Nationals Arm Race

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

Qualifying Offers 2016; Will the Nats give up a pick for one of these guys?


Desmond gets a Q.O. ... and gets screwed. Note this is the same picture and same caption I put in this post last year. Photo Drew Kinback/

Desmond gets a Q.O. … and gets screwed. Note this is the same picture and same caption I put in this post last year. Photo Drew Kinback/

This year’s crop of Qualifying Offer-attached FAs has been announced; lets look at the ten guys who will have to deal with draft pick compensation as they attempt to find a new team:

YearPlayerPOSAgentOld TeamPrevious ContractPrevious Contract AAVWalk year salaryQ.O.
2016Yoenis CespedesOFBrodie Van Wagenen / Roc NationNew York Mets1yr/$27.5M27.5M27.5M$17.2M
2016Dexter FowlerOF (cf)Casey Close/Excel Sports ManagementChicago Cubs1 year/$13M13M13M$17.2M
2016Justin Turner3BLegacy AgencyLos Angeles Dodgers1 year/$5.1M5.1M5.1M$17.2M
2016Edwin Encarnacio1B/DHRep 1 BaseballToronto4 years/$39M9.75M10M$17.2M
2016Neil Walker2BExcel SportsNew York Mets1 year/$10.55M10.55M10.55M$17.2M
2016Kenley JansenRHP (closer)Wasserman Media GroupLos Angeles Dodgers1 year/$10.65M10.6510.65$17.2M
2016Ian DesmondOF (cf)/SSCAA Baseball (was Sports One Athlete Management)Texas1 year/$8M8m8m$17.2M
2016Jeremy HellicksonRHP (starter)Scott Boras/Boras CorporationPhiladelphia1 year/$7M7m7m$17.2M
2016Jose BautistaOF (RF)Jay Alou, Epitome SportsToronto6 years/$79M13.16M14M$17.2M
2016Mark Trumbo1b/OFWasserman Media GroupBaltimore1 year/$9.15M9.15M9.15M$17.2M

And here’s a list of the 10 worst teams from 2016 who have protected 1st rounders:

  1. Twins (59-103, .364)
  2. Reds (68-94, .420)
  3. Padres (68-94, .420)
  4. Rays (68-94, .420)
  5. Braves (68-93, .422)
  6. A’s (69-93, .426)
  7. D-backs (69-93, .426)
  8. Phillies (71-91, .438)
  9. Brewers (73-89, .451)
  10. Angels (74-88, .457)

Of these 10 teams, I think its fair to say that only a couple of them are possible FA shoppers anyway. Twins, Reds, Padres, DBacks, Brewers all seem to still be in “re-boot” mode, the Braves and Phillies are probably in a “cautious shopping” mode, the Rays and A’s are in a “never spend money” mode, and the Angels are in a “we’re already spending way too much money” mode.  So it’d be a  huge surprise if a protected team even takes advantage of this FA crop.

Here’s 11-30, in order, all of whom will have to spend their 1st round pick if they sign players:

11. Rockies (75-87, .463)
12. White Sox (78-84, .481)
13. Pirates (78-83, .484)
14. Marlins (79-82, .491)
15. Royals (81-81, .500)
16. Astros (84-78, .519)
17. Yankees (84-78, .519)
18. Mariners (86-76, .531)
19. Cardinals (86-76, .531)
20. Tigers (86-75, .534)
21. Giants (87-75, .537)
22. Mets (87-75, .537)
23. Orioles (89-73, .549)
24. Blue Jays (89-73, .549)
25. Dodgers (91-71, .562)
26. Red Sox (93-69, .574)
27. Indians (94-67, .584)
28. Nationals (95-67, .586)
29. Rangers (95-67, .586)
30. Cubs (103-58, .640)

I can’t really see the first few teams giving up picks; maybe you have to get to Houston at #16 before you have a real big-market team looking to spend money.  From about the Yankees on down, practically all these teams may be considering one of the 10 QO players and forfeiting their pick.

There’s a couple of interesting players here, so here’s some commentary.

  • Yoenis Cespedes: opted out of two years and $43M to hit FA again; he’s the marquee hitter on the market and he’ll get a 9-figure deal.  I think he’ll struggle to match $27.5M AAV, but that won’t bother him.  Teams shouldn’t have any issues cashing in a 1st rounder for him.  Linked to the Nats but not really; there’s just no way they can get him to fit into their payroll unless they drastically jack it up from 2016 levels.
  • Dexter Fowler decides to roll the dice again; that may be a mistake, maybe not.  If he gets 3yrs and $40M guaranteed he’ll be happy.  Linked to the Nats; see below.
  • Justin Turner came out of nowhere to earn a $17M offer; he’s only making $5M this year.  Is he tempted to take the offer?
  • Encarnacion and Bautista both seem likely to leave Toronto; I think the limits on their markets is less about the QO and more about their aging “old-man” skill sets.
  • Neil Walker is coming off a back injury; but there’s also not a ton of depth in the 2B market for those teams looking.  Still, $17M is a hefty improvement on his 2016 $10.5M salary.
  • Jansen seems crazy to pass up this kind of money … except that there’s several big-market teams dying for a new closer (ours included).  I don’t see the Nats forking over this cash, instead taking a cheaper option like Holland (assuming he can still throw).
  • Desmond; poor Ian Desmond, saddled with the offer yet again.  Maybe he takes it this year.  I’m not really sure what has changed in terms of his market.  Recently linked with Baltimore.
  • Hellickson taking the QO just to screw Philly would be awesome … but he also knows that despite his mediocre career he’s one of the best 2-3 options this off-season.
  • Trumbo; Only $9.15M this year; could he take the offer and double his pay?  Probably no reason to; he likely just had his best career year and he’ll get the best contract offer he can right now.

