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Mariners trade relievers Roenis Elías, Hunter Strickland to Nationals

Mariners lefty Roenis Elías is on his way to join the Washington Nationals bullpen. (AP)

The Mariners’ top two options to close games will instead be pitching out of the Washington Nationals bullpen.

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Left-hander Roenis Elías, who has been Seattle’s usual closer this year, and right-hander Hunter Strickland, who began the year as Mariners closer before suffering an injury, were traded to Washington just before Wednesday’s 1 p.m. MLB trade deadline.

The Mariners are getting minor league pitchers Elvis Alvarado, Taylor Guilbeau and Aaron Fletcher in the trade.

Strickland, 30, just returned from a four-month stint on the injured list for a strained lat. He has made just one appearance since coming off the IL, throwing a perfect inning Sunday against the Tigers on just nine pitches. He previously appeared in three games with the Mariners, registering two saves during Seattle’s opening series against Oakland in Japan, then giving up three runs in a blown save against Boston on March 29, the same game he suffered his injury.

The Mariners signed Strickland as a free agent last offseason after the San Francisco Giants didn’t offer him a 2019 contract.

The Nationals’ acquisition of Strickland is intriguing because most Washington fans know him for the time he got in a wild brawl with Bryce Harper and other Nationals players while pitching for the Giants in 2017. Strickland could now find himself having to face Harper regularly in divisional matchups against Philadelphia.

Elías, 30, has appeared in 44 games out of the Mariners’ bullpen this season, registering 14 saves and one hold. He has a 4.40 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. A former starter, he has five outings of two innings or more this year, including three hitless, scoreless innings to get the win over Kansas City on April 8.

Jon Morosi of the MLB Network and FOX Sports told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk on Tuesday that Elías may be the Mariners’ best trade chip before the deadline, adding that the Nationals were a potential suitor.

Fletcher, a 2018 14th round pick of the Nationals out of the University of Houston, is a 23-year-old reliever that has been promoted twice this season. He has a 4.26 ERA in five games in Double-A, a 1.38 ERA in 12 games at Advanced-A and 1.61 ERA in 15 games in Low-A this year. Fletcher was recently ranked Washington’s No. 21 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.


Guilbeau is a 26-year-old left-handed reliever who has pitched for Double-A Potomac and Triple-A Fresno this season. A 10th round selection of Washington in 2015, he has a combined 2.31 ERA in 34 games (43 2/3 innings) between the two levels this year. He was recently ranked the Nationals’ No. 15 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

Alvarado, 20, is a right-hander pitching for Washington’s Gulf Coast League affiliate. He previously played the outfield but switched full-time to the mound last year. He has a 6.00 ERA in seven games (two starts) this year.

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