Nationals Arm Race

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

Qualifying Offer analysis: Nats and Leaguewide


Desmond gets a Q.O. Photo Drew Kinback/

Desmond gets a QO. Photo Drew Kinback/

Qualifying Offer (QO) extension time has come and past, and a record 20 players received the 15.8M one-year contract tender for 2016.

The Nationals, as has been typical, went the conservative route and only gave a QO to the two players they expect to reach significant, multi-year deals.  Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond.  They opted not to extend offers to their other 7 free agents, nor to the two guys who a  year ago you would have thought to be locks to get one (Doug Fister and Denard Span).

(coincidentally: am I the only one who thinks that the Nats actually have 9 free agents on their end-of-year 40-man roster?   Zimmermann, Desmond, Span, Fister, Uggla, McLouth, Janssen, Thornton and Johnson.  Why is it that all the other stories I read only list the first 8?  Is Reed Johnson actually not a FA?  Look at the Nats XLS on Cots‘; Johnson is absolutely listed as a FA, as are 6 others, plus the two with options that we’ve already declined.  Am I wrong?)

Anyway.  I’m on record as saying that the Nats should have extended 3 QOs to include Span.  Yet not for the first time, the team has opted not to offer a QO to a guy who clearly would have declined it.  And this will be the third time they have made a crucial mistake as an organization and gave away a high draft pick needlessly.  Edwin Jackson was always going to sign a multi-year deal and the Nats inexplicably failed to give him one.  Same with Adam LaRoche, who clearly still had a market for his services and would have garnered another pick.

I’m not sure exactly what Scott Boras seems to “have” on the Lerners … but not for the first time they’ve cut him a break and done him and his clients an inexplicable favor.  So, what exactly do the Nats get out of this?  Span should send the team management a fruit basket for not destroying his FA market this coming off-season.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Span didn’t hire Scott Boras so that he could hand over a commission check on a gift of a $15.8M one year deal.  Span was never going to accept that QO.  Just dumb.  But hey, it isn’t exactly the first dumb thing this front office/ownership group has done this off season…

So, of the 20 players who did get a QO … the annual question remains.  Will someone actually take it this year?  Just as a reminder, here’s the entire list of QO-offered players since the system began, with their eventual contract offer and a judgement of whether or not the QO “hurt” their next contract.  Eight in 2012, 13 in 2013, and 12 after last season.  That’s 33 total players and so far NOT ONE has signed the deal.  I’m still not entirely convinced that there’s not a Player’s Union-wide conspiracy going on where they decline the QOs en masse because they don’t agree with it for some reason.  Certainly it seems like the next CBA will eliminate it, since it has clearly done little except harm the market for FAs.

Here’s a quick opinion on the 20 guys who got QOs and what I think may happen (AAV = Average Annual Value on their contract):

  • Easily surpass AAV of $15.8M and get monster deals: Greinke, Heyward, Zimmermann, Upton, Gordon: All of these guys are marquee free agents, are the kind of guys you give up a pick to sign gladly, and will sign for significant money well eclipsing the QO AAV or guaranteeing a significant amount of money (like, in the $80M+ range).
  • Will sign multi-year deals with significant money, even if AAV is “only” at or near $15.8M: Desmond, Davis, Iwakuma, Gallardo, Samardzija: I can see Desmond doing 4/$60 or something like that in New  York, I can see the two pitchers getting nice deals in the 3/$45 range and I can see Davis banking a short high AAV deal.  For me, even Samardzija’s 2015 decline won’t scare off some teams, especially teams out west in pitcher’s parks and especially since he could be a nice 2nd-tier deal of an arm once you get past the significant FA pitchers.
  • Might not get $15.8M AAV, but will sign for at least 2/$25M or 3/$40M or something: Lackey, Chen, Kendrick, Weiters, Anderson: Most of these guys probably take less AAV but guarantee more total cash, like several guys did last off-season.  I’ll bet some of these guys re-sign with their current teams too (Anderson, maybe Kendrick, maybe Lackey too).  The draft pick compensation likely scares off some teams here, so their market will be limited, but if a team has a protected first pick they might be ok giving up a second rounder for these guys.  Or, a team like Washington, which will get two supp-1st picks, may be willing to give up its 1st rounder to just “drop down” 10-15 slots to sign these guys.

