Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Ladson’s Inbox 12/27/14

32 comments

Espinosa continues to be the leading player on the minds of Nats fans. Photo AP via mlb.com

Espinosa continues to be the leading player on the minds of Nats fans. Photo AP via mlb.com

Happy Holidays!  What a nice surprise; mlb.com Nats beat reporter Bill Ladson posted his first mailbag/inbox column since January 2014.  He must have been bored during the holiday lull in baseball news.

As always, since its been like a year since I did one of these, I write my response question by question before reading Ladson’s, and sometimes edit questions for clarity.

Q: Assuming the Nationals don’t make any acquisitions via trade or free agency, what is their in-house solution for second base?

A: Well, in order they’d likely start Danny Espinosa and bat him 8th.  And, if the fans’ had their choice, he’d abandon switch hitting, bat righty only and probably have a career resurgence.  Just a reminder: Espinosa’s career lefty split is .213/.283/.362 while his career righty split is .271/.343/.460.  Espinosa is so good defensively that i’m not entirely opposed to him being the starter; he can spell Ian Desmond at short (in fact, I’ve always thought Espinosa was a better shortstop defensively) and makes up for his awful switch hitting by being so good defensively (but not nearly enough to prevent the team from shopping).

After Espinosa, you have utility guy Kevin Frandsen having stated publicly he wants to be considered for the job.  Problem with Frandsen is this; he’s been even WORSE offensively the last two years than Espinosa; he has a .624 OPS in the last two years.  I hope there’s not anyone who thinks he’s a better solution.  Youngster Wilmer Difo was just added to the 40-man roster, but he’s never played above low-A.  That’s basically the roster of middle infielder options on the 40-man roster.  Jeff Kobernus played 2B in college but has long since been converted to an outfielder in this organization, so he’s not really an option either.  Looking deeper into the minor leagues, there’s some MLFA options at AAA (the likes of DC-native Emmanuel Burriss, current MLFA and Virginia-native Will Rhymes, or maybe even our own long-time org player Jose Lozada), and a couple of Nats draftees who have yet to pan out (Rick Hague and Jason Martinson).  But none of these guys are better options than just sticking with Espinosa.

Hence, the reason the team is looking at trade/FA options.  There’s a ton of 2B options that are likely available in trade or still on the FA market; its arguable that any of them are better options than just staying the course though.  So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the team stood pat.

Ladson reviews the same three 40-man options and comes to the same conclusions as I do, and says he sees a trade.  He likes a trade for Ben Zobrist, like I do, but Tampa is notoriously hard-bargaining.  What would we be willing to give up to get Zobrist?

Q: Why are the Nationals willing to trade their best pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann? Wouldn’t Stephen Strasburg get them a better return?

A: I’m sure Strasburg would get a better return; he’s got two years of control instead of just one, and is scheduled to make a third of what Zimmermann will make in 2015.  I feel Strasburg is in some ways actually under-rated; despite a pedestrian 14-11 record in 2014, here’s his ranks in the entire majors in some quick categories: 13th in fWAR, 3rd in xFIP, 13th in FIP, 5th in K/9, and 5th in SIERA.  Teams are now smarter when it comes to acquiring control; a year of Zimmermann at $16M+ isn’t going to bring back that much anyway (see what the Rays got for David Price, for less money and TWO years of control).

And then there’s this: teams that are trying to win do not trade pitchers like Strasburg.  Plain and simple; it would be fan-relations suicide to move Strasburg right now.  The team just won the division by 17 games and their closest rival is having a fire sale; why on earth would the Nats look to move someone like Strasburg?  So that being said, why are they willing to trade Zimmermann?  I think it comes down to several reasons:

1. Money: As i’ve discussed in the past, the Nats payroll was at $135M at the beginning of 2014 and projects to nearly $150M without any subsequent moves.   150M minus Zimmermann’s 16.5M 2015 salary looks an awful lot like the payroll from 2014….

2. Practicality: You don’ t need to win your division by 15 games.  You can still win by 5 games and make the playoffs.  If the Nats can trim payroll, turn Zimmermann into something that look better than what we may get in a supplemental 1st round pick, AND still win the division in 2015?  Wins all around.

