The Nationals are acquiring right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland from the Mariners in exchange for Double-A relief prospect Aaron Fletcher, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The teams could ultimately announce this deal and the earlier-reported trade that will send Roenis Elias to the Nationals as one big deal, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:
The Nationals have acquired Hunter Strickland from the Mariners for Aaron Fletcher, per sources. Deal is pending physicals.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 31, 2019
Strickland, 30, has a rather ugly history with the Nationals, having started a benches-clearing brawl with Washington after throwing at Bryce Harper while he was pitching with the Giants in 2017. GM Mike Rizzo will apparently overlook that as he aims to add depth to his bullpen, though, and Strickland has a rather strong track record; though he’s missed most of the 2019 season with a right lat strain and has allowed three runs while striking out nine and walking two over 3.1 innings this year, he has a 2.98 career ERA and a 1.19 WHIP over 257 appearances all-time. Though he won’t be asked to do so in Washington, he has substantial experience as a closer, having taken on the ninth-inning duties prior to breaking his hand (in anger after blowing a save) last year with the Giants and serving as the Mariners’ closer prior to his injury this season.
The 23-year-old Fletcher was the Nationals’ 14th-round pick out of Houston in last summer’s draft. The lefty reliever has been dominant over three different minor-league levels (Low-A, High-A, Double-A) this season, posting a combined 1.79 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP, 69 strikeouts, and 15 walks over 32 games (60.1 innings). For what it’s worth, he’s struggled a bit over five games since being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, posting a 4.26 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP, nine strikeouts, and two walks in 6.1 innings. He was ranked as the No. 21 prospect in the organization on MLB Pipeline’s most recent update of their Nationals prospect rankings.