Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Alex Colome has reportedly become a coveted trade target amid an offseason in which bullpen upgrades are all the rage around Major League Baseball. 

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Nats Showing Interest in Colome

Wednesday, Dec. 7

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported Wednesday the Washington Nationals have spoken to the Rays about a potential deal for the closer.

Colome is coming off a dominant year pitching the ninth inning in Tampa. He posted a 1.91 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 71 strikeouts in 56.2 innings across 57 appearances en route to 37 saves. While his career numbers aren’t that great, he still sports a 3.10 ERA in 108 games.

The 27-year-old Dominican Republic native came through the Rays system as a starter, and he enjoyed moderate success in that role early in his major league career. But his combination of a mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider always gave him more potential as a high-leverage bullpen weapon.

Tampa committed to him in that role to open 2016, and the results spoke for themselves.

Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com spoke with Colome in June following a strong start that eventually earned him a selection to the All-Star Game, and he stated there wasn’t any preference about how he’s used:

I really can’t say how they saw me in the minor leagues as a reliever or a starter because before you get to the big leagues, you don’t know what a team has planned for you. They gave me the opportunity as a reliever and they saw how I worked. But what has always been my focus is having faith and show up every day when I was given the chance, whether that’s as a starter or a reliever, to show what I can do.

While his success makes it no surprise teams are checking on his availability, the Rays would likely be looking for a king’s ransom in return. Not only is he coming off a terrific year, but he’s still under team control for another four years, according to Spotrac.

Add in the fact seemingly every contender is looking to improve its bullpen after the success the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians enjoyed in that area en route to the World Series, and Tampa should be able to land a nice haul of young talent if it decides to trade Colome.

In that regard, the Nationals make a lot of sense. They need pen help to pair with their formidable starting rotation, and Baseball America ranked their farm system among the five best to open 2016, a status that could hold going into 2017 barring a blockbuster deal.

The question is whether Washington would be willing to part with a couple of key pieces from that group in order to bet on Colome remaining a top-tier option next season and beyond.


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