Months of speculation finally became reality Friday evening, as the Washington Nationals traded RHP Drew Storen and cash considerations to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for OF Ben Revere and a Player To Be Named Later. Storen lost the closer’s job back in July and will now look to re-establish himself with the Blue Jays, while conversely, Washington hopes Revere can help replace recently departed Denard Span in their outfield next season.

The 28-year-old Storen has been a major part of the Nationals’ bullpen the past few seasons, both working as the closer and as a set-up man, providing Washington with a 3.02 ERA, 3.09 FIP and 95 saves in 334 innings pitched. Last year Storen posted a 3.44 ERA with 67 strikeouts against 18 walks and 29 saves in 58 games pitched. Unfortunately his season ended rather abruptly in September when he broke his thumb punching his locker in frustration after a poor outing.

This lapse in judgement aside, Storen has been a consummate professional since being selected 10th overall by the Nationals in 2009. A popular fan-favorite, he quietly developed into one of the better relief pitchers in the National League during his six years in DC. Storen is under contract for one final year before reaching free agency next winter, and is expected to earn approximately $8.8 million in arbitration for 2016.

In return the Nationals receive 27-year-old outfielder Ben Revere, who split time in 2015 with Philadelphia and Toronto, batting .306/.342/.377 with 2 home runs and 31 stolen bases in 152 games played. Revere, a left-handed hitter, possesses almost no power, meaning his game is predicated on making contact and utilizing his blazing speed to create chaos on the bases. He does not have the walk rate ideal for a leadoff hitter (5% in 2015, 4.4% career) but counterbalances this by limiting his strikeouts (10.1% in 2015, 9.4% career) and putting the ball in play. For his 6-year career and 2,497 major league at-bats, Revere possesses a .295/.328/.348 batting line with 4 homers and 176 stolen bases. His impressive batting average and speed seemingly make him a natural leadoff hitter, but his lack of on-base percentage ideally makes him an 8th place hitter in a National League lineup.

Defensively Revere can play all three outfield positions, although he primarily belongs in either left or center field due to his poor throwing arm. Revere has a “30” arm or well below-average, giving him perhaps the weakest outfield arm in the majors. Fortunately Revere makes up for his arm with outstanding speed and infectious “want”, allowing him to rate as a fringe-average defender according to metrics like UZR. The expectation is Revere will be the opening day centerfielder and split time with Michael Taylor and Jayson Werth in left and center field next season.

This swap fits the definition of a “good ole fashioned baseball trade” as both sides parted with an extraneous but valuable player in order to fill a larger need on their current roster. Storen should help solidify the back-end of Toronto’s bullpen and allow either Aaron Sanchez or Roberto Osuna to be stretched out as a potential starting pitcher to add depth to their rotation.

Without question this trade is difficult on a sentimental level for Nationals’ fans, as Drew spent his entire career in Washington and has been an integral part of the success of the franchise the past four seasons. After his disappointing performance in the 2012 NLCS and two demotions from the closer’s role, the time had come for Storen to leave Washington for another opportunity.

Fortunately for the Nationals the acquisition of Revere should bolster the lineup next season and help make Storen’s absence easier to tolerate. Revere’s excellent speed, left-handed bat and defensive versatility are a tremendous fit for the 2016 Nationals and these skills complement Taylor and Werth’s right-handed, more power oriented offensive approach. His on-base skills leave a bit to be desired, but his excellent knack for making contact pairs well with recent signing Daniel Murphy as General Manager Mike Rizzo attempts to alter the Nationals offensive approach.

In a vacuum the Nationals did extremely well in this deal, parting with one year of a top-notch reliever in order to add two years of a league average starting outfielder. Even with the explosion in salary demands for relief pitchers in recent years, trading a non-elite bullpen arm for an everyday starter is a trade you make every day.

My only reservation lies in my desire for the team to make a “greater upgrade” to their lineup. Considering free agents Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes are still available and Carlos Gonzalez seemingly via trade, I would have liked to have seen Washington’s front office be more aggressive in adding a “middle-of-the-order” hitter, rather than a table setter. My feeling of “good enough” rather than “perfection” dampens my overall opinion of this swap, but the clear fact Washington is better now than before the deal makes this a win for Washington.

 

 

Originally published on NatsGM.com.

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