Nationals Arm Race

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

Quick pre-Winter Meetings thoughts…

41 comments

The off-season is off to a great start for the Nats. Photo via majorleagueaholes.com (yes its a site)

The off-season is off to a great start for the Nats. Photo via majorleagueaholes.com (yes its a site)

Winter meetings this week.  I figured I’d wait to start posting rotation reviews until after the craziness goes on (if its anything like last winter).

Here’s some thoughts I have:

  1. If the Nats intend to “completely remake their bullpen” then they’re off to a pretty slow start.  We’re already missing out on several key guys who would be good candidates to join the pen.  Darren O’Day, Joaquin Soria to start, Ryan Madsen, Jim Johnson or even Mark Lowe (who signed about 2 minutes after publishing this) as other examples.  Instead we sign Oliver Perez, a soft-tossing lefty retread to (I guess) replace Matt Thornton, who is perhaps the 5th or 6th most important role to fill in a 7 man rotation.  You couldn’t have adequately handled a LOOGY out of our cache of minor league arms?  Didn’t we draft like 10,000 lefty arms in the last three years?
  2. And now we hear that the Dodgers are hot on the case of Aroldis Chapman, not that I want to spend what it will take to get him.  Yes he’s great, yes he’d be a fantastic closer.  No I don’t want to give up a top-100 prospect for one year of his time.  (post-publishing update: literally 5 minutes after hitting publish, word comes out that the Dodgers have acquired Chapman).
  3. Why would they non-tender Craig Stammen given the bullpen turnover they already plan to have?  Stammen is talking in the press like he’s completely moving on, as if the negotiations went that sour that fast.

Here was 2015’s opening day bullpen: Storen, Treinen, Stammen, Thornton*, Cedeno*, Barrett, Roark with Janssen on the D/L.

Here’s where we stand now: Storen on the chopping block,
Treinen still there, Stammen DFA’d, Thornton a FA, Cedeno DFA’d/traded, Barrett on the D/L with TJ surgery all of 2016, Roark presumably going back to the rotation and Janssen a FA.   Throw in late-season acquisition Papelbon also being on the trading block and that’s basically the *entire* bullpen getting turned over.  That’s a recipe for disaster.

If the season started tomorrow: I guess the bullpen would be: Papelbon, Storen, Treinen, Perez*, Rivero*, Solis*, Martin.  Except that we know that’s not going to happen; you have to think the first two guys are moved one way or another.

Maybe we won’t end up seeing both closers moved and instead we’ll make amends somehow with one of them.  Since Papelbon is basically untradeable me thinks the “Lerners are cheap” mentality will win out and he’ll be back for 2016.  Awesome.  Especially considering the fact that he just filed a grievance against the team for not paying him during his “suspension.”  Can’t blame him; the team was stupid for not paying him and thinking they’d just pocket a union player’s salary.  Dumb.  I hope Dusty Baker has his game face on for dealing with this issue next  year, and I hope the whole “Bryce Harper reached out/bros will be bros” BS is not, actually, BS.  I’m skeptical.

4.  So, is the team going after Ben Zobrist or are they not?  Is Zobrist going to be that much better than just keeping Yunel Escobar, who can play 2nd and hit just fine for half the money Zobrist will cost?  What’s the urgency of moving Escobar?  The way I see it, Rendon goes back to 3rd, Turner plays SS (and if he cannot, then the excellent Danny Espinosa starts at SS instead) and Escobar goes to 2B where his defensive limitations won’t hurt us.  Why alter that plan?

5. Where’s the lefty bat going to come from?  How about Pedro Alvarez?  Still not sure why the Pirates were so quick to non-tender him.  I mean, he hit 27 frigging homers last year and his Ks are way down from two years prior.  How about buying Alvarez, sticking him at 1st, then shuffling Zimmerman to LF, Werth to right and Harper to CF?

6. Here’s a radical one.  Los Angeles and San Francisco both whiff on Zack Greinke, who inexplicably goes to Arizona.  Both teams adjusted and bought #3 starters (Iwakuma and Samardzija respectively) but now that basically all the big names are off the market, do you think there’s a possible Stephen Strasburg trade out there?  The Dodgers desperately need a Greinke replacement; word on the street is that they’re talking to Miami about Jose Fernandez and that would just be unfair if they got him.  Meanwhile, San Francisco’s 3-4-5 starters looks scary right now and they need to keep up (think SF can’t out-spend LA?  Google “Mission Rock Development” and see how the Giants are about to become a serious player in the SF commercial real estate market).  Even Boston could still be an interesting option: their projected 4-5 aren’t exactly impressive and their new GM is looking to make a splash, and Boston has serious prospect depth.  What if the Nats and Boston get together and get a couple of serious prospects for Strasburg?  Could you see that?  Maybe he gets moved and Giolito gets pushed into service a lot earlier than people thought.

