CINCINNATI -- The Washington Nationals were seeking some stability for their beleaguered bullpen. On Sunday afternoon, they completed a trade with the Oakland Athletics that could solve their most pressing issue.
The Nationals acquired right-hander Ryan Madson and left-hander Sean Doolittle from the A's in exchange for right-hander Blake Treinen and two minor league prospects. The Nats also sent left-hander Jesus Luzardo and third baseman Sheldon Neuse to the A's.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo announced the trade during Sunday's 14-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
"With Madson and Doolittle, we get two quality human beings, first of all," Rizzo said. "Great teammates, guys who are experienced, guys with big stuff. Both are capable of getting the final three outs which will help stabilize our entire bullpen."
Despite Washington's 55-36 record and 9 1/2-game lead in the National League East, the bullpen has been cause for concern with a 5.34 ERA, which ranks last in the major leagues. The Nats have lost six games this season in which they led after eight innings.
"We needed some help," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Both guys have been closers at some point in time. They got what they wanted -- some young players. You have to give up something to get something. This will shore up the back end of the bullpen."
In Madson's past 13 outings, the 36-year-old has allowed just one earned run in 14 innings with five holds and 12 strikeouts. He did not walk a batter during this stretch and did not allow any of the seven runners he inherited to score.
In the 30-year-old Doolittle, the Nationals get a dominant left-hander who has not allowed a hit to a left-handed batter in 23 appearances this season. Lefties are 0-for-23 with 12 strikeouts and no walks against him.
"He's been doing that his whole career," Rizzo said.
Either Madson or Doolittle could fill the Nationals' fluid closer's role.
Madson had 30 saves in 2016 and Doolittle has 36 saves during his six major league seasons, including 22 in 2014 when he was an American League All-Star.
"They're both capable of getting out both lefty and right-handed hitters," Rizzo said. "They're versatile. No egos. They can pitch both the eighth and the ninth. Both have done it before.
"Dusty will stabilize the bullpen and set on one guy and get a little rhythm back there."
Washington paid a price to acquire Madson and Doolittle, giving up a proven big-league reliever in Treinen and two highly regarded prospects.
Treinen, 29, was 8-11 with a 3.39 ERA in 185 games for the Nationals from 2014 to 2017 and currently ranks second in the major leagues in double-play grounders.
"It's unfortunate to watch Blake go," Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy said. "You give up a quality piece to get two quality pieces."
Luzardo, 19, is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in three starts for the Nationals' affiliate in the Gulf Coast Rookie League. He was selected in the third round of the 2016 draft.
Neuse, 22, is hitting .291 with nine home runs and 51 RBIs in 77 games for Class A Hagerstown. He was selected by Washington in the second round of the 2016 draft.
The Nationals also transferred right-hander Joe Ross to the 60-day disabled list. Ross will undergo Tommy John surgery next week and will miss the remainder of the season.
"It came together pretty quick," Rizzo said. "Conversations we had with Oakland for a couple weeks focused on one of their relievers. Then a day or so ago it morphed into a bigger deal."