With Jansen off board, Nats regroup 'pen plan

With Jansen off board, Nats regroup 'pen plan

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' search for a closer continues after they missed out on Kenley Jansen, who has reportedly agreed to re-sign with the Dodgers on a five-year, $80 million contract. Washington has now missed out on the three free-agent closers who were perceived as elite -- with Mark Melancon signing with the Giants and Aroldis Chapman rejoining the Yankees.

The Nationals were in the mix for Jansen until the end, and even offered more money before he chose to return to Los Angeles. The specifics of the Nationals' final offer is unclear, but although the money in total was higher, the offer also included deferrals, according to the Washington Post.

Contracts with long-term deferrals have become common as the Nationals move to sign more expensive free agents. They successfully signed Max Scherzer and Daniel Murphy to contracts with deferrals during the past two offseasons, but they were unsuccessful in their pursuit of Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes and now Jansen despite reportedly offering more money to each player, but with deferrals.

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Now the Nationals must move on in their search for a closer, with their options dwindling.

Washington was unsuccessful in trying to acquire Wade Davis from the Royals before the righty was traded to the Cubs. There are still a few potential options if the Nationals desire a reliever who has previous closing experience.

Robertson's K to end the game

David Robertson of the White Sox could be available, and the Nationals already have had extensive talks with Chicago regarding other trades this offseason, including the deal that brought Adam Eaton to Washington. Or the Rays could move Alex Colome. Washington has had interest in both players, according to a source familiar with the situation, but the Nats have checked in on numerous options to help improve their bullpen. Another possible option includes former Royals closer Greg Holland, who did not pitch in the Majors in 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

"Especially in the bullpen market, there's a lot of different ways you can do it," general manager Mike Rizzo said at Nationals WinterFest this past weekend. "We have a lot of different ideas and a lot of different strategies to employ. It's still early in the offseason, but we've cast our net. We're trying to acquire the best guy that fits for us."

If the Nationals are unable to find any help from the outside, perhaps they will have to find a closer already on their roster. They have capable options who have the "stuff" to close, even if they lack the experience.

Shawn Kelley posted career highs in strikeouts per nine innings and strikeout-to-walk ratio last season and filled in admirably for Jonathan Papelbon during the first half of last season. However, because of Kelley's injury history, the Nationals have tried to limit the days he pitches consecutively. Blake Treinen and Sammy Solis took huge steps forward and completed their most impressive seasons last year, and the team has said Koda Glover profiles as a future closer because of his arsenal and makeup.

"Who knows if we have him in house or not?" manager Dusty Baker said of the Nats' 2017 closer. "Most guys don't come out of college or the Minor Leagues as a closer. They evolve into a closer. Next thing you know, voila! We've got a closer.

"It's not as secure as if you go out there and get somebody that's closed already, but at some point in time, you've gotta give these guys a chance."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.