If we moved Strasburg, the Nats would suddenly have a 5th starter hole too (well, unless Giolito became the guy).  I don’t really trust our AAA rotation guys to step up so maybe we’d be back in the market for a cheap starter too.  Luckily I count like 40 starters who profile like that, and some of them could be had for pretty cheap.

7. I don’t buy that the team needs/wants a CF.  But I could be wrong.  If we really were targeting a CF, we would have tendered Span.  I’ll spit bullets if the sign Dexter Fowler and give up their 1st rounder.  If only they could find a power hitting lefty who could play CF (ahem, Bryce Harper).

That’s a good starting point for the Winter meetings.  Let the swap meet begin!

 

 

 

41 Responses to 'Quick pre-Winter Meetings thoughts…'

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  1. Curious why we haven’t seen any links between the Nats and Alex Gordon (moving Werth back to right and Bryce to center). He’s a lefty bat with good avg/obp and excellent defense. Sure a little older than I’d like but wouldn’t require a Werth-size contract right?

    I too am stunned by the non-tender of Stammen. Seems like they probably tried to low ball him thinking he would be desperate to stay and grossly misplayed their hand. Add it to the “Lerners are cheap” ledger along with Papelbon (grievance and trading for him instead of other options to begin with), et al.

    MG

    7 Dec 15 at 11:00 am

  2. Agree. would love Alex Gordon and should have mentioned him (I think i have talked about him elsewhere). Same concept: buy Gordon, do the OF shuffle.

    Stammen: how hard would it have been to do a tiered contract where you get $$ per appearance to get him right back to his $2.2M salary? I just don’t get this front office sometimes; you throw around $10M contracts for guys who you knew were going to be 4th outfielders (Nate Mclouth) then you trade a guy b/c he beat you for $200k in arbitration (Blevins).

    Todd Boss

    7 Dec 15 at 11:25 am

  3. Every day when I wander around the internet I meet “OMG the people who run [commentator’s favorite sports franchise] are mindless incompetent idiots.” Certainly that’s always been common in Nats Town (except for a couple of months in 2012).

    As for Stammen, I always believed that the Nats were likely to tender him if the medical reports/prognosis were good. The Nats have more access to information concerning both (1) Stammens injury/surgery/recover/prognosis; and (2) the general chances for recovery from injuries of Stammen’s type; than we do. And yet the knee jerk reaction to the non-tender isn’t “wow, the medicals must be really concerning” it’s “OMG what idiots I just don’t get these guys.”

    FWIW I am deeply skeptical that they traded Blevins because of the arbitration hearing. It’s one of those internet tropes that is mostly confirmed by repetition. They certainly got more out of MdD last year than the Mets got out of Blevins, and they still have MdD for several more years. Want to whinge about the trade for Blevins (Billy Burns)? I’m right there with you! The seeming idea that trading Blevins was the linchpin that caused the bullpen to fall apart is pretty silly. It’s not like he was all that good in the first place.

    If I were a pitcher for the Nats, the idea of having an outfield behind me of Zimmerman/Harper/Werth would cause me to have nightmares.

    John C.

    7 Dec 15 at 2:18 pm

  4. There are reports now that the Nats will sign Shawn Kelley. That sounds like a consolation prize on the O’Day front. He’s still a one-inning guy, so they still need a long man, unless they plan on using Jordan or Cole in that role.

    John, I have little doubt that the Stammen non-tender was medically related. A healthy Stammen is a bargain at what he was due to make. Do they now look at Petit?

    I have little interest in any scenario that would send Zimmerman to LF, all the more so after his foot issues in ’15. Also, I think his odds of staying healthy are better at 1B than they are anywhere else.

    Alex Gordon would cost the draft pick; he’s a good player, but no thanks at that price. We should know about Zobrist this week. If the Nats don’t get him, they’re not in a position where they have to make a desperation move. I have no idea why people think they should sign Rollins instead of just rolling with Escobar.

    I’m a little surprised there hasn’t been more buzz about a catcher upgrade.

    I’ve stated my position several times on a Stras trade: I wouldn’t be against it if they can come up with another quality starter by some other means. But considering the nuttiness of the starter market now, I don’t know that they can get someone good at an intelligence price.

