The Washington Nationals appear to have settled upon their major league bullpen for the 2017 season, as the team announced that veteran relievers Joe Nathan and Matt Albers were released earlier this morning.
Both Nathan and Albers signed minor-league deals back in late January, with opt-out dates being March 24th and March 27th, respectively. According to reports, both were told that they would not make the Opening Day roster, with Nathan citing his "numbers", not his performance in Spring Training, as well as lack of room within the Nationals bullpen.
Nathan posted a 3.86 ERA across 11 and 2/3 innings, striking out 9 in his attempt to return from Tommy John surgery that has virtually sidelined him for 2 straight seasons. The former All-Star closer underwent the surgery while pitching for the Detroit Tigers in 2015 after making just one appearance, but made several scoreless appearances with the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants in 2016. At the age of 42, Nathan believes he has at least one more good season in him and he could land a minor-league deal in the near future. Nathan has 377 career saves, including 260 saves with the Minnesota Twins between 2004 and 2011.
Matt Albers, who pitched uneffectively for the Chicago White Sox in 2016, also threw 11 and 2/3 innings, allowing zero runs. Albers is believed to be the better candidate to land a minor-league deal, as multiple effective seasons before last year's disaster has intrigued numerous teams, with none being named at this time. In 2016, Albers pitched to a career worst 6.31 ERA across 50 appearances, including one start, and posted career lows in H/9 (11.7), HR/9 (1.8), as well as dismal walk and strikeout rates.