WASHINGTON -- You know the old saying about two birds with one stone? Well Mike Rizzo just doubled down.
Two months into the offseason and only six weeks short of spring training, Washington still found itself in need of an outfielder, another left-handed bat, a leadoff hitter and a new home for Drew Storen. On Friday night, Rizzo and the Nationals accomplished all four of those things by acquiring Ben Revere from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Storen and cash. As part of the deal, the Nats also will receive a player to be named later.
Revere gives the Nationals the leadoff hitter they've been lacking since the middle of last season, when Denard Span went down because of a back injury from which he was never able to recover. Span, who returned for two games in late August only to go right back on the disabled list for the rest of the season, became a free agent in November and signed with San Francisco on Thursday.
A day later, Washington officially replaced Span with Revere, the 27-year-old speedster whose 91 percent contact rate since the beginning of 2011 is fourth highest in the majors. His 176 steals over that time are the third most in baseball.
Besides giving new skipper Dusty Baker a legit table-setter, Revere also helps balance an offense that was more one-sided than a coin in David Copperfield's pocket. When the winter meetings ended last month, Washington's projected 2016 lineup featured only one left-handed hitter. Granted, it was reigning MVP Bryce Harper, but still. Free agent Daniel Murphy, whom Washington introduced Thursday, gives Baker a second lefty, and Revere adds a third.
Perhaps most important, Revere bolsters an outfield that was sorely in need of depth. Left fielder Jayson Werth turns 37 in May and missed 74 games last season, the third time in four years that he has missed at least 30 games. Michael Taylor, who as a rookie last season was supposed to be the fourth outfielder but was pressed into everyday duty in center field when Span went down, whiffed 158 times in 138 games.
Then there's Harper, the pedal-to-the-metal right fielder who missed 104 combined games in 2013 and 2014 before finally putting together a healthy campaign last year. With Revere on board, the Nationals don't have to rush Taylor and instead can allow him to back up all three outfield positions as needed. And make no mistake, he will be needed.
As for Storen, the writing has been on the wall -- in giant, bubbly graffiti letters -- since the Nationals acquired Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline last July. Before that, Storen thrived as the team's closer, saving 29 games in 31 tries and posting a 1.73 ERA. But after being bumped by Papelbon, he imploded in the setup role, pitching to a 6.75 ERA and ultimately seeing his season end in early September when he slammed his locker out of frustration and broke his thumb.
As if there weren't already enough signs pointing to Storen's tenure in D.C. being over, in December the Nationals imported four new relievers, signing free agents Oliver Perez, Shawn Kelley and Yusmeiro Petit, and trading for Trevor Gott. So the Revere deal gives Storen a fresh start north of the border, while also ridding the Nationals of a player who, although he'd been a valuable member of the team for six years, had clearly outlived his usefulness with Washington.
Bottom line? Trading for Revere might not be as splashy a solution to the Nationals' issues as signing a sexy free agent such as Jason Heyward or Dexter Fowler, but it's a solution nonetheless. And a darned good one at that.