The Washington Nationals bolstered their bullpen before the trade deadline Wednesday, acquiring veteran right-hander Daniel Hudson from the Toronto Blue Jays and Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland from the Seattle Mariners.
Through Wednesday's game, the Nationals bullpen ranked last in the majors with a 5.90 ERA and had blown 20 saves, tied for third most.
Although Washington relievers have fared better recently, posting a 4.76 ERA in July, general manager Mike Rizzo was looking to fortify the bullpen in preparation for the stretch run.
"These guys are all qualified to pitch the seventh, eighth and the ninth inning," Rizzo said. "They all have saves on their résumé, and they're all stuff guys that can get big outs at big times. The role system, I think that'll kind of work itself out. We're just kind of getting our arms around the new acquisitions and see where it falls, [regarding] the way we'll rotate them in the bullpen."
Added closer Sean Doolittle: "It will be good to have some new toys."
After Wednesday's loss, the Nationals are 6½ games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. They began the day a half-game ahead of the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies for the top wild-card spot.
"These aren't the sexiest names in the trade market, but we think we got good quality, reliable guys with some moxie and some experience," Rizzo said. "... We got a couple controllable relievers for not only this year but the foreseeable future and the player return was something that was acceptable to us.
"We feel good about what we did today. And we are excited to take this road trip and really step on the gas and get things rolling."
The Mariners received a trio of minor league pitchers from the Nationals -- left-handers Taylor Guilbeau and Aaron Fletcher and right-hander Elvis Alvarado. Washington sent minor league right-hander Kyle Johnston to Toronto for Hudson, who can become a free agent at the end of the season.
Johnston, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 MLB draft, is 9-9 with a 4.03 ERA in 20 starts for Class A Potomac this season.
On June 23, Washington released failed free-agent signing Trevor Rosenthal, who posted a 22.74 ERA with the team. Two days later, the Nats called up Fernando Rodney, 42. who had been released by Oakland earlier in the season.
Rodney has since emerged as the primary setup man for Doolittle.
"It feels good that the front office and the organization is trying to make additions to help us down the stretch here," Doolittle said. "... I think the biggest thing is the message that it sends from the front office to the guys here in this clubhouse, that they got our backs and they're going to try to give us a little bit of extra pieces to keep this momentum going and help us down the stretch run."
Hudson, 32, was seen leaving the Blue Jays' bullpen and hugging teammates before heading to the clubhouse during Wednesday's game in Kansas City. He is 6-3 this season with 2 saves, 48 strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA, which is his lowest mark since posting a 2.45 ERA across 95⅓ innings in 2010.
He has a career record of 46-35 with 11 saves and a 3.92 ERA in 355 appearances with the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Pirates, Diamondbacks and White Sox over 10 seasons.
To make room for Hudson on the 40-man roster, the Nationals transferred Jonny Venters to the 60-day IL.
The Blue Jays are without closer Ken Giles, who got a cortisone shot to treat mild inflammation in his right elbow. Tim Mayza looks like the next most-likely to move up in the bullpen pecking order, though Justin Shafer has pitched well in late-and-close situations and could factor into any possible committee.
As for save situations in Seattle, Anthony Bass had been used the most in late-and-close situations in July and figures to lead any short-term committee. Austin Adams might figure into the mix once healthy, as might Sam Tuivailala and Cory Gearrin.
Elias has been Seattle's primary closer for the majority of the season after Strickland suffered a lat strain in the opening week and missed several months. Strickland has appeared in just four major league games this season.
Elias has appeared in 44 games and was 4-2 with a 4.40 ERA and 14 saves for Seattle. Strickland has a career 2.98 ERA with 214 strikeouts in 229⅓ innings.
The Mariners have called up Gerson Bautista from Triple-A Tacoma and Zac Grotz from Double-A Arkansas to fill openings in their bullpen
In 2017 with the Giants, Strickland made headlines when he hit then-Nationals slugger Bryce Harper on the hip with a 98 mph fastball, which sparked a benches-clearing incident. It was the first time Strickland had faced Harper since Harper hit two home runs off him in the 2014 NL Division Series.
Strickland was suspended six games by Major League Baseball for his role in the brawl, which ended with him being dragged to the Giants' dugout by several of his teammates.
"Love the attitude, the chip on his shoulder," Rizzo said of Strickland on Wednesday. "He's a tough guy that'll bring it. You love him or you hate him, and he's a National now, so I think he's going to fit in beautifully with the clubhouse."
ESPN's Eddie Matz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.