    KW

    8 Dec 15 at 5:16 am

  5. I’d look to flip Escobar for a reliever or two. LAA or CLE have 3b needs and some interesting guys.

    Then I’d see if they could trade either Storen or Pap for Melancon, while eating most of the cash. My thinking is that PIT is a contender and wants a closer, so if they could swap down for a comparable guy at greatly lower prices, it might fly. Probably have to include a prospect

    Wally

    8 Dec 15 at 7:42 am

  6. Stammen non-tender: reading the quotes from both sides, it seemed to me to be a simple issue: he’s coming off injury, he’s thrown a gazillion innings, and the team didn’t want to guarantee him even 80% of his 2015 salary. Stammen thought otherwise and clearly seems miffed and “ready to move on.” I’ll continue to pass judgement on the non-tender though for the simple fact that the Nats are *already* talking about shedding 70% of their bullpen so why rush the judgement on a guy who was a very important part of the Bullpen for the last few years? He had an elbow injury, easily fixable with significantly better recovery rates than shoulder issues. And, Stammen was apparently ready to start throwing at the end of the season but since the team was out of it in early Sept they told him not to bother. So how serious was the injury and how “bad” was the recovery?

    Mark this conversation. Because if Stammen goes to some other team and continues to be an effective 7th inning guy, you know I’m going to continue to say I told you so. And even though i’m not a doctor and don’t have access to his records, i think that’s exactly what’s going to happen. The Nats executive team seems to have a very bad habit of having their pretty little egos bruised over things and they make bad decisions as a result.

    Speaking of bad decisions over bruised egos, lets talk about the Blevins trade AGAIN: I keep repeating that statement about why he got traded because a well respected national baseball writer wrote it. If some blogger “in his mom’s basement” had opined it that’s one thing. When Ken Frigging Rosenthal writes it, i believe it. We can agree to disagree on this one; i’m going to keep writing it when apropos. I didn’t make one comment about whether I thought Blevins’ loss was the reason the bullpen fell apart. And I had zero problem acquiring him in the first place for a guy (Billy Burns) who STILL wouldn’t be playing for this team, who was completely blocked and would be at best a 5th outfielder on a team that already had several other 5th outfielders (McLouth, Johnson, Moore). You trade from positions of depth to acquire what you need.

    Zimmerman/Harper/Werth outfield. Doesn’t “sound” ideal, no. Certainly not as good as having an outfield of (say) Gordon, Fowler and Harper. But what are you going to do? Unless the Lerners (are cheap) are going to agree to sitting BOTH of their aging, brittle $100M positional players, they have to play somewhere. And (as I repeat often) you can hide a player in left. So lets look at the numbers, since they don’t lie. Call it SSS or whatever but Zimmerman was NOT a disaster in LF during 2014: his UZR/150 in 265 innings out there was a 2.4 . Is it the end of the world if Werth goes back to right? Again, looking at range factors at Fangraphs, Werth was also “not a disaster” in RF in his last two full seasons there. And he stays in shape; its not like he’s become Mark Trumbo in the OF. Lastly Harper in CF; guess what his UZR/150 was in 2015 in 100 innings in center? Again, not too shabby.

    So, frankly, speaking of “internet tropes” i’ll say that “Werth is awful in the OF” or “Zimmerman is too slow to play LF adequately” is an internet trope because the numbers don’t back it up.

    Todd Boss

    8 Dec 15 at 8:39 am

  7. I have no problem with marking this conversation, and I have no doubt that, should Stammen prove effective, you will not only say “I told you so” but will add it to the long list of “mistakes” that Rizzo has made that you would not have made. Fair enough. I have my own version of that (for example, I wanted the Nats to sign Aoki when he was originally posted; the winning bid was ludicrously small). But I am also honest enough to admit that there have been more times when Rizzo was right and I was wrong. This gives me at least a modest amount of humility when it comes to criticizing.

    In my experience, I’ve seen many regular commenters, bloggers and whatnot who keep and treasure a long list of “I was right!” and immediately forget the other half of the ledger. Oh, some might say in a season wrapup or passing comment “I was against this, and thank goodness they did it anyway.” Maybe. But after that it’s immediately forgotten and the only examples that pop up in future critiques are the “I WAS RIGHT, DAMMIT!” ones. So the only message that comes through is “the [manager/GM] is an idiot.”

    I do think Werth has been better in RF than LF, which is why I think that he should improve in LF with a Spring Training and good health. My concern over Zimmerman in LF is largely due to concerns about injury in general, and specifically the wear & tear on his shoulder.

    John C.

