Nationals Arm Race

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

GCL/Rookie Pitching Staff Year in Review; 2015

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Watson was a big over-slot draftee in 2015 and did not disappoint in his brief GCL debut. Photo bia mychandlerschools.org (his HS)

Watson was a big over-slot draftee in 2015 and did not disappoint in his brief GCL debut. Photo bia mychandlerschools.org (his HS)

This is the 7th and last in the 2015 Pitching staff review series, here’s a review of GCL/Rookie league pitching staff for 2015.  I generally don’t follow the Dominican Summer League teams, simply because there seems to be so little correlation of success there to success domestically.  Other parts of the 2015 series:

For some historical perspective, here’s 2013’s version (featuring Lucas Giolito again),  2012’s version (Lucas Giolito was the feature pitcher) and 2011’s version (Jack McGeary the feature pitcher) of this post specifically for the GCL/Rookie league.  Had I done this post for 2014, I would have struggled to find a worthy player to feature but would have settled on Anderson Martinez.

All stats are courtesy of either milb.com’s GCL’s 2015 Stats page or via Fangraph’s GCL 2015 page.  Also useful here are the Big Board and the Nats Draft Tracker since so many of these lower-minors guys are recent draftees.

A caveat before starting this post: this is short-season ball, so nobody’s got more than a few dozen innings.  The staff leader had 42 innings.  So yes this is absolutely going to be some “Small Sample Size” analysis.  Which in some cases is unfair to the player (to the good or to the bad).  It is what it is.  The Nats GCL team basically gets two kinds of players; over-aged college draftees (since we basically only draft college arms) and DSL graduates who may or may not be ready for prime time.  So each type of guy may have his own caveats when looking at numbers.

GCL Pitching Staff movement throughout the year (* == lefty)

  • Opening Day Rotation: Acevedo, Fuentes, Bermudez, Valerio, WPena
  • End-of-Season Rotation: Fuentes/Baez, DeRosier, Watson/Mills*,  Avila, Reynoso*, WPena
  • End-of-Season spot starts/swingman:  Serrata, Harmening, Acevedo
  • End-of-Season bullpen:  De La Cruz, Cespedes, Pantoja,  Copping,   CPena, Gunter
  • Mid-Season promotions: Peterson, Boghosian, Hearn*, Guilbeau*,Pirro,  Brinley, Howell, Valerio, Van Vossen
  • Post-season end promotions: Baez, DeRosier (Feliz, Dickey?)
  • up-and-back: Feliz
  • down-and-back:
  • demotions:  Bermudez (to DSL)
  • dl: WDavis, Simmons
  • cut/released/FAs: Mancini, Yrizarri
  • GCL/Lower cuts pre-season: Salazar, Jauss, DVasquez, Morel, EGomez, Charlis, JRamirez, Costa, Uribarri

GCL startersHere’s an overview of the starters used in 2015, starting with the original starters, going all the way to the rehab spot starts.