So that leaves more than a few guys who might be crazy not to sign the offer sheet:

  • Rasmus: made just $8M this year; does anyone really think he’s getting significantly more in FA on an AAV basis?  Plus, who is going to give up a 1st or even a 2nd round pick to sign him?  And he hit just .238 in a hitter’s park.  This seems like a “dare” move from the Houston front office, known in the industry to be just a bit too clever for their own good sometimes.  As in, “I dare you to break with your union and take this deal.”  If there really is some un-spoken agreement among players to never take a QO, he’s a great test case.
  • Fowler: Similar situation to Rasmus ($9.5M this year): he’s not the kind of guy you commit significant money to, is he?  He does have value in a very small CF market, so perhaps you  make the argument he belongs in the same conversation as Lackey or Kendrick.
  • Murphy: made just $8M this year and hit half as many homers in the post season as he had all year.  So clearly he made himself some cash with his post-season exploits .. but enough to double his pay on an AAV basis?  A shrewd move from the NY front office, pressing the issue here with Murphy.
  • Kennedy: $9.8M this year but has been awful.  Might not even be a 5th starter, and has Scott Boras as an agent.  Who’s giving up a 1st rounder to make him their 5th starter?  Who’s signing him to a long term deal?  Without the QO stigma, I could have seen him signing a 1yr/$8M deal but not much else.  How can he possibly not take this offer, a gift of a pillow contract to re-gain some value for next off-season?  One reason: his agent.  Is Kennedy going to be the next Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales, who gets talked into hitting the open market by his aggressive agent only to find himself sitting until next year’s draft passes since nobody’s willing to give up a high round pick to sign him?
  • Estrada: he made just $3.9M in 2015 and has made just $10m TOTAL in his career, yet got offered $15.8M for next season after a breakout  year in Toronto.  Uh, why wouldn’t he take this QO?  He’s on the wrong side of 30, would more than double his CAREER earnings with one stroke of the pen, and if he repeats his performance could get a 3-year deal taking him past age 35 to lock up his financial future.  This is easily the craziest QO we’ve seen yet and will be the biggest test of the system.

It just seems to me that this last group of players are either going to re-sign with their own team or are going to get really screwed in the open market.  Look at that last group of 5 players and tell me who’s giving up a 1st round pick to sign them?

Good further reading on the same topic:


37 Responses to 'Qualifying Offer analysis: Nats and Leaguewide'

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  1. Todd, FWIW, the 40-man on the Nats’ official site does not have Reed Johnson listed. Geez it’s weird looking at the 40-man and not seeing JZim and Desmond, among others.

    I saw some site somewhere that had Fowler high on its list of OF targets for the Nats. Um, for a draft pick? Really? For a guy who has produced his numbers in some of the best hitters’ parks on the planet?

    All we can hope with the Span non-QO is that there will be a quid pro quo, namely contract extension talks with Harper. Wally said in his comments on the last post that he didn’t think one could get done. I don’t know whether it can or not, but the Nats have got to try.

    My focus would be on the three years beyond the three arb years, so six years total. Even if they do a 15-year mega-deal, there will be an opt-out after the sixth or seventh season. That’s just the way the world works these days. If you put $175-200M on the table for the next six seasons, including the three arb years, Boras has to give that serious consideration. Technically, the Nats would be “overpaying” for Harper’s arb years, but they’re going to want to try to have a contract for them anyway, as they’ve done with Stras, JZim, Desi, and others. Do you REALLY want to risk facing off with a 10 WAR guy in arbitration, with Fangraphs saying that 1 WAR is worth $7M? By that valuation, Bryce would be playing for half price even at $35M!

    Anyway, here’s what I’d put on the table: 20/25/30/35/35/35 = 6/180M. If you have to get up closer to 200M, do it. You’re paying to keep the “window” open, which is worth a heck of a lot more than $35M a season.


