The Dodgers bullpen and the Washington Nationals have something in common, they’re both having bad seasons. Because of that, they can help each other with a trade of left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle.
Sean Doolittle is obviously helping the Nats lose so he can get traded to the Dodgers. https://t.co/5jFGtzUpKB
— Blake (@BlakeW47) May 23, 2019
After missing the playoffs last season, the Nationals are currently sitting in fourth place in the NL East with a 24-32 record. Unless they turn their season around soon, they will likely be sellers by the July 31 trade deadline.
The Dodgers bullpen has the 10th worst ERA in baseball at 4.81 and they’re 15th in WAR (0.7). It has been the only weak spot on arguably the best team in baseball. If they want to make a deep run in October, they’re going to need to fix it.
They will need to add at least two good relievers, and maybe three. One of them should be a left-hander since Scott Alexander and Caleb Ferguson have struggled, Julio Urias is facing a potential suspension, and Tony Cingrani can’t get healthy.
Over the past few seasons, Doolittle has been one of the best relievers in the game. He holds a career 2.87 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 30.7% strikeout percentage, 5.0% walk percentage, and 10.8 WAR in 351 innings. Just last year he had a 1.60 ERA, 1.89 FIP, 36.8% strikeout percentage in 45 innings.
Although he hasn’t been great this season (3.52 ERA, 3.44 FIP, and a 27.5% strikeout percentage), Doolittle has the talent to turn it around at any moment and could fill their need for a shutdown left-hander out of the bullpen.
His batted ball profile shows he hasn’t been as dominant as last year, but he’s still been very effective. His struggles could be directly tied to the Nationals struggles as Doolittle is in the 76th percentile of strikeout percentage and the 70th percentile of hard-hit percentage.
According to Statcast’s expected stats, he should be limiting opponents to a .242 batting average, .329 slugging percentage, and .299 wOBA. Compared to his actual numbers of a .269 average against, .419 slugging, and .321 wOBA, Doolittle should expect to see better results.
Pairing Doolittle with Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez would give the Dodgers a strong back end of the bullpen.
The Cost for Doolittle
The cost to acquire Doolittle won’t be low, but it also isn’t going to cost their top prospects. He is making $6 million this season with a $6.5 million team option or a $500k buyout for the 2020 season.
The Dodgers could consider trading Ross Stripling for him as Stripling doesn’t have a real role on the team and the Dodgers have a few players who could step into the rotation if needed. It could entice the Nationals as they currently have Anibal Sanchez and Erick Fedde at the back of their rotation.
A more likely deal might be something with multiple players such as Dennis Santana, Edwin Rios, Jeter Downs, Connor Wong, Yadier Alvarez, or Omar Estevez.
The Nationals need an infusion of younger and better talent into their organization and the Dodgers need another strong bullpen arm. Doolittle should be at the top of their wish list as he could be the lockdown left-hander they have been missing for the past few seasons.