  • Carlos Acevedo got the opening day start and was used as a long-man the rest of the way, getting 29.2 IP across 10 appearances.  3.64 ERA, 1.11 whip, 3.61 fip, 20/9 K/BB.  Acevedo is an older DR signee, already 21 but only in his 2nd pro season.  These were decent enough numbers though and I can see him getting bumped up to Short-A; can’t quite see him making the Low-A bullpen though.  Outlook for Next Season: short-A bullpen.
  • Steven Fuentes went 3-4 with a 5.22 ERA in 39.2 IP in his first season domestically after excelling as a 17yr old in the DSL last  year.  33/15 K/BB ratio but his peripherals were iffy: 1.54 whip, 4.14 fip.   His K/9 rate seems promising and he’s young enough that there’s no reason to push him along: I think he repeats the GCL in 2016.  Outlook for Next Season: GCL rotation.
  • Juan Bermudez struggled with the GCL squad, posting a 6.91 ERA in 14.1 IP and got demoted back to the DSL.  There he also struggled and the squad released him in August.  Outlook for Next Season: out of the organization.
  • Maximo Valero excelled in the GCL, going 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA across 36.2 IP.  32/7 K/BB and a sub 1.00 whip.  He earned a promotion to Short-A by mid August and finished the season there, posting a 2.63 ERA in Short-A with a 15/3 K/BB ratio.  He has not yet turned 21 and looks like he could be an excellent IFA signing.  I think he makes sense at this point to compete for the Low-A rotation; problem is that there’s just way too many arms already competing for that rotation.  I think he could end up as a long-man in Hagerstown and then get pushed to the Short-A rotation in mid June.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation.
  • Wilber Pena had an ok first domestic season, going 1-6 with a 3.92 ERA, 1.51 whip and 36/12 K/BB in 39 IP.  Not great, but not horrible.  He won’t turn 21 until after next season, so I can see  him repeating the GCL to work on his WHIP.  Outlook for Next Season: GCL rotation.
  • Joan Baez was tried out in Low-A and Short-A briefly before settling back into the GCL for the majority of the season; there he exceled, posting a 2.13 ERA in 9starts/42IP.  42/19 K/BB.  This was his 2nd go-around in the GCL and he improved across the board.  He’s a bit of an older IFA signing (he just turned 21 in December, so 2016 will still be his age 21 season), so he makes sense to try out again in Hagerstown in 2016.  I’m not sure he’s going to make that rotation though; he may be destined for the bullpen.  That being said, the team clearly wants him to stick as a starter.   Outlook for Next Season: Low-A long-man/spot starter.
  • Yorlin Reynoso got one quick start in Auburn before getting demoted back to the GCL to repeat the level; he ended up going 1-3 with a 5.66 ERA, 1.51 whip, 26/14 K/BB ratio in 35 GCL innings as a 19yr old.  These are improvements over 2014’s GCL stint, and he’s still young, so I can see the team sticking with him.  But he can’t play in Viera forever.  2016 needs to see some improvement; he needs to stick in the Short-A rotation.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation competition/release candidate.
  • McKenzie Mills went 0-5, 7.27 ERA  with 24/28 K/BB in 34.2 ip across two levels.  He posted a 4.46 fip, .405 babip  while in Short-A then got dropped back to the Rookie league, where he threw 23 IP at a 7.04 ERA clip.   Rough season for Mills, who couldn’t make the jump to short-A, then struggled when back in rookie ball.  Just way too many walks to be effective, but likely hangs around a bit longer since he can just hang out in XST and try to pick back up on next year’s short season squads again.  2016 may be a make-it or break-it year though.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation competition/release candidate.
  • Matt DeRosier went 0-2, 3.58 ERA with 30/7 K/BB in 27IP (7 starts) mostly in the GCL, having gotten dumped out of Auburn after a couple of poor starts.   2.02 fip, .435 babip in Auburn, so perhaps it was a short-sample-size that was unflattering.  He needs to put together a nice string of healthy starts somewhere outside of complex ball though.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation competition/release candidate.
  • Tyler Watson went 1-1, 0.00 ERA  and 16/4 k/bb in 13ip, 1.81 fip, .226 babip in the GCL.  The Nats 2015 34th round over-slot signee did not disappoint.  He’s young but he looked dominant in his first pro innings.  I’ll bet he stays in XST and debuts next year on the short-A squad.  He’s young though; so don’t be surprised if he repeats the GCL entirely to build up innings.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A rotation.
  • Mick VanVossen went 0-2, 4.83 ERA  across 2 levels.  23/13 K/BB in 31.2 ip, 4.09 fip, .260 babip in GCL (where he spent most of the year).  Nothing too special here; struggled when he got to Auburn but only had 6ip there.  Needs to show a better K/BB ratio to compete next  year.   And a college senior in the GCL isn’t going to cut it; he needs to make next year’s short-A bullpen and succeed or he’ll be axed.   Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen competition/release candidate.
  • Rehab Guys:
    • Ian Dickson had two rehab starts for the GCL: see High-A write-up for more.
    • Brian Rauh had one rehab start and a couple other appearances for the GCL: see AA write-up for more.
  • Short Timer Guys waiting to get assigned to the proper level:
    • Taylor Guilbeau featured briefly (2 appearances, 1 start) in GCL before rightfully joining the Short-A rotation where he belonged.  See Short-A write-up for more.
    • Taylor Hearn also featured briefly (2 appearances, 1 start) in GCL before rightfully joining the Short-A rotation where he belonged.  See Short-A write-up for more.

