As­sess­ing dwin­dling choices at closer

The Washington Post Sunday - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS - BY CHELSEA JANES chelsea.janes@wash­post.com Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/na­tion­als

As­sum­ing the Na­tion­als do not add a closer via trade or free agency, they will likely be­gin the sea­son with Shawn Kel­ley or Blake Treinen in that role. If nei­ther sticks, per­haps Koda Glover will be ready.

But if no one emerges by late July and the Na­tion­als are still in the race, might they again add a closer around the dead­line? Or even just choose a new one from within?

Chang­ing closers mid­sea­son is the new­est ac­ci­den­tal base­ball trend. The 2016 World Series cham­pion Cubs added Aroldis Chap­man. The 2015 World Series cham­pion Roy­als ditched Greg Hol­land for Wade Davis when Hol­land’s el­bow acted up. The 2014 Gi­ants de­moted Ser­gio Romo in fa­vor of San­ti­ago Casilla be­fore they won it all. The 2013 Red Sox had to pivot to Koji Ue­hara mid­way through their even­tual cham­pi­onship sea­son. Romo was not the Gi­ants’ closer on Open­ing Day of the 2012 sea­son, but he was their closer in Oc­to­ber, when they won the World Series.

Kel­ley and Treinen and Glover all have the skills re­quired to close, but if none seem to fit and the Na­tion­als look out­side the or­ga­ni­za­tion, the trade dead­line might not yield many op­tions worth their price in prospect gold — and the Na­tion­als, af­ter send­ing so much tal­ent to the White Sox in the Adam Ea­ton deal, might not have the prospects with which to pay any­way.

In any case, the most ob­vi­ous tar­gets are those closers who will be free agents af­ter this sea­son, the ones teams will want to turn into some kind of value be­fore they sign else­where in the win­ter. One fa­mil­iar name is Jean­mar Gomez, the Phillies’ closer who had 37 saves last sea­son, fifth most in base­ball. Tony Wat­son, who seems likely to suc­ceed Mark Me­lan­con as the Pi­rates’ reg­u­lar closer, will also be a free agent af­ter this up­com­ing sea­son. The Red Sox have a $13 mil­lion club op­tion on Craig Kim­brel for the 2018 sea­son, but they seem un­likely to fall out of con­tention and con­sider of­fload­ing parts.

An­drew Miller would be a free agent af­ter the 2018 sea­son, but the In­di­ans, too, seem to be load­ing up, not un­load­ing. Roy­als closer Kelvin Her­rera is also locked down through 2018, and while a Roy­als fire sale is not out of the ques­tion, the ask­ing price would likely be high. Zach Brit­ton would like­wise be a free agent two sea­sons from now and po­ten­tially avail­able at a dead­line some­time soon. But it seems un­likely that Pe­ter An­ge­los would al­low the best closer his fran­chise has ever built to go to the other team on MASN.

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