    8 Dec 15 at 10:18 am

  8. Also unsaid about the Stammen non-tender. It was for practically no money!! Why are they whining about having to commit $2M on a team with a payroll of $165M last year?? Maybe that’s why I’m so irritated by it. Ok its a risk; maybe Stammen is not going to be healthy for opening day. But for a team that’s looking at completely blowing up their bullpen, do you think its worse to take a $2M flier on a guy who has been with your organization for more than 10 YEARS or to spend millions more on some random FA who you have no idea if he’s going to work out? Its ok to defer more than $100M of Scherzer’s salary but its not ok to roll the dice on one of your longest serving soldiers? Maybe that’s part of the unsaid issue here; yes its a “what have you done for me lately” business but for crying out loud, non-tendering your longest serving employee b/c he got hurt playing for you just seems unnecessarily heartless.

    I hope I don’t come across as the “i told you so” in this blog. But in the same vein i’m not shy about posting opinions nor hiding from them.

    Todd Boss

    8 Dec 15 at 12:14 pm

  9. Oh, no worries Todd – I enjoy the discussions here. If I thought you were always an insufferable blowhard (I kid, I kid! – besides, that would certainly run me into a pot/kettle problem) then I wouldn’t comment as much. It’s just that, to be fair, some acknowledgement that not only are Rizzo and his people likely minimally competent (their collective record is certainly very good), but that sometimes they get it right even when one disagreed with them at the time. And if a commenters response is to say that the Nats occasionally get lucky and it works out despite our misgivings, realize that the same possibility exists on the flip side for the “advice” that we shovel out here. Sometimes a decision that we criticize and comes a cropper was actually a good one, and just unlucky.

    I do disagree from time to time (I disagreed a LOT with MW, but then again more of a manager’s decisions are out in plain sight), and will say so. But I also acknowledge complexity – there may be data that I’m unaware of that the team is under no obligation to share with me, and I may simply be wrong. Which is why, if I can see the rationale for something and there is some sense to it, I tend to give a pass even if I find that the rationale isn’t ultimately convincing.

    John C.

    8 Dec 15 at 12:28 pm

  10. Chapman trade now officially on hold, pending investigation into his incident. Looks like the guy at the top of this post isn’t the only closer with “character issues”!

    Meanwhile, whether the trade goes through or not, Jansen has officially been Storen’d and apparently isn’t happy about it.

    KW

    8 Dec 15 at 1:16 pm

  11. Here’s a great idea. Chapman trade fails to go through, the nats swoop in and acquire him, then stick him and Papelbon in a room together and let them decide together who pitches the 8th and who pitches the 9th.

    Chapman has to leave his guns at home though. (too soon?)

    Todd Boss

    8 Dec 15 at 1:28 pm

  12. On Rizzo and the FO’s proclivities: You’re absolutely right; GMs make lots of moves, some of them work out, some make them look dumb. I think Rizzo wishes he had a few FA signings back (McLouth, Haren, Marquis). But you have to give him props for his good deals in the same vein (Gio contract, Capps, Hairston, some of his minor league findings). On some matters, I think Rizzo is great and I never doubt him. He makes good trades, he has good drafts, he has good under-the-radar signings.

    Where I do find fault in Rizzo’s operations is on the man-management side. Time and time again it seems he’s just tone deaf to the human repercussions of decisions. And I believe he’s stubborn when it comes to recognizing that a situation has soured. I think Williams should have been fired mid-2015 to try to salvage the season under a different voice and when it was clear that he’d lost the team. Why wait until the season was over?

    Inarguably we’re not privy to a host of things that the FO is privy to with players. Maybe Stammen had a massive heroin addiction that has gone undetected and the team just wanted to get rid of the problem without making a big deal of it. Maybe Stammen was a huge clubhouse cancer and they’re cleaning house (having met Stammen I highly doubt it…). :-)

    Todd Boss

    8 Dec 15 at 1:37 pm

  13. Agree Todd. Clearly Rizzo is not a great people-person. Reminds me of the old Portland “Jail” Blazers GM who said that he wasn’t a chemist.

    Guys like to feel comfortable and clearly they didn’t last year. Rizzo not only bringing in a guy like Papelbon but also stripping Storen of his role AND Fister of his number was just plain weird. If Rizzo isn’t a chemist himself, hopefully either Dusty can be that guy or else maybe Knorr can provide some of the soft skills that Rizzo is lacking.

    Andrew R

    8 Dec 15 at 3:40 pm

  14. I can’t find the link right now, but Boz had some very nice things to say about Stammen in his chat today, basically that he was one of the best and smartest guys in the clubhouse during the recent run. That said, Boz seemed to ascribe to the “Nats must know something” theory of why Stammen wasn’t tendered.

    Zobrist to the Cubs, who are trading Castro to the Yanks. (Sorry Ian, there went the potential Bronx landing spot.) Can’t say that I’m too sorry to miss out on a four-year contract for Zobrist. Age catches up at a certain point, no matter what. LaRoche is another of the latest examples. The Nats let him walk at just the right time.

    The Nats are good with Escobar at 2B, as long as they can convince him that he needs to be at 2B. And of course he’s a good example on how it’s hard to know things on the clubhouse front. Bryce recently called him one of his favorite teammates.

    KW

    8 Dec 15 at 8:38 pm

  15. I come out the other way. The Zobrist deal is probably the first one that I would have liked to see the Nats do. 4/$56m seems just a little high, in this market, and he would have helped a lot the next few years. But you could see the Nats weren’t really in it when Rizzo said that he had no plans to meet him face to face.

    There have been two teams that have puzzled me with their moves. ATL, which is a tear down with no rhyme or reason, but I think they made a great trade of Miller, if reports are true. Inciarte, Danson and Blair could be a home run for them. Can’t say that I get the rest of their moves, and it looks like 2019 is around their time (if it happens).

    The other is LAD. Have to say, I haven’t been a fan of the Friedman era. Really think letting Greinke go was a big mistake, and just not an Iwakuma fan. They have time still, obviously, but I wasn’t a fan of last offseason’s moves either.

    So what are the theories for why we have been silent so far? Prices too rich? Any conspiracy theories? MASN loss spooked the Lerners into a budget retrench? I’ll admit, I was expecting them to be very active.

    Last thought: I really hope Desi finds a good landing spot without too much pain. Maybe Zobrist to Cubs frees up his market.

    Wally

    8 Dec 15 at 9:26 pm

  16. I think there’s been a lot of sound and fury signifying very little actual improvement. The Cubs hoped that one of the top starters would fall into their price range, but none did, so they settled for the ancient Lackey. With Lackey and Zobrist in and Castro, Fowler, and Jackson out, they’ve suddenly gotten older and slower, if a bit more savvy. They may have slightly improved for one year, but not beyond that.

    The Dodgers, Giants, and Cards all whiffed on top-tier pitchers, who all went to only marginal pseudo-contenders at best. The Dodgers whiffed on Chapman, who they didn’t need anyway.

    In the division, the Mets didn’t get Zobrist or O’Day, either, and have done perhaps even less than the Nats, considering that they lost more. I’m not worried about anything the Braves or Phils are doing to “improve” from AAA to AAAA. The Marlins, curiously, seem more interested in shedding their top assets than building on them. In short, they’re behaving like the Marlins typically do!

    So all in all, while the Nats haven’t moved forward, I don’t feel like they’ve moved backward relative to the other contenders, either. It’s clear that Rizzo hasn’t liked the FA trends, particularly the insistence on extra years. Perhaps that just means he going to be looking to improve by trades once the FA hyperventilating settles. Perhaps he is waiting for some of the prices to come down after the flurry ends. It would seem that you’re paying retail prices if you’re buying during the Winter Meetings.

    KW

    9 Dec 15 at 5:31 am

  17. Atlanta’s haul for Shelby Miller; fantastic. Keith Law absolutely destroyed Arizona for the deal, but then again Arizona’s known for being quite careless with their prospect depth. But you have to think that Arizona’s rotation went from one of the worst in the majors to one of the best in one fell swoop. I have a “rotation worksheet” that i’ll use to eventually rank the rotations and Arizona probably went from like the 25th ranked rotation to about the 15th with Greinke and now I have them 5th.

    Zobrist deal; not surprising. He’ll make the Cubs (already a 97 win team) better. They’re going to be a complete juggernaut. And they move Castro, who they wanted to get rid of anyway so they could put Russell at the right spot, for stuff they need. Lots of smart coming out of Chicago.

    Zobrist’s price tag; every year we all have sticker shock, and every year we need to remind ourselves of just general baseball inflation. I was listening to the JABO podcast and Rob Neyer made a very good point: the going rate for WAR on the FA market is between 7-8 million. So to get an “average” 2-win player you have to spend about $15M a year. So that explains the Lackey contract but not really the Zobrist one since his WAR was pretty low the last two years. But if he pulls of one more 4.5 win season then settles into a 1 war value the rest of the way … then that’s about right in terms of $/war for his entire contract. chicago is a good place to hit; it wouldn’t surprise me at all if a return to playing for his mentor and going to a nice hitters’ park gives Zobrist a good 2016.

