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MLB trade rumors: Nationals may be interested in Justin Wilson

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The Tigers would be wise to move quickly if they can find the right deal.

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

We aren’t 100 percent certain that the Detroit Tigers will be selling at the trade deadline yet, but the team’s recent play has started the rumor mill before we even hit July. First up is closer Justin Wilson, who is one of several players the Washington Nationals are reportedly interested in, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

Wilson has enjoyed a solid 2017 season thus far, striking out 39 batters in 27 13 innings. He nearly went the entire month of April without allowing a hit, and earned the Tigers Pitcher of the Month Award. He has struggled a bit since inheriting the closer role, with a 4.61 ERA and 14 hits allowed in 13 23 innings. He has only blown one save in six opportunities, but has suffered two losses after giving up runs in tie games.

However, it’s easy to see why the Nationals would be interested. Wilson’s average fastball has clocked in at 96.7 miles per hour this season and his swinging strike rate has jumped to an excellent 13.8 percent. He is also under club control for the 2018 season. Better still, he won’t break the bank for a surprisingly stingy Nationals club; he will get a modest raise on his $2.7 million salary, but this is chump change for an above-average closer in today’s game.

Now, there isn’t much to go on with this rumor. Heyman can be a bit quick to fire off information at times, and linking the first place Nationals with a bunch of good relief pitchers isn’t exactly solving a complex mathematical equation. The Nationals have few holes, and their largest is easily the ninth inning; they are tied for sixth in baseball with 12 blown saves this year, and have given three different players a shot at the closer role already.

However, if there is anything to these leaks, the Tigers might be wise to work quickly. The reliever market is relatively saturated with a number of solid options, including Kansas City’s Kelvin Herrera, White Sox closer David Robertson, and Pittsburgh’s Tony Watson. With those teams potentially holding out for more value closer to the deadline — or, in Kansas City’s case, a misguided attempt at jumping back into contention — Detroit could strike an early deal for a solid prospect or two.

Unfortunately, there may not be much to work with in Washington’s system. Most of their top prospects are now with the Chicago White Sox organization following the Adam Eaton trade last winter, and the Tigers won’t be getting outfield prospect Victor Robles in exchange for a reliever. One would also imagine the Nationals value teenagers Carter Kieboom and Juan Soto higher than others, though either would make for an intriguing return if the two sides could come to terms.