GCL Relievers: taking a look at the relief corps.  We’ll organize relievers by going by IP from most to least.  Anyone with than 10 IP or who was solely doing rehab will get cursory analysis at the end.

  • Russell Harmening went 1-0, 2.86 ERA in the GCL with 16/4 K/BB in 22ip, 3.26 fip, .303 babip.  He was a college junior draftee but a young one; he didn’t turn 21 until after the season was over.  I’d say he makes sense to slot into the short-A bullpen in 2016.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen.
  • Brayan Serrata fared well in his first professional innings after a significant layoff since signing in 2012.  He had no innings in 2012, 2013 or 2014 (at last as far as milb.com knows).  This year in his turning-21 age season he posted a 1.80 ERA in 20 GCL innings (14/8 K/BB).  I’m guessing he’s been hurt for a while; now he’s healthy and needs to move up.  I’m guessing he does another season in XST and slots into the short-A bullpen.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen.
  • Calvin Copping was 1-2, 4.76 ERA in the GCL 14/5 K/BB in 17ip, 4.01 fip, .305 babip.  So-So numbers for a college guy in the rookie league.  As with his fellow middle-of-the-road senior sign pitchers, he needs to show more dominance if he wants a job out of spring 2016.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen competition/release candidate.
  • Angher Cespedes posted a 5.14 ERA in 14IP in his first domestic season after being a relatively old DR signing.  He’ll turn 22 next year and doesn’t seem likely to do much outside of complex ball; i’ll say he repeats the GCL if the team retains him.  Outlook for Next Season: GCL bullpen/release candidate.
  • Jorge Pantoja was 1-1, 5.84 ERA in the GCL, 11/3 K/BB in 12ip, 2.74fip, .395 babip.  Looks like some potential there with a K/inning and a FIP that flatters  his ERA.  Probably needs more time.  Outlook for Next Season: Short-A bullpen competition/release candidate.
  • Carlos Pena signed as an NDFA and posted a 9.82 ERA in 7 GCL innings.  He got hit hard but he did strike out a guy an inning, so perhaps he hangs around the complex for antoher shot.  Outlook for Next Season: GCL bullpen
  • Pedro Avila is a youngster who was an 2014 IFA signing and who *destroyed* the DSL in 2015; 87/17 K/BB in 59.2 innings and was summoned to Viera in Mid August.  He threw just one 4-inning outing before the season ended but he looks quite promising.  He’s profiling as a starter and seems like a good bet to be the GCL’s opening day starter in 2016.  Outlook for Next Season: GCL rotation.
  • Kida De La Cruz had three short outings in June and then didn’t appear afterwards, presumably getting hurt but not going on the D/L.  A lost season for the 2014 IFA signee, who will turn 22 next year and seems to be far too old for the GCL.  Outlook for Next Season: GCL bullpen/release candidate.
  • Deibi Yrizarri had just one 2015 GCL appearance, did not retire a batter, and was released.  He posted a 9.08 ERA last year in the GCL and I guess the team had seen enough.  Seems like a quick hook though for a guy who they kept hanging around the complex for months.  Outlook for Next Season: out of baseball.
  • The following guys threw a handful of rehab innings and are mentioned only to complete the analysis of everyone who appeared in the GCL this year:
    • Johansen, RPena, DRamos
  • The following guys threw a handful of innings before getting quickly promoted to the proper level and are mentioned only to complete the analysis of everyone who appeared in the GCL this year:
    • Feliz, Howell, Pirro, Brinley, Boghosian, ALee, Peterson

Summary

Not too many pure relievers in the GCL; mostly they’re tandem starters each pitching 3-4 innings per rotation turn.  And the Nats treatment of the GCL these days seems to basically be finishing school for their DSL stars since they rarely sign anyone from high school.  Nonetheless, I project a ton of guys getting bounced from the Short-A bullpen competition so perhaps that’s who will reside in the GCL next  year.

