of their wish list, but he would fill a need as a middle reliever and possible setup man.

Kelley, who turns 32 in April, owns a 3.67 ERA in 289 career big-league appearances with the Mariners, Yankees and Padres but is coming off a breakthrough season in San Diego in which he posted a 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 53 games.

Kelley doesn’t have overpowering stuff — his fastball has consistently averaged about 92 mph over his career — but he does own one of baseball’s best strikeout rates (more than 11 per 9 innings each of the last three years) thanks to a hard-breaking slider, a pitch he threw 55 percent of the time this season.

In Washington, Kelley could take over the role held the last two seasons by Aaron Barrett (another right-handed middle man who relies on his slider but will miss the majority of 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery).

Though they have yet to land a big-name, back-of-the-bullpen arm this winter, the Nationals have begun to assemble some other pieces necessary to rebuild their relief corps. In addition to Kelley, they signed veteran left-hander Oliver Perez to a 2-year, $7 million deal last week, as well as former Nats lefty Sean Burnett to a minor-league contract.

The big questions, of course, remain at the back end of the pen. The Nationals have been fielding offers for both Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen, though to date they haven’t found a deal they’re willing to make. At the same time, they have been pursuing experienced late-inning options like Darren O’Day (who signed with the Orioles for 4 years and $31 million) and Aroldis Chapman (whose reported trade to the Dodgers has been held up amid allegations of domestic assault by the Cincinnati closer).

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Why Gerardo Parra signed with the Yomiuri Giants

Why Gerardo Parra signed with the Yomiuri Giants

The Nationals officially lost one of the most recognizable players from their World Series run Wednesday when Gerardo Parra signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league for $2.5 million with a $3 million vesting option for 2021.

Hosts Tim Shovers, Todd Dybas and Chase Hughes discussed Parra’s departure on Thursday’s episode of NBC Sports Washington’s Nationals Talk podcast.

“I’m sure there’s some marketing aspect of this involved in the whole thing too after what happened here in D.C. last season but his chances of getting a major-league job next year were very, very low and this just makes sense at this point in his career,” Dybas said.

Parra’s contributions to the Nationals’ clubhouse were immeasurable, but he struggled at the plate for most of the year. The 32-year-old hit just .234 in 119 games between the Nationals and San Francisco Giants, posting a subpar .684 OPS with just nine home runs.

After securing his first World Series title, Parra made the decision to sign with whatever team offered him the most money—even if that team resided on the other side of the globe.

Even though Parra won’t be on the Nationals next season, the legacy of his walkup song “Baby Shark’ won’t be quick to fade from the hearts and minds of D.C. fans.

“I think it’ll definitely live on,” Hughes said. “I’ll tell you what I hope it’s not a constant a thing, like don’t make it the seventh-inning song. It was fun but let’s keep in mind that that song is also kind of obnoxious if overplayed.”

Both Dybas and Hughes agreed it’d be fitting for Washington to fly out Parra for Opening Day next year, when the players receive their rings, and have him throw the first pitch. You can catch the rest of the episode, including a breakdown of what might be Anthony Rendon’s final season in the District, on Art19, Apple Podcast, Spotify or wherever you bet your podcasts.


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How the Yasmani Grandal signing could affect the Nationals’ catching plans

How the Yasmani Grandal signing could affect the Nationals’ catching plans

The first free-agent position player came of the board Thursday, when two-time All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal signed a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. It was a significant move for the Sox, who failed to lure top free agent Manny Machado to the South Side last offseason and complement their slew of prospects making their way to the majors.

While the Nationals weren’t rumored to be in on Grandal, there was a potential fit in D.C. if Grandal was willing to split time between catcher and first base. However, the eventual price tag was likely above Washington’s comfort zone, so it’s no surprise the team wasn’t in the running for his services.

But now that Grandal is locked into the starting catcher job in Chicago, the White Sox are left to decide what to do with the All-Star catcher they already had employed behind the plate.

James McCann played 118 games for the White Sox last season, hitting .273 with a .789 OPS and 18 home runs as he earned his first selection to the Midsummer Classic. Never considered a reliable bat in Chicago before this year, the White Sox could take advantage of his value and deal him to a team in need of catching help.

The Nationals fit that bill. Kurt Suzuki is signed for $6 million to play for the team next season, but he hasn’t played a full season since 2015 and will be entering his age-36 campaign in 2020.

Unless Washington is comfortable turning to unproven catching prospect Raudy Read to split time with Suzuki behind the plate, the team is likely on the hunt for a low-cost option to play a similar role to what Yan Gomes did in 2019. MLB Trade Rumors projects the 29-year-old McCann to make $4.9 million in what will be his last year of arbitration before hitting free agency, making him an ideal match.

The free agent market isn’t flooded with many other options at backstop either. Names such as Alex Avila, Jason Castro, Francisco Cervelli, Robinson Chrinos and Travis d’Arnaud are all available, but each is older than McCann and none of them are coming off a season as successful as his.

Chicago could of course opt to hold on to McCann, but his value has never been higher and the team gave former top-100 prospect and No. 10 overall pick Zack Collins a taste of the majors last season. If the White Sox do decide to deal him, the Nationals would certainly be well-suited to give them a call.