MLB free agency: Trevor Rosenthal reportedly close to deal with Nationals

MLB free agency: Trevor Rosenthal reportedly close to deal with Nationals

The Washington Nationals are reportedly finalizing a deal with former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Rosenthal missed the 2018 season following Tommy John surgery in August of 2017 but was throwing in the high-90s at his showcase on Oct. 3. Rosenthal

AP sources: RHP Trevor Rosenthal, Nationals agree for 2019

AP sources: RHP Trevor Rosenthal, Nationals agree for 2019

Trevor Rosenthal’s return from Tommy John surgery will come with the Washington Nationals after the former St. Louis Cardinals closer agreed in principle to a 2019 contract, according to two people familiar with the deal. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Wednesday

Trea Turner wants to be even more patient at the plate for Nationals in 2019

Trea Turner wants to be even more patient at the plate for Nationals in 2019

Caption Close When Trea Turner reflected on his season in late September, he did not reach for his National League-leading 43 steals, or his career-high 19 home runs, or the fact that he played in each one of the Washington Nationals’ 162 games. He did not care how impressive that all was. Instead

5 trade targets who would push the needle for the Nationals

5 trade targets who would push the needle for the Nationals

When the Boston Red Sox topped the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games to win their fourth World Series in 14 years, they closed the door on the 2018 campaign and turned the league’s attention toward a highly anticipated offseason. Of course, the 28 teams not playing in the Fall Classic had already

Is Victor Robles ready if the Washington Nationals need him in center in 2019?

Is Victor Robles ready if the Washington Nationals need him in center in 2019?

Washington Nationals’ prospect Victor Robles was four games into his 2018 campaign when he landed awkwardly on his left arm trying to make a tough play in the outfield and suffered a hyperextended elbow which kept him out of action from April 9th to July 7th.

Robles, 21, struggled to get up to speed once he returned, but ended up putting up a solid .276/.371/.370 line, 10 doubles, two home runs, 26 walks, and 32 Ks in 52 games and 226 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast, New York/Penn, and International Leagues, coming off a .300/.382/.493 season in 2017, which saw him hit 37 doubles and 10 HRs with 37 walks and 84 strikeouts in 114 games and 496 PAs between High and Double-A in the Nationals’ system.

He was just 3 for 20 in his first nine games in the majors this past September, when he was called up after the minor league season came to an end, but hit his first major league HR in his first multi-hit game on September 17th in Miami, and talked afterwards about making an adjustment at the plate that helped him feel more comfortable.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

“I spoke with both [manager] Davey Martinez and Kevin Long, our hitting coach,” Robles told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr, after that game.

“They’ve been watching me hit all the way from A-ball up and then they made me make a small adjustment to my front leg, open up. They thought I was closed up a little bit and I made the adjustment.

“It gave me the confidence that … they were trying to help me out and I just felt very comfortable out there today.”

“We knew he had some pop,” Martinez said after Robles’s first major league home run went out 427 feet to left field in Marlins Park.

“Now, like I tell him, all you’ve got to do is stay consistent. I tell him all the time, I said, ‘Hey, stay up the middle of the field just like we do with [Juan] Soto,’ those things will happen.”

“He played really well,” the first-year skipper added.

“He’s exciting, he’s going to be exciting, he’s going to be really good. I like the way that he’s playing, I really do. He’s doing well.”

Over the 11 games that followed, Robles went 12 for 35 (.343/.395/.657) with three doubles, two home runs, two walks, and nine Ks in 39 PAs, finishing up his second run in the majors on a positive note and impressing his manager along the way.

“I like what I see,” Martinez said in late September. “He’s full of energy, he can spark our team. There’s still a lot for him to learn, obviously, but I mean he’s going to learn and he wants to learn and that’s a good thing, but I really love what I see.

“Three home runs in a short period of time, that’s pretty impressive. What I like the most is the fact that he’s not afraid to use the other side of the field, which is kind of nice.”