32 Responses to 'GCL/Rookie Pitching Staff Year in Review; 2015'

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  1. This crop sure seems like Tyler Watson and everybody else, doesn’t it? If he reaches Hagerstown this summer, when he’ll just turn 19 in May, the buzz is going to start to grow. He’s got a Giolito-like build.

    I don’t know that much about the Dominicans. I know Fore has long had his eye on Baez and his big heater. As you note, though, he’s not getting any younger.

    KW

    16 Jan 16 at 8:49 am

  2. Just to note that Byron Kerr said that McKenzie Mills had an impressive instructional league. So we’ll likely see him next year.

    forensicane

    16 Jan 16 at 10:28 pm

  3. I’ll agree a bit with KW; Watson’s the one to watch. It’s just that we don’t follow the players in the Dominican league enough to know them coming up this far.

    Todd nailed it on our GCL pitchers lacking any H.S. pitchers. The Nats don’t draft or sign any, unlike most other clubs.

    My 2 oldest kids grew up in a Short Season A town. It hardened me enough to not really follow the players until they get to Low A.
    The percentage who make it past GCL & SS A is pretty low; it’s best not to get too attached to them until then.

    Mark L

    17 Jan 16 at 8:49 am

  4. By and large, I agree with the strategy of sticking with the college guys. Taylor and Souza are good examples of how long it can take with high schoolers to find out what you’ve got. If you’re going to do it, I like the approach with Watson: a late pick who they tried to buy out of college, and succeeded. Low risk, potentially high reward.

    JUp to the Tigers. So much for the thought that his price might be going down. Even though Rizzo loved Cespedes coming out of Cuba, I doubt he’ll be tempted by him now. I could see the Nats still having some interest in Gallardo, although I wouldn’t be excited about it. Are they going to roll with Roark, or still looking to trade for another starter?

    KW

    19 Jan 16 at 8:05 am

  5. Anyone still awake out there? The Nats apparently ARE now looking at Cespedes, and did make a bid on Upton. Cespedes doesn’t have a draft pick attached but also is a bit older and more mercurial. It seems that the are wanting shorter contracts, and I don’t blame them.

    In the batting order, Cespedes would slot well behind Harper. In the field, who knows? He has played CF, but not well, while he has been above average defensively in LF. Would they dare move Werth back to right so Cespedes could play left? Or try Cespedes in right? It seems that they’ve always resisted moving Bryce to center, although he’s always been willing.

    My guess would be that they’re talking in the neighborhood of 4/$72M for Cespedes, which would be a bargain compared with what he hoped to get. Truth be told, however, it may be more in line with what he should be getting, based on his actual production.

    We’ll see. I’m still holding out for the Lucroy deal . . .

    KW

    21 Jan 16 at 8:25 am

  6. Just hunkering down for the apocalypse

    Don’t really see the Cespedes fit. Which means they’ll probably do it, the way this offseason is going. I wouldn’t mind the bat, but like you say, don’t really see how the OF shakes out. If they did this, I’d guess Taylor gets traded for prospects. Maybe it’s all just a way to bottom fish, or to rile up NYM?

    I’d be ok with Lucroy at a reasonable price, say Difo and Voth (plus Ramos). Anything more is too risky. What about resigning Desi, Murphy to 3B and trade Rendon for Carrasco + Frazier?