    Todd Boss

    9 Dec 15 at 9:21 am

  18. Nats lack of activity; yes concerning. A lot of very good relievers have gone off the board and all we’ve done is sign a lefty retread who was in AA a few years ago and then been rumored to have signed a RH reliever with not one but two TJs on his resume. Why would O’day go to Baltimore instead of come to Washington where he’s guaranteed to be in a pennant race thanks to the awfulness of the NL East? Odd.

    Todd Boss

    9 Dec 15 at 9:22 am

  19. Btw; yesterday’s Ask Boswell link: http://live.washingtonpost.com/ask-boswell-20151207.html . I constantly forget he does chats. Since Ladson never does mailbags anymore, and I used to love writing those reaction posts, maybe i’ll do more reaction to Boswell’s chats.

    Todd Boss

    9 Dec 15 at 9:23 am

  20. Cubbies: It’s hard to improve on a 97-win team. Just ask that squad that won 96 and added Scherzer and Escobar. (Sigh.)

    D-Backs: That was a HUGE haul sent to ATL. For that, they’re expecting Miller to be a consistent #2. A lot of intelligent people are skeptical that he is. And they still don’t have competent players to man half the field positions. We’ll see. Their commotion reminds me a bit of San Diego’s last offseason, giving away a lot of prospects (for which we thank them) but not shaping a viable team. That said, they have to feel like they’ve got a shot in West, with LA and SF both scrambling for pitching.

    Meanwhile, the Snakes are playing havoc with MLB economics. They gave Greinke the moon and an extra sunset year. And now they’ve set a painfully high trade threshold for a mid-rotation starter.

    Zobrist: as much as I wanted him, I had a nagging feeling about his age and his 2015 injuries. Perhaps the Cubs have enough young talent to cover for him if he has to become a part-timer within a year or two. The Nats don’t. And at least the Mets didn’t get him. I wouldn’t be surprised if they now start seeking a reunion with Murphy.

    KW

    9 Dec 15 at 11:28 am

  21. Question for the group. If you found out this morning that the Nats had traded Stephen Strasburg to Arizona for Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte, would you have thought it was a fair return?

    Swanson (#1 overall pick in 2015) could duke it out with Trea Turner to be the MI-combo for the next 5 years, Blair (supp 1st round pick in 2013) was 13-5 with a sub 3.00 ERA in the PCL last year and could be a solid starter, and Inciarte is a lefty hitting CF who the Nats presumably are looking for.

    ?? Yeah I think I would have taken that haul. Maybe it wouldn’t have been as much since Strasburg is better than Miller but only has one year of control. But you have to think it could have been close. Man I wonder if Rizzo wishes he was better friends with Tony LaRussa/Dave Stewart.

    Todd Boss

    9 Dec 15 at 11:31 am

  22. I definitely would have made that trade for Strasburg. Scary return for the Braves there. Shelby Miller isn’t even that great.

    Andrew R

    9 Dec 15 at 1:15 pm

  23. Is this the worst trade you’ve ever seen in terms of over-valuing the vet/under-valuing the prospects? A few for comparison purposes come to mind:

    – Shields/Davis for Myers/Odorizzi/Montgomery
    – Dickey for Snydergaard/d’Arneaud
    – Colon for Lee/Sizemore/Philips
    – Teixeira for Andrus/Feliz/Harrison/Saltamalamacchia
    – Souza/Ott for Turner/Ross

    Any other obvious prospects for vets trades come to mind?

    Todd Boss

    9 Dec 15 at 1:29 pm

  24. I would make that deal in a heartbeat for one year of Stras, maybe for two, but not for more than that. But Stras is a rarer animal than Miller. Considering his youthfulness and the lack of other top starters on the market next winter, Stras could become the first $250M pitcher about this time next year.

    But yeah, with the Miller market rate set, the Nats should at least float Stras and see what he might bring. The Dodgers seemed willing to pony up a high level for just one year of Chapman.

    KW

    9 Dec 15 at 3:49 pm

  25. Btw, what the F are the Nationals doing?? Every 20 minutes i hear about another reliever signing elsewhere. Meanwhile all we’ve gotten is a sub 100 ERA+ lefty reliever and a rumor, not even a real signing, of getting a RH reliever with two tommy john surgeries.

    Now the rumors are that the Nats are “really interested” in Mike Leake. Why?? Why are they interested in committing $15M/year on a 5th f*cking starter? Does anyone here think Leake is going to be any better than Joe Ross (who will cost $500k?) If they’re really that interested in improving the rotation, just call up Lucas Giolito who probably could pitch in the majors right now with his arm. I just don’t get it.

    The team needs three things this offseason. Three. None of them were “$100M committment to a 5th starter.”