In the end; i don’t see an obvious QO taker.  Last year 20 players got offered the QO and a number took it, finally calling the owner’s bluff.  So many players that might have entertained offers didn’t get them this year, and of the above list only one or two possibly could take it if they were worried about their markets, but likely nobody takes it.

From a  Nats perspective; do any of these players move the needle for you, enough so to give up the #28 overall pick?  We have definitely shown a proclivity towards cashing in that pick to acquire players.  But of these 10 guys, who are really targets for the Nats?

We can rule many out of the way immediately:

  • Turner: we don’t need a 3B.
  • Walker: we don’t need a 2B
  • Hellickson: we don’t need a starter
  • Desmond: can’t see a reunion, not for a guy who barely plays CF.
  • Trumbo: this FO seems smart enough to see what Trumbo is (a homer-only DH).
  • Encarnacion: similar to Trumbo in that he’s 1B/DH … and we already have someone at 1B.

So we’re down to really 4 contenders:

  • Jansen: Even though we need a closer, I can’t see this FO spending that much on a closer and think they’ll go a cheaper route.
  • Cespedes; Cespedes is the #1 FA on the market and will probably get some ridiculous amount of money per season from a bigger market team; also priced out of the Nats budget.  Would force Harper to CF AND would force Werth back to right, providing a pretty significant negative impact to the Nats outfield defense.
  • Bautista: Yeah he’s a marquee bat … but his BA took a nose dive in 2016, he’s already 36 and seems to have the kind of classic “old-man slugger” skills that evaporate seemingly overnight.  If his 2016 had been more like his 2015 season, maybe.  His once vaunted RF defense has also taken a significant hit, posting negative UZR and “arm” ratings the last two seasons after being one of the premier defenders there for years.  Would also force Harper to CF and would
  • Fowler; perhaps the one FA that makes sense for all factors (age, positional fit and quality).  If the Nats signed him, it would immediately trigger many of the moves we’re all predicting (Turner back to short, non-tender of Revere, trade of Espinosa) and really improves the lineup.  Fowler batted lead-off for the Cubs and posted nearly a .400 OPS; putting him 1-2 with Turner at the top would really galvanize the run production out of the big bats in the lineup.

Imagine this lineup: Turner SS, Fowler CF, Harper RF, Rendon 3B, Murphy 2B, Werth LF, Zimmerman 1B, C, P.   That’d go R-S-L-R-L-R-R for good balance with some serious OBP in the 1-2-3 slots for contact hitters like Rendon and Murphy to drive in.

So.  Will Fowler sign here?  We have serious suitors for his talents (most are projecting him to St.Louis).  We’ll see.  But for me Fowler is worth giving up a pick.


47 Responses to 'Qualifying Offers 2016; Will the Nats give up a pick for one of these guys?'

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  1. I would sign Fowler for 3/40 in an absolute heartbeat. Keith Law says he’d sign Fowler at 4/90. The Zips projection system values him at 4/65.

    It’s interesting to compare Fowler and McCutchen. They have similar BB/K profiles (Fowler walks a bit more and strikes out a bit more), both have bad defense, and Fowler is a better baserunner. McCutchen has A LOT more power (assuming you think he’ll bounce back from 2016). McCutchen is definitely better, but I’m surprised how close he gets to McCutchen’s value.

    I agree, Todd, that Fowler is a more realistic target than Cespedes. I think the Nats should go after him (I’d rather pay him money than pay the Pirates prospects). I think 4/90 is too much to pay for Fowler, but it’s not an albatross.


    10 Nov 16 at 10:50 am

  2. Derek; great points all. I have a hard time seeing Pittsburgh getting value for McCutchen in trade right now anyway.

    Todd Boss

    10 Nov 16 at 12:10 pm

  3. I think that they would give up the pick for those guys, maybe even Encarnacion (and figure out where to play him or Zim), but I am less sure that they’ll be willing to meet their contract price. I still see the trade route as their most likely option.

    I am ok with Fowler; not at 4/$90m though. I’d probably be willing to go to 4/$50m, but would really prefer 3 years. But he is lower on my list than some other OFs (Eaton, Cain, maybe Pollock) but those may not be feasible


    10 Nov 16 at 12:49 pm

  4. If Fowler turns down $17M for one year …what is he looking for? 4/50 is “only” 12.5M a year … i know these guys like longer term contracts but maybe if you’re fowler and the best you think you can get cuts $5M off your AAV, you just take the one year deal and hope the new CBA gets rid of this QO nonsense.

