Why Doug Fister?
With their 2014 starting rotation nearly set, the Nationals will now move on to their other offseason priorities. As my colleague Mark Zuckerman noted this morning, the next most pressing need is lefty relief pitching.
The big names in the bullpen market are starting to fly off the shelves, but MLB.com did link the Nats to one specific name on Thursday. Bill Ladson says watch out for 37-year-old Scott Downs as the Nats have expressed interest.
Downs is a 12-year MLB veteran who split the 2013 season with the Angels and Braves. Through 68 total appearances he held a 2.49 ERA, fading down the stretch after a 1.84 mark with L.A. before heading East at the trade deadline.
Downs isn't a big strikeout guy, he's usually brought in to record an out or two by way of a groundball. Downs ranked 10th among MLB relievers last year with nine double plays. He also allowed just one home run through 43 1/3 innings pitched.
Judging by the Nats lack of movement so far on the lefty relief market, they may be waiting for guys willing to accept smaller deals of the short-term variety. If Downs is willing to sign for one year, the two sides could be a fit.
If signed by Washington, Downs would re-unite with his former franchise, as the southpaw pitched three years for the Montreal Expos. During that stretch (2000-2004) he missed two full seasons because of injuries. He left Montreal for Toronto in 2005 - right before the team moved to D.C. - with a 5.74 ERA as an Expo. For him to join the Nats would be somewhat of a full circle for the veteran.
Downs did not work out for Atlanta last year and was left off their playoff roster because of it. Perhaps he lands in Washington looking for redemption and a chance to show the Braves what they missed.