Nationals Arm Race

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

The “Race” to the bottom: Reverse Standings for 2017’s #1 overall pick (and potential 1-1 candidates)


Its been a while since we hyper-monitored for the #1 pick in Nats town … but for draft-wonks its a fun time of the year.  The tail end of the season, especially a season where multiple teams were in “rebuilding mode,” is fun to see who’s in line for the #1 overall pick next year.

Reverse standings updated at Baseball America: here’s who is in line for the top 10 picks next year:

1 Minnesota Twins 55 96 .364 American League 6 – 24 684 835 -151
2 Atlanta Braves 61 91 .401 National League 17 – 13 604 749 -145
3 Cincinnati Reds 63 89 .414 National League 10 – 20 663 809 -146
4 San Diego Padres 64 88 .421 National League 12 – 18 641 722 -81
5 Arizona Diamondbacks 64 88 .421 National League 14 – 16 709 856 -147
6 Tampa Bay Rays 64 87 .424 American League 13 – 17 640 670 -30
7 Los Angeles Angels 66 86 .434 American League 15 – 15 661 700 -39
8 Oakland Athletics 66 86 .434 American League 13 – 17 623 716 -93
9 Milwaukee Brewers 68 84 .447 National League 16 – 14 632 690 -58
10 Philadelphia Phillies 69 83 .454 National League 12 – 18 568 716 -148

So, as of 9/22/16, the Twins have a 5 game “lead” over Atlanta for the #1 overall pick, and they’re bottoming out, having gone just 6-24 in the last month or so.  Meanwhile, the Braves, who everyone thought was the shoe-in for the worst team this year, has a 17-13 record in its last 30 and has shown signs of life enough so as to cost themselves the #1 pick next year.  At the rate they’re all going, Atlanta may end up dropping even further down thanks to the Reds and their historically awful pitching.  Arizona has been playing decently but comes to Washington for a 4-game set.

Here’s a quick look at the 2017 candidates for going #1 overall.  Mind you this is amazingly early, especially for the high school kids, but there’s a few specific names that are rising above the others in this class.

High Schoolers in competition for 1-1 overall:

  • Hunter Greene ss/rhp Notre Dame High, CA (UCLA commit). 2015 18U tema as a Jr. Standout at PG Nationals 2016. two-way talent, 95-97 on the mound but also a fantastic hitter. 18U National team trials.  Standout at Area code games.  Basically Greene is so talented on both sides of the ball that there’s disagreement as to which way he should go.  Most pundits think he’s drafted as a pitcher and if he can’t cut it that he can move to the field.
  • Jordon Adell of/rhp Ballard High, KY (Louisville). 18U National team trials.  Area Code stand out.  He is a hitting prospect through and through; he won the HR derby at the Area Code Games.

There’s a distinct gap between Greene/Adell and the next grouping of HS players, which include a couple of high-end lefty prospects in D.L. Hall and Trevor Rogers, a couple of middle infielders in Brady McConnell and Royce Lewis, and a powerful 1B prospect from Miami named Alejandro “Alex” Toral, but the two above are the cream.  Its worth noting; no prep RHP has ever gone 1-1, which works against Greene in that slot.

Collegiate players in competition for 1-1 overall:

  • Jeren Kendall OF Vanderbilt. 2016 Collegiate National team
  • Alex Faedo rhp Florida. 2016 Collegiate National team
  • Kyle Wright rhp Vanderbilt.  2016 Collegiate National team
  • Brendan McCay of/lhp Louisville. All-American as a Soph. 2016 Collegiate National team
  • Jacob “J.B.” Bukauskas rhp UNC/Ashburn. 2016 Collegiate National team

I think they’re ranked roughly in this order too; Kendall is the name most frequently mentioned as 1-1 overall candidate right now; safest pick, an OF from a baseball factory.  I think Faedo and Wright go before local product Bukauskas, but its definitely looking like he’s projected top-10 at this point.  McCay is right there as well, with a great pedigree and likely being a 2-time All American by the time he’s done.

But we’re an awfully long way from next June.  Nobody had Mickey Moniak at the top of their boards at this time last year.


PS: i’ve got a draft version of the “Local 2017 draft candidates” to watch, but in a spoiler (we won’t publish it until next Feb/March) there’s nowhere near the projected local talent in 2017 as there was this year (when we saw two local prep players drafted in the top 3 rounds plus a few other local guys in the top 10).  But right now here’s who i’ve got as the best local prep players for 2017.

