Nationals Arm Race

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

Drew Storen for Ben Revere; a trade that seems to work on both sides

47 comments

Lets Hope Storen doesn't have days like this in Toronto. Photo Andrew Harnik/washingtontimes.com

Lets Hope Storen doesn’t have days like this in Toronto. Photo Andrew Harnik/washingtontimes.com

(Editor’s note: sorry for the delay on this post: you might have noticed the site being unavailable for a bit of time yesterday.  That’s because the shared server hosting all my various business and personal websites crashed and was down for hours.  Hopefully we’re all back up and normal.  This post is written and posted as of 1/10/16).

Drew Storen got his wish today; a fresh start with another team.  And amazingly, Mike Rizzo was able to turn an asset that basically the entire industry knew he was shopping (and knew that the player wanted out) and was able to basically get the *exact* player he was seeking in Ben Revere; a capable hitter who fits precisely into the hole left by the departed Denard Span.  Lefty, center fielder, lead-off hitter, good stats.

Amazing trade, frankly, by Rizzo, given these circumstances.

The Nats hadn’t consummated a trade with Toronto since 2005 (and that was a two minor leaguers swapping deck chairs kind of a deal in Tyrell Goodwin for Aaron Wideman).  Clearly Rizzo has a better working relationship with the new brain trust in Toronto (former Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro) than he did before (Alex Anthopoulos).

For Storen; he gets out of town and gets a chance at a fresh start for a team that won its division last year and still sports the best offense in the game.  He’s gotta be happy.  I’m not sure he is the closer in Toronto (Robert Osuna was pretty good: 20 saves, 2.58 ERA, 153 ERA+, sub 1.00 whip but is also just 20); maybe there’s a ST competition, maybe Storen just accepted the deal and the 8th inning to get a fresh start.  Can’t blame him.

For the Nats, they get basically the #1 priority they’ve been seeking all off-season.  And they get it without committing to major dollars in the future, without giving up a draft pick, and without trading any of their prospects.  In this respect, A+ trade for Rizzo.  Revere had a good lead-off hitter slash line last year (.306/.342/.377), hits lefty to help with lineup balance, and plays a position of need (CF).  I’m not sure he’s the super duper awesome CF that the team sought (a good looking uzr/150 in 2015 but negative defensive figures the three previous years in Philly), but he’s always been awesome in RF so maybe we’re looking at Harper in CF and Revere in RF as a optimized defensive alignment.  (Oh who am I kidding?  Do you think Dusty Baker is looking at fangraphs and seeing massive negative DRS figures for Revere and going, ‘gee he should play RF?’)

The Nats also save some cash (Revere makes a bit less than Storen in terms of projected Arb salaries), AND the Nats get a PTBNL (probably a low-level prospect).  We sent some unreported amount of cash to Toronto; probably a few hundred thousand or so to balance out the salary delta.  I love it when billion dollar assets send piddling amounts of cash in deals; can you imagine the negotiations?  “Hey Mike, I need $100k to make this deal work.”  “Oh ok Mark, lemme dig into my car cushion and see what i’ve got here that fell out of my pocket during my last arbitration negotiation … oh!  here’s $200k.  Sold!”

New projected opening day 2016 lineup:

  • Revere*, Rendon, Harper*, Zimmerman, Murphy*, Werth, Espinosa*, Ramos, pitcher.

Perfect lefty/righty balance.  If you think Espinosa is super-sub and Drew is the starter at short, replace like for like since Drew is a lefty hitter.  If you think Turner is the starter … you’re crazy to think that given the moves this team has made in the past few weeks :-)

Other downstream effects of this deal:

  • If we didn’t have confirmation before, i’ll say it again: i just can’t see how Trea Turner makes the 25-man roster.  This was more about the Drew acquisition than this, but I don’t see how he makes this team unless someone gets hurt in Viera.
  • The 5-man bench looks pretty much complete: backup C (Lobaton unless otherwise replaced), RH pinch hitter/corner player (Moore), LH pinch hitter/
    corner player (Robinson), speedy backup OF who can play CF as needed (Taylor), and utility infielder (Drew or Espinosa).
  • Matt den Dekker now gets pushed to AAA; i can’t see him beating Clint Robinson for “lefty PH bat” and Moore is now basically the only RH bat on the bench so gets to stick around another year.
  • Taylor now is back to being 4th OF, right where he was last year.  But don’t worry; Werth probably gets a hangnail on April 10th and Taylor will still get 300-400 ABs in 2016.
  • Not a ton of salary difference with the move; Storen and Rivera were projected by mlbtraderumores to make 8.8 and 6.7M respectively.  I had Storen’s projected salary a bit less.  In total, I’ve got the 2016 projected payroll at $143M now, still $18M less than last year.
  • Treinen now is back in the projected MLB bullpen; I think he was last guy out given the acquisitions and make up of the roles prior to Storen’s jettison.
  • Papelbon now probably stays; i’d be shocked if he gets moved now, given his NT clause and his toxicity around the league. And, well, the team still needs a frigging closer.  Ironic that they “had” to move their home grown 1st rounder (who happened to also be the union rep) so that they could keep the former star of their divisinoal rival who also just happened to choke the unanimous league MVP on national TV.  But that’s the bed they’ve made for themselves.

One last thing: The bullpen makeover now seems complete.  Check out how the 2016 projected opening day pen looks compared to years past:
o 2016: Papelbon, Treinen, Gatt, Kelley, Perez*, Rivero*, Petit (Barret on D/L)
o 2015: Storen, Treinen, Barrett, Stammen, Thornton*, Cedeno*, Roark (Janssen on d/l)
o 2014: Soriano, Storen, Clippard, Barrett, Stammen, Blevins*, Detwiler*
o 2013: Soriano, Storen, Clippard, Mattheus, Stammen, Rodriguez, Duke*
o 2012: Clippard, Lidge, Mattheus, Stammen, Rodriguez, Burnett*, Gorzelanny*
o 2011: Storen, Clippard, Coffey, Gaudin, Burnett*, Slaten*, Broderick
o 2010: Capps, Clippard, Bruney, English, Bergmann, Burnett*, Walker*, Batista (yes it was an 8-man pen)

100% turnover from 2015’s opening day rotation, man for man (if Janssen had been healthy, Treinen would have been in AAA).  I know it needed to be done, but i’m still apprehensive about it from a cohesion perspective.