Ladson says several things I disagree with; he thinks Zimmermann would bring back a “kings ransom” and he thinks Rizzo is going to “get a deal done” with Zimmermann this off-season. 

Q: Given that he’s at an age where he needs to play regularly, does Tyler Moore have a chance of backing up first baseman Ryan Zimmerman in ’15?

A: Not sure what Tyler Moore‘s age has to do with anything; if you’re 22 or 42 you’re going to get ABs in the majors if you can play.   To the question at hand; right now i’m projecting Moore to be the 25th guy on the active roster.  That doesn’t mean he’ll make it, but he does fill a position of need; right handed power off the bench.  Had the Nats not traded Stephen Souza Moore might be a goner.  Now?  He could still make the team.  But somehow I sense that perhaps the team will look to flip him and/or bring in veteran competition for his bench spot.   Ladson states the obvious, saying the team will look to trade him since he’s out of options.

Q: Since it appears Michael Taylor is considered the future center fielder, can you see the team holding on to Denard Span beyond ’15?

A: In a word; nope.  I’m guessing that Taylor will get some experience as a backup in 2014 (and frankly may get a ton of at-bats, since our outfield isn’t exactly an injury-free haven), and soon the team will have a guy who can play a better CF than Span, hit with more power and run with more speed.  All in all, I think Taylor will be an improvement over Span in nearly every category and for 1/20th the cost.  Ladson says it depends on how Taylor does.

Q: Last year, the Nationals’ pinch-hitting average was terrible. Any hope it gets better?

A: So far … not really.  The bench is still projecting to be basically the same guys as in 2014.   Frandsen, Loboton, McLouth and Moore.  The only change is the dumping of Scott Hairston for Taylor.  But Taylor’s K rate is still high, which means we’ll likely see continued crummy pinch hitting.  Ladson points out the Nats havn’t had a good bench since 2012. 

Q: How is Lucas Giolito doing? Will he fill a rotation spot if Zimmermann or Doug Fister is traded?

A: Not in 2015.  Maybe by mid 2016 if Giolito has a two-level jump this year.  Giolito’s best case is to completely shut down high-A in April and force a promotion to AA by mid-season.  If that happens, then maybe we’re looking at a mid-April call up in 2016, just in time to replace the potentially departed FAs Zimmermann and/or Fister.  But this is a very heady dream; remember; Giolito is still on an innings limit, is still just 20 years of age (he turns 20 in July of 2015), and most pitchers his age are still in college,  yet to even be drafted.

If we move Zimmermann or Fister this off-season, then we’re looking at drawing from our AAA rotation for the 5th starter.  One of Treinen, Hill, Jordan or Cole.  Probably in that order, thanks to 40-man and experience implications.

Ladson is bullish on Giolito; thinks he’ll start in AA and get a call-up in September.  That’d be pretty aggressive.

Q: Why didn’t the Nats go after Russell Martin? Their catchers are less than adequate. Is Wilson Ramos still the guy?

A: Disagree here.  When healthy Ramos is a beast.  Remember he was the frigging opening day 2014 clean-up hitter.  The last thing the Nats needed to do was spend millions on someone like Martin.  Lobaton is more than adequate of a backup, cost-controlled and we traded a hefty price (Nathan Karns) to acquire him.  Ladson agrees with me.

 

 

 

32 Responses to 'Ladson’s Inbox 12/27/14'

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  1. The thought of Giolito being a September call-up is one of the stranger things I’ve seen this off-season. Here’s the only way that happens: about seven Nats’ pitchers are injured but the Nats are still making a playoff push. Otherwise, it makes no sense. The earliest I would expect to see him in DC would be June 2016, possibly not until 2017. He’ll probably be shut down by Sept. 2015 anyway, and rightfully so.

    Second base: The Rays have had plenty of opportunities to deal Zobrist by now, to half the league. It hasn’t happened. There’s no need to overpay for a one-year rental. If he’s available for a couple of second-tier minor-league arms, get him. If not, move on.

    There aren’t that many good options around the majors at 2B. I’d love to get Brian Dozier, but he’d come at a steep price. Who else would the Nats want whom they could reasonably afford? The only FA’s still out there are Cabrera or Drew. I’d think about Cabrera for 2/$12M, but he’ll want more. He might hit a hair better than Danny, but he’d play significantly worse defense.

