- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2017

While the Nationals maintain a comfortable lead atop the NL East, the club still has one glaring problem: the lack of a consistent closer. Due to a combination of injuries and inconsistent performances, no one in Washington’s bullpen has locked down the 9th inning yet.

As a result, the Nationals have begun to look for solutions outside the organization, with rumors swirling that the team has expressed interest in Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. The Cuban right-hander currently holds an impressive 1.59 ERA while recording 15 saves this season, and Cincinnati would likely demand a lot in any potential trade discussions.

Here are five more relievers around the league Washington could pursue before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

David Robertson, Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are all but out of postseason contention, dead last in the AL Central and second-to-last in the American League Wild Card picture, and veteran closer Robertson will be an in-demand commodity if Chicago holds a mid-season fire sale. The 32-year old has topped 30 saves each of the last three seasons and is on his way to another solid campaign in 2017, posting a 3.0 ERA and 12 saves.

Additionally, Robertson has plenty of postseason experience from his time on the Yankees, winning a World Series with the Bronx Bombers in 2009. The White Sox will ask for a hefty sum to acquire his services, but if no one else steps up in the Nationals’ bullpen, this may be the best available 9th inning option.

Justin Wilson, Detroit Tigers

Another struggling AL Central team, the Tigers have had bullpen problems of their own this season. Detroit released their 2016 closer Francisco Rodriguez on June 23 after “K-Rod” began 2017 with an ungodly 7.82 ERA (the Nationals actually signed Rodriguez to a minor-league deal in late June). The left-handed Wilson has been considerably better than Rodriguez, maintaining a 2.56 ERA and blowing just one of his 10 save opportunities so far.

While the Tigers are not in as dire straits as the White Sox, Detroit could quickly become a seller if things don’t improve. Given his performance so far in 2017, Wilson could potentially be a cheaper, if less experienced, alternative to Robertson for the Nationals.

Ryan Madson, Oakland Athletics

The A’s are another AL team unlikely to reach the postseason, currently the basement-dwellers in the Wild Card race at 7.5 games back. Madson has had success in 2017 outside the closer role, currently holding an ERA of 2.34, but has also served as a closer in previous seasons in Oakland and Philadelphia.

Washington and Oakland have made several deals together in the recent past, players such as Gio Gonzalez, Kurt Suzuki, and just last season Marc Rzepczynski coming to the Nationals from the A’s. If Madson does become available, expect the Nationals to show interest.

Addison Reed, New York Mets

The Mets are Washington’s division rivals and thus a trade between the two teams may seem unlikely on the face of things, but New York has almost no hope of recovering from a terrible start to the season. They’re 11.5 games back in the NL East and 10 behind in the Wild Card race, and at this point selling seems like the only option.

For all of New York’s problems, Reed has done his job as the team’s closer, saving 14 games with an ERA of 2.59. It may be difficult prying him away from an NL East foe, but if they do, the Nationals could potentially have their man for the 9th inning.

Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies

Another NL East rival, the Phillies are in worse condition than the Mets. The Nationals’ former bullies have become the bullied, dwelling in the division basement 20.5 games out of first place. If any team’s a seller at this point in the season, it’s Philadelphia.

While Neshek hasn’t been closing games for the Phillies, his unbelievable stats this year make him a viable trade option. The 36-year old currently holds a 1.39 ERA and a 0.866 WHIP, having allowed just five runs all season through 32.1 innings pitched. This may just be a run of good fortune for the 11-year veteran, but if he continues to perform into July, the Nationals could pull the trigger on a trade.

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