Nationals Acquire Bruney

Yankees trade RP Brian Bruney to Nationals for a player to be named later; Nationals release RP Saul Rivera

And the first real trade of the Winter Meetings is … a middle reliever for the Yankees being moved to Washington for a player to be named later. Aw, excitement.

Bruney is coming off his third consecutive season with at least 30 appearances although his ERA is a tad bit deceptive as to his true value. Two of the past three seasons his FIP has finished over 5 and in 221 career innings his FIP is just shy of 4.7. He throws hard and misses bats, but he also has issues with walks. Discount his extremely high HR/FB% as beginner’s luck in the new Yankee Stadium and look at his xFIP instead, but you’ll still find that he pitched quite poorly.

Far more interestingly is the choice to release Rivera considering there’s an argument to be made that he’s a better pitcher. Much like Bruney, he struggled with homers last season, but prior to that 19.4% HR/FB outburst, his previous career high was 6% in 2006. Rivera’s fastball won’t induce saliva from the men equipped with radar guns, but his ability to pound the zone and induce groundballs is quite nifty. Again, ignore the home run rates for a moment and look at Rivera’s xFIP the past three seasons: 4.54, 4.10, and 4.41. Look, he’s not Mariano Rivera, but that and his groundball capabilities make for nice depth in the worst case.

Of course, the swap-off will be largely irrelevant in about two weeks time since we’re talking about sixth or seventh inning options for the Nationals.

In other reliever-related news:

Red Sox sign Scott Atchison to a one-year deal with two club options

In nearly 70 career innings Atchison has looked good. No reason to read too much into those numbers, but this is a depth move more than anything. Harry Pavlidis has a more in-depth look.

Pirates sign Vinnie Chulk to a minor league deal

Does anyone remember his fantastic 2007 season still? Apparently so, despite his whiff rates creeping the wrong way in each subsequent season.



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