As you know, free agents are not eligible to sign with new teams until Friday evening, but if they didn’t have a team at all last year, they can sign any day now.
Which means, we have our first signing of the offseason:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 31, 2018
You can ignore that “anchor their bullpen” part, since that job is thoroughly Sean Doolittle’s, but there’s optimism that Rosenthal, post-Tommy John surgery, can get back to being a late-inning relief option. I’m surprised he has signed this quickly, but with a very deep free agent pool of relievers this year, he may have wanted to get a deal done as quickly as possible so as not to be left out in the cold late in the offseason as a guy without a recent track record.
Rosenthal, who is still only 28, was excellent in 2017 for the Cardinals before his elbow popped. Having rehabbed from surgery, and with another offseason of recovery available, he was always a lock to get a big league deal. Terms aren’t out yet, but I’d expect a one-year deal with lots of incentives, and maybe an option year if the Nationals are lucky.
UPDATE: As expected, it’s a one-year deal with an option – though the mutual option is a vesting option for Rosenthal (i.e., it becomes a player option at a certain threshold), and could be a very healthy one if Rosenthal is very healthy:
With buyout on '19 option Rosenthal is guaranteed no less than $7M. Mutual option vests with 50Gs or 30 finished would guarantee another $7M in '19, plus Gs/GF bonuses could make whole deal worth 2 years at about $28M if Rosenthal is healthy and pitches regularly #Nationals
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 31, 2018
Trevor Rosenthal's deal with the Nationals, as @Joelsherman1 first said, is done. Guarantee for 2019 is $7M and he can make up to $14M. A reachable vesting option can take total to ~$30M. If he excels, though, Rosenthal could turn it down, hit free agency again as a 29-year-old.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 31, 2018
Given Rosenthal’s unique situation, on first glance, this looks like a smart deal for both sides. If Rosenthal is healthy and great, he gets paid well for two years. If he’s a flop, the Nationals are on the hook for only $7 million total in the first year.