    I’m not thrilled by the idea, but I’ve almost come back around to the conclusion, like you, that Espinosa might not be so bad. He’d cost nothing, he plays great defense, and he’d be batting 8th, after all. This isn’t a ringing endorsement of the idea, just an acceptance of a more likely reality. As for the thought of Frandsen starting, give me Uggla any day before Frandsen!

    J-Zimm trade: I completely agree that the likelihood of getting a healthy return just isn’t there. I’m sure that Rizzo has talked with the Rangers, Bosox, and Cubbies about their middle-infield stud prospects, but they don’t seem to be budging. I don’t think Rizzo would have made the Trea Turner deal if he still thought he was getting Betts, Russell, or Odor.

    KW

    29 Dec 14 at 12:41 pm

  2. I’m a lot closer to Todd’s answers than Ladson’s, especially on the likely return for JZim. But then again I’ve never been impressed by Ladson’s insight and/or analysis.

    On second base, I don’t think Zobrist is moved for a reasonable price unless/until the Rays fall out of contention. They do have pitching, so they’ve got a shot if they can score enough. Trading Zobrist would be the true “punting 2015” white flag move for the Rays. The Price deal, and even the Myers deal, can be spun as reloading as much as rebuilding. Moving Zobrist for kids could not be so spun.

    If Cabrera and Drew are the FA choices, I would opt for “whichever is cheaper.” I think that’s likely Drew at this point. He would be a LH stick to add to the lineup, and potentially platoon with Espinosa if he struggles at all. If Drew craters, the Nats still have (right side only?) Danny as a fallback position. I think Drew can clearly be had for a one year deal, where Cabrera would require a longer commitment.

    John C.

    29 Dec 14 at 1:39 pm

  3. What if I told you that Espinosa was going to give up switch hitting and have a line that represents a 10% degradation of his typical RH split line? So he’d bat .244/.309/.414 and would keep his typical one homer every 33 PAs … so he’d hit 20 homers again but would also continue to strike out about once a game. Would we take that?

    Todd Boss

    29 Dec 14 at 3:34 pm

  4. I think you’re a bit too optimistic about Taylor. I agree with the points you made (more power than Span, plays a good CF, fast), but he also has problems making contact as Harper loves to point out (I’m being sloppy and lumping together 2 minor league levels and a few MLB at bats, but last year he had 161 strikeouts in 548 ABs — nearly a 30% rate).

    I’m rooting for Taylor to make it, but if you forced me to choose now, in 2016 I’d take Span over Taylor.

    Matt

    29 Dec 14 at 4:19 pm

  5. Todd, we all would take that line from Espy, but don’t we feel foolish always talking about him hitting better “next year”? Seems like the way Cubs fans think.

    For my foolish comment, why not give Difo an actual chance to win the job? If our best options are likely 1 war guys, is it really dumb to let a really young but talented guy compete? He’s already on the 40 man, so his options are already ticking.

    Andrew R

    29 Dec 14 at 7:51 pm

  6. Taylor strike outs: yes he K’s a lot. But he also hits a ton of homers. That’s the trade-off you get. Just looking at his minor league stats for 2014 you have 144 Ks … and 23 homers and 37 SBs. He had a .915 OPS for crying out loud. For me, that’s something to work on of course, but also showing what kind of huge potential he has.

    now, if he was striking out at a 30% clip and hitting no home runs … like, say, Danny Espinosa the last couple of years … then yes you’re not in a good spot.

    Todd Boss

    29 Dec 14 at 8:57 pm

  7. That line was a 10% degradation of his righty split! That wasn’t him hitting better, that’s actually him hitting *worse* than he has traditionally hit right handed. Granted its a pipe dream of a scenario, since we’ve heard nothing of him willingly giving up the switch hitting.

    Difo has zero at bats above low-A. I think he’d be lucky to hit .150 in the majors next year. There’s significant difference between low-A and high-A pitchers, and high-A and AA arms. And there’s a subtle but important difference between AA and AAA guys. And then as we all know there’s a pretty distinct line between just a 4-A guy and a regular MLB arm. Difo has experienced none of this.

