The Nationals have satisfied one of their biggest needs of the offseason today with the acquisition of Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics. Blevins is a left-handed reliever, which is among the biggest needs for the Nats heading into the offseason. The A's will get the Nats 2013 Minor League Player of the Year OF Billy Burns.
This is just one of many trades between Nats GM Mike Rizzo and A's GM Billy Beane in recent years, and Blevins has been tied to the Nats for a few days now. Rizzo has clearly gotten his guy in this lefty. He's under club control for two more seasons, which is crucial in any deal Rizzo makes in recent memory, and the Nats had a gaping hole in the bullpen without a left-handed specialist. Luckily for the Nats, Blevins can also retire right-handed hitters with some success. Righty opponents reach base a bit too much via too many walks, but the .240 average by those batters is about average.
Burns is an extremely speedy outfielder, and he certainly fits the Beane model based on his minor league numbers (see: on-base percentage.) He posted a .315/.423/.383 slash line in 2013 between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. While he won the organizational POTY award, there has always been a concern about whether Burns could hit enough to make his excellent speed relevant. His career .379 slugging percentage is just one look at why that concern exists, but a career .421 OBP means that maybe the 5'9" outfielder could get on base enough to do some damage.
Once again, Rizzo has gotten his man and satisfied a need for the Nationals without giving up a major piece from the organization. We're pretty close to what the final 25-man roster will look like on March 31st already, but we will probably see one or two more moves between now and then.