In summary; good trade for both sides.  Sorry to see Storen go but it had to be done for both the player and the team.  I think the Nats are better today than they were yesterday; not because Revere > Storen necessarily (by bWAR they are but that’s probably not a fair comparison) but because Storen wasn’t going to be the best he could be here any longer.

47 Responses to 'Drew Storen for Ben Revere; a trade that seems to work on both sides'

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  1. Thanks Todd, lots of insight.
    For the record, the Nats sent $1 mill to Toronto, essentially meeting them halfway as Revere will make $2 mil less than Storen this year.

    The unmentioned here is how bad Revere’s arm is. He can barely make it to the shortstop.

    I’m with fore when it comes to Michael Taylor; if this hinders his development then it becomes a negative trade. People forget that Taylor was 8th in the majors last year in hitting with runners in scoring position.
    Of course, with a bumbling incompetent at manager he was never used properly.

    Mark L

    10 Jan 16 at 8:34 am

  2. As far as what Rizzo got for what he gave up, the trade was a great accomplishment. One year of a guy who, rightly or wrongly, probably is no longer viewed as a closer brought two years of an established MLB player to fill a hole that the Nats had. You have to wonder why the Jays asked for cash instead of a throw-in of one of the myriad of MiLB arms we just discussed.

    My “don’t love it, don’t hate it” comment on the last post, which admittedly I made at 11:30 p.m. as an immediate reaction, applied more than anything to the level of player Revere is . . . and isn’t. On just about every score except base-stealing, he isn’t as good as a healthy Span. But as I’ve noted before, I don’t think a “healthy Span” still exists, not to mention one who hasn’t already topped the hill age-wise and is now on the downward slope.

    Revere should be an effective offensive player. He doesn’t strike out, gets on base, and runs like the wind. He has no power, but the Nats just need someone to get on base before the big bats. Think Rendon might see a lot of fastballs with Revere on base and Harper looming? They’ll have to be over the plate, too, as the pitcher can’t risk putting two guys on for Harper.

    The problem with Revere’s lack of power comes into play when Werth is out. Perhaps Taylor will take a step forward power-wise, but for now, having Revere and Taylor as 2/3 of the OF would not provide a lot of juice.

    My greater concern is defensive. Revere hasn’t been great in CF and can’t throw at all. At least he will have the speed to cheat a little to left-center to help cover that gap that Werth can’t reach.

    As we’ve discussed, there were limitations to all the CF/OF choices on the market. Revere fills the spot. He isn’t amazing, but all he cost was a guy who already had a ticket out of town. Now that we’ve got money left over, is there another asset coming that will be a part of this overall picture? Or could it go into the pot for the Harper extension? If either of those are the case, then perhaps I’ll get more excited.

    KW

    10 Jan 16 at 8:49 am

  3. Bench: you would actually have RH bats in Taylor, Drew, and Lobaton (the last two as switch-hitters), so I’d keep den Dekker and his versatility and much higher OBP over Moore and his, uh, immobility and high K probability. Actually, Chris Heisy and Reed Johnson will get into the conversation for that last bench spot as well. I think the Nats should keep looking to trade Moore, if they can get anything for him.

    I was impressed with den Dekker’s strong finish to ’15. Few noticed that he ended up with an OPS+ of 112 (vs. 63 for T-Mo) and showed a significant power boost after returning from Syracuse. And of course he’s much better defensively than anyone else mentioned above.

    KW

    10 Jan 16 at 9:03 am

  4. The unspoken element about denDekker was his OPS the last 6 weeks of 2015 was .850-.875. Nothing to sneeze at.

    Mark L

    10 Jan 16 at 9:17 am

  5. Revere’s arm definitely shows up in his poor defensive metrics.

    The thing is; Taylor is going to get ABs. You KNOW Werth isn’t going to play 150 games. You KNOW Harper is due for some dumb-ass run into the wall thing. Its just that he’s not going to be slated to start and frigging lead-off with his .220 BA.

    Todd Boss

    10 Jan 16 at 9:18 am

  6. den Dekkker vs Moore; not a bad argument. Did the Nats guarantee Moore’s contract just to have him in a ST2016 competition for said spot? Could be. A healthy Reed Johnson (big if) is a great option and he could be a good X factor here. Totally agree.

    Todd Boss

    10 Jan 16 at 9:20 am

  7. Agree with the comments about TMo v MdD or Heisey/Johnson. TMo seems headed out, but I am not sure he has surplus trade value.

    Also agree with KW’s take. Revere is a solid fit for this particular roster. but he isn’t a full time starter For a playoff team, but could be very effective in a rotation. Whether Dusty uses him that way is a big unknown though.

    I don’t see a big line up addition any more but do see another vet for the pen. Not sure who or how, but Clip could be a fit if he would sign a 2/$12m kind of contract.

    Wally

    10 Jan 16 at 9:38 am

  8. I’m back and forth on the Clippard idea. He would bring experience to the bullpen, and with the variety of options out there, he wouldn’t have to work every day and be THE 8th inning guy. Kelley’s ’15 stats were comparable to Clip’s, though, and I think the hope will be that they can groom Gott and Rivero and their big heaters for that role as well. Adding Clip would be more veteran insurance than it would be filling a huge need. Also, you wonder how much the trade and the situation with his buddy Storen may have poisoned him on the Nats . . . and on Pap.

    I do think it is increasingly likely that we’re rolling with Pap. They’re not going to cut him and eat the contract. The limited no-trade hamstrings where he can go. And, overall, giving the devil his due, he’s pretty darn good when he’s on. Miller is about the only guy who might be available who would be at Pap’s level.