  • Kyle Whitten, RHP/1B from Osbourn Park in Manassas, VA. WWBA 2015 with Team Stars, 2016 Evoshield 17-U team.  At the USA Baseball 18U national trials in June 2016 (and made 40-man roster).  Early commit to UVA.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  PBR Class of 2017 top 10.
  • Tyler Solomon, C/1B from Battlefield HS in Haymarket, VA.  2015 WWBA Team Evoshield 17-U, 2016 All 6-A North Region 2nd team.  2016 Evoshield 17-U team.  At PG National 2016.  At the USA Baseball 18U national trials in June 2016.  Early commit to Vanderbilt.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  All PBR DC/VA team 2016.  PBR Class of 2017 top 10.  Area Code Games 2016.
  • Jeremy Arocho, SS from Old Mill HS in Glen Burnie, MD.  2015 WWBA Team Evoshield 17-U, 2016 Evoshield 17-U team.  At PG National 2016.   18U National team trials.  early commit to Maryland.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  Area Code Games 2016.
  • Matt Cooper, C/1B from Norfolk Academy.  2016 VISAA Division I all-state.  2016 Evoshield 17-U team.  At PG National 2016.  Early commit to Clemson.  2nd Team all-Tidewater 2016 as a junior.  American Family 2016 1st team All-Virginia as a junior.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  All PBR DC/VA team 2016.   PBR Class of 2017 top 10.  Area Code Games 2016.
  • Tanner Morris, MIF from St Anne’s-Belfield HS/Miller School of Albemarle.  2015 WWBA Team Evoshield 17-U, VISAA A All-State 2016.  2016 VISAA Division II all-state.  2016 Evoshield 17-U team.   At PG National 2016.  Early commit to UVA.  American Family 2016 1st team All-Virginia as a junior.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  All PBR DC/VA team 2016.   PBR Class of 2017 top 10.  Area Code Games 2016.

They’re the only three players from DC/MD/VA who were invited to the 18U team trials.  Four of these five were the sole local reps at the Area code Games.  So its probably safe to assume at this point they’re among the best 2017 draft candidates.  But are they top-5 rounds good?  We’ll see.

Written by Todd Boss

September 22nd, 2016 at 11:52 am

16 Responses to 'The “Race” to the bottom: Reverse Standings for 2017’s #1 overall pick (and potential 1-1 candidates)'

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  1. Looks like the Nats will fall somewhere between 26th and 29th (currently 28th). I don’t think that’s a pick they would worry too much about losing if they sign a free agent. It’s still too early to know whether they would have a comp pick for Ramos.

    Also, with the CBA up in December, who knows what the draft rules will be, or the FA ones.

    So which teams are going to tank in 2017 to get Seth Beer?


    22 Sep 16 at 12:44 pm

  2. The Nats are absolutely in the “blow off 1st round pick by signing a big FA” territory. Hello Jose Bautista!

    Todd Boss

    22 Sep 16 at 12:55 pm

  3. And, yeah Seth Beer looks like a monster for 2018. Who could tank in 2017? I’ll give you a few possibilities:
    – Arizona: could remove their whole front office structure and anyone new coming in would have to ask for a tear-down
    – San Diego: will Preller keep his job?
    – Los Angeles Angels: they have a ton of money coming off the books … and no pitchers to spend it on. Why bother?
    – Yankees? Maybe they wait another year and just stick with the guys they have?

    Todd Boss

    22 Sep 16 at 1:02 pm

  4. Beer is a Georgia native, so you know the Braves would be frothing at the mouth to get him. But how would you explain to the natives if you tanked in the year you opened a new stadium? Oh, wait, we did that . . . and did it again the next year for good measure.

    We could give the Angels an entire rotation for that kid they’ve got in CF. On a more practical note, maybe trade them an arm or two and Espinosa for Simmons? That would fill the CF problem as well, as Trea could stay there.


    22 Sep 16 at 1:29 pm

  5. Just saw this nugget:

    I really, really hope is isn’t true. But based on the number of places i’ve seen it (i.e., not just one place) it seems like it is. And when the home newspaper beat reporter immediately says that Ramos is worth twice that, you know you’ve made a huge mistake in your negotiation.

    Todd Boss

    22 Sep 16 at 1:42 pm

  6. I thought the Nats would offer something like 3/45, with an option if pushed. Ramos can get more on the market, but it would be close enough if he’d consider a team discount.

    On the flip side, I think Greenberg is off base projecting Ramos’ value based on 2016 alone:

    Ramos’ fWAR in ’15 was 0.4. It was 1.5 in ’14 and 1.5 in ’13. If you look at those three years, he’s not even worth $10M/per.

    I’m very on the fence on this one. Offensive catchers like what Ramos has done this season are few and far between. But it’s only one year, and he’s had a long history of having trouble staying healthy. Will we be madder in three years if the Nats give him 3/54, or madder that they didn’t? My guess would be “madder that they did.”

    I can’t see Ramos taking the QO. He’s never going to have a better season to take to the market, plus he’d be a year older after next season.

    The initial offer tells me that there’s no way the Nats are going to 18-20M AAV. I’m not sure they will even get up to 15 if they’re starting at 10. And frankly, it’s hard to blame them. I don’t think he will age well. But I also don’t think he’ll be easily replaced.


    22 Sep 16 at 3:04 pm

  7. Agree: 3/$45 would have been a much fairer offer. I still think he gets more on the market. Maybe not in AAV but in length; if you got 5yrs/$60M how can you say no? That is a ton of guaranteed money.