    Todd Boss

    10 Nov 16 at 1:24 pm

  5. Cespedes: No. He’s pretty much LF-only now and is going to want 6-7 years. He doesn’t fit positionally or financially and probably wouldn’t be great for team chemistry.

    Encarnacion: Can’t see him in the NL. He should spend most of his time DH-ing wherever he goes.

    J. Turner and Walker: I would love to have either of those guys if the Nats had a position for them. Turner could learn to play LF, right? And with Walker at 2B, Murphy could shift to 1B . . . and the Nats would bench their two highest-paid positional players. OK, not happening. Turner’s a SoCal native, and the Dodgers have plenty of cash, so odds are that he’s not leaving.

    So we get to Fowler. Question 1: Would he improve the team over Danny being a regular? Yes. Question 2: Would he fit within the money the Nats have available? Probably, although he may leave things tight if he gets 15-16M AAV. I don’t think the Nats can afford him and Melancon. Question 3: Would he be my first choice? No. But I wouldn’t hate it.

    My first choice would be for the Nats to trade for a player in his prime who is signed for a longer term, like Simmons (SS) or Eaton (CF, although not great in CF). Pollock and Cutch only have two years left; Pollock would cost about half of Fowler, Cutch around the same as Fowler, but the Nats would probably clear some salary while acquiring him. The other question about Fowler is whether bidding by the Cubs or Cards might drive his price up and add extra years. I’m much more interested in him at 3/45 than I would be at 4/80 (or more). I’m sorry, but he’s not a $20M player.


    10 Nov 16 at 1:31 pm

  6. Apropos of nothing; read a dave Cameron chat today that had this question:
    Q: would you trade Giolito, Lopez AND Fedde for Chris Sale?
    Q: Same haul for Chris Archer?

    And he thought that both trades were NOT ENOUGH for Sale or Archer.

    Which I thought was crazy talk. Especially for Archer. I understand he’s good and he’s on a good contract but he’s not THAT good. That’s 18 years of controlled high-end starter prospects.

    Todd Boss

    10 Nov 16 at 2:00 pm

  7. Suffice it to say that KLaw wouldn’t agree, either! I don’t know that I’d trade Giolito, Lopez, and Fedde for Sale AND Eaton, maybe not even Sale, Eaton, and Robertson.

    Also, Sale’s a bit of a nut job, and considering his role in the LaRoche affair during the spring, the bet would be that he would NOT be welcomed with open arms in the Nat clubhouse.


    10 Nov 16 at 2:13 pm

  8. I thought that was an interesting and surprising answer by Cameron. I think maybe the problem with the package is that it featured three pitching prospects. You’d probably want to diversify your return for Sale a little bit, as three pitching prospects can go up in smoke in an instant (two of the three guys have already had TJ and a lot of people think Lopez is a reliever long term). Remember that Cameron listed Giolito as the player with the 41st most trade value in all of baseball this year, so it’s not like he undervalues prospects.


    10 Nov 16 at 2:22 pm

  9. I’m surprised that Rizzo would be so open about his willingness to move Espinosa, and referencing him as a utility player. It may be that the press misquoted him.

    This is an interesting discussion, and Rizzo has his pattern of how he proceeds: 1) Undervalued players who produce and are controllable 2) Planning ahead for roster changes 2-3 years in advance.

    Murphy, a plan C free agent, and Turner were the most important contributors to the team’s success this last season (once Wilson was injured).

    The system is relatively barren of surefire stars. Stevenson has had the greatest leap this winter in terms of now being envisioned as “starter” material. But he would be a big risk…

    There is greater depth to trade from in the system.

    So this is what I think:

    1) Nats will try to sign Ramos, because he is more affordable and such a marquee player at his position that they will never get replacement value in a trade or FA. Severino is a replacement while he heals, or if signing fails. But Ramos wants to stay. And perhaps, looking beyond Zimmerman and Werth, giving him 1B time as well keeps him in the lineup.

    2) Nats will target a big bat this winter once again. Is Fowler worth losing a draft pick? Tough call. I just don’t see them signing Cespedes with the anticipated opt-out. And I don’t see Harper in CF. But I do think the Nats will approach the uncertainty of Harper’s contract the same way they did Zimmerman. If there is a player they can bring in who carries over if/when he leaves for Stanton money, they’ll get that player. Reddick? Eaton? Or another rising player not on the tips of everyone’s tongue (more like it).

    3) Revere will be non-tendered. Charlie Blackmon was targeted in the past and is now peak value. Can’t see it happening.

    4) Gio packaged in a trade. Would be great for them to bring in a player like Sale.


    10 Nov 16 at 3:40 pm

  10. forensicane: why do you say “I don’t see Harper in CF?” I’m not nitpicking the answer but I see this statement made so often that I push back on it. Are you saying that you don’t see the team putting Harper in CF, or do you have some reason that you think Harper can NOT play or should not play CF?

    Todd Boss

    10 Nov 16 at 4:47 pm

  11. I wonder if the “utility player” comment about Danny was actually a trade sales pitch, as in he’s a guy who could fill multiple spots like Zobrist, or like Desi sorta did. (Incidentally, I don’t get the enthusiasm that some have for Desi’s FA prospects. His second half was painful, even by his streaky standards.)

