Three contenders that are putting their bullpen needs above everything else are the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals, on the lookout for relief pitchers before the trade deadline passes.
The Dodgers might be a surprising name on the list. They have the excellent Kenley Jansen as their closer, and their bullpen leads the National League in ERA. However, with so many injuries in their rotation, they’re looking to help the starting pitchers even more by adding a little more depth to their relief crew. One of the players they’ve been looking at is Wade Davis of the Kansas City Royals, a two-time All-Star (2015, 2016) who is having a less prolific season than before, but is still quite good, with a 1.10 ERA through 33.2 innings of work, and a 1.099 WHIP, blowing two saves in 23 opportunities. There’s a $10 million team option with a $2.5 million buyout next season. He’s been struggling with control, striking out only 2.13 batters per walk.
Another Royals player teams are looking at is Luke Hochevar, with specific interest coming from the Giants. Hochevar, unlike Davis, seems to be doing a little bit better this season, despite his fastball slowly dropping from 95 mph and higher to around 94. He has vastly improved in avoiding walks, striking out 4.44 batters per walk, while posting a 3.86 ERA through 37.1 innings. His WHIP isn’t at its 2014 levels, but he’s at 1.071, and a slightly higher WAR than last season. There’s a $7 million team option on him next season, with a $550,000 buyout.
The Nationals seem to be getting tired of Jonathan Papelbon blowing saves (three out of 22 opportunities) and overall his much weaker numbers compared to last season, with his ERA at 4.18 and his WHIP at 1.423. His WAR is slightly better than last season, which was a negative 0.1 during his short stint in Washington after the trade, but for the $11 million he’s making this season (final year of his deal) they expect more.
The three players they’re looking at are the Royals’ Davis, Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees and David Robertson on the Chicago White Sox. While Miller is considered untouchable, the Nationals have some prospects and young players they are interested in, especially Joe Ross. The White Sox haven’t considered moving Robertson before, but if the Nationals hand out a big package, losing the $25 million more they owe their declining closer through 2018 doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.