    9 Nov 15 at 12:20 pm

  2. I was also very disappointed by the non-tender of a QO to Span. To me, even before you get to the fact that he was very unlikely to accept (Boras), there’s the fact that if he produces his usual 2.5-3.5 WAR season he’s worth it even before you consider the adage that “there’s no such thing as a one year overpay.”

    FWIW, the tertiary scuttlebutt that I’ve seen on a fairly good web site ( is that the Nationals are very concerned about the medicals on Span. But since we never see those it’s hard to really come to an opinion one way or the other about whether they are on solid ground or not. I can’t imagine that they did it as a “solid” for Boras – because I don’t really think that you’ll get a quid for your quo on that kind of deal.

    I do recommend that you check out the talknats site and add it to your blogroll. They formed as a splinter group from Zuckerman’s NI site who were tired of the trolls, and despite only being a few weeks early have actually broken some stories – they were credited in an MLBTR article for breaking news during the managerial shuffle, for example.

    John C.

    9 Nov 15 at 12:41 pm

  3. With the QOs, I’ll add that there is also a fine line between “doing right” by players – and perhaps improving your chances with some FAs and agents – and bad business. I always thought the LaRoche situation was “doing right” by a guy who took a two-year deal to come back when he had three-year offers on the table.

    I could see the Nats not wanting to risk getting stuck paying Soriano another year when he seemed almost done, and a similar case may be out there now if the concerns about Span’s health are true. The one that, no ways around it, had to be a handshake deal with Boras was EJax. He was in line to get a big contract, which he did, so there was no way he would have taken the QO. The Cubs got Bryant in the next draft, although I assume that would have been a protected top-10 pick, if the rules were the same then.


    9 Nov 15 at 2:11 pm

  4. Todd, I still think my title for this piece was better!

    KW, you’re naive to if you think there’s a quid pro quo with Boras. The Lerners, for whatever reason, do what Scott Boras tells them to.

    Brace yourself for another way-overpriced FA signing that we don’t necessarily need.

    Mark L

    9 Nov 15 at 2:18 pm

  5. Catching back up here.
    – Shoot me if the Nats blow a pick on Dexter frigging Fowler. Why not just re-sign Span if you’re really considering that.
    – Medicals on Span; i believe it. He didn’t exactly have a simple surgery.
    – just signed up on the RSS feed; i definitley need to purge/clean up the “blog roll” since its been years since I put it up.
    – Doing right by the player: totally agree the team hooked up LaRoche … and maybe that’s ok. Why screw a good guy on the way out the door; if Zimmerman could still play 3B, LaRoche would still be here.
    – MarkL: agreed.

    Todd Boss

    9 Nov 15 at 2:37 pm

  6. Todd Boss

    9 Nov 15 at 2:51 pm

  7. There’s a lot of stuff that we’ll never know about Boras-Lerner-Rizzo triangle. No, I’m not naïve about it at all. But winks and nods at QO time seem to be part of how their game is played. The Nat empire is built on Boras clients, and by and large, we’ve benefited immeasurably from having them, even with a Soriano clunker or two. We’re definitely married to the mob here. Just please don’t cost us a draft pick to give Wieters a safe landing spot.

    I’m still not sure what I think the Nats should do with the OF. I do NOT want Parra, who seems redundant with den Dekker in the fold. His numbers in Balto give me McLouth flashbacks. I don’t want Fowler or Rasmus, for the reasons Todd has discussed. I’d be glad to have back a healthy Span on a short contract, but again, after having McLouth miss the whole season and Reed Johnson most of it, you’d want a clean bill of health. Moving up the pay scale, I don’t think Heyward offers the power the Nats need at the price he would command. I don’t think Cespedes would age well, on the field or in the clubhouse. Upton strikes out nearly as much as Taylor does. Plus neither Upton nor Cespedes would help on the heavy RH lineup.

    Don’t know how much LH OF market there would be for guys like Brantley, Reddick, Calhoun, or Bruce. They would take a haul of prospects to get, plus most would leave the Nats with Bryce crashing around in CF. So in some ways, I’ve almost talked myself into living with Taylor and hoping for the best . . . and that Dusty doesn’t bat him at the top of the order.