    I don’t see Ramos coming back to the Nats unless it’s a real sweetheart deal, no more than 3/30. First of all, the Nats just can’t afford to spend that much on that position. Second, Ramos won’t be available for at least half the season, and who knows how much catching he’ll actually be able to do once he comes back. It’s hard to see him being much of a field player at all, even at 1B, so DH seems more in his future.

    As for “big bat,” getting one is good in theory; in practice, there aren’t a lot of great fits. The Nats could play someone at CF, RF (with Bryce in CF), SS, or C. Bautista is too old and rapidly declining. Cespedes can’t find his way to anywhere but LF. They could trade for Braun . . . and take on 4/80 in his mid-30s (including the 5th year buyout). One of the reasons I keep coming back to Cutch is that he’s a legit middle-of-the-order bat . . . if he’s priced to take into consideration the possible decline he’s maybe begun (although he finished strong). Or they could sign Reddick for RH, for less power and less money.

    I don’t know. I haven’t stumbled on an option that I truly love.


    10 Nov 16 at 8:30 pm

  12. Here’s an amazing stat. I went to FanGraphs, set the batter parameters to min. 300 PAs, and ordered the results by SLG, looking for some hidden value “big bat.” Care to guess who was tied for #5 on that list? He won’t cost the Nats anything because they already have the rights to Trea Turner for six more years. Wow. He’s AHEAD of Miggy, Nelson Cruz, and Bryant, not to mention Trout, Dozier, and Donaldson. Murphy is #2 on the SLG list, behind only Ortiz. (And yes, I know it’s only a half-season take on Trea, but still, that’s rarefied company.)

    Trea is also tied for 10th when ordered by wRC+, one slot behind Bryant.

    No great inspirations on any undervalued big bats, though, at least not any guys who don’t also have alarming K rates.


    10 Nov 16 at 8:52 pm

  13. I meant Reddick for “RF,” obviously, since he doesn’t hit “RH.” But a RH bat would be a better fit.


    10 Nov 16 at 9:31 pm

  14. Todd – thanks for the push back.

    The Nats have enjoyed success with great defensive centerfielders starting with Span, and while Trea Turner was an adequate centerfielder, his learning curve out there had its moments of hurting the team. I feel like the Nats did what they did to get him into the lineup, but see the advantages of him at his natural position.

    Bryce Harper does not have the proven CF defensive skills. He struggled offensively and if he was NOT hurt, he enters the season with that failure in his head. Now he takes on a position switch? Especially having already seen his value on the FA market drop? I dunno.

    He is young and talented and can make that switch if need be for an excellent corner OF. And those are easier to acquire. So I can understand why some might see a switch to be realistic. And if Rizzo thinks its realistic, maybe they’ve already taken it up with him.

    What a shame that Taylor tanked this year. He would have been a logical solution to these worries. As it is, Robles, Bautista, and Stevenson will be ready by 2018. But not OD 2017.

    BTW, I am sold on Robles as one of those players who will do whatever he wants to do on the field. He will slot in nicely post-Werth. And possibly post Harper.

    Have to think about Harper’s future this offseason as well, especially since MASN is not resolved. I suppose that is why the Nats were sniffing around McCutcheon. Great that they were. I still have hopes for Mike Trout. If anyone can pull that off, it’s Rizzo.

    Hopefully, the ripe pitching surplus gets leveraged (as was Rivero) before it overripens (and they sign Melancon).


    11 Nov 16 at 2:01 am

  15. As long as we are throwing out preferred targets, I have to go back to someone I’ve mentioned before, Freddie Freeman. He would be worth the overpay.


    11 Nov 16 at 2:08 am

  16. The Nats have been hurt in their efforts to build the roster for the future and to have affordable players because of the slow/stalled development of Taylor and Goodwin. One of those guys was supposed to be ready to be the starting CF by the time Span left, with the longer-term hope that they could be 2/3 of the OF when Werth’s contract was up. Taylor has had two extended starting looks with the big club and has failed badly. Meanwhile, Goodwin’s glacial development pace necessitated the trade for Revere. And of course the Nats ended up benching all three in the second half in favor of their shortstop prospect.

    So now the Nats are STILL looking for a CF, either longer term or as a bridge to Stevenson or Robles, neither of whom have shown anywhere near the power potential that Taylor and Goodwin were alleged to have. (Bautista < Eury Perez and not even on my radar as a major-leaguer.)

    I look at Revere's stats, and he was over .300 in 2014 and 2015, with more than 180 hits each season. Very tough call on him. If they can depend on him to get back to that level, he could be the starter, or at least get 400 ABs as a 4th OF. But $6M is a lot to pay for a 4th OF when you've got guys like Taylor and/or Goodwin for the minimum. (I actually hope Taylor gets traded; if he's here, Dusty will play him.)


