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Posted at 11:49 AM ET, 01/19/2011

Nationals set to add Todd Coffey

By Adam Kilgore

The Nationals have reached an agreement with former Milwaukee Brewers reliever Todd Coffey, a right-hander known for a nasty slider and his comically intense sprints from the bullpen to the mound. Terms of the deal are not known.

After Coffey went 2-4 this season with a 4.76 ERA, striking out 56 and walking 23 in 62 1/3 innings, the Brewers did not tender him a contract, which made Coffey a free agent. The Nationals made a similar, but higher-profile, deal last winter with closer Matt Capps, whom the Pirates non-tendered. The Nationals eventually traded Capps to the Twins for catcher Wilson Ramos.

The Nationals targeted Coffey, in part, because they wanted to add more experience to their bullpen -- among Nationals relievers only Doug Slaten, who is 31, is in his 30s.

Adding Coffey, 30, will give the Nationals another possibility at closer and create competition this spring training in the Nationals' bullpen, which was one of the best in baseball last year. Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett, Slaten, Coffey and Henry Rodriguez, the flame-thrower whom the Nationals acquired when they traded Josh Willingham to the A's, are likely to claim six of seven relief spots.

That leaves Rule 5 pick Elvin Ramirez, Craig Stammen and Collin Balester for the last spot. Balester excelled late last season in his first year as a reliever, allowing two earned runs in his final 16 1/3 innings while striking out 23 and walking eight. In a vacuum, his acclimation to a relief role would give him an excellent shot to make the team. But Balester also has an option remaining, which could come into play in regard to his chances of making the opening day roster.

The Nationals also have Cole Kimball and Adam Carr, two minor league relievers who played in the Arizona Fall League. Both pitchers, particularly Kimball, who has a 98-mph fastball, could potentially see time in the majors this season.

By Adam Kilgore  | January 19, 2011; 11:49 AM ET
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Next: Nationals sign Jerry Hairston Jr.


That now makes three slots. Looks like a reliever[s] about to be included in trade[s]?

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Awesome montage, and let the coffee puns, um, flow.

As previously noted, perhaps Coffey could spot start in the President's Race on occasion.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 19, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't be surprised if it's a minor league deal (to allow us more wiggle room on the roster) with a handshake that he's gonna make the team and have his contract guaranteed.
Kinda seems like what the Mets did with Willie Harris, and what we did with Alex Cora.

Agree that it does seem to lock up 6 spots, leave the 7th open for Stammen or Detwiler and place Kimball in AAA in April.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 19, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Happy B'Day Curt Flood who would have been 73 today the man who challenged baseball's "reserve clause" and changed the earning power of MLB players but never personally reaped the benefits.

Posted by: dargregmag | January 19, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

"Agree that it does seem to lock up 6 spots, leave the 7th open for Stammen or Detwiler and place Kimball in AAA in April."

Could have one hell of a pitching staff in Syracuse. Plus some guys that could hit for some power. You might just see both Detwiler and Stammen in Syracuse.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Former "Nat" Curt Flood ... Short did pay him a good salary for the time ... he just couldn't hit after his return from that hiatus in Europe. Hmmm, reminding me a lot of current Nat Nyjer Morgan ...

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

If this jokes is in the mix to be the Natinals closer that speaks volumes as to how weak the bullpen is. Contrast that with the O's pen, which lots of baseball analysts think is very strong. That's why the Natinals are the Natinals and why the O's will have a much better record this year.

Gotta love fans being "hyped up" over AAAA guys pitching in Syracuse. Too funny.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | January 19, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Curt Flood, took a moral stand that cost him and greatly enriched many, many others. Guy deserves props for sure.

peric, can you imagine that we might actually have a group of real MLB prospects in Syracuse? Even if the MLB club wins 75 games, that would be the big sign of progress.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 19, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Note to poopy; You mean that bullpen with the suspected murderer oh yeah they're real scary!

Posted by: dargregmag | January 19, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Please tell me it was to a minor league contract. This guy is fatter than the Meat Hook.

Posted by: NatyPete | January 19, 2011 1:08 PM | Report abuse

So what is the earliest date that players can be put back on the 60 day disabled list? Is the 43 man roster made possible in part because Strasburg has already been moved to the 60 day DL?

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 19, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Our slow and steady march toward respectability, if not mediocrity continues. People may not be bowled over by some of these low priced signings, but it's part of the process of building an entire franchise - minor and major league - having "options" in the bullpen, extra arms and competition all accrue to our benefit either with strategic trading (i.e., Capps for Ramos), improved performance b/c guys don't want the trip down to the 'Cuse or trade bait.

Big splash FA signings, Werth notwithstanding, are clearly not this owner's calling card; rather, he's asking his GM to judiciously accumulate solid major league talent in hopes of moving the team closer to the .500 mark. Nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: terrapin31590us | January 19, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Coffey is a horse, thus he is big. The guy can throw darn near every day and he throws hard. He's a ground ball inducing machine. I can't see why he'd be on a minor league deal. Clubs wanted this guy.

Posted by: dfh21 | January 19, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

biscuit, I don't know the exact date when the 60 day DL opens up again. It's roughly at the start of the season.

Posted by: Sunderland | January 19, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree with dfh21. Coffey is a strong pick-up. No way it's a minor league deal. Looks like the Nats are signing J. Hairston - another solid addition.

Posted by: db423 | January 19, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I thought Stammen was a slow starter last year, i.e. he gave up runs in his first innings then settled down. Is he really in consideration for the bullpen where you don't have that luxury? I like Stammen and wish him the best of luck, but I am not sure the 'pen is for him until he can get outs in his first inning.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | January 19, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Trade rumors reports that the Nats have signed Jerry Hairston Jr. for $2mil/1yr

Posted by: NatsFD11 | January 19, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

That makes Bixley, Cora and Hairston vying for that backup role.
Or in Syracuse.

Posted by: periculum | January 19, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Cora and Hairston?


What is this 2002?

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | January 19, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Bixler is minor league depth only. Cora, Hairston, and Gonzalez are competing for the two backup positions. And Espinosa now has to make the team as a healthy contributor. If he is not ready (health or talent) they now have the option to send him down. That would not be popular, but if it is best for Espinosa they can do it.

Posted by: natbiscuits | January 19, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

>>Hairston? What is this 2002? Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P

Yea I remember watching him with the Os way back in 2000 and 2001.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | January 19, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"That's why the Natinals are the Natinals and why the O's will have a much better record this year.

Gotta love fans being "hyped up" over AAAA guys pitching in Syracuse. Too funny.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P"

Yes, they are the Natinals. Because they don't need any stinking O's.

Sorry for feeding the troll.

Posted by: cbm92 | January 19, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

What part of "don't feed the troll," do you people not understand?

Posted by: gilbertbp | January 19, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Gotta bolster the good bullpen - because the starters this year....

Posted by: charley42 | January 19, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

The best part of this pickup is he is 30, not 38 lol. he'll fit in nice with the pen i believe. i still think clippard wins the closer nod out of spring training. i also am loving the crowded infield with 50% vets and 50% young bucks. all in all, so far we have focused on all 3 things that needed to improve: run production, defense and pitching. come on february!

Posted by: willfacc10 | January 19, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

You idiots praising Curt Flood amaze me. Growing up, I used to go to every game and sit in the grandstand for $2.50. Now, it's $250, thanks to people like Curt Flood.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | January 19, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

In what sense was the bullpen one of the best in baseball?

Posted by: paulkp | January 24, 2011 9:16 PM | Report abuse

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