- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2020

The Washington Nationals announced Monday pitchers and catchers will report to West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 12. And as it turns out, the player who threw the World Series-winning pitch will join them.

The Nationals agreed to re-sign closer Daniel Hudson on Monday to a two-year, $11 million contract, a move that aims to help shore up their bullpen.

Hudson recorded the final out in Game 7 against the Houston Astros, emphatically tossing his glove after striking out Michael Brantley. Traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Nationals in July, Hudson’s arrival in Washington paid huge dividends as the reliever took over closing duties from a struggling Sean Doolittle. Hudson helped stabilize a unit ranked among MLB’s worst.

Hudson’s signing happened three days after Washington signed Astros reliever Will Harris to a three-year, $24 million contract.

Signing the two veteran closers gives the Nationals flexibility in the bullpen, which, against all odds, now looks like one of the team’s strengths. Harris, Hudson and Doolittle give the Nationals strong options for the late innings.

The Nationals took their time with the reliever market this offseason.

They watched as National League East rivals upgraded their bullpens, with the Atlanta Braves signing Will Smith, the top name available, to a three-year, $40 million contract and the New York Mets adding Dellin Betances on a one-year, $10 million deal. Even names like Drew Pomeranz signed elsewhere.

“The relief market, I think there are a lot of good opportunities and options out there,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said last month. “You’ve got some older relievers with less miles on their arms and you have some young relievers with a lot of miles on their arms.”

Washington opted for experience: Harris is 35 and Hudson is 32.

With the Nationals, Hudson maintained a 1.44 ERA over 24 regular-season appearances with a 0.880 WHIP and allowed just four earned runs in 9 2/3 innings in the postseason. His new deal includes a reported additional $1 million in incentives.

Washington also added depth in the infield — signing former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames to a one-year deal Monday and signing veteran Starlin Castro and re-signing Asdrubal Cabrera last week. Both are second basemen, but have the ability to shift elsewhere. And o

For example, Castro, who signed a two-year, $24 million deal with Washington, played 45 games at third base in 2019 with the Miami Marlins. That’s especially notable because the Nationals still have not signed a replacement at third base for star Anthony Rendon, who left to join the Los Angeles Angels on a seven-year, $245 million deal. Castro hit .270 last season.

Third base is the last hole on Washington’s roster. The team is reportedly still in pursuit of Josh Donaldson, the former Atlanta Braves slugger who has yet to sign. The 34-year-old is said to be chasing a four-year deal.

Spring training’s just weeks away, Nationals’ pitchers and catchers will have their first workout Feb. 13, and position players join them four days later. The club will have its first full workout on Feb. 18.

One other fun wrinkle to spring training this year: The Nationals share their training facility with the Astros, against whom they’ll play in their first spring training game on Feb. 22.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide