Given the complete makeover the Nationals' bullpen is currently undergoing, it sure seems like opportunity is abound for just about any reliever the club brings on board this offseason.
Enter Trevor Gott, the 23-year-old right hander the Nats received in a trade from the Angels last week in exchange for veteran infielder Yunel Escobar. He joins a new group of relief arms that include Oliver Perez, Shawn Kelley, Yusmeiro Petit and Nick Masset — all of whom are tasked with fixing what was arguably the team's biggest weakness in 2015.
"I was excited," Gott said at Nats WinterFest over the weekend. "I think it will be a good opportunity for me. Obviously, the Angels did a lot for my career and gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues but that’s just part of the business getting traded. I’m just really excited."
As a rookie last season, Gott appeared in 48 games for LA, compiling a 4-2 record with a 3.02 ERA and a 27-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He told reporters that he likes to rely on his fastball — which is clocked around the mid-90's — along with a slider and a developing changeup.
"I had guys like Joe Smith and Huston Street to help guide me along in the bullpen and help me figure out how everything works," he said of his brief tenure with the Angels. "I played with Trout. Now I get to play with Harper. It’s pretty cool. I’ve been on two very good teams with two of the best young players in the game."
At 23, the Lexington, Kentucky native will enter 2016 as one of the youngest members of the bullpen. But since the Nats were willing to give up one of their better position players to acquire him, does that mean that Gott, who pitched primarily in the seventh inning in 2015, could already be given a key role in his first year with his new team?
"I don't know initially," GM Mike Rizzo said. "We'll go to spring training and see where it all works out...that's always the hope for guys who have great arms and have the mentality to pitch later in the games. He proved it with the Angels that he's capable of doing it. We foresee [the coaches] put him in the mix with our other bullpen guys that really have plus stuff and we feel good about the depth and the quality of guys we have in there."
"I think all relievers goal is to become a closer at some point," Gott added. "But that’s a long term goal. Right now, I’m just trying to fit in for the Nationals wherever they want me and do whatever I can to help the team win."