    And of course there would also be the option of Zobrist, who might make more sense than a number of other options being bandied about.


    9 Nov 15 at 3:02 pm

  8. I don’t subscribe to the idea of handshake deals with Boras. If one thinks that way, there are handshake deals with the A’s simply because they are frequent trading partners. No, each party has an interest and everyone understands the others’ agenda.

    15.8 million for a player with an injury that is potentially incapacitating is one heck of a risk. The statheads in the Nats are prefectly capable of giving the figures on career longevity for players coming out of that surgery — especially for a player who relies upon his legs as a CF and leadoff hitter with SB capability. Even if he can come back and hit, what is his value if he turns into a corner OF who cannot steal bases any more and has more limited range?

    As for doing right, I think the Nats have gotten a bum rap. Lannan is all but out of baseball, and Detwiler — even as a lefty — is a 25th man for second division teams. You have to perform and if you do not it’s time to move on. Loyalty to the fans who want a winning product has to be the first loyalty. The customer is always right.

    But just because it is a business does not make it heartless. I think the Lerners are good people and see no reason not to continue to defend them and the organization.


    9 Nov 15 at 3:11 pm

  9. Following up that last point, the barbs on the Nats management come from the media — which are no different fro the debate moderators who think people are there for them.

    When you strip it all away, players all over baseball, and coaches as well want to come to the nats and this organization. That is a fact. The references to Dan Snyder are ridiculous and embody why my trust in the media and recognition of its pernicious indulgence in creating hatreds is reason enough to click off and think for myself.


    9 Nov 15 at 3:14 pm

  10. I’d love to see a young OF prospect or two acquired for when Werth gets injured. I’ve mentioned Max Kepler of MIN as an interesting target. But I could live with the current group plus a Venable or Pearce type, assuming they’d sign for 1/$5mish. I also like Matt dD, but I have to assume that hitting burst at the end of last year was a SSS fluke. But I’d be very surprised if they sign a big corner bat, or really anyone that causes them to lose their pick, but they have surprised me before.

    I agree that I doubt they are passing on QO’s for the hope that Boras returns the favor somehow. That just seems like too tenuous a link, not to mention that the players don’t want to subsidize each other. I think Span was all about the medicals.

    John C – thanks for letting us know about TalkNats, I hadn’t heard of it. I don’t get to NI much any more but I recognize some of the handles on these guys, like Ghost of Steve M. It looks worth checking out.


    9 Nov 15 at 3:51 pm

  11. I did see the calendar bit, and it doesn’t surprise me at all. MLB outsources these things, almost certainly to a country that doesn’t know/care about baseball. The quality control is laughable. I have the 2015 version of the calendar. It’s on my wall now; the picture for November is of Rafael Soriano. I kid you not. December? Nate McLouth. It lists Zimmerman as a third baseman despite the fact that since 2013 he has played more games in the outfield than at third. Both Bryce and Span are listed as playing centerfield. It’s a mess.

    John C.

    9 Nov 15 at 4:07 pm

  12. The outfield is predicated on whether Werth stays or goes. I know that one school of thought is that he can’t go anywhere, no trade, etc. So I am presupposing the other school of thought.

    Otherwise, I cannot see the Nats bringing in a third OF to keep Taylor on the bench. Taylor needs to play. Send him down to AAA to dominate? Maybe.

    A safe in-between, for both the prospect of an OF injury (Werth or even Harper) is the acquisition of a two way star prospect with a big power OF bat who is at AA but rising. That gives the Nats time to work through it’s own organizational depth chart and depth insurance if injuries happen and denDekker cannot fill the bill.

    Of course, that is what everyone wants. But trading at a level below makes the price more manageable. After all, look at Trea Turner now. Would be an unreachable price. Look at Stephen Souza then. fetched a heckuva haul.

    If that is what the brass does, there are a number of talents out there in organizations with outfielders blocking them at the ML level. But I believe in Taylor still and hope the Nats do not give up on him.


    9 Nov 15 at 4:37 pm

  13. Calendar: understood its not on the team. But how is it that of all the teams for this to happen to, its the same team that just was badly embarrassed in the national media over the Black/Baker saga and who has a very high visibility uniform snafu on its record (Natinals anyone?)