    Budget: however they do it, Rizzo HAS to have some commitment before the season from the Lerners that he is going to have X-amount available at the trade deadline this year. If that means starting the season $10M short of the peak amount, that’s what they’ve got to do. They have got to be in a position to take on salary.

    KW

    10 Jan 16 at 11:19 am

  9. Here’s a thought: Is Revere truly going to be the CF starter, or was he just the best guy Rizzo could get in a trade for Storen?

    KW

    10 Jan 16 at 11:45 am

  10. With due apologies for copying from the previous thread, I just wanted to embed ideas so I would not be redundant or disconnected.

    With that said, Interesting trade. Entering his walk year, and coming off a broken thumb and his late season troubles, I don’t think anyone expected Storen to bring back more value (at the time of the trade) than did Clippard one year ago. Unlike Escobar, who at that time was bouncing to the end that it seemed no one wanted him, Revere has trended upward offensively and is defensively regarded better than his numbers. And, a clubhouse asset acquisition.

    And yes, we keep an eye on the PTBNL. With no announcement yet, one has to wonder whether the Nats plan to wait until they can scout a few talents over the course of spring training. Sure worked out with Ian Krol in the Mike Morse trade, though he was not brought in until late March.

    Indeed, so long as we are watching the minor league pitchers (and speaking of Jeff Howell’s conversion), I wonder what is to become of Michael Brady, who is a legitimate prospect yet completely overlooked in the Escobar trade. Starter or bullpen? AA or AAA?

    I find myself considering Revere in a comparison mode to Billy Burns. For those who wanted to reacquire Burns, certainly the Nats were able to bring in Revere, an arguably better player, for a lot less.

    As for the trade itself, we knew Storen was gone, so that part is easy. But as for Revere, I am a big Michael Taylor fan and feel uncomfortable about anything that displaces him from the starting lineup. But putting emotions aside, Revere is clearly a leadoff hitter and performs very well in the clutch. He also has the pedigree of being part of last year’s Blue Jays playoff team.

    As always, I enjoy Rizzo’s tinkering, and his characteristic stealth, but not quite as much as I know I will enjoy that tinkering a year away. The Clippard trade was altogether wise and like Fister, Ross, and Turner, Rizzo saw an undervalued asset and got it. Revere may be just that.

    I am quite receptive to Clippard. At this point, he is a very affordable option, at only age 30, and if not overused, can give better eight inning coverage than we ever expected from Storen. Clippard was only traded for financial reasons, and were he to have been available last year at the terms he is now in play for, the nats would have kept him. Unlike Desmond, I think there is less of a risk that he is declining. I also, as might surprise few here, not impressed with whatever public comments he made about the Nats as in some way burning a bridge. i just see it as more insipid bottom feeding by lazy and competitive sportswriters trying to get retweeted and gain attention for themselves. It’s bupkus, really. The guy is truly one of the best eighth inning relievers of all time and is only 30. We’ve burned money on Soriano and were going to do the same on a much older O’Day.

    I’m also done with Span. For the kind of money he is now making, and already unable to stay in a starting lineup without injury, the breakup had to happen. It is for that reason that I really hope the Nats trade Strasburg this off season and get what they can for him now. Somebody out there is bound to pay plenty for only a year, and I really think the Nats can replace him.

    As for Papelbon, I’m also far less crazed about unloading him for nothing. That is a Ruben Amaro move. Good for Rizzo for blocking out the media who were ready to trade Storen for a bag of balls. Papelbon is greater than Papelbon plus Storen. If he closes, I’m cool with it.

    If they trade him, I am confident at this point that Rizzo wil get a lot more than a Jason Hammel type of 8th starter who simply clogs up the possibilities for a superior Austin Voth. I think that the return that Rizzo got for Storen, even if the Blue jays got quality, speaks to why the nats are incredibly fortunate to have Rizzo. And the “cheap” Lerners have now kicked in 1 million plus to make a deal happen that brings back a PTBNL. Good for them, thinking in a less glamorous way like the Braves buying Touki Touissant.

    Whether Clip comes in and whether Pap is here, fortunately, is predicated on the patience of Rizzo relative to his peers. If the right deal is there, he will take it. If not, we’re good. I like that. The floor of the team is higher.

    I’ also not inclined to jettison Tyler Moore. If he is packaged in a big trade that clears roster spots and impending free agents, OK. But I think that the influx of lefty bats makes Clint Robinson more dispensible than Moore, actually. With den Dekker and Drew as lefties off the bench, and Robinson more poor defensively, I still like Moore, although he needs to play every day.

    The Nats would be smart to do whatever they can to sign Ramos now. They can get him under value, or trade him as a signed player if he continues to play below his potential and go after Wieters next winter, or get a boost from Severino (or Kieboom) actually panning out. If they do not move on the Ramos situation, they will lose him for a pick, or in the case of Span, will lose him for nothing.

    Otherwise, I think this team will be incredibly fun to watch once Trea Turner gets to the starting lineup. He will be huge, especially with Lopes in the fold and a lineup with Revere/Taylor as well. And with the nats getting chemistry guys, we may just be reformulating a nucleus for the long haul that carries Harper into a new contract. It’s all good.

    forensicane

    10 Jan 16 at 11:46 am

  11. Lots of good comments here. My thoughts:

    ‘was Revere the best guy Rizzo could get for Storen’? Close, I think he was the best guy Rizzo could get for the price that he was willing to pay. I don’t think that he was so dogmatic to say the CF had to be for Storen, he just wasn’t willing to pay the other prices (3 yrs for Span, comp pick for Fowler, etc)

    I think the point of Clip, or whomever, is the veteran presence. I don’t think Rizzo wants only 1 experienced 8th inning guy.

    Rob v TMo – the lefty/righty comment is right, but there is one big difference that I see. Rob has proven that he can hit, and TMo has not. I get all the limited playing time explanation, but honestly, that is the role and CRob proved that he could thrive in it over a decent number of PAs, and TMo hasn’t, so I would pick the better hitter over the platoon split.