    11 Nov 16 at 8:04 am

  17. Forensicane: Here’s a link to Harper’s advanced fielding stats on fangraps. The only time he’s played CF for an extended basis (i.e. not a short sample size that can be skewed by one bad play) was in 2012. In 715 innings, he had a 19.1 UZR/150 rating, a 10.4 UZR overall, 13 DRS and a positive ranking for his arm. Those numbers are fantastic!

    To see how those compare to today’s fielders, here’s a link to the leaders for CF fielding stats for 2016: Harper’s 2012 fielding stats would basically have put him as the 2nd or 3rd best defensive CF in all of baseball, only behind the amazing Pillar and the lightening-fast Hamilton.

    And that was in 2012! When he was just learning how to play OF and was thrust into CF thanks to Ankiel’s incompetence.

    So why do you say “Bryce Harper does not have the proven CF defensive skills?” I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. I think its a narrative that somehow gains legs because of one or two plays Harper has made where he’s gotten injured hitting a wall going after a ball too aggressively.

    I understand the logic of saying “we want him to focus on offense not on a position change” but I’ll push back on that too. Harper now has (again per the fangraphs link) more than 900 INNINGS of direct experience playing CF in the past 4 seasons. Its not like we’re asking him to play SS or some other position that he’s never played since little league.

    So yes, I continue to push back on people who claim he can’t play CF. Because the statistical evidence points otherwise. And with an off season to heal whatever shoulder malady he continues to deny he had (there was a very telling image posted a few days ago in the Nats twitter-sphere where someone calculated Harper’s average distance from home plate to his position in RF and … month by month he crept closer and closer to home plate to account for his failing arm strength), I’m sure he’ll return to normal next season. I want him to be in CF precisely because its “easier” to find a corner OF and frankly because i’m tired of Mike Rizzo wasting resources and prospects chasing his elusive golden goose of his image of a speedy leadoff-hitting defense first outfielder.

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 16 at 8:42 am

  18. KW et al: During my post-writing of the draft classes and what not, i’m more than a bit optimistic about potential CF development. Stevenson is the obvious one, but suddenly Goodwin (who played mostly CF for Syracuse this year) may be an option, plus we have Bautista and his 56SBs in AA this year pushing for a promotion (and a 40-man spot since he’s rule5 eligible), and of course we have Victor Robles who more than held his own reaching high-A this year (also playing CF).

    So that’s actually quite a bit of developed depth in-house. Taylor, Goodwin, Bautista/Stevenson, Robles; that’s your MLB backup, AAA, AA and High-A starters in CF for the most part. Reach down to Short-A and you find 2nd rounder Blake Perkins, who’s numbers aren’t that great but he’s still learning how to switch hit.

    I’m not saying that all these guys project to be MLB starters obviously; we know what we have in Taylor, and certainly several years of under performance in the high minors overshadow what Goodwin managed to do in 2016. But Stevenson has basically just hit wherever he’s gone, Bautista has game-changing speed, Robles is the best hitting prospect we have, and Perkins is a youngster who still needs a few years to grow.

    That’s not too bad!

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 16 at 8:51 am

  19. Fair enough, Todd. Good use of stats and I appreciate it.

    I suppose a return to near form plus success in CF makes him worth all the more to the team, and Rizzo is not blowing smoke.

    I’m not going to revisit the earlier debate about Bautista other than to express confidence that until he hits his ceiling, I refuse to make comparisons to other fast black guys who speak ESL.

    I’m not ready to sell low on Taylor. The Nats benefited from figuring out how to keep Dannyin house when he lost his value and I hope they do the same with Taylor, unless he is packaged in an uber superstar deal (Freeman, McCutcheon, or Trout, for example).


    11 Nov 16 at 9:08 am

  20. Also Todd, pursuant to your comment on Rizzo chasing speedy CF, the demonstrable success of Turner at leadoff makes the idea of the leadoff hitting speedy CF unneccessary with him at SS.

    If Taylor could somehow turn it around (or one of Bautista/Stevenson matriculate into the starting lineup succeed), when Robles got up here for good in 2018, the Nats would have some kind of disruptive team speed.

    One last thought about upward and lower trajectory – picking who is on the way up or down is such a risky exercise. Few players on the Nats performed close to expectations. Some (Werth, Espinosa, Ramos, Turner) overperformed. Some (Ross) underperformed.

    With that in mind, the players who graduated this year also were a bit surprising. The nats got far more mileage from Sammy Solis than we envisioned, and Wilmer Difo went from forgotten to appreciated, Goodwin from DFA bubble to promise, Severino became relevant, and Glover went from A+ to the bigs.

    Lots of depth pieces help, of course. We could just as soon be ecstatic about things like Wilmer Difo as a starter (because of injury), Marmelos developing power, Ward prompting talk of musical positions, etc. Hard to tell.


    11 Nov 16 at 9:17 am

  21. Bautista; so, i tend to focus much more on pitchers than hitters. And since i do a lot of draft stuff, i also tend not to focus on IFAs. I purposely stopped paying attention to the DSL and more or less to the GCL because of the sheer number of guys who just never go anywhere. My attitude is kind of like, “call me when they get out of Florida.”