    OF: who is going to take Werth, given his “production” in 2015 and his age? Even if he rejected his no-trade clause (and why would he? he’s the highest paid guy on the team and clearly the voice of the clubhouse). More likely to me is the acquisition of a lefty-hitting CF or RF with Bryce playing whichever position is filled. I like Michael Taylor … but he had FIVE HUNDRED at bats this year and his splits month to month showed no real improvement by season’s end. Its one thing for him to have hit .220 from aprl-june and then .260 in september, but that’s not what we saw. So to that end, i’m not “saving” a spot for him if I can spend $15M/year on a left-handed hitting veteran who can help this team win now and get some balance back to the lineup. Let Taylor be 4th OF and cover for inevitable injuries.

    Todd Boss

    10 Nov 15 at 10:34 am

  14. Count me in the Werth-is-untradeable camp. You’d not only have to pay a substantial part of his salary for another team to take him, you’d have to pay him a huge bonus to waive a no-trade to move away from where his family lives.

    Thus my OF ramblings above. If there were a LH version of Upton or Cespedes on the market, I’d want the Nats to be first in line. Heyward doesn’t have that kind of power, though, and he’s going to be looking for a huge, very long contract. So I’m more in the market for a trade for a LH OF bat with at least 20 HR power.


    10 Nov 15 at 12:56 pm

  15. On Kennedy, here’s the reason he may fit into that 2-3 year contract category: 9.3.

    That is, 9.3 K/9 this year, after 9.27 K/9 last year. His walk rate also dropped .35/9 from 2014 – 2015. It’s enough for someone to take a flier on him.


    10 Nov 15 at 4:23 pm

  16. Todd, thanks for including us on your blogroll. One day hopefully we will have a blogroll and we will add you all.


    Ghost of Steve M. (

    10 Nov 15 at 8:45 pm

  17. Two news items to follow closely – the O’Day derby and the Reds rebuild:

    1) O’Day – The market is moving quickly, and I think the Nats will sign him. They have shown the willingness to be financially aggressive with the people they want (be it Scherzer or Mike Maddux), and he is the premium reliever on the market at a time that they are remaking their bullpen. Players to play for the Nats organization, and his wife works locally in an unstable profession. To Rizzo’s credit, he works fast and is all bout setting a tone. In my estimation, if he signs O’Day, it changes the negotiating dynamic for the Nats with several teams, both as a seller (Storen, Papelbon), and a buyer (see next section). It also creates momentum with other free agents and positive buzz about the Nats as a destination. Rizzo is very about the theatrics of things, and I think this would do that. The team also has a way of making a big splash after getting hit with the “Lerners are cheap” charges. So I’m looking for this shoe to drop.

    2) Reds – News of a Reds firesale is particularly interesting with Baker and Speier coming aboard, and Miller already here. Of course, the most intriguing chip is Chapman. Apart from the obvious implications of remaking the bullpen, I wonder still if the Nats would ever consider making him a starter? There are other pieces that could be exchanged in a mega deal if other talent was coming over.


    11 Nov 15 at 1:40 am

  18. I’m undecided on Frazier and/or Votto but they are the types of acquisitions that push one over the top.

    I just cannot see Ryan Zimmerman being pushed out at his relatively young age. Sooner or later, someone is going to get a 30HR, 100 RBI year out of him and I hope it is the Nats. He obviously has a contract to live up to and hopefully will better condition to last a whole year.

    But the Nats have the starting pitching depth in the minors to match up well with the Reds.


    11 Nov 15 at 2:02 am

  19. I’m all in on O’Day. He seems to be far and away the best reliever on the FA market. His wife is a DC-based reporter for Fox, so you would think that he would prefer the Nats or a return to the O’s (who are said to want to make a big push to keep him).

    It’s encouraging that Rizzo is saying that other teams are showing interest in both Papelbon and Storen. Of course the “interest” in Pap may be along the lines of “how much would you pay us to take him?” so you never know what GM-speak actually means. If both do go, then the Nats need a closer. Baker has had Chapman before, but Chapman only has one year before FA. Kimbrel is out there, and Andrew Miller is now being bandied about, although Heyman’s mention of Stras for Miller would be nuts. Miller is signed for three more years, though. He’s also only been a closer for only one season and has a career ERA of 4.59. I guess my preference would be for Kimbrel, all else being equal.


