With uncertainty still looming over the Washington Nationals with COVID protocols, other injuries/unknowns, and their players, maybe it is time for Rizzo and management to look into pieces to bring the club together. While the start of the season was never going to be easy facing the reigning NL East Champion Braves and the 2020 World Series Champion Dodgers, the Nationals surely expected to be better than 1-3 (this can change pending when posted) to start the season. The big pieces missing are bats and starter Patrick Corbin, but there is still some unknown within the bullpen.
Will Harris was brought in last season to be a closer and while he was fine, he has been unavailable since Spring Training due to a mysterious ailment in his hand. First thought to be a blood clot, it seems to be a mystery still and a timeline for his return is very up in the air. Not to mention the build-up time that he will need when he returns, the Nationals could be in need of a closer/reliever short term. Insert Shane Greene, who is on the market still after spending a season and a half in Atlanta.
Greene has been very good over his last two seasons, posting an ERA of 2.30 in 2019 and 2.60 in the shortened 2020 season. To go along with that, he could be available at a smaller price tag, which is something Rizzo excels with when it comes to mid-season relievers coming into the squad. We also have to deal with the fact that Tanner Rainey is just not ready for this season just yet or ready for the spotlight of being a closer for the Nationals.
Also, what happens if Harris is out long term, potentially all season? Who takes that role? We know that Hudson, while capable, does not prefer the 9th inning role. Brad Hand is in line to take over, but can we rely on just one guy for the entirety of the season? Plus, Hand who has had a good career, did not look great this spring with an ERA of 12.15 in only 6.2 innings.
Greene has postseason experience, pitching in eight games to a 2.08 ERA and if the Nationals reach their goals, they would be in a spot in September to make a playoff push once again. It remains to be seen if Washington truly needs a reliever this early in the season, but I would definitely kick the tires on Shane Greene and see what price he commands and if there is a true need there for the team.
Edited by: Jonathan Mailloux