As they heat up, will Nats jump into the Craig Kimbrel race?

Josh Luckenbaugh
June 03, 2019 - 9:50 am

The Nationals are slowly but surely digging themselves out of the early hole they dug themselves, winning seven of their last nine games.

And if this hot streak continues, could Washington jump into the Craig Kimbrel sweepstakes?

"I think it's a long-shot at this point," Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post told The Sports Junkies Monday. "I do think that this 7-2 stretch makes you think a little bit that it's possible, just because having been swept in four games in New York coming off that series, if you lay an egg in the next nine games — which was a softer part of the schedule with the Marlins, Braves, and then the Reds this weekend — I'd say if you didn't do anything there, you'd say no way. This season's pretty much in the bag, and they don't need that kind of help."

"Now, they've pushed back into it, they've shown some decent signs recently. I'm not saying they're gonna make some big, grand run now, but they're a lot better off than they were."

"I think there is some small percentage point possibility, but I'd say there's a lot of other teams that are gonna be throwing bigger money around because they're more convinced they're really in this thing. So I'd say it's a really low chance."

The Nats still have baseball's worst bullpen, but thus far have tried to address the issue with cheaper options than Kimbrel, most recently signing Fernando Rodney to a minor-league deal.

As Dougherty said, it's hard to see them breaking the bank for Kimbrel, especially given the concerns he and fellow free agent Dallas Keuchel won't be ready to pitch immediately. 

"I've been hearing two weeks," Dougherty told the Junkies. "I think that comes with like, first you got to go through medical stuff, then you want to get him out to a ... tune-up assignment where he can throw against live hitters, just because he hasn't in eight months.

"I don't think teams are gonna want to wait until July for these guys," he continued. "I think both of them will be thrown into the mix sooner rather than later, because ... any team that's signing these guys is saying we need a lift in some area, and we need you now. It's not just necessarily to add on top, it's to actually fill a significant need."

"I've heard two weeks for Kimbrel, maybe three would be a conservative estimate. But I think any timeframe a team gives when signing him, I bet he'll be ahead of schedule."

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