    Not sure about Ramos any longer. I was very puzzled by his underperformance in a year of health. Maybe he was over used early, but still, I wouldn’t commit a lot of $ to him. What if they made a trade for McCann? Maybe Gio + Ramos for McCann and 2 pen arms?

    Wally

    10 Jan 16 at 12:01 pm

  12. I suspect Clippard is burned out; too many innings. Look at his FIPs last year: 3.96 in Oakland and 4.65 in NY. Here’s his average fastball velocity over the past four seasons: 92.7, 92.0, 91.8, 91.5. Ugh. If you buy Clippard, who makes way? Treinen? Who would you rather have? Treinen at 500k or Clippard for $6M?

    (and I say this as a huge Clippard fan!)

    Todd Boss

    10 Jan 16 at 1:16 pm

  13. What I also see is the Nats trending to stack the roster with controllable players. Papelbon, Ramos, and Strasburg are now the only players of note that are free agents next fall.

    If the younger players are signed to extensions, they have value even if they underperform, because they can be flipped as controllable players, unless they have albatross contracts. Controllable contracts are the new asset, beyond players in their first five. It gives, for example, a veteran like Revere even more value.

    The Nats have not recouped adequate value on any of the players headed to their walk year since Soriano. That’s too many players since. I see 2014-15 Zimmerman as similar to 2015-16 Strasburg in that vein. The team could have replaced Zimmerman with Roark or one of the younger starters in a theoretical world (though the starters had lots of injuries and shelf time). The team can replace Strasburg this year for the right deal.

    I still believe in the Buffalo. If he underperforms this year, they will not give him the QO and they get nothing. If they sign him now and he stays as he is, they can flip him as he has great defense and pitchers love him and he has power and will. If he finally comes into his own, the Nats have a team friendly contract.

    Wally, your point is well taken about Clint Rob. I just wonder whether, like Escobar, he played a little over his head and has real value as a DH/IB who can fetch a lot. If he had a TMo year his value would tank, and I am still leery because he was a minor league journeyman.

    As for TMo, your cogent argument is that if he needs to play every day to hit, he will not hit for the Nats.

    forensicane

    10 Jan 16 at 8:42 pm

  14. I’ve been on record all winter as favoring an upgrade at catcher, so I won’t belabor the point. Ramos’s defenders claim that he wore down, but his OBP was never above .300 after May. Plus playing Ramos less would mean playing Lobaton more, and he was even worse at the plate.

    I was once on the Buffalo bandwagon. I thought he might hit 30 if he ever stayed healthy. But we’re to the last year of his team control, and the most he has ever hit is 16. His offensive numbers really went south last year. He seems to be a good guy, and the pitchers like him. But if there’s an upgrade available for a reasonable price, for Ramos and/or for Lobaton, it’s time to consider it.

    KW

    11 Jan 16 at 5:21 am

  15. Wilson Ramos has turned in to a terrific backup catcher. Excellent defense and bad offense.
    Not to mention he runs as fast as a 90 year old.
    The bad news is the farm has nk certanties for replacement. Kieboom & Severino are at least a year away.

    Mark L

    11 Jan 16 at 7:24 am

  16. Catcher situation/KW: don’t disagree that the Ramos/Lobaton combo fails to inspire offensive confidence. But there’s just nobody on the FA market to consider. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016-mlb-free-agent-tracker … best FA catcher option was Weiters who took the QO. I see 11 other catchers, all of them taking “backup catcher” deals (aka; minor league deals or 1-2 year deals for very small money). Of the four guys left unsigned on MLBtraderumors’ site i havn’t even heard of any of them.

    So that means you’re in the trade market. Catchers are becoming prized possessions, especially if they can hit. We all know Lucroy is the best name available (good catcher on a team known to be selling) but his contract is so frigging cheap that he’d be prohibitively expensive to trade for. So who else? Looking at teams who could sell with decent catchers: Baltimore/Weiters, Minnesota/Kurt Suzuki (a return!), Oakland/Steven Voigt, Atlanta/Pierzynski, Cincinnati/Mesoraco, Colorado/Hundley, Milwaukee/Lucroy as mentioned, Philly/Ruiz, San Diego/Norris (another reunion).

    Who on that list inspires you other than Lucroy? Voigt, Norris? Mesoraco? Would all of these guys be significant downgrades in defense so as to add 20 points in BA? Is Ramos a good enough catcher defensively to just “deal with” his lack of offense and hope for a rebound in 2016?

    Todd Boss

    11 Jan 16 at 8:58 am

  17. The frustrating thing about Ramos, and this also applied to Desmond, Espinosa, Taylor – is that they just look so freaking terrible when they were on their strikeout binges. Not just that they swung and missed, but that they missed the ball by a mile. And in Ramos’s case add the easy double plays against him.

    When these guys were going bad, and when the manager kept trotting them out there every day in the middle of it, it just deflated the whole team as they know there was no hope with these guys killing rallies with no contact.

    Very frustrating to watch for a few years now. Despite all the good Desi did, I will enjoy not watching his at bats every day. The k’s look so bad and hopeless, it colors your perception of they good he did.

    So I am very excited about a lineup that features some very high contact hitters in Murphy and Revere despite their respective limitations. I hope we complete the speed infusing process with inserting Turner rather immediately. He and Revere on the bases will be torturous pests for the opposition. Stall Turner’s development for Danny Espinosa? No thanks.
    i still don’t trust Danny with a bat as a regular. He would have batted .215 again last year if not for a bunch of bunts. Those helped his stats but as you could tell by his RISP doesn’t do much for actual production in keeping rallies going.

    that’s why I’m excited about

    Marty C

    11 Jan 16 at 10:22 am

  18. Whats happening Marty?

    Strikeout prone lineup: no argument. You take the Ks if you also get the production (see Chicago Cubs). Otherwise its a massive sucking sound in the middle of your order.

    Danny versus Trea. I trust Danny more than Trea right now. Generally speaking, Championship teams don’t throw out 22yr olds in key positions and “hope” they work out. I believe Espinosa is a Gold Glove calibre short stop both in terms of range and arm; I think Turner is not there; he’s inarguably fast but all the scouting reports I see are iffy on his arm; can he stick at short? He’s quick in terms of range but does he have the gun he needs to throw out speedsters from deep short? I dunno. I do know Espinosa can, so you accept his limitations and move on.

