The First Free Agent Signing is…Trevor Rosenthal?

And just like that, we’ve got flames in the hot stove. Former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal became the first rivulet of water over the dam when he signed with the Nationals, as reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Wait, did I just use fire and water metaphors to describe the same thing? Maybe that’s why it’s so steamy in here.

The 28-year-old Rosenthal saved 93 games over two seasons in 2014 and ’15 for the Cards, but only recorded 25 in two subsequent seasons and missed all of 2018 following Tommy John surgery. Because he was not offered a contract for this past season, he was already a free agent and was not subject to the five-day signing moratorium in place for most of his colleagues.

The Cubs were thought to be among the suitors for the former All-Star, who reportedly hit 98 mph with his fastball in front of 40 scouts at a recent showcase in Los Angeles. He was in the upper 80’s with his breaking pitches as well, signalling a return to full health that could perhaps make him a steal for the Nationals.

Terms of the deal were not known as of post time, but it figures to be something along the lines of what Greg Holland got for the 2017 season. After missing 2016 due to TJS, Holland signed with the Rockies for one year and $7 million. He then declined his 2018 option and eventually signed for one year and $14 million with the Cardinals, who released him on August 1 after he posted a 7.92 ERA and 2.24 WHIP over 25 innings.

Holland then caught on with the Nationals and put up a 0.84 ERA over 21.1 innings to close the season. So the Nats have a bit of a history with former Cardinals relievers, though that’s hardly got anything to do with this decision. GM Mike Rizzo’s primary objective here is finding a cheap way to win a playoff series for the first time ever.


The details of the contract are out and they are spicy. According to Joel Sherman, Rosenthal is guaranteed $7 million, but can activate a vesting option that would add an additional $7 million in 2019. Then he’s got bonuses for total games and games finished that could drive the deal to $28 million over two years.

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