    Todd Boss

    29 Dec 14 at 9:01 pm

  8. Todd, about 2/3 of pitchers in the majors are righties. I think it’s a pipe dream that either Difo or Espy could hit over .210 against righties in the majors next year.

    Andrew R

    29 Dec 14 at 9:07 pm

  9. Conjecture but i’d tend to think that Espinosa would hit somewhere between his blended average and his righty only split. Blended average from 2014 was .219, .228 career. Righty split career is .271. I thought a 10% lowering from .271 was a fair estimate.

    Now difo? .150 would be my estimate. Completely overmatched. But give him time to adjust to each level and each additional rise in talent … and he could/should be special.

    Todd Boss

    29 Dec 14 at 9:15 pm

  10. Now I’m just being argumentative, but Adrian Nieto hit .236/.296/.340 last year in 118 plate appearances for the Sox.

    I lack all confidence in Espy’s hitting. I have no idea about what Difo can do. I’m just saying to let the guy compete since he’s already on the 40 man.

    Andrew R

    29 Dec 14 at 9:18 pm

  11. I’d take Todd’s mythical Espy numbers. However, I’ll believe the RH-only deal when I see it. He’d gain the respect of a lot of folks if he’d give it a try, though. I’m not a fan of Drew. How is he any better than Espinosa? Danny is basically the 1-WAR baseline, for virtually nothing. And I say this as someone who has been quite critical of Espinosa. Why spend the money unless you’re getting someone demonstrably better?

    I’m sort of between Todd and Matt on Taylor. He still has a lot to work on in the strikeout department, and he needs to show that he can repeat the big production leap he made in 2014. I really think he’s got to stay in Syracuse and play every day unless there’s a long-term injury to an OF starter. They’ve gone all in with him by trading Souza, though. Or sort of all in, as there probably would be the option to bring back Span for a year or two. If they made Span a qualifying offer, just to keep him around for a year, he’d have to be very tempted to take it.

    The bench still concerns me, with or without Taylor. Lobaton is fine. McLouth has been discussed and has a lot to prove in the bounce-back department. I’d be surprised if T-Mo sticks as the RH bat, but you never know. He brings more to the plate than Frandsen does, although Frandsen is more versatile in the field. Still, there’s got to be someone better out there, right? I don’t know why they re-signed Frandsen so quickly. If Espy ends up as the starter, then they will be quite thin in INF reserves. Maybe Stewart or Uggla will reenergize and get into the mix.

    KW

    29 Dec 14 at 9:36 pm

  12. I am still willing to bet that the Nats have not yet filed their infield needs because the market has yet to shift to maximally advantage the starting pitching and bullpen seller.

    But it’s getting there. I think they can and will play the waiting game on the team they know will bite.

    When Shields signs and Scherzer is gone, let’s see what happens. If they cannot get value for Clippard, he’ll go in a package. Can’t see them keeping him in a one year walk with no pick scenario.

    To me, the mystery is why they have not yet signed Desmond. Makes me think something is up. Still thinking about how the Souza deal almost involved a fourth team.

    No point in speculating. Like all Rizzo moves, we will get a 0-36 hour warning.

    Perhaps they are waiting on the Cubans…

    forensicane

    29 Dec 14 at 10:40 pm

  13. I’m a fan of Tony Renda and would like to see what he can do. He’s short at 5’7″ but Altuve in Houston is about the same size. He makes solid contact consistently and has a nice, compact stroke. His AFL numbers weren’t great but I think he merits inclusion in the conversation. The Nats traded for Bostick who was in the Carolina league last year, so maybe they’re not that big of a believer in Renda as I am.

    However, for 2B, the Nats just need Esinosa to not suck, to be something better than a gaping black hole at the bottom of the lineup. Sad, but hitting .233 would seem like a huge jump forward for him. As I type that I realize that’s probably above his career average. Still, his defense is so nice and his positional flexibility is a bonus that most team’s don’t have – a player who’s a plus defender at SS and 2B.

    As for Giolito, I think he’ll start at Potomac and then move up to Harrisburg after the 4th of July. He absolutely dominated SAL hitters, and it’s more impressive given his age (19?) and his stat lines. No need to rush him. He has an advanced feel for pitching (according to Baseball America) so he’s probably mentally ahead of his peers but more experience can only help. Maybe what happens with Zimmermann and/or Fister affects his promotion rate through the system. But once he hits his stride at AA I see no reason to send him to AAA.