    Todd Boss

    11 Jan 16 at 11:08 am

  19. A team executive recently lamented to Buster Olney that teams aren’t making the small trades that need to be made; they’re only looking for the big trades. The Storen and Escobar trades are the exception, then, but they’re the types of trades that the Nats (and others) need to make.

    That brings us to catchers. There’s no reason that the Brewers haven’t moved Lucroy. OK, there is probably a reason: they value him on his pre-’15 stats, while other teams recognize that ’15 actually happened. The Nats would face the same challenge in getting any value for Ramos.

    The problem with getting Vogt from OAK is that he’s the perfect A’s player: good production for almost nothing and controlled for four more years. The problem with getting Norris from the Pads is that SD has probably blocked all calls from Rizzo!

    We’ll see. I’ve recognized all along that a catcher upgrade would be difficult, but doesn’t mean that the Nats shouldn’t try. They’ll be in even more of a pickle next offseason if they don’t.

    KW

    11 Jan 16 at 12:25 pm

  20. Hey Todd! Hope all is well!

    The problem as I see it with the Espinosa proponents…

    Those risks or limitations you mentioned on Turner are not projected to get much better. His arm is what it is, and won’t improve much. BUT… we just signed a 2nd baseman for the next 3 years!

    So he is blocked at second. He’s one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball and a dynamic talent. And you are going to block him with Danny Espinosa of all people? I see both sides of it and I’d rather trade the offensive upside for the defensive downgrade.

    Because it that’s your argument on Espinosa as gold glove SS vs. dynamic offense potential, than it will never change. In that case you should argue to trade Turner now for a big haul because you are blocking him for one of the worst offensive players and most strike out prone players in baseball the last few years.

    We traded for Turner to solve our SS future. Start it already. What more can he prove in the minors? He destroyed every level. I’d like to play him now, or of course when we get his year of control back. If he fails, especially with the glove you have Danny as a stopgap and can start thinking about another position for Turner. The Mets just made the WS with iffy shortstop and Murphy at 2nd base! If Turner makes a lot of errors, we’re used to watching and living with that the past few years at that position. And that’s not why Desmond was run out of town.
    Desmond was jettisoned because of all the K’s.

    n.

    Marty C

    11 Jan 16 at 12:35 pm

  21. It does seem like the Turner promotion plan is “wait for Danny to inevitably fail,” doesn’t it?

    KW

    11 Jan 16 at 1:23 pm

  22. Marty; can’t disagree necessarily with your thought process. Until the moment they signed Murphy, I figured it was Espinosa/Turner as the DP combo, with Turner at 2nd where his arm weakness wasn’t that big of a deal. But you are right; Murphy’s acquisition definitely seems to indicate that Turner’s future is either as a SS starter or as a backup. Only time will tell if he fulfills the potential.

    Turner’s sept numbers were bad … but he was also mostly used as a PH. I agree he showed he could hit in two different AA leagues plus AAA. Each level has its own challenges when moving up; he definitely has to show he can hit in the majors. Look at a guy like Kyle Schwarber; he came up and hit like .400 his first month … then plummeted to a .246avg overall as the league adjusted to him.

    Maybe my interest in Espinosa is colored by his 20 homer 103 OPS season. The potential is always there. KW hit it right; its Danny’s job to lose and if he starts out April hitting .200 like he seems to always do, maybe that’s it.

    Todd Boss

    11 Jan 16 at 2:47 pm

  23. I’ve been up and down on Danny so many times that I’ve lost count. He’s kind of like an old girlfriend you’ve broken up with ten times, but you keep going back because there’s something tantalizing. In this case, it’s the chance to see him get a shot at SS on a regular basis. But it’s gonna be different this time, it’s gonna be different this time, it’s gonna be different . . .

    The thought crosses my mind to send Trea for a few drills with the OFs in the spring, on the very off chance of looking at him in CF, but I doubt that will happen. The more I read about Revere, the less I think he’s going to be an everyday player.

    KW

    11 Jan 16 at 5:16 pm

  24. Yeah that’s the thing about Espi. He’s shown glimpses of potential that tantalizes. I think he would be the good option if your alternative was Emmanuel Burress. But not to block one of the top position prospects in all of baseball.

    I was with you in thinking it was complete idiocy to bring up Turner last year and not even use him. But it’s also dumb to try to get that year back, and once you get it back to waste it by sitting him on the bench.

    If Espi surprises and really starts hitting I’d use him as super utility spelling all the infield spots to get plenty of playing time.

    Signing Murphy and Revere has tipped the scales to a speed and contact line up. Having Espi and Ramos in the lineup at the same time kind of ruins that puzzle. The only starters on the team I would tolerate
    even moderate strikeout levels from now are our power guys Harper and Zimm.

    I think we get fixated on gold glove type skills and making spectacular plays. But those are only 2% of the chances. The routine plays are 98% of it. David Eckstein played for good teams for a lot of years with half the arm Turner has.

    Marty C

    11 Jan 16 at 5:27 pm

  25. There has been no mention of the Nats hiring of Dan Jennings. But for those who wanted Rizzo to have “adult supervision,” such a hiring would appear to be in that vein.

    I’m no expert on Jennings, and having instigated Todd before, I would not mind to see an analysis of his work product in Miami and in Tampa Bay and even Seattle before him. His promotion history is clearly indicative of his competence.

    Bob Miller, longtime and from the Reds, Cubbage of the Rays, and Jennings represent an interesting infusion of ideas, philosophically. Jennings presided over at least one World Series winner and more importantly made a number of significant salary shedding trades in more recent years. What I recall of Jennings is his involvement in some of the most spectacular trades in recent memory, involving minor league talent for expensive major league talent nearing the end of its control. Whether they were good deals is unclear, but the guy has traded off his share of established stars and has signed (Giancarlo Stanton) his share as well.