    So I had never really looked at what Bautista has done. But when i stopped recently to look at what he’s done, I was kind of happy. Career SB record of 224 in 455 games, which is just about 1 SB every two games. More importantly, his 83% success rate is pretty amazing. Any success rate over 80% is world class (Rickey Henderson was 80% for his career). Billy Hamilton, who put up record minor league SB numbers had a lesser SB success percentage than what Bautista holds right now.

    So yeah, if he can continue to hit .280 and maybe get his OBP up from the .344 it was this year he’ll be quite a find.

    Btw, who is making the “racial” comparison of Bautista to “other black guys?” Because that’s pretty lazy narrative indeed. Am I guilty of it for comparing Bautista to Hamilton and Henderson above? As I re-look at it, they’re all non-white but I picked those guys specifically because of their one primary skill (stolen base prowness); the fact that they’re all non-wite is coincidental. When I talk about home run hitters, I pull out Ruth, Aaron, Bonds and get a cross-section. When you talk about fast ball velocity you immediately cross racial boundaries by pulling names like Snydergaard and Chapman in the same breath.

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 16 at 9:31 am

  22. Turner/speedy CF: absolutely forensicane; my off-season plan is entirely driven by the fact that Turner’s breakout year should end Rizzo’s speculative search for his speedy CF. Will it? I dunno. Rizzo has shown himself to be somewhat stubborn on some issues (see Relievers, Left handed).

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 16 at 9:33 am

  23. Switching positions, what do people think of trading for Sean Doolittle? Would you be comfortable with him at closer, and what do you see his acquisition cost? I don’t know where I come out in him, but I think he is eminently available and that’s a team Riz is familiar trading with. Both and Difo too much?


    11 Nov 16 at 10:12 am

  24. Both = Voth


    11 Nov 16 at 10:12 am

  25. You guys have lost me here. First of all, the Nats aren’t trading for Freeman. They have a 1B signed for three more years with an option, with a full no-trade. The best I can see there is someone who can split a few ABs with Zim and Werth, a Moss type, as I’ve mentioned.

    I don’t see Bautista as a MLB regular. Maybe he could be someone like Hamilton, not ruling that out, but not counting on it, either.

    Goodwin is 26. He is what he is. He (finally) had a solid year in AAA this year, probably enough to get him on a MLB roster, but not enough to indicate that he can be a starter on a contender.

    Taylor is Danny Jr.; lots of talent, way too little contact, and no apparent learning progression. I’ve seen that movie and don’t want to watch anymore of the sequel.

    The future is more Stevenson and/or Robles. Both are better all-around players than Bautista and have nearly as much speed. Stevenson leveled off after the promotion to AA this year but has bounced back in AZ and has been one of the best hitters in the fall league. He’s said to be ++ defensively. He’s never going to hit for much power.

    Robles is the wild card. To me, the big question about him is whether he’ll hit for enough power to be able to be a corner OF. People shouldn’t think of him as “Harper’s replacement,” though. Bryce hit 22 HRs in the majors at the same age Robles is now.

    You don’t have to have big bombers at every position, though. Look at the Royals of 2015. They had two guys with 22 HRs and one with 21. Those were their leaders. But they only had two guys with more than 100 Ks, at 108 and 103. They put the ball in play. The Nats had five guys in 2015 with more than 100 Ks. They’ve taken steps toward improving contact, but they need to keep moving in that direction, and moving Danny and Taylor out the door.


    11 Nov 16 at 10:31 am

  26. Todd – I was referring to Bautista = Eury Perez. This is not the first thread or site that I have seen that comparison, but considering that none of us, myself included, sees any of these folks enough to make comparisons (except perhaps Luke Erickson, Mick Reinhard, and Ryan Sullivan), it’s just not necessary.

    A few last words on Bautista. he is highly regarded as an *athlete.* People like that, to me, have a higher developmental ceiling. He is young, has stepped up a level at a time. My own personal bias is that I give a special glow to all of the 2013 GCL Nats, and he is one such alumni. A special bunch of history in an industry that values winners, because they know how to play. Difo is the first of them that we saw.


    11 Nov 16 at 10:32 am

  27. Oops, the Nats had five 100+ K guys in 2016. They also had five in 2015.


    11 Nov 16 at 10:35 am

  28. Bautista will be 24 before the start of the 2017 season. He’s not especially young.


    11 Nov 16 at 10:36 am

  29. KW – agree with a lot of what you are writing with a few points.

    Power does not make a transcendent player. It’s being a winner. In that regard, Harper of earlier years was just that. Turner was that in the regular season. Robles is a transcendent player, a best on the field type. Whether his power is 10-15-20 may prove to be less important than his overall package that includes intangibles. That’s how I was referencing him.

    The team does not need power everywhere, but they do not have the produtionn needed to advance in the playoffs. They have proved that in every year they have lost. Getting Murphy, a player who hits all pitching, helped a lot. Losing Harper, who could no longer do that this year, hurt.

    Stevenson is still learning to hit. he may not be a power source, but as he gains experience, he will have more power than Span. Not that his game will need it if he is that devastating a fielder/baseruner who can get OB. The discipline is there.


    11 Nov 16 at 10:38 am

  30. Revere is a funny player. You would not think a .300 hitter would get traded so often, but now I see why. So much weak contact. So often to the pull side. So many off balance swings where he stumbles into the 1st base batters box.