    11 Nov 15 at 7:48 am

  20. now included on the side; i’m cleaning up the blog roll a bit so retired blogs are now prefaced with a “z” so they sort at the end. If i’m missing a blog, i’m always open to making sure its included.

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 15 at 10:57 am

  21. Here’s a move:
    – trade for Votto, install him at 1st.
    – Install Zimmermann in LF
    – Put Werth in RF, Harper in CF, Taylor 4th OF.

    Lineup (without any other changes) goes like this: Werth, Rendon, Harper, Zimmerman, Votto, Escobar, Turner, Ramos, Pitcher. Or if you like, Turner, Rendon, Harper, Zimmerman, Votto, Werth, Escobar, Ramos, Pitcher. Your lefty/right balance in both scenarios RRLRLRRR; still rightly heavy but at least in the middle of your order you have two premier lefty hitters. Having Votto and Werth together puts two of the most patient hitters in terms of pitches per AB together and guarantees long innings for the starters each time through the middle of the order.

    I like it. I like this better than paying for Chris Davis, who can hit homers but seems like he’s a classic quick-decline slugger candidate.

    Per Cots, here’s Votto’s contract details: 16:$20M, 17:$22M, 18-23:$25M annually, 24:$20M club option ($7M buyout). Yeah, that’s a looooota of money. Maybe the Nats get Chapman as a throw in and don’t give up as many prospects because of the dollar figures included.

    Another interesting option could be Jay Bruce; he’s also a lefty corner and might fit better into the lineup; leave Zimmerman where he is, put Bruce in RF, Harper in CF, Taylor 4th. Bruce’s contract is: 16:$12.5M, 17:$13M club option ($1M buyout). So, less money, less committment and he fits nicely into the end of the current Nats era in terms of contract lenght and money. Only thing is, he has had two down years and you wonder what’s gonig on. He’s only hit .220 last two years. That doesn’t really help the team. Talking out loud as I type and i’m not as in on Bruce.

    That is, if cincy is selling.

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 15 at 11:05 am

  22. O’day: his wife works for Fox News!? Forget it then 😉

    “Interest” in Papelbon? Really? Is it like “there’s a car crash so i have to turn and look” interest?

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 15 at 11:06 am

  23. Your cyclical thinking on Votto and Bruce ran about the same as mine did, and they came out as a “no” for me. The Votto contract is terrible and lasts until he’s 40. Bruce is a low-contact, Desi-type hitter, the kind I hope the Nats move away from. Frazier, who would be a one-year rental, supposedly is also available, but he’s RH and had a big fade in the second half.

    As for other LH bats I had mentioned, I didn’t realize that Brantley’s shoulder injury is as bad as it is. He isn’t expected back until May. Hard to think the Nats would trade for damaged goods after spending so much time last season waiting on healing.

    If the Nats want a LH bat, they could do a lot worse than 3/36 or so for Zobrist. He wouldn’t bring huge power, but he’s got a lot of flexibility and high contact. Of course he’ll also turn 35 in May.


    11 Nov 15 at 12:08 pm

  24. Zobrist does indeed turn 35 but isn’t he a model of consistency?

    Switch hitter. so that could solve one problem. Now, here’s a thought speaking of swtich hitters. What if we plug in Espinosa as a starter somewhere? Flip escobar and sell high after his great 2015 and put Espinosa as starting 2nd baseman to get another lefty bat?

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 15 at 12:21 pm

  25. I *think* I could put up with Espinosa as a starter at SS, as the huge benefit from his defense would offset his inconsistency at the plate. Presumably, Turner will be given every opportunity at one of the middle infield positions, but it would take a lot of pressure off him if he doesn’t have to be the SS. (It will be interesting to see if Turner spends the first 45 days at Syracuse to get back the FA year.)

