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Source: Nationals sign veteran lefty Perez to multi-year deal

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Source: Nationals sign veteran lefty Perez to multi-year deal

The Nationals have taken their first significant step toward overhauling their bullpen, agreeing to terms Friday with veteran left-hander Oliver Perez on a 2-year, $7 million deal, according to a source familiar with the contract.

Perez, 34, has been around the block during a 15-year career featuring an assortment of highs and lows, but he has refashioned himself as an effective lefty reliever over the last few seasons and now has parlayed that into a multi-year deal, his biggest contract since a 3-year, $36 million pact with the Mets in 2009.

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com was first to report Perez's signing with the Nationals.

Perez figures to assume the role held over the last year and a half by Matt Thornton, the 39-year-old who proved an effective matchup lefty but departed as a free agent at the end of the season. Interestingly enough, Perez's $3.5 million salary in 2016 is identical to Thornton's salary this year.

The Nationals have long been intrigued by the sidearm-throwing southpaw, having signed him to a minor-league contract in 2011. Perez wound up making 15 starts for Class AA Harrisburg, posting a 3.09 ERA but never earning a promotion.

The following year, he decided to refashion himself as a reliever, first with the Mariners. In the four seasons since, Perez owns a 3.31 ERA over 232 appearances with Seattle, Arizona and Houston, striking out 11.1 batters per 9 innings.

Perez's biggest issue over the years, and ultimately his downfall as a starter, has been erratic command. He has walked nearly 5 batters per 9 innings over his career, though that rate dropped to 3.7 once he made the full-time conversion to reliever in 2012.

Perez has enjoyed his best success against left-handed batters. For his career, they are batting .231 with a .681 OPS against him. This season, they hit a scant .181 with a .517 OPS, 33 strikeouts and only five walks.

The Nationals figure to use Perez in brief stints, matching up almost exclusively against left-handed batters. Fellow southpaw Felipe Rivero, who proved effective against batters from both sides of the plate as a rookie, would likely be used to pitch full innings late in games.

Perez's addition could be just the first of several changes the Nationals make to their bullpen this winter, with the statuses of closers Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen very much up in the air and Thornton, Casey Janssen and Craig Stammen now free agents. They remain interested in right-hander Darren O'Day, according to sources, though it's unclear if they're willing to meet the veteran's reported asking price of 4 years and at least $32 million.

MORE NATIONALS: Can the Nationals remake their entire bullpen?

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Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

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USA Today Sports

Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

Sure, the Nationals and Orioles didn't make the playoffs, but that didn't stop a "Battle of the Beltways" moment from breaking out during NLCS Game 1.

Ex-National Gio Gonzalez started the game for the Brewers. In the second inning, ex-Oriole Manny Machado stepped to the plate for the Dodgers.

Here's what happened next:

If you squint, you can imagine the ball flying into the Nationals Park bullpen or the Camden Yards bleachers. 

And in case you're wondering, we have indeed entered the Twilight Zone. 

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Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

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USA Today Sports

Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

The Washington Nationals picked up righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Miami in their first offseason move to rebuild the bullpen.

The Nationals said Wednesday that they gave the Marlins international slot value in the deal.

The hard-throwing Barraclough went 1-6 with 4.20 ERA and 10 saves in 17 chances, with 61 appearances this year. He allowed one hit in 36 at-bats in June, when he was chosen NL reliever of the month, but struggled with his command the rest of the season.

Barraclough's ERA ballooned to 10.24 over his final 24 games and he lost the Marlins closer's job.

He has a career ERA of 3.21 with 279 strikeouts and 134 walks in 218 2/3 innings over four seasons, all with Miami.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo is in need of relievers after jettisoning Shawn Kelley and Brandon Kintzler late this season.

The deal helps the Marlins in their pursuit of top international free-agent Victor Victor Mesa, a Cuban outfielder who tried out for major league scouts at Marlins Park last week.

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