    The notion that Rizzo has hired his heir apparent is silly. But so is the idea that Jennings’ presence makes Rizzo any less of a peculiar personality, as his detractors like to suggest. Jennings, after all, had to coexist with the psychopath Jeffrey Loria for so many years, no small feat.

    Anyway, would welcome some informed discussion of this on another thread perhaps, beyond the usual bromides about “great baseball man,” etc.

    So as not to threadjack, Turner is the genuine article and his defensive ceiling, and for that matter any aspect of his developmental ceiling is demonstrably not yet reached. The coaches are in place, as is the stability. I think he will take off and make this discussion look silly a year from now.

    I would repeat that the best thing the Nats can do now is resolve the Ramos and Strasburg situations. Whatever the choice, I think past has proven that heading into this year without player control beyond 2016 will be a mistake, however each player’s year turns out. If Strasburg is great, they lose him for a pick. Big deal. If Strasburg is awful, they do not extend a QO. If he gets hurt, same. If they sign him, he will be a tradeable commodity so long as he retains his cache.

    Doing nothing on both, as opposed to one way or the other, is the overlooked mistake we will learn from 2015. The return on Zimmerman-Desi-Span-Fister is two draft picks. Yunel Escobar, ironically, was one of those players Jennings acquired in the mammoth Jose Reyes-Buehrle trade. And the nats would never have extended Clippard with a QO in the stratosphere.

    forensicane

    12 Jan 16 at 5:09 am

  26. The thing of it is (w/r/t Espinosa as a “super utility guy”) this team is old and injury prone. Go around the diamond; name me a projected starter that you think is a lock to play 155 games. Zimmerman? haha. Murphy? Missed 30 games last year. Rendon? Uh, have you seen his injury history? Werth? he may get injured the first week of spring training. Revere? Normally Solid but he also missed half a season in Philly a couple years ago. Harper? As long as we don’t play early season games in LA I guess.

    Point is; this isn’t exactly a sturdy squad of guys who you can pencil in for 150 games each. So that means that no matter who starts opening day, there’s going to be playing time to share for guys like Taylor or den Dekker, Turner or Espinosa or Drew, etc. I mean, Tyler Moore and Clint Robinson combined last year got 550+ plate appearances. That’s a full season for two guys who were a) a MLFA signing without any MLB time and b) basically penciled in for a DFA at the end of spring training based on roster projections and instead lasted the whole frigging year.

    DRS is a great stat; defensive runs saved. If you generate a run on offense, there’s no difference between that run in the plus column versus saving that run in the defensive/minus column right? Espinosa saved 10 runs playing 2b in like a third of a season worth of innings last year. And that’s not even his natural position. For me it isn’t about highlight plays as much as its about that slight edge in fielding over the regular guy.

    Todd Boss

    12 Jan 16 at 8:53 am

  27. Jennings: good blog idea. worth digging into. i have a master GM “ranking” list and a draft GM post that talks about the fact that the role of “GM” as we know it is half gone now. Good January fodder.

    Todd Boss

    12 Jan 16 at 8:54 am

  28. I disagree that doing nothing on Strasburg & Ramos would be a mistake … because flags fly forever. The team is trying to win and their margin of error is very thin in competing with the Mets for the NL East. The strict commodification of “what the Nats will get” for the players (particularly Strasburg) doesn’t include the potential for Strasburg to anchor the rotation to (and through?) the playoffs.

    The teams that would ante up for Strasburg are teams that are trying to “win now” … which, at some level, includes the Nationals. Potentially tossing away possibly Werth’s final productive season, one of three remaining seasons of Bryce control, so you can pick up a couple of extra prospects makes very little sense to me.

    Which is why I don’t really think that hanging onto Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond last year was a mistake. It didn’t work – which is not the same thing.

    John C.

    12 Jan 16 at 10:08 am

  29. John C., that is the prevailing argument and a great debate. Flags do fly forever and that is one side of the argument. It certainly makes the case for keeping Desi and even Span. There was no adequate replacement, even with everyone healthy.

    But with Roark coming off his 2014, I cannot think that he was a more than adequate replacement in a pennant-ambitious team for trading either Zimmerman or Fister last winter once they knew that a long term deal was not going to happen.

    Flash forward, we do not have the depth at catcher. So I understand the catcher argument as things stand now. A move to acquire a controllable piece like Lucroy (or other promising catcher), however, adds no less a commodity if the team feels that Ramos is gone or too likely to plateau or regress.

    As for Strasburg, I think the team would be better served by signing Chen and flipping Strasburg if they do not feel an adequate replacement exists in Cole/Jordan/Voth/Giolito. But I think that one of those four could offset the loss of Strasburg. Absurd as it sounds, there was a period — not a moment, but a period — last year when we were as willing to give up on Strasburg as we were Storen. He has that potential, but Strasburg is still one pitch away from a second elbow and another bad period away from being rocked off the mound and again and again. So under circumstances of 1) Signability 2) Risk of signability 3) Replaceability 4) Potential for market value being at a height, I think that Strasburg can bring commoditization in another form, including depth that enables such trades.

    I understand the other argument, and I do not think remaking the roster has to be mutually exclusive with going for it. That is what deadline acquisitions are for (the Mets). By then you know your underperformers, your injuries, and the state of the race. My suggestion is you trade before the spring from depth, you add depth, and in season you add the pieces you need when you know you really need them.

    forensicane

    12 Jan 16 at 12:09 pm

  30. correction on Stras – one pitch away from a third elbow.

    forensicane

    12 Jan 16 at 12:11 pm

  31. Agree with JohnC on this one: Generally speaking, teams are either trying to Win or rebuilding. And teams “trying to win” don’t trade away key players (like a Strasburg). You don’t trade away a top 10-15 arm for prospects when you expect to make the playoffs the next year. You may make the argument that moving Strasburg for (say) a key MLB offensive player could make sense but then only if you had a ready made replacement of that calibre. None of these situations is where the Nats find themselves. They are in win now mode in a crippled division where they basically only have to beat one team to make the playoffs.