    Wally

    21 Jan 16 at 11:28 am

  7. Wally, you’re sure determined to find a way to get Carrasco!

    I can’t see the Nats trading Rendon. Right now they’d be selling low on him, too.

    I’ve actually had the thought of the Nats signing Desi for a corner OF bat. I can’t get past his swing-and-miss rate, though. He’s had steadily increasing problems with fastballs. He’ll want more years than the Nats would offer, plus I think the Nats *really* want the draft pick for him, particularly after sacrificing the one for the new #20.

    I’m not sure what to think about the Cespedes buzz. I don’t think the team as constructed is quite there yet as a true championship contender. A division contender, yes; a title contender, no. But I don’t know a lot of obvious pieces who could be added or upgraded. I’m wary about Revere as an everyday player. I’m wary about Ramos. They can do better for a RH bat than Moore, particularly considering the brittleness of RZim and Werth. They could benefit from another veteran arm in the ‘pen. There are still some tweaks . . . but time is getting short.

    KW

    21 Jan 16 at 12:27 pm

  8. The little not-so-secret of baseball is: given the coin flip nature of the playoffs, if you’re a division contender, you’re a title contender.

    John C.

    21 Jan 16 at 12:44 pm

  9. How else do you explain the Giants’ three recent titles, right? And uhoh, they’re due again since it’s an even-numbered year . . .

    KW

    21 Jan 16 at 1:17 pm

  10. At this point, I’d be surprised if Desi gets more than 3 years. I hope he gets that, even. I don’t really see him back either, just playing around with potential value ideas.

    As for Carrasco, guilty as charged. I see the performance combined with contract price and control as huge value and he doesn’t get the same press as others, even on his own team.

    I’ve said this before, but if you give any credence to rumors, what an odd offseason for the Nats. They’ve been connected to everyone, whether it fits or not. Like they have money burning a hole in their pocket.

    Wally

    21 Jan 16 at 1:59 pm

  11. KW, just because you’re flipping a coin doesn’t mean that you don’t get data grouping. They just tend to even out over time.

    I remember last year I went back over the last 15 years of MLB and checked the #1 team in the AL and NL to see how they did. Of the 30 #1 seeded teams

    15 lost in the Divisional Series (15-15 overall record)

    8 lost in the League Championship Series (8-7 overall record)

    And 3 lost in the WS (4-3 overall record). One of the teams that won was the 2009 NY Yankees, who won 103 games and ultimately the WS that year. Along the way they played the 2009 Nationals, who lost 103 games that year, in NY. The Nationals won the series.

    Short series baseball between teams anywhere near each other in quality is pretty much close to a coin flip no matter how you slice it. The fact that there is variations in results groupings doesn’t change the overall data set. The human brain has been proven to be predisposed to see patterns even where no patterns exist. It’s what we do.

    John C.

    21 Jan 16 at 2:21 pm

  12. Sigh – the LCS record is obviously 7-8 for the #1 seeds, not 8-7. Operator error.

    John C.

    21 Jan 16 at 2:21 pm

  13. Re: Cespedes, maybe part of the Nats thinking is the DH coming to the NL next year? Maybe they deal with awkward playing time for a year, but then things open up?

    Wally

    21 Jan 16 at 2:58 pm

  14. Cespedes would seem to be Werth’s replacement, although Werth is still here and owed 2/$42M. Sounds like it is getting hot and heavy, though.

    But yes, they’re chasing him after they jumped in late on Heyward and whiffed, then at least poked around with Upton. Weird offseason indeed.

    Still, the bottom line is that with Cespedes at clean-up, other teams would have to pitch to Bryce. Cespedes or Upton were really the only guys out there who could make that happen. We’ll see. The Nats certainly haven’t landed nearly everyone they have been rumored to be in the lead on, so no counting of unhatched chickens yet.

    KW

    21 Jan 16 at 9:15 pm

  15. Mets still said to be in the Cespedes conversation (altho not willing to go more than 3 yrs) and Cespedes said to prefer Mets, so no chicken-counting yet. Maybe he heard it snows too much in DC . . .