    I’m very conflicted about Escobar. He was the Nats’ second-best player offensively last season, with a great OBP and contact rate, exactly the type of hitter I want the Nats to have more of (although I wish he walked a little more). He was a black hole defensively, though. Presumably, he would hurt the team less at 2B than he did at 3B, but he shouldn’t even be in the SS conversation. In general, I think the Nats should be looking to sell high on him, but only if they can come up with a player (like Zobrist) who can replace his offense.

    A wild card in setting the middle infield is the new coaching staff. Lopes (2B) and Speier (SS) had long MLB careers and will have insights on where guys should play. I suspect they will be wowed by Danny’s defense. They will also be great tutors for Turner and Difo, if Difo can stick on the MLB roster.


    11 Nov 15 at 1:26 pm

  26. Count me out for those Cincy trades. I wouldn’t touch Votto’s contract. RZim and Werth have to play, given their contracts.

    Yanks picked up Aaron Hicks, who I liked as a trade pick up. Thought he could be the versatile 4th OF to hedge for injuries or MAT underperformance.


    11 Nov 15 at 2:50 pm

  27. There’s a ton of buzz about O’Day, so you would think that something is going to happen with him sooner rather than later. I still think his wife’s gig gives the Nats and O’s a leg up, unless someone (Dodgers) throws silly money at him.


    11 Nov 15 at 3:58 pm

  28. Wagner has the Nats tracking on Zobrist, so it looks like we’re on the right track in looking at him. In separate posts, Wagner quotes Rizzo as being satisfied with Ramos and Taylor in their respective positions. If so, he had better be looking hard for a hitting coach who can teach contact, if it can be taught.


    12 Nov 15 at 6:42 am

  29. One interesting item(s) from the last couple of days: Rizzo said no one had surgery, then Boras says Stras had surgery to remove a cyst (or however he described it). Could be semantics, could be that Rizzo didn’t know. We’ll never truly know if that was new information to Rizzo, but it kind of feels like it was. Maybe this is an early indicator that the parties know this is their last year and are not as closely on the same page as they have been before.

    I’ve said this before, but I continue to view Stras’ situation as a very important – meaning don’t let him play out his walk year here. Since an extension is very unlikely (he could very realistically have a $100m swing based in his upcoming season), I would call up NYY, BOS and LAD and get them into a bidding war, and take the best offer. I do not like the idea of keeping him for starters and then trade them if they are out of it by the ASG, since we are very unlikely to be so out of it by then as to make us clear sellers.

    If they do wind up keeping him and letting it play out, I would treat him a bit like the Mets did Harvey, and work the crap out of him.


    12 Nov 15 at 8:47 am

  30. How can a GM NOT KNOW about one of his players having surgery, even if completely unrelated to his baseball health??

    Todd Boss

    12 Nov 15 at 8:49 am

  31. I have done at least a 1080 on the prospect of a Strasburg trade over the last couple of years. First, everyone must understand that there is 0% chance of extending Stras. Even if he weren’t a Boras client, which he is, look at the FA starters next off-season. He’s it. He’s going to be the subject of a bidding war, will get filthy rich, and will have even greater expectations hanging on his shoulders because of the contract.

    To keep or to trade: I’d HATE to see a player of that caliber walk away with just a draft pick in return. That said, the Nat rotation for 2016 is much stronger with Stras than without him. If they trade him, they’ve got to come up with another starter. Giolito isn’t ready to be a #2 starter yet, and the rotation is also losing JZim. So the Nats would either have to get a starter in a trade (perhaps Tyson Ross as part of a mega-deal sending Stras, Escobar, Ramos, and a lot of prospects to SD for Ross, Kimbrell, and Norris? [OK, dreaming, I know]), or they’d need to sign a starter.

    With one $200M starter on the staff, I can’t see the Nats getting into the Price/Greinke lottery. At the $120-150 level, you’ve got JZim and Cueto, neither of whom would cost the Nats a draft pick. For less than half that price, they could get Gallardo (who has experience with Maddux in TX but would cost a pick) or Leake (the definition of average but costs no pick). They could get Lackey for less money and fewer years because of his age, but he’s also QO’d. There are other options as well, as it’s a rich FA market in starters. But as you get into the third tier of options, you are by definition getting someone worse than Stras. Therefore, your pitching staff – one of the big issues with team underachievement in 2015 – would take another hit.