    Also unsaid: when you have a generational player (Harper), you do everything you can to win while you still have him. This is the huge criticism of the Angels with Trout right now: they’re *wasting* his time with them, and its just a matter of time before he signs with some other team for $40M/year.

    Todd Boss

    12 Jan 16 at 12:13 pm

  32. So trade Stras for Trout and stop wasting his time! (Cue “Dream On” in the background.)

    I’ve cycled on the “trade Stras” idea. He’s an extremely valuable asset to let walk for just a draft pick. At the same time, I’ve never been able to get past the thought that there’s no one anywhere comparable who the Nats can plug into the rotation to replace him, all the more so with JZimm gone. The only way I could see it working would be if Mike and Billy got together on some wacky trade that netted us Sonny Gray, but that’s only slightly less likely than the Trout trade.

    Even if the Nats were able to trade Stras plus some combination to the Padres for Tyson Ross and Derek Norris, Ross isn’t Stras.

    So I think the Nats will be sticking with Stras, even though I’m not sure that they’re there yet with having a “flag-worthy” roster. Sucky-division-worthy, yes, but some upgrades are needed for flag-worthiness. (Another conversation for another day.)

    I don’t see Ramos as difficult to replace, or improve upon, as Stras, as noted above. At the same time, there’s not much reason to trade him unless they can come up with someone better.

    KW

    12 Jan 16 at 12:38 pm

  33. Letting Strasburg go for “just a draft pick” … that’s all you can do! Teams are smart and aren’t giving away major assets for 1 year of a guy no matter how frigging good he is. Look at what David Price netted the Rays and that was with TWO years of control, and he’s a cy young winner.

    Here’s my pet theory on Trout: he plays out his LAA contract and then signs big-money for …. Philadelphia. he can be their big name, he’s from South Jersey (which is Philly territory) and they’ll just be coming back into relevance at that point.

    Todd Boss

    12 Jan 16 at 2:27 pm

  34. OK, then we will agree to disagree. We may ultimately let him go for nothing.

    But when one considers what we received in return for Clippard and Storen, I think we can do better than that with Strasburg. Yes, at what cost? I guess it is all about one’s orientation. I do not expect Strasburg to turn into Cy Young next year.

    Jeff Samardzia and Rick Porcello provided good yields with one year left. Rizzo knows how to extract value. So I’ll be the odd duck that says sell high on Strasburg. but I am also the odd duck that thinks he is replaceable even if the Nats didn’t sign Chen.

    Cliff Lee is out there and I hope he is on the radar. The guy us tested in playoff time and it would be ironic if Brandon Phillips never made it here, but Lee did.

    forensicane

    12 Jan 16 at 3:29 pm

  35. One other note: Premium pitchers often decline quickly and unceremoniously. The league is full of such folks, and we lived it with Doug Fister. This may be the fate of JZimm.

    There are far more Kris Medlens than Adam Wainwrights. There are more Matt Cains and Matt Latoses and Clay Bucholz than Madison Bumgarners.

    I also think the Nats could replace Strasburg from within (for the right return), from Cole, Jordan, Voth, Giolito. But that’s just me.

    forensicane

    12 Jan 16 at 3:39 pm

  36. All offseason, I had advocated trading Stras. My rationale was slightly different: I do not think he is about to enter a decline phase (although I could buy that it is beginning for JZ, ever so slightly), but I do think his intense personality makes him a particularly high risk for a poor walk year performance. I also think he would have returned quite a lot in a trade.

    But I would have wanted to replace him with a proven vet, and those are mostly gone now. I don’t think it wise that they start the year with Ross, Roark and Cole (let’s say), with Jordan and Voth as #6 and 7. That’s too much youth/unproven arms in a win now year, so I no longer think they should trade him, unless they also get another starter back.

    Wally

    13 Jan 16 at 7:24 am

  37. Kennedy and Gallardo are still lurking . . . and aren’t anywhere close to being Stras.

    I do acknowledge the concern of a Stras meltdown. Desi seemed like one of the most mentally tough guys on the team, and he caved. JZim wasn’t his usual self, either.

    I just don’t see the Nats A) getting a MLB-ready player or players for Stras who can improve their chances in 2016; or B) being able to fully replace Stras in the rotation. To me, those would be the two overriding criteria for a Stras trade.

    KW

    13 Jan 16 at 12:18 pm

  38. I would assert that Tanner Roark is a proven starter based on an adequate sample size. Deconstructing his 2015, he delivered a number of quality starts, including a last start of six scoreless against the Mets.

    I appreciate your point about not wanting to head into a pennant race depending on two starters as inexperienced (Ross) and unproven (Cole and co.).

    But I also think that Rizzo has demonstrated that he knows how to go out and get what he needs. There are enough teams with starting pitching available in trade, and the Nats have enough assets, to get something back in a Strasburg trade. This is a GM who burrowed his way into a TB-SD trade to get Turner (and Ross). And Jennings is a guy whose trades were so elaborate they blew everybody’s mind.

    The other point distinct to the Nats is that they have drafted good and bad. There are far better drafting teams than the Nats. But Rizzo is truly one of the best trading GMs. In that regard, I would rather resolve the impending free agent challenges with trades rather than potentially 1-comp round draft picks.

    I am sure SD or a SoCal team would offer a LOT for Stras. As would the Yankees. And the Nats have plenty, plenty of assets to package if the deal need be sweetened, or three-wayed. The question is, whom do the Nats covet?

    We know they like McGee. We know there is an Upton and a Cespedes history. And there are others, including people on their radar and not ours. That is how they got Fister and Scherzer.

    I am hoping they covet Cliff Lee. He would check a box for you as well, even if we do not agree on Roark. But me thinks they would not have targeted Leake if they did not have a “trade Stras” scenario in mind.

    forensicane

    13 Jan 16 at 12:26 pm

  39. As for replacement, some perspective:

    Over the past three years, Stras has averaged 11 wins nine losses. 175 innings. I’m not denigrating him. But I am not so low on the promise of the best of our young hurlers that I do not think that ONE of them, and I include Giolito, could produce that kind of line.