    KW

    22 Jan 16 at 7:45 am

  16. Yep, no chickens to count here, either. What a weird offseason. And again, this may turn out to be another deal better off not made. The only “remorse” I feel is that Cespedes will still be in the division. But I wasn’t sure he was that good of a fit for the Nats positionally, nor do I think he’ll age well.

    So here we sit in the snow, still with no big bat to back up Harper, other than crossing our figures that RZim can stay healthy.

    Very bizarre that Cespedes, at 30 and coming off his best season, would settle for such a short-term deal. If he reverts to 2013-14 numbers (as I was afraid he would do if we signed him), he just did a major Desi-like self-screw job.

    Speaking of Desi, with the Padres signing Ramirez, his options are shrinking by the day. I feel bad for him since he’s such a good guy, but he made a truly awful decision when he turned down the extension.

    KW

    23 Jan 16 at 7:26 am

  17. I dunno, 3/$75m isn’t so bad. He’s already made $30m, and He’ll be back in the market at 33 too. So if he is still producing, let’s say he signs for 3/$45m, then a couple of $10m/ yr deals. That’s >$170m in career earnings.

    I think that’s a far cry from where Desi is. Like you, I feel bad for him and hope that he can pull in a 3/$36m deal at this point. But I agree, turning down that extension was a major economic mistake. Primarily because his performance started to slip, which is the main risk for these guys.

    Wally

    23 Jan 16 at 8:14 am

  18. There’s reason that Cespedes has been with 3-4 teams already. His teammates can’t stand him (what is it with Cuban players?) and half-assing on the field when he’s not in the mood.

    Rizzo is so desperate for a big move that he was willing to make a dumb one.

    Desi’s value plummeted even more in the playoffs this year when everyone saw how much value there is in making contact. He is a whiff machine.

    Mark L

    23 Jan 16 at 10:31 am

  19. I saw a comment somewhere from a reporter (not local) that said that the Nats’ pursuit of Cespedes seemed to be “owner-driven.” More weird stuff there.

    There’s been a lot of back and forth about whether Cespedes is a bad seed. It’s very hard to tell on those things. We heard the same about Escobar, who seemed to fit in very well with the Nats. It’s all water under the bridge now, though . . . unless they get the urge to trade for Puig . . . (noooo).

    I still don’t think the Nats are done. I hope they’re smart enough not to sacrifice a draft pick for Gallardo, though.

    KW

    23 Jan 16 at 11:17 am

  20. What do Upton, Murphy, Heyward, Zobrist and Cespedes have in common? None of them would have cost the Nats players. The fact is that the Nats are clearly considering, as recently as yesterday, talent that would represent roster upgrades with as little talent outlay as possible.

    To me, that means that the players the Nats want who are available in trades are too costly in players and so the Nats have simply gone through their progressions before settling on their upgrade. That’s how Murphy got here as a third choice — but it was a choice they made.

    Heyward was never intended to be a leadoff player, He and Cespedes, with long term contracts, profile as big hitting, great fielding players who could be locked up long after Harper may leave town. And as they were available as free agents, as was Upton, why not make a play if the economics work?

    The team brought in Revere when the Span ship sailed and the leadoff hitter problem remained. I think they are still looking at a marquee big bat, good field to hit behind Bryce, but a player controllable enough to play here after Bryce may leave (Scherzer-Zimmerman). Obviously they know what they would do with the outfield roster they have now, since Cespedes could have said yes. So it’s a question of whether such a player is even realistically available (for what he would cost) and matches up with the team’s needs.

    Someone on Ghost’s site mentioned Ryan Braun, and I agree that the Nats natch up well there, especially if Lucroy is part of it. And I cannot help but think Joey Votto would be a good target (Jay Bruce, not so much). The Reds and Nats already have had the Brandon Phillips conversation, so there is talent here that they covet. And Ryan Zimm can play left field better than Werth, or get flipped to a DH team.