    Even when he did get hits there was something empty feeling about them. And his speed didn’t play on the field as good as it looked on the stopwatch.

    But are we keeping him? If we keep Taylor, that will let you know that the organization is too stubborn to understand this consistent offense thing. I will take Goodwin every day over Taylor until he proves to fail like Taylor has.

    Todd I am also a bit wary of your comment on Harper : “I am sure he’ll return to normal next season”

    I’m not sure of that at all, and I am very confused to what normal even is for Harper anymore. I don’t think there is any chance of re-signing him and I don’t think I even want to re-sign him. If he plays well, it will be a franchise crippling contract, and if he continues to stink he will still command far greater salary than his worth. I don’t agree with Fore’s comments to keep the kid gloves on him and his psyche. I would use him up now like we used the rental Melancon. If that means CF, i would definitely put him in CF.

    Stevenson’s skill set could probably play in the big leagues right now. He gets on base and I don’t think the power is ever coming in the minors or majors. So let’s plan on exploiting what he will give us. Robles if he stops getting hit on the wrists might be ready to add some Turner like energy to the club by 2nd half next year.

    I’m fine with saving the spots in our current holes for the young guys as they may surprise us and solve problems very cheaply. Any big offensive trades or FA signings I would key more to replacing Werth and Zimm short term or long term.

    I hope Rizzo trades for another elite starting pitcher. That and continuing to rid the roster of high K bats would probably help most long term.

    Anyone think we go after Weiters? Severino + Lobaton is pretty risky too.

    Marty C

    11 Nov 16 at 10:48 am

  31. It’s OK, after Todd’s stats post on his CF defense, I don’t agree with forensicane about Harper either. And yes, his contract is crippling for a franchise with no MASN resolution.

    Now, sign Melancon!


    11 Nov 16 at 11:08 am

  32. Marty; I guess you discount the evidence and reporting that Harper was hurt most of the year? Its pretty easy to see what he does when he’s hurt and his potential when he’s not hurt. 2012: not hurt, great season as a 19yr old rookie. 2013; missed 5 weeks but was otherwise ok; pretty good season. 2014; constantly hurt, awful season. 2015; not hurt, historic season. 2016; hurt for most of year, awful season.

    So, No i don’t think its realistic to expect a 9win season from him going forward. But I think a 6-7win season is absolutely within expectations unless his injury is degenerative.

    I’ll give you another simple example of what happens when a hitter is hurt versus not: Anthony Rendon. 6win player in 2014, hurt in 2015, and in 2016 he rebounded. Didn’t make it all the way back to 6win player, but he was valuable.

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 16 at 12:43 pm


    All sorts of juicy rumors about the Nats from Bowden’s latest column.

    Todd Boss

    11 Nov 16 at 12:44 pm

  34. Yes Todd… I am discounting evidence of injury because I saw no real evidence of it. What I have seen is 5 years of wildly inconsistent performance from bad to amazing. Since there is no report of him getting surgery this offseason, nor did he sit out extended time last year, I can’t blame his failing on injury. I believe his little rest last year was more of a mental timeout than an injury time out. I’m guess I’m the only one who’s saying the emperor has no clothes, while you choose to just make excuses for him. 2015 is the outlier in his career so far, not last year.

    But based on performance, if he was that hurt he should have been sitting out instead of playing. Or at least marginalized by batting 7th or 8th in a reality universe.

    I’m blaming it on awful mechanics until I see otherwise. But the greater point is that we wasted yet another of Harper’s cheap years as far as getting great performance out of him. They are only going to get more expensive from here, and as mentioned not financially attractive no matter how well he plays looking to free agency. So I’m just going to hope he rebounds and enjoy him while we have him if he plays well. Meanwhile I enjoy Murphy’s ab’s just as much as I’ve ever enjoyed Harpers.

    Comparing Rendon’s injury where he missed half the year to Harper’s where he missed none is not an even comparison.

    Marty C

    11 Nov 16 at 8:02 pm

  35. I’m really getting tired on national pundits trading Giolito and/or Lopez for us. The latest has Lopez and Taylor for ONE YEAR of Wade Davis. Six years of Lopez for one of Davis would be GM malpractice.

    Also, I’m tired of reading about everyone making Lopez a reliever. He’s a starter until proven otherwise. He’s got the 3-4 pitches to be a starter.

    I think the CF prospects we’ve discussed are why the Nats don’t want to pay a big price for a longer-term guy like Eaton or an overpriced guy like Blackmon. By that way of thinking, Cain might be more of a target. But they don’t want to give up too much. A one- or two-year guy is going to have to come for guys like Gio, Danny, or Taylor, not one of the top prospects.

    But I’ve been wrong before . . .


    11 Nov 16 at 9:37 pm

  36. OK, here’s the laugh line of the morning: the Dodgers cited “financial flexibility” as one of the reasons they traded Kendrick. Yep, the team with the $250M payroll actually claimed “financial flexibility.”