    So it’s a tough call. If they trade Stras, they’re going to have to commit to finding a way to balance his loss, and JZim’s, in the rotation. If the ultimate goal is to put the best team possible on the field in 2016, that may be hard to do.


    12 Nov 15 at 10:53 am

  32. If you move Strasburg, do you really make it difficult to win in 2016? Even if you get 2-3 good prospects? Then your 2016 rotation is Scherzer, Gonzalez, Ross, Roark and … who? A FA? Why would we buy a $20M pitcher on the FA market if we have one who is going to be better (and Strasburg is better t han practically everyone else in the league) for half the price (Strasburg likely makes #12m in arb?).

    Todd Boss

    12 Nov 15 at 12:25 pm

  33. My point with Stras is that I have performance concerns with him in his walk year. We just went through walk years with numerous high end FA types who underperformed, and we don’t know how much of it is due to the pressure/distractions (but it isn’t 0%). Does Stras get too uptight? Do he and Boras become overly concerned with his usage, creating an unwanted distraction? Some guys handle this kind of pressure well, and some don’t and I’m worried enough to put him in the second category. Plus, I agree that he isn’t signing an extension (even though I’d love for it to happen), and I’d bet that Rizzo could trade him for more than his 2015 performance + comp pick are worth (but that is a risk).

    As for 2016 impact, sure it is unlikely that we’ll have a better staff without him. But I do think that they have options to make the staff ‘good enough’ for a title run. KW mentioned John lackey. He’d be perfect @ 2/$30m? Something like that, which when added to Max and Gio, plus Roark, Ross, Cole, Jordan and Voth, makes for a pretty good rotation + depth before counting Giolito and whomever they get back for Stras.


    12 Nov 15 at 2:24 pm

  34. Just kicking out ideas, but what about Stras to NYY for Gardner + prospect? Make MAT a 4th OF again, where I’ll bet he gets 400PAs. Add Lackey, is that better or worse than the status quo?


    12 Nov 15 at 2:27 pm

  35. Hey, hey, we have a winner: Rasmus becomes the first player in history to accept a QO. Good call, Todd.

    And Simmons to the Angels. Wow, that happened fast. Simmons and Trout together will be some serious leather, going largely unseen by those of us on the East Coast. Kole Calhoun is supposed to be pretty good in RF, too.

    Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman is starting to feel pretty lonely . . .

    Wally, I hear you about the worries about Stras’s psyche in his contract year. It’s certainly an issue. I don’t know what Mike Maddux can teach, but Greg may have been the most mentally tough pitcher of his generation. Stras and Gio sure could use a large dose of that, if they’ve figured out how to bottle it.

    Scariest thing I’ve heard Rizzo say all offseason: that Escobar would be fine defensively at SS. I sure hope that’s a used-car sell job for someone else, ’cause the local buyers have the CarFax on that model and know better.


    12 Nov 15 at 10:24 pm

  36. This is already shaping up to be an exciting offseason.

    And Freeman would be yuge! But of course, the Braves would never deal him within the division, unless they were getting Joe Ross and more.

    Rizzo’s comments yesterday were very interesting. He is pushing Espinosa as a key player next year. Clearly the team wants a defensive upgrade. I’ll bet Turner is going to be taking shortstop and 2B reps with some kind of infield instructor all winter.

    What a difference a year makes.

    Also states to be content with Taylor in center.

    I’m hoping they get Zobrist. That would create a lot of roster flexibility and value. Championship pedigree helps as well. And no QO!


    13 Nov 15 at 12:53 pm

  37. If the Braves were willing to trade Simmons for that “meh” haul, then maybe the Nats need to call them on Freeman. Cost controlled, lefty slugger, a perfect fit for this team. Push Zim to LF, Werth to RF, Harper to CF. We’d have a sh*tty OF defense but who cares if Freeman contributes 4-5 WAR at first in the middle of a solid batting order.

    Todd Boss

    13 Nov 15 at 3:54 pm

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