    Even if the Nats got the kind of production from Cole, Jordan, Voth, or Giolito that paralleled Nate Karns’ 2015, I think that would be enough to warrant the kind of return we would get for Strasburg now.

    forensicane

    13 Jan 16 at 12:32 pm

  40. Fore- I could be sold on that plan, although I doubt the Nats actually do it (and I think we are in the minority of most commenters here). Where we disagree the most, I think, is Roark. I am hopeful but still need convincing. His big 2014 was based on a super high called strike rate and it’s an open question whether that’s a skill or fluke, so I need more results from him before I am convinced he’s reliable.

    Wally

    13 Jan 16 at 1:03 pm

  41. Wally; I agree with that plan; he’s not going to increase 20% inning over inning. Xst->low-a to high-a mid-season.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jan 16 at 1:58 pm

  42. Forensicane, over the last three years Strasburg has been one of the better pitchers in MLB. His W/L record in that time is much more of an indictment of his teammates than it is of him

    John C.

    13 Jan 16 at 11:18 pm

  43. John C, I do not disagree with you and that’s not what I am arguing. I’m only making the point that he is not so irreplaceable as one might perceive.

    My opinion on this hardened, believe it or not, when Todd posted the threads from the last year. I happened to look at one of my posts from a year ago and at that time was suggesting that the Nats trade Zimmerman, basically because as a pitcher on his second elbow, there was no way the team would give him all of the years and guaranteed money he wanted so they might as well get value as it was high, post no-hitter and 2014. Part of my rationale was to suggest that we had no idea who, but that someone would emerge from the group of Cole, Treinen, Jordan, and Ross to be the best candidate for a Nats starting rotation place.

    Well, perhaps few would have guessed Ross at the time but indeed he did step up and shine. So would Ross have been an adequate replacement for Zimmerman? Perhaps not totally, and the Nats had two pitchers to replace last year — Fister and Strasburg — but when folks came back from the DL, Ross went back to AAA and in an ideal world, he could have continued in the rotation and to shine.

    I continue to hold confidence that either Cole or Jordan is poised to break through at the major league level. And I am of the opinion that Giolito will show his readiness in spring training and will be ready from early in the season. And that Voth is closer to the major leagues than folks imagine — he is certainly more advanced than Ross was at this time last year.

    Now, nobody knows, including me. I may be too optimistic. But the organization does have outstanding pitching development coaching and all of these talents will work with Mike Maddux in spring training. So I cannot help but think that one of these talents is going to put up an April-May in AAA that is so special that we will be talking about it here. It’s a matter of probability and I trust my judgment.

    Does that mean that they will dominate the mound as Strasburg does when he is on? No. But Joe Ross showed dominance last year, and clearly Zimmerman and Fister’s exit has enabled him to make it in DC, rather than becoming the Nate Karns or Robbie Ray who makes it elsewhere.

    With that said, I see some starting pitcher candidates as clogs to the pipeline. Perhaps that is why someone like Gallardo is not on the horizon. And I am absolutely hoping for Cliff Lee or a Cuban talent.

    Lastly, about Strasburg, he went through a collapse at the beginning of the year, as you recall. Maybe he is more mature, maybe he no longer has a “trapezoid” problem or whatever. But he definitely has a contract problem and I am of the TB and Oakland mindset that getting value beats holding the bag.

    forensicane

    14 Jan 16 at 3:44 am

  44. Forensicane: the problem with your stance on Strasburg is this. 9 wins and 7 losses and 175 innings is a pretty broad way to characterize a pitcher. Were they 175 “good” innings or “bad” innings? 9-7 on average … but what about the other 16 starts; was he putting his team in positions to win or lose? That’s where you have to look more at stuff like his adjusted ERA, his WAR, etc. Strasburg’s war over the past 4 seasons: 3.0, 3.1, 3.5 and then 2.1 last year. Salvaged 2.1 despite his awful start. I don’t think you just plug in a AAA pitcher like Cole or Jordan and get that kind of value. If those guys were capable of doing that … they’d already be in the rotation.

    Teams trying to win don’t trade their ace starters. They use them to try to win. We’re not Tampa Bay or Oakland trying to win on a $50M payroll held together wtih duct tape; this is a major team in a major market with a $200M pitcher who wasn’t acquired so that we could “try out some rookies.”

    Todd Boss

    14 Jan 16 at 11:19 am

  45. We are talking past one another.

    1) Whether Strasburg is an “ace” or is an ace by expectation is arguable. An ace keeps it up (almost) all year. Strasburg is lights out and then lights off.

    2) There are two ways around the “don’t take a chance on rookies” argument noted above. a) a major trade involving a number of parts that brings back a bonafide contributor to the rotation, perhaps on the level of a Leake-quality talent but younger and more controllable, or b) signing a Cliff Lee (post-injury, yes, but pretty high in his own right WAR wise) in the same way that the Nats picked up their #5 starter before 2012.

    3) My point about the four rookies above is to say that by May, at least one of those folks is going to demonstrate that he is ready. If that is too much a risk, step 2 is available.

    As for philosophies, baseball is full of them, and then someone comes along with a new paradigm. Rizzo thinks out of the box. What teams do or don’t do has everything to do with the options.

    I’m not so sure that marquee-driven teams like San Diego would not pay dearly in a straight or three team deal for Strasburg, espcially if they had confidence they could lock him up and if the Nats took (most of) James Shields’ deal off their hands. I’m not proposing, I’m just saying that GMs are paid to be creative. Fortunately, we have just that.

    forensicane

    14 Jan 16 at 12:36 pm

  46. check that on Shields, who has an opt-out after 2016. But my bigger point is as it is.

    forensicane

    14 Jan 16 at 12:38 pm

  47. […] January: Drew Storen for Ben Revere; a trade that seems to work on both sides: In the end, not so much.  Revere lost his job and was non-tendered, Storen had a 6.21 ERA for Toronto before getting flipped to Seattle. […]

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