    I am sure there are others to consider as well.

    As for the Cespedes fallout, I remember so well how close the Nats came to Prince Fielder. We were sure we had a hole to fill. And then Adam LaRoche came back, had a great year, and the Nats won the division in 2012. So perhaps Werth deserves, at least from us, the benefit of the doubt.

    I do wonder whether there is any lingering stench from how Werth handled his injury last off season. He certainly did not show loyalty to the team. Granted that they managed to trade for Turner and Ross, but had he disclosed his injury as he should have, we would have Steven Souza in the outfield rotation, for better or worse.

    I’m still in the camp that sees Turner plying this spring like he is ready to start at SS. Taylor is the big mystery. I think he can be a star, and I hope the Nats don’t give him up to fetch what Rizzo thinks they need.

    forensicane

    23 Jan 16 at 9:01 pm

  21. As we look for value in the waning days before spring training, I’m keeping an eye on the fates of a few remaining free agents, in the following order of desirability:

    1) Mark Buerhle
    2) Cliff Lee
    3) Tyler Clippard

    forensicane

    23 Jan 16 at 10:54 pm

  22. I think the Braun mention was more speculation than even a “rumor,” but he’d be interesting to ponder, particularly if the Nats could also swing Lucroy in the trade. Braun has a big remaining contract, but that might actually decrease the trade cost for him if the Brewers are trying to dump the contract. Braun is owed 5/$96M (with the buyout); the Nats were willing to pay Cespedes 5/$100M (and Heyward twice that).

    Cespedes is two years younger than Braun (or at least claims to be), but any bets on who ages better? Braun’s career OBP is 48 points higher than Cespedes’s. I have always felt that guys who know how to get on base age better than those who don’t. Braun can play RF pretty decently; Cespedes shouldn’t venture out of LF, although it’s unclear where the Mets are going to put him.

    We’ll see. The Nats would get older with such a trade, staking even more to the immediate future. But such a trade isn’t actually even on the radar yet.

    KW

    24 Jan 16 at 8:18 am

  23. Yes of course it was the speculation of a poster there, but so ( awhile back) was a Storen for Revere trade! I brought up Braun to stir creativity here for other suggestions of those who fit the obtainable controllable big bat, adequate to good defense profile.

    Forensicane

    24 Jan 16 at 8:48 am

  24. Ok, I’ll bite.

    It has taken me a while to figure this out, but I’d say that from the chasing of Heyward, Upton and Cespedes, the Nats feel the need to add a big bat OF, so continued pursuit of it should be expected. I hadn’t expected that, heading into the offseason, but I like the idea if reduced playing time for Werth is driving it. I don’t mind Werth, but he shouldn’t be counted on as an above average regularplayer any longer. He might give you that, since he once was, but the combination of age and injury history makes this unlikely. I don’t think planning for the post-Harper era is high on the priority list, though.

    Since I don’t think Fowler fits the bill, trades become more likely. But it needs to be a clear high quality hitter, not a prospect or middling type. And looking at who is likely available, I’d say Braun, CarGo (Col) and CarGo (Hou) jump out at me. The nice part is that I wouldn’t expect the player cost for any of them to include any of our big 4 (Giolito, Turner, Robles, Lopez). They each have their pros and cons. Pros: I’d say that Braun provides the highest hitting floor, CarGo (C) the highest ceiling and LHB, and CarGo (H) the best position fit. Cons: Braun is biggest $$ commitment, decline period and worst fielder; CarGo (C) : injuries; CarGo (H) – injuries, 1 yr of control, highest variability of hitting.

    All in all, I’d engage all three and see how the relative cost per acquisition turns out.

    CarGo (H) – I think he’d be on the market because (a) Fowler is still out there and might be a better fit for them, (b) it’s Houston and they are open for anything, (c) he didn’t perform very well for them and (d) they already have a decent alternative in Marisnick. Maybe that’s wrong, but it’s been speculated a bit in the national media and it kind of makes sense to me.