    Todd Boss

    9 Dec 15 at 3:55 pm

  26. Nooooo to Leake. Even if they’re thinking about moving Stras, they can do better/cheaper than Leake. If the Nats want Leake-like performance, just promote Voth.

    Mets to get one year of Neil Walker. Nats reportedly dipped their toe in that one at the last minute. The Daniel Murphy market is shrinking rapidly.

    KW

    9 Dec 15 at 4:16 pm

  27. Don’t the Nats get some benefit of the doubt on SPs? If you forget the fliers on bounce back guys Haren and EJax they have pretty much gotten the talent eval right on starters.

    Wally

    9 Dec 15 at 5:25 pm

  28. Kelley seems to have firmed up, and tonight the story is that the Nats also signed Petit. I know we all hate Papelbon [SPIT], but right now the bullpen projects as:
    Back end: Papelbon (r); Storen (r); Rivero (l)
    Middlemen: Kelley (r); Treinen (r); Perez (l)
    Long man/swing starter: Petit

    That’s not bad … and potentially even good.

    John C.

    9 Dec 15 at 11:47 pm

  29. Hey hey, I finally got one right on Petit! He makes a lot of sense as the long man/swing man. With him in the fold, perhaps they will move Treinen out of the longer man/swing man role and see what he can do just as a power one-inning guy.

    John, I concur that *on paper,* that’s not a bad bullpen. It’s going to take some serious psychological management, though. Come to think of it, it’s curious that the Nats still haven’t named a a bullpen coach. Perhaps they’re trying to work out something with someone higher profile, like Pudge.

    Speaking of psychological management, I now see that Leake and Stras have hated each other since they were 11, when they were on the same travel team. Wonderful. Just what we need, something else to get under Stras’s skin.

    Elsewhere, the Mets still think AsCab can play short. Good luck with that!

    KW

    10 Dec 15 at 5:25 am

  30. Would a signing of Leake be enough bolstering of the rotation for the Nats to be able to trade Stras without too big a drop-off? Is that what they’re thinking? I can’t think why else they would need to pay big bucks for another starter when they’ve already got five competent ones.

    KW

    10 Dec 15 at 7:53 am

  31. I would hope that signing a pitcher like Leake would be more to allow a hedge against a sophomore slump by Ross and/or continued indications that Roark’s career resurrection has subsided. It would be a pretty big dropoff from Strasburg to Leake. I think that the Nationals are certainly a serious playoff contender, but subtracting Strasburg and adding Leake would make that status less serious.

    John C.

    10 Dec 15 at 8:54 am

  32. I understand the concept of a hedge for Ross/Roark, as well as another bridge guy for the transition when/if Strasburg departs, but Leake would be an awfully expensive one, not to mention another potential clubhouse distraction if the rumors of his conflict with Stras are true. The last reports seem to be that the Nats are cooling on Leake, though.

    Perhaps the larger question is how much of a hedge do the Nats need? Do they have no trust in Cole and Jordan, or the nearly ready generation of Giolito and Voth, with guys like Simms and Lopez not far behind? I’m not adamantly saying that they couldn’t use another starter, and in fact I have been mentioning a trade for Tyson Ross (or Sonny Gray, if we can dream), but that’s what I’d prefer – a Gio-like guy for a reasonable price for several years. Come to think of it, a collection like Cole, Jordan, Voth, and Kieboom would be very similar to what they gave up for Gio. (Heck, they actually gave up Cole for Gio!)

    KW

    10 Dec 15 at 9:20 am

  33. I’ll take Petit for $2.5M. Kind of curious why the Giants non-tendered him. Maybe we just remember how unhittable he was in the NLDS and opt to overlook his pedestrian numbers in the regular season.

    To concur with JohnC here’s my “if season started tomorrow” bullpen: RP: Papelbon, Storen, Kelley, Treinen, Perez*, Rivero*, Petit

    Yeah I like that. Now the question is this; what do they do if/when they axe off the first two names?

    Here’s an idea: apparently they really pissed off Kenley Jansen in LA by attempting to “layering” him in the bullpen (you know, what we in DC call getting “Storen’d”). I’m sure he wants out. How about a trade for Janssen with LAD.

    Leake in general: pitched with a 4+ ERA whiel moving to the NL West with all its pitcher-friendly parks. Never has come close to a value season like Roark’s 2014. Who would you rather have? Leake for $15M or Roark for $550k in your rotation? I’m firmly in the belief that if you just put Roark back in the rotation and tell him that’s his role, you’re going to see him with another season like he was showing in 2013-14. When you demote him after the fantastic 2014 season, then jerk him around with every role between closer and mop-up guy for AAA-callup (the infamous AJ cole/Atlanta game that Roark should have been starting anyway), you basically ask for the kind of crummy 2015 season he had.