    But their bench is perplexing. Admittedly, bench construction is much different in MLB than the NFL where your backups play key roles in sub packages or special teams. They have good spot starters/injury subs but for some reason they lack that Matt Stairs, Lenny Harris late-career pinch hitter role player. Frandsen’s that guy now but when he’s forced into a semi-regular role due to injury his limitations come out, I feel.

    Tyrone

    29 Dec 14 at 10:48 pm

  14. First, I really hope the Nationals can extend Zimmermann. Our starting staff has been awesome the past few years, but part of the reason is that we’ve had two true aces. Keeping Zimmermann will be tough enough, but considering Strasburg has Boras as an agent, he will be all the more difficult to retain. We can’t afford to lose both of these guys, so the Nats should make an all-out effort to extend Zimmermann now. On the other hand, I don’t why it’s unrealistic to expect a strong return if he was traded. Look at what the Braves got for Upton – a 1 year rental. To find a starting pitcher as good as Zimmermann is much tougher than to find an outfielder like Upton.

    As for Taylor, I definitely agree his defense, speed and power are better than Span’s, but we got to keep in mind Span’s a lifetime .286 hitter with an on-base % of .352. Taylor has a been a .261 hitter in the MINORS with a .335 on-base %. Yes, he has improved, but he still strikes out a lot, so to assume he will be BETTER than Span at this point takes a HUGE leap of faith.

    Regarding the 5 free agents at the end of next season (Zimmermann-Fister-Desmond-Clippard-Span), it is not realistic to expect the Nats to sign all 5 but it would be foolish to not sign 2 or 3 of these guys. I would rank extending Zimmermann & Desmond at the most important. I really don’t see Clippard getting extended as he wants to be a closer. I also don’t think we will extend Span due to Taylor’s presence. Despite my concerns about Taylor, he would really have to struggle at AAA, for Span to return.

    nationalsfan

    29 Dec 14 at 11:24 pm

  15. I also want to add that although Cabrera has limitations defensively, I thought he was an okay 2B. His average/on-base/slugging splits although not great were better than Espinosa. We can’t assume that if Espinosa gives up switch hitting, that he will be fine as a permanent RH bat. Additionally, Cabrera seem to come through with some big hits, while in the past two seasons, I rarely saw that from Espinosa. Although, I wouldn’t want to overpay for Cabrera, I read somewhere that he may consider a one year deal to re-establish his value. I would definitely consider that an option and at the same time, you could still give Espinsoa playing time and experiment with him giving up switch hitting. Keep in mind Cabrera would be more comfortable with NL pitching a second time around (Span had to adapt too) and he would be motivated.

    nationalsfan

    29 Dec 14 at 11:55 pm

  16. It’s January. Because of that, and because this team is run as it is, the Nats know whom they want to have playing 2B. If they are waiting on Cubans, there is no trade option. If there are trade options, they know what it will take and they are waiting for the market to shift to their favor by exercising patience. That’s the difference between a winter meeting deal and a later trade. The Morse experience was a great example of the value of waiting.

    They know what they want to do with Zimm and Fister. They will not sign Fister until they resolve Zimm one way or the other. They know what the market is for both.

    The know what they want to do with Desmond. The answer is intermingled with their 2B solution for 2015.

    To me, Cabrera and Drew are dumpster diving. The team has Danny Espinosa. He may not be what we want, but neither are Drew and Cabrera. We are fortunate to have a GM who thinks to add major talent in starting roles during the off season. Plug and plays like Cabrera are mid-season additions necesitated by injury.

    The most significant news of the week was that the team did not bid high on Kang. And they bought low on Uggla, which is the only way to buy. To me, that’s the difference between the Nats and other teams. Drew is no different from Uggla in what he deserves. Obviously he will get paid, but there is no more an assurance that he will have any better a year this year than one would have with Uggla.

    As far as I am concerned, the Nats are loaded with trade chips right now at the major and minor leagues. When you see how many players are being plucked off the waiver wire, how many marginal players are being exchanged, and how many ordinary talents are getting big contracts, the nats can and should wait. I would not be surprised if their phone lines are the most actively solicited by those GMs who are still in makeover mode. The Nats aren;t just open for business — they have inventory.