Robles made the adjustments he and the Nationals’ hitting coach suggested, Martinez said, and enjoyed success down the stretch.

“He has made adjustments up here,” Martinez explained.

“Like I said, the biggest thing was for him to work at bats, and stay in at bats, not chase, and he’s done a good job on that, putting the ball in play.”

Robles said that once he got more at bats he started to feel more comfortable in the Nats’ lineup.

“The more you play the more comfortable you get with doing what you know what to do, so I feel good about that,” he said through an interpreter.

The adjustments that were suggested and he applied, Robles said, made a difference.

“It’s helped me a lot. I feel more relaxed and comfortable at home plate, I stay more patient, and I see the pitches a lot earlier, which helps me feel more comfortable out there.”

Had he not been injured early in the season, Robles might have gotten the chance that Soto did in May, when the 19-year-old was called up to the big leagues, but he made the most of his late opportunity to remind everyone that he started the season as the organization’s top outfield prospect.

“We think that he was ready to make that leap this year,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies shortly after Robles was called up in early September.

“But he hyperextended his left elbow early on, like I think in Game 4 of the minor league season, which really sidetracked him a little bit in his progression this year, but came back after a four-month rehab and played about 57 games or so in Triple-A and he’s just starting now to get his sea legs and his timing and that type of thing and we’re looking for big things from him and he’s obviously a big part of our future. He’s one of the top prospects in all of baseball, if not the top prospect, and you put him side by side with Soto and you’ve got yourself a dynamic duo of 20-somethings that can really play.”

“He’s a guy that plays really, really fast, and has speed to burn and has learned to hit as his minor league career has progressed,” Rizzo told the Junkies.

Is Robles ready to jump right in if the Nats don’t re-sign Bryce Harper and there’s a need in the big league outfield come Opening Day 2019?

“He is a consummate center fielder,” Rizzo said. “Great range, great angles, great defense and he can really play it.”

Martinez was asked late this season what the next steps are in Robles’s development.

“For me it’s just — his defense, get better on his routes,” the former major league outfielder said.

“Continue to work good at bats and put the ball in play with two strikes and use the whole field,” Martinez added.

“I mean that’s what he needs to do and what I’ve seen so far and what I’ve known of him, he’s gotten to be really good, he really is.”

Will Washington Nationals' lefty Sammy Solis rebound from over-use early, rough 2018 campaign overall?

Will Washington Nationals' lefty Sammy Solis rebound from over-use early, rough 2018 campaign overall?

Sammy Solis passed his previous season-high for appearances in a season in late June of 2018, when he took the mound for the 38th time in the first 76 games for the Washington Nationals.

Before he gave up five earned runs in two innings in back-to-back outings against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 22-24, Solis had put up a 3.28 ERA, 12 walks, 29 Ks, and a .205/.307/.341 line against in 24 23 innings pitched.

Solis talked in advance of that June 22nd outing about the appearances piling up over the first three months. He wasn’t too concerned.

“It wasn’t a concern,” he explained, “because I felt good. It was a little over-use at a certain point, I remember coming out of the pen and my first pitch of the game, I don’t know when this was, but I was, I want to say 90-91, typically when I feeling good I’m [94-96], so there was a little fatigue there, no pain or anything like that, just fatigue, but that’s baseball, and when you have to pick up the slack with an injury, that’s just what happens. I don’t blame them for that, obviously, that’s just the name of the game right now.”

After starting the season with four relievers, the Nationals were down to two early, when Matt Grace was injured and Enny Romero was DFA’d, so Solis was called upon often, in a variety of situations.