    I also read Strasburg/Leake conflict and just shake my head. If reporters know that then the team has to know it too. Its almost as bad as if you found out that Bryce Harper hated free agent Joe Blow, so you immediately go out and offer him $100M. Chalk one more up to the tone-deafness of this team when it comes to man management.

    Todd Boss

    10 Dec 15 at 11:45 am

  34. Nats trust in their AAA SP depth; looks to me like its very little. I can’t see how Cole, Jordan or Hill helps the team and should be flipped to a team towards the bottom of the rotation depth rankings (Oakland, Philly, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Colorado) to see if they pan out. Keep Voth and see if he can continue his rise. Start Giolito in AAA to see how he fares. Lopez; is he headed to the pen? Scouting reports i read basically say he’s a velocity guy and not much else.

    Todd Boss

    10 Dec 15 at 11:53 am

  35. Strasburg and Papelbon to the Dodgers for Jansen, Ethier, and a prospect. That would weaken the Nat rotation, though, while making the Dodger one a heck of a lot better. Just thinking out loud . . .

    Lopez: I asked Luke Erickson about him on Luke’s site late in the season. Luke saw him regularly at Potomac. He was still pretty positive about him. The takeaway seemed to be that he felt like the Nats had Lopez really working on his secondary pitches and weren’t too concerned with the overall results. Since including Lopez probably could have gotten a Chapman deal done at the trade deadline, you would think that the Nats are still liking what they see since they didn’t part with him.

    I completely agree that Cole and Jordan could be in the back ends of rotations for many teams. If the Nats aren’t going to use them, get something for them. Hill probably doesn’t have any value left after a terrible ’15, though.

    KW

    10 Dec 15 at 12:56 pm

  36. KW: i’d want a pretty good starting pticher prospect as the prospect there. Otherwise its not good enough for me.

    I just got an alert on my phone that the Nats have traded Yunel Escobar to the Angels. No word yet on who’s coming back.

    Todd Boss

    10 Dec 15 at 4:07 pm

  37. Trevor Gott plus a prospect. Seems a bit underwhelming but I am not familiar with Gott. Also they’re saying Kelley gets a three year deal

    Wally

    10 Dec 15 at 4:52 pm

  38. It does seem underwhelming for a middle infielder who can hit, even if its an “empty” BA and his defense is suspect. I’m sure Escobar’s one-year of control versus Gott’s 5 years of control factors in heavily.

    Kelley a 3 year deal?? wow. So much for “Nats are afraid to commit to TJ guys.”

    Rumors are that Nats are in on a $200m deal for Heyward. he’d certainly shake up the outfield….

    Todd Boss

    10 Dec 15 at 5:17 pm

  39. OK, my head is spinning. Escobar and cash for Gott plus a 29-year-old AA pitcher. The Gott profile looks a bit like Treinen, with blazing fastball but not striking out a lot of guys. We’ll see. I thought they could do better for Yuney. On first glance, this strikes me as a salary dump, for . . .

    . . . the Heyward deal. Wow, didn’t see that one coming. As the Scherzer deal proved last year, Rizzo is stealth when it comes to the big things. Would Heyward make sense? I don’t know. The Fangraphs guys have been insisting all winter that he will be a tremendous value WAR-wise no matter the price. He’s very young, coming into his age-26 season, so the next 3-4 years should be his peak (with an opt-out soon thereafter?). He’s a LH bat. He doesn’t strike out much. Presumably he can play CF. He’s not the power bat to put behind Harper, but who is? He’s never lived up to the 27 HR year he flashed in 2012. I’d sure like to be getting at least 20-25 HRs a year, minimum, for $200M+.

    It’s not done yet. And if they’re going to spend that much on J-Hey, they #$%!!@@!! well better pony up for whatever Bryce wants.

    With the Escobar trade, is Espinosa starting? If so, I hope he’s at SS, with Turner at 2B. That alignment takes advantage of Espi’s plus defense while putting less pressure on Turner defensively. And wow, would that pair be able to cover a lot of ground.

    Interesting times ahead.

    KW

    10 Dec 15 at 9:51 pm

  40. I haven’t seen it on MLBTR, but there’s a link to a story on the Nats’ ESPN page from last night that says the Nats still have “significant interest” in Chapman.

    KW

    11 Dec 15 at 9:01 am

  41. new posted on the bullpen makeover.

    Todd Boss

    11 Dec 15 at 10:27 am

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