Nats sign veteran Casey Janssen to bolster bullpen

The Washington Nationals have signed veteran reliever Casey Janssen to a one-year deal worth $5 million, including a mutual option for 2016.

Janssen, 33, has eight-years of big league experience, all with the Toronto Blue Jays. Between 2011-2013 he blew just seven total saves while collecting 58 and had an ERA of  2.46.

In 2014 Janssen went 3-3 with a 3.94 ERA in 50 games, saving 25 games in 30 chances.

He was used primarily in the closer role in Toronto last season but fought back and abdominal injuries early on and a food poisoning incident during the All-Star break, which may have been the reason for his elevated ERA and number of blown saves.

This is a great move for the Nationals whose bullpen no longer includes All-Star closer Rafael Soriano or All-Star set-up man Tyler Clippard. Soriano is still on the free agent market and Clippard was dealt to the Oakland Athletics for shortstop Yunel Escobar.

Casey Janssen. Brad White/Getty Images.
Casey Janssen. Brad White/Getty Images.

It’s unclear what role Janssen will play for the Nationals in 2015. They could envision him as a set-up man for their one-time closer Drew Storen who could retake his role after having a stellar 2014 season or as the closer in place of Soriano.

If Janssen is able to bounce back from his 2014 season he’s a good low-risk, high-reward candidate for the Nationals. He’s younger, and much cheaper, than Soriano who they had signed to a two-year, $28 million contract prior to the 2013 season, after Storen had struggled during the 2012 postseason.

Janssen has experience in both roles making him a great option for the Nats to poentially use as insurance for Storen in the ninth inning, if needed, or as an option for the closer role full-time.

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