    And i’m on record as saying kinda of what you’re saying: yes he had a great 2016. But he had multiple years prior to that with injury after injury, and I’d rather not roll the dice on yet another injury prone player with big money attached to him. Especially on a team that generally has to balance other big-money injury risks like Zimmerman, Werth, Strasburg.

    Todd Boss

    22 Sep 16 at 3:29 pm

  8. The only beat writer that I saw confirming the report said the offer was for “more” than 3/$30M. Given how the Nats operate close to the vest there is some chance that the report is simply wrong; certainly that’s true of a lot of this type of report.

    I think it’s 50/50 whether Ramos re-signs with the Nats. I think they want him, and he wants to be here, but he’s got every reason to listen to other offers and Rizzo has shown that if the bidding gets too high he will walk away. An attribute that has served Rizzo and the Nats very well, FWIW (thinking Heyward* and O’Day last year, Prince Fielder a couple of years ago, etc.).

    People are always quick to become offended on behalf of other people. Given the comps, 3 years at a little north of $30M is not an insult. It’s on the low, Cervelli/Grandal end of the spectrum and not on the high, McCann end. If Ramos is at all reasonable, he won’t be offended. And if he is unreasonable, do you want that guy?

    *Because of the term, lack of deferments and the two opt-out clauses, the actual value of the Cubs offer was higher than the reported Nats’ offer. On O’Day the Nats declined to match the 4th guaranteed year to a 33yo relief pitcher – who has only pitched 29 innings this year to an ERA and FIP north of 4.00. Interestingly, the one player that Rizzo did overbid on (Zobrist) is having a solid season. Perhaps Rizzo is pretty good at this game.

    John C.

    22 Sep 16 at 4:06 pm

  9. I don’t get the timing; its a week before the playoffs; why approach the player now and risk distracting him?

    Todd Boss

    22 Sep 16 at 5:02 pm

  10. 3/$30+m is fair. Ramos has been a godsend this year, but also has a fairly long track record of much less than this. I like him and C is. Huge hole right now without him, but I wouldn’t want to tie up 4 years with him.

    Sure, he is likely to get more and I don’t blame him, but I’d stay right at 3 years and maybe up the AAV to $12 or $13m/yr


    22 Sep 16 at 7:54 pm

  11. I generally agree with everyone here:

    Todd: I had the same thought about why are they doing this right before the playoffs? Maybe Ramos’ agent pushed it, so he knows where they stand.

    Wally: Yeah, I think this offer indicates that the Nats’ happy zone is probably $12M per. Frankly, considering all of Ramos’ struggles in other years, that’s fair.

    John: Yep, Rizzo has his price, and I love that he sticks to it. Of course that’s easy to say when you can have your fourth or fifth choice turn into Murphy!

    I have no idea what Plan B is, though. Considering the sad state of catchers generally available, I’m tempted to say that Severino might not be any worse, even if he doesn’t hit much.


    22 Sep 16 at 9:48 pm

  12. The word seems to be that the Nats initiated the discussions.


    22 Sep 16 at 9:53 pm

  13. It’s a negotiation. The fact that they are talking tells me a deal will get done.

    “nats are cheap” is like predictable ploy for bottom dwelling scoopers. Tired and old, like Bud Black whining. 175m for Strasburg later, with him on the DL, I’m just happy to see the Nats moving to step up pre-MASN resolution.


    23 Sep 16 at 1:25 am

  14. I think it’s a close call on whether Ramos stays. The word is that he really wants to stay, but he’s going to have to take a discount in pay and in years to do it.

    The other factor is that while it’s assumed that Ramos could get a lot more on the open market, how firm is that market? The big-spending Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, and Giants don’t need a catcher. In fact, the Yankees would probably dump McCann at a discount right now. The Red Sox and Cubs both have some good catching prospects, probably enough to scare them away from five-year contracts. The Angels have money and a need, but do you want to play for a lousy team and catch an awful pitching staff?

    Desmond’s agent completely misread the market last year. Ramos’ would do well to consider his. I’m sure these issues have figured into the logic behind the Nats’ offer as well.


    23 Sep 16 at 6:50 am

  15. Desmond: I wonder what he would have gotten if he didn’t have the QO attached to him.

    Todd Boss

    23 Sep 16 at 8:41 am

  16. I would say that if you produce in your walk year, the QO doesn’t matter, but there is some evidence to the contrary. Murphy certainly produced but was hurt by both the QO and by Zobrist not having one (and having more positional flexibility). I think Desi was hurt much more by his bad year, and decline in ’13 and ’14, than he was by the QO. I liked Desi, but I’m glad that he ended up walking away, as he wasn’t worth, at least to the Nat future, the contract that he turned down from them.

    Incidentally, Desi has really come back to earth as the AL has figured him out. His OPS+ is 106, and he’s up to 152 Ks. His numbers are all near his ’13-’14 levels.


    23 Sep 16 at 10:07 am

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