    The fact that they dealt Souza, which I still regret, tells me that they are very high on Turner and saw a GM willing to gut his top prospects and burrowed in on the action and came away with Ross to boot. I don’t like the Souza deal because I think he is a sure thing and Taylor isn’t (yet), and the team has no ready option if one of their starters tears a hamstring on opening day. Taylor isn’t ready. A more optimistic view is that Zimmerman would go to LF and Moore to 1B. So I respect that perspective, even if I am still missing Souza.

    And in defense of Rizzo, 1) any minor league player coming into this organization enjoys a higher ceiling because of the quality of the developmental staff. So whatever is projected for Ross, in my mind just went up. 2) The idea of a 2017 lineup with a lot of power (Harper, Werth, Taylor, Zimmerman, Rendon, Ramos) and elite speed (Taylor, Difo, Batista, Turner) is fascinating. Imagine a lot of thump and three fifty steal guys in the same lineup? What an exciting havoc team that would be. I do hope that is the vision we are seeing unfolding.

    So the bottom line is, I expect a LOUD offseason for the Nats ahead, but precisely because the team by now knows what it wants to do.

    forensicane

    30 Dec 14 at 10:26 am

  17. Cabs to TB. Now that is interesting. And adds a bit of momentum to the Zobrist chatter, especially because its TB.

    forensicane

    30 Dec 14 at 12:10 pm

  18. Cabrera to TB definitely steps up Zobrist-is-being-traded talk. It was in like the 3rd line of the press release :-)

    Weird decision from Cabrera; Tampa has an incumbent SS (Yunel Escobar) who by all accounts isn’t moving off the position. So did Cabrera take a $8m pillow contract at 2b to regain value? Is he admitting his time at short is ending? Am i over-rating Escobar’s abilities to stay at short?

    Todd Boss

    30 Dec 14 at 12:29 pm

  19. I wonder if the Nats could find a third team to take Clippard in what would essentially be a Clippard-for-Zobrist deal for the Nats. The Rays wouldn’t want Clip’s salary.

    Other reports on MLB Trade Rumors say that Drew is wanting $9-10M. Don’t we all!

    Welcome to the new voices in the discussion, by the way. As for the mention of Renda, he was a 2d round pick, so that’s a substantial investment. He’s shown good AVG/OBP, but his doubles and SBs really dropped in the step up to A+ in 2014. He’s got to show the gap power to have much viability.

    KW

    30 Dec 14 at 12:45 pm

  20. Escobar has his detractors at SS. He may be as likely a trade candidate as Zobrist.

    One side note, though. Rizzo is not a fan of acquiring 5+ players. The Cabrera trade was in response to the Zimm injury.

    “Controllable” is an operative word for Rizzo. So if the Nats do trade for Zobrist, it signals their own impatience. He sure is versatile, can even play short. But he is in his thirties and even if he is signable, would the Nats be expected to give him the long term contract he would want? I dunno. I feel like there are better options for the Nats and hope the solution lies elsewhere.

    If the Rays are looking for pitching prospect depth, the teams match up well. I hope the price is not Lopez or Cole, though. That worries me. Perhaps the discussion started when Ross was first swapped, and he is headed back to TB of the teams get together.

    I hope not.

    forensicane

    30 Dec 14 at 12:50 pm

  21. Yes, indeed. Welcome to the newbies. Thanks for the insights and please keep it coming. :)

    forensicane

    30 Dec 14 at 12:53 pm

  22. There’s no way Cole is going anywhere but Syracuse as long as there are two big-name starters not signed beyond 2015. Cole is too big a price to pay for Zobrist anyway, considering his age and one-year contract. I’d think more in terms of Taylor Hill. Or maybe we could just give the Rays back Rivero and Vettleson.

    KW

    30 Dec 14 at 1:01 pm

  23. KW, very astute point on Clippard. I guess the third team would be the Blue Jays, who might use him to close.

    forensicane

    30 Dec 14 at 1:02 pm

  24. Forget Zobrist. Time to get Longoria.

    Andrew R

    30 Dec 14 at 1:07 pm

  25. I’d trade Cole for Longoria! Boy, wouldn’t that send shockwaves through MLB?

    And Cabrera would increase his value more at 3B than at 2B . . . although Zobrist has been playing more OF and less 2B anyway.

