Earlier today, ex-Washington Nationals closer Mark Melancon signed a four-year deal worth $62 million with the San Francisco Giants, leaving the Nationals to pursue other options in the relief pitcher market. Shortly after, it was reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation that the Nationals were now pursuing ex-closers Neftali Feliz and Brad Ziegler, both of whom are quite attractive after the signing of Melancon.
A 2010 All-Star, Neftali Feliz has been trying to turn his career around after a disappointing 2015 campaign, which saw Feliz pitch to a 6.38 ERA between the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. From 2009 to 2014, Feliz was an anchor in the Rangers' bullpen, pitching to an excellent 2.53 ERA in 198 games, including 7 starts, collecting 87 saves along the way.
However, in 2015, Feliz was unproductive, which led to his release and eventual acquisition by the Detroit Tigers. In 2016, Feliz signed a one-year deal worth $3.9 million with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which led to much better results, as Feliz pitched to a 4-2 record with a 3.52 ERA in 62 appearances. The uptick in performances with the Pirates also saw an uptick in strikeouts, as his 10.2 K/9 rate was the highest since his 2009 rookie campaign, when he acquired a K/9 rate of 11.2.
Brad Ziegler, the side-armed pitcher who pitched in the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox bullpens, is the other name that's new to Washington's radar. Ziegler was very effective for both teams, as he pitched to a 2.25 ERA between the clubs in 69 appearances. Last season, Ziegler had a 2.82 ERA with Arizona and a 1.52 ERA with Boston. To go along with his excellent ERA, Ziegler also pitched to the highest K/9 rate in his career, which was 7.7, as well as acquiring 22 saves.
It is currently unclear which pitcher that the Nationals are more focused on at this time, but it would appear that whichever reliever is chosen, the chances of either being penciled into the closer's role is high.null