    Nats re-sign Heisey. That’s not too surprising, although other than the homers, he didn’t make a lot of contact. I wouldn’t think that bodes well for Taylor, a second RH OF bench bat. A Heisey/Goodwin combo would seem more likely.


    12 Nov 16 at 7:23 am

  37. Marty, I have no idea what the Nats should do at catcher. Severino had an OPS of .653 at Syracuse last year. It would be unreasonable to expect him to hit better in MLB than AAA. Jason Castro’s BAs for the last three years have been .210, .211, and .222 . . . yet he may get 3/30. Seve can match that. For more the 3/45 range, you can take a chance on Wieters and his rebuilt shoulder, or trade for McCann, who is older and still owed 3/49 (conflicting reports on whether the Yanks would eat some of that). I’m not liking any of those options.

    I think it’s time for the Stephen Vogt trade that I’ve been proposing for years. He can platoon with Seve, and with Zim at 1B at times if need be. Even though he just turned 32, he’s controlled for three more years, just reaching his first arb year. Voth, Mapes, and Loby for Vogt.


    12 Nov 16 at 7:51 am

  38. KW: agree with your analysis of the Heisey/Goodwin/Taylor dynamic. Definitely not a surprising re-sign. I’d also love to see Drew back under similar thoughts.

    Todd Boss

    13 Nov 16 at 8:43 am

  39. I keep trying to think of out-of-the-box ideas that help for multiple years, and that usually involves trading from strength to shore up weakness. So I thought that, weighing everything, Joe Ross is the player with the most value around the league that the Nats could afford to lose. Proven performer at big league level; 5 years of control left injury concerns, albeit mild (imo).

    Joe Ross for Jackie Bradley?
    Joe Ross for Clint Frazier?

    Would either of those represent fair trade value (if you think that a middling prospect on either side needs to be thrown in, assume it works). Would you do it? Would the other team?


    13 Nov 16 at 8:57 am

  40. Drew: he’s reached the stage in his career where he has a big decision. Is he satisfied with the role and the salary he had last year? Or does he feel like this is his last chance to cash in, even if it means taking the bucks from a mediocre team that needs him to play every day? If Drew is willing to come back at a reasonable rate, then the Nats have to decide whether to believe his ’16 stats, or fear the ones from ’15 and particularly ’14. They also have to decide if Difo can do most of the same for a fraction of the price. I guess I’d like to have Drew back, but probably not for more than 2/8-10 at most.


    13 Nov 16 at 7:42 pm

  41. Wally, my take would be that the Bosox think JBJ is worth significantly more than Ross, and likely more than the Nats would want to trade. I also think that the Nats have someone in Robles they think can be as productive as Bradley in 2-3 years. Time will tell.

    On the flip side, I think Ross would be an overpay for Frazier, at least as he stands now.


    13 Nov 16 at 7:49 pm

  42. I would be VERY hesitant to re-sign Drew. He had a decent season as a pinch-hitter, but then had a nasty case of vertigo. He was a highly-paid pinch hitter last year, and he may even want more next year. When he played more frequently the previous three seasons, he was awful. I’m inclined to offer him a contract at less than last year and if he declines, so be it.

    Andrew R

    13 Nov 16 at 10:18 pm

  43. I like JBJ a lot, but after the all-star break his line was .233/.315/.412… I think Ross is just about fair-value for JBJ and think the Sox would strongly consider the trade since they have Benintendi ready to replace him and because they desperately need pitchers.

    Andrew R

    13 Nov 16 at 10:22 pm

  44. I also don’t particularly want to trade Ross, but that’s another story.

    Here are the two questions with Ross: 1) What’s the story with the shoulder? Is he good to go, or could this be a recurring thing? 2) Has he reached his ceiling? Is he pretty much what we saw last year, a very competent #3 or 4 starter, or is he going to continue to improve? It’s hard to discount how effective he has been at the MLB level almost from the beginning, particularly when you compare with the struggles that Giolito and Lopez have experienced.


    14 Nov 16 at 8:12 am

  45. I agree on Ross but my thinking was that you have to trade value to get value, and with Stras, Max and Roark under control for several years, you could afford the loss if you got a comparably controlled position player at an area of need.

    I don’t see Lopez or Giolito having the same value right now.


    14 Nov 16 at 8:59 am

  46. I honestly don’t know who would have the most trade value among Ross, Giolito, or Lopez. Before the latter two came up, I would have said Giolito. I still might give him the nod, with a bit of the bloom now off the rose. Some teams will value him more highly than others. Lopez’s value will be tied to whether teams believe he can remain a starter.

    Meanwhile, Ross has established himself an effective MLB starter. Some teams may value that track record over “potential.”

    As for me, I wouldn’t be eager to trade any of them unless it was part of an opportunity to acquire a star of higher magnitude.


    14 Nov 16 at 11:18 am

  47. Most Trade value: Ross, Giolito and then Lopez. Ross may be hurt but he’s proven he can succeed at a #3 starter level already. Giolito gets the nod over Lopez based less on results, more on hype right now.

    None would fetch that much right now thanks to the events of 2016. Which is why we’d be selling low by trading any of them right now honestly.

    Todd Boss

    14 Nov 16 at 1:46 pm

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