    KW

    30 Dec 14 at 1:15 pm

  26. Rizzo will trade quality to get quality. He will also trade a hyped player whose ceiling may be overstated. We may not like it, but we have to know our GM.

    Longoria is a better idea, but…his contract is very Jayson Werth, especially given his numbers last year, for an organization that is really churning up some infield talent at the lower levels. Through 2022!?!

    Unless it’s a 5+ for 5+ or a swap for Taylor Hill and a lesser arm (not Cole or Lopez), I’m like, meh.

    forensicane

    30 Dec 14 at 1:23 pm

  27. Cole for Longoria, and put Rendon back at 2nd. Yeah that’d be a heck of a statement. Not enough bats last post season?? How about now!? :-)

    Todd Boss

    30 Dec 14 at 1:23 pm

  28. I hope we don’t go after Zobrist. I think his price will be high. 1 year of a quality position player has been getting big returns. 1 year of Heyward brought back Shelby Miller +. 1 year of J.Upton brought back Fried +. Zobrist is (arguably) more valuable since his contract is lower, and he produces the same if not more WAR. I assume it starts at Cole and then more is added.

    And look at the size of the bet on 2015. 33% of the lineup: Desi, Span and Zobrist all FA’s. 40% of the rotation (Fister, JZ), and the best reliever (Clip).

    But, you know, I am almost always wrong about these things, and if I am being honest, I am not really sold on Cole. So it depends how big this gets. Rizzo has done well by almost any standard, and I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Wally

    30 Dec 14 at 1:40 pm

  29. Todd, since no one else did it, I want to welcome you back from your Christmas vacation!

    I think it wil be a whole new post once the Nats acquire a 2nd baseman. Zobrist would be salary dump for the Rays so I can’t see them getting much for him. With only 1 year left on his contract he’s a perfect fit; giving Turner & Difo a little more time to develop.
    I’ve always wondered how old Cabrera really was; his decline curve suggests he’s a bunch older than his stated age. I bet Rizzo thought so too.

    Can we please stop talking about Espinosa? The time when you could win with a ‘Mark Belanger’ type in your lineup is over. 75% of the time he’s hitting from a side he’s clueless at.

    Mark L

    30 Dec 14 at 6:01 pm

  30. And won’t we all be disappointed if the Nats get Nick Franklin instead?!

    I’m still scratching my head over the signing, even if the Rays do make a trade. They gave Cabrera $8M for one year even though they’ve got Zobrist, a much better player, signed for $7.5M. They’ve also already got Franklin and Forsythe, both of whom can play 2B.

    I don’t want Zobrist if he costs a prime piece. I’d be looking to get him for Hill and T-Mo, or something like that. If the Rays want to talk Cole, then they better be talking Longoria.

    KW

    30 Dec 14 at 7:46 pm

  31. Denorfia to the Cubs. That’s a smoke signal. They’ve got a lot of controllable high ceiling talent, money to spend, and where the Nats need. There’s your “blow the roof” off deal if Epstein has been working sign and trade for Nats 5+ player(s).

    Unless Starlin’s Dominican adventure is getting more adventuresome.

    forensicane

    31 Dec 14 at 2:13 pm

  32. It should say a lot to us that in the deal sending Souza and the underacknowledged Travis Ott to Tampa, the Nats could have acquired Zobrist, and opted to part with Souza in order to acquire Turner/Ross.

    I think their attention is elsewhere, especially since the media has amped up Zobrist and his potential asking price.

    Which is fine with me. I am sure Rizzo will do just fine.

    By the way, I do criticize the Nats staff for the recent drafts enough that I need to give them their due. They had the foresight to scope that Ott was a local enough product that they could get him to forego a college career and sign here as a 25th round pick with great high school numbers. It speaks to the value of signing local high school talent who get to stay close to home when they are in the minors. That’s a lot more attractive than other organizations can offer. In this case, it may have been a difference maker to a later trade chip.

    forensicane

    2 Jan 15 at 12:42 pm

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