“Obviously with Grace going down early that was tough,” Solis said, “… and we started the year with four lefties in the pen including Doolittle, and then we got down to just me and Doolittle for a while, which made it tough because I had to pick up the slack, cause obviously he’s set in his role and he’s not going anywhere. Yeah, having to pick up the, ‘Hey we’re matching up against a lefty.’ ‘We need an inning-plus.’ ‘We need two innings here.’ That type of thing. It made it tougher, but at the same time, I’ve done all of those things in the past, so my ability as a reliever is more versatile than just a lefty specialist, so I was open to it, and I was ready for it, and now it actually helps me out because I feel a little better, I built up some arm strength, and we’re just kind of grooving right now.”

Following the rough outings against the Phillies, however, and two more against the Nats’ NL East rivals from Philadelphia in which he threw 1 13 scoreless, Solis was optioned out.

“Didn’t see that coming,” Solis told reporters after he was sent to Triple-A to make room on the roster for starter Jeremy Hellickson on June 30th.

“Obviously, workload was heavy,” Solis said, as quoted by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes.

“We started the year with four lefties in the pen that included Doolittle and got down to just me and Doolittle for a little bit. So I picked up the slack, and there were days I didn’t feel great, a lot of days I didn’t feel great, but the team needed it so I’d throw myself out there. [Velocity is] down a little bit right now — I think that’s residual exhaustion from that workload — but I still feel fine. There’s just not much to say at this point.”

“Obviously I need some time to cool down,” the reliever added. “It is never fun getting sent down, especially when you laid it all on the line. Hopefully I will be back sooner rather than later.”

“It was very tough,” Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez said when he was asked about having to break the news to the lefty.

“I am a big Solis fan. Hopefully he will be back here soon. I want him to get reps against left-handed hitters. We just want him to work on some stuff and get lefties out. There are a lot of other options we have. I know he is going to do down there and work.”

“You can always get better doing something,” Solis told the WaPost’s reporter. “So maybe attacking lefties a little more is something I’m going to work on. Lefties have a little more comfortable approach based on the numbers against me than righties do, so I can work on that, I guess. But for now, not too happy.”

Left-handed hitters had a .245 AVG against Solis to that point, with three home runs, while right-handed hitters had a .184 AVG before he was sent down.

“I’m just as comfortable seeing a righty in the box as a lefty, maybe even more comfortable,” Solis had said a week earlier when asked about his splits, “… just because my stuff plays a little bit more as far as using every pitch that I have. Lefties, you tend to shy away from the changeup a little, but I can add that pitch into the mix with a righty.”

Solis returned to the major league bullpen on July 22nd, and struggled over the weeks that followed, with 12 hits and six earned runs allowed over 6 13 IP in 10 appearances before he was optioned to Triple-A again on August 13th.

He returned to the Nationals’ bullpen in September, but gave up runs in five of his last six appearances down the stretch, including in each of his last five, with four of eight runs he allowed coming in one inning of work on the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“For me it’s — there’s a couple of things and I’m going to talk to him tomorrow,” Martinez said after the Nationals’ loss to the Cards.

“I need to talk to him tomorrow, because he’s got good stuff, but he needs to start making some adjustments. But a lot of times he falls behind, his breaking ball’s just — he’s got a good fastball and when he throws his fastball over the plate, they swing and miss.”

Martinez talked to the left-hander again after Solis’s final outing of the season on the 28th of September, which saw him surrender a home run on a 3-2 pitch to the only batter he faced.

“I told him I’m not giving up on him and he knows that,” Martinez said. “I said you’ve got one guy to get out. When you fall behind, 3-2, big league hitters, especially a guy that’s been hot, good chance he’s going to hit the ball hard somewhere. But Sammy early in the year helped us win a lot of big games, and then he kind of lost it a little bit, but I’m not going to give up on him, I’m not.”

“I think now he’s just frustrated. He’s just got to home this winter and kind of regroup and understand who he is and come back ready to go in the Spring.”

Solis finished the year with a 6.41 ERA over 39 13 IP, 18 walks (4.12 BB/9), 44 Ks (10.07 K/9), and a .277/.367/.490 line against overall, .329/.398/.595 vs left-handed and .224/.337/.382 vs right-handed hitters.