    Wally

    24 Jan 16 at 10:06 am

  25. Votto is lefthanded, Cargo (C) is lefthanded and gets hurt, and Cargo (H) has a year left – and is a Boras client.

    Speaking of which – all of the Nats “near misses” were of other agents — Cespedes, Zobrist Leake, O’Day, and Heyward were represented by other agents. For those who cannot stand Boras, the Nats have demonstrated the ability to close the sale with him and so I am more inclined to view Boras clients with no less skepticism.

    This whole exercise shows how it is Bryce Harper’s team already. Not to bring up Ghost’s blog redundantly (though he cross promotes this blog), but he quite properly pointed out what Harper listed as team needs — and that “huge” bat, independent of more lefties in the lineup, was right-handed and hit in front of him or behind him.

    But again, the controllable aspect is key, because Werth has no more than two years left, Bryce has as few as three years left, and Robles is at least 2-3 years away, barring injury and plateau. Taylor may have the big bat goods, and I think he does, but there have to be replacement superstars, and not just stars, that the team can control. Even if Taylor makes it. That philosophy drove the Scherzer acquisition and I think it is in play here, not merely pacifying Harper’s wish list. And the outfield cupboard at upper minor league levels is bare.

    forensicane

    24 Jan 16 at 10:50 am

  26. correction – “less skepticism.” Let them all be Boras clients!

    Just to add to the point, there were three players that the Nats did try to sign long term and could not — Zimmerman, Desmond, and Fister. All were represented by others. So they can close the sale with Boras and hopefully will, with Harper — and without the dreaded optouts, which I think make organizational planning chaotic.

    forensicane

    24 Jan 16 at 10:53 am

  27. It’s hard to fault the Nats for not going to the mat for any of the OFs because none was the perfect fit for what they really want/need: a power-hitting CF. Ever since Bryce came up, they have resisted putting him in center, but soon they may not have a choice. To compound matters, they know that Werth should stay in left.

    Fowler isn’t worth giving up the draft pick, particularly with Revere on board. I hope he is off the table. Even though there has always been buzz about the Rockie pair of CarGo and Blackmon, neither has been very good outside of Denver. I was interested in the other CarGo (Hou) last offseason. He didn’t have a great year and is in the last year of his contract, so as Wally notes, the price shouldn’t be high.

    Fore, Votto is owed $192M!!! (One of the dumber contracts in recent memory.) Plus unless and until RZim has a good run of health at 1B, I can’t see him playing anyplace else.

    Earlier in the offseason, there was chatter about the Dodgers wanting to move Ethier or Puig, but I haven’t seen mention of that recently. I’d be more interested in the former than the latter.

    We’ll see. I still think something is going to happen; I’m just not sure what. I doubt Rizzo is, either!

    KW

    24 Jan 16 at 12:52 pm

  28. If anyone is still looking here, here’s an actual positive, somewhat rational look at the Nats’ offseason, in the midst of some off-the-wall comments from elsewhere:

    http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/01/25/winter-report-card-washington-nationals

    Meanwhile, did Todd get buried in the snow? Are we going to have to send out a search party with shovels? (Sorry, I’ve already exceeded my shoveling innings limit!)

    KW

    26 Jan 16 at 3:03 pm

  29. I’m back! Flights snowed out, no wifi for a week and a half. ugh. New posting something tonight as promised.

    Todd Boss

    26 Jan 16 at 5:02 pm

  30. Hooray, we don’t have to shovel! Makes being trapped at home not sound so bad in comparison . . .

    KW

    26 Jan 16 at 7:50 pm

  31. Oh my god, an actual Todd Boss sighting! Is that true?

    Mark L

    26 Jan 16 at 11:46 pm

  32. Hey Mark, at least your comments aren’t going to spam anymore :-)

    Todd Boss

    27 Jan 16 at 5:54 am

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