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Nats Winter Meetings Preview

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Winter Meetings 2016

Winter Meetings 2016 … here in DC!

As requested from Dr. Cane in the comments, lets chat about what we may see transpire at the upcoming Winter Meetings.  This year’s Winter meetings are a week from now, running from Sunday 12/4/16 to 12/8/16 at the Gaylord Hotel in the National Harbor.  I’m halfway curious to drive over there to witness the “scene” in the lobby/hotel bar, having read about/listened to multiple podcasts over the years describing how these meetings work.  On the other hand, I’m sure I wouldn’t appreciate it if some nerd was hanging around my office while I was trying to get work done, so maybe not :-)

In this space we’ve talked about a couple of items related to what we may see transpire in DC in the next week:

We still have some significant issues to address on the roster.  How many will we see resolved at these meetings?  Here’s some of the rumors (two good links: mlbtraderumors.com FA predictions and BleacherReports predictions)  I’ve been hearing about as they relate to the obvious holes we have to fill; apparently the Nats and Mike Rizzo are expected to be “aggressive” this winter.  I’ll take them position by position:

Center Field/Outfield

  • One rumor has the Nats moving Bryce Harper to center and buying one of the big corner OF bats on the market.  Jose Bautista or Brandon Moss.  Josh Reddick was an early name but he got snapped up quickly.  Carlos Gomez could be an interesting name.
  • I’ve read that the team will splash out cash for Yoenis Cespedes and really “go for it” during the Harper window.
  • Mark Zuckerman recently reported that Ben Revere basically played with a bum shoulder the whole season and the team may very well tender him and go into 2017 with him as the starter.
  • I’ve heard the Nats associated with Andrew McCutchen, who may actually not be a good CF any longer, but any trade for him may be tough to do since he struggled so badly in 2016.
  • Also heard that the team could be involved in trade for someone like J.D. Martinez if the Tigers attempt to re-tool their roster.
  • My Take: i’m on the “move Bryce to CF” and acquire a corner bat.  I’d be happy with any of these names as a way to bolster the offense.

Shortstop

  • All of these CF moves assume Trea Turner returns to Short and Danny Espinosa either becomes a trade candidate or assumes the Stephen Drew utility infielder role.
  • I fully support Turner back to SS; i just don’t understand those that want to keep him in Center when he’s a natural short stop and, frankly, its a heck of a lot easier to find a CF than a SS.
  • My Take: I’m on the “we should trade Espinosa” boat if he’s not the starter, if only for the rumors we read about him as a clubhouse presence when he’s not playing.

Closer

  • There’s three major closers on the market and more than three teams chasing them.  Nats not expected to be a massive overpay … but you never know.  One rumor has them on Aroldis Chapman, banking on him retaining his velocity.
  • Another rumor has the Nats being more sensible and rolling the dice on a former closer like Greg Holland and then buying up a middle reliever (someone like a Brad Ziegler) to supplement the loss of several arms from this year’s bullpen.
  • But there’s all sorts of middle relief arms out there.  Joe Blanton may get 8 figures.  Who knew.
  • My Take: I like the Holland + Ziegler/Blanton route to add to our existing Kelley/Treinen/Glover trio, then add in the two lefties Solis/Perez and you have your bullpen.  Kelley could be the closer if Holland can’t do it and that’d still give the team three really good 8th/9th inning arms.  Replace Glover with a long-man if you want, or consider that both Perez and Blanton are former starters who could suck up innings, or be original and forgoe the darn long-man and just depend on call ups if you get a ton of innings thrown by the bullpen over a short period of time.

Catcher

  • Matt Weiters to the Nats makes a lot of sense; Scott Boras client, no draft pick compensation this year.
  • The team has already missed out on a couple of catchers who have gone off the board early.
  • They may be looking a some trade targets.
  • Clearly they’re not going to go into 2017 with just Jose Lobaton and Severino.
  • Wilson Ramos seems more and more likely to be gone, perhaps a remnant of the insulting pre-injury offer they gave him, perhaps just a reality of the market for his services coming off a 2nd major knee injury.  We love the Buffalo, but he may be better suited for an AL team that can DH him every once in a while, and one that can survive until July when he’s ready to go.
  • My Take: I have no idea what they’ll do.  But they have to do something.

I don’t really think the team needs or seeks any upgrades elsewhere, but yet we still hear weird rumors every once in a while.

  • Chris Sale acquisition via trade; don’t really understand the need; yes that’d give the team three “Aces” at the top but at what cost if it requires them to gut the farm system?
  • Moves to replace Werth or Zimmerman just seem silly to consider, given the payroll implications of having those two clubhouse leader/10-and-5 guys suddenly be bench bats.  I don’t see this team, this manager or this executive group knee capping franchise defining players like that, especially when they’re still relatively serviceable.   Werth was a 1.1 win player last year with a WRC+ figure north of 100.  Zimmerman was worth negative fWAR of course, but he was hurt most of the season, so its kind of hard to gauge what he’ll do in 2017.  He’s only 32 after all, and is under contract for a while longer.

Its impossible to predict trades that come out of the blue, but it is worth noting that the Nats have some surpluses of talent that they can trade from:

  • I count nine starters on the 40-man roster, which means that several could be trade bait.  We’ve heard rumors about Giolito, Lopez, Voth, Cole, Fedde and Gonzalez all getting packed up to move out.  And that leaves out some lesser-renounded but still promising arms lower down in the system (Dunning of course, but also the likes of Avila, Baez, Watson, etc).
  • There’s now TEN (10) infielders on the 40-man; I see a couple of DFAs/trades (Espinosa of course, and the loser of Skole/Robinson perhaps), and its hard to see a pathway for others (where does Marmolejos play for example?), but that’s a lot of infielders for 4 starting spots and and at most six 25-man jobs.
  • We have more than a few rising quality outfielders, headed by Robles and new 40-man member Bautista, but also including the likes of Stevenson, Agustin, Wiseman, Perkins and Banks.

What do you guys see happening?

 

107 Responses to 'Nats Winter Meetings Preview'

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  1. I’ll start by repeating my offseason mantra: “first do no harm.” The Nats won 95 games, and divisional foes appear to be weakened.

    Second, I must say that I’m perplexed by stories in the national media (much more so than local) of expectations of the Nats being major players this offseason, with big trades and expensive FA signings. Really? Did the MASN deal get settled, with treble damages? Did the Lerners agree to a $200M payroll? I must have missed those revelations.

    The buzz seems to be increasing about the Nats and Chapman, although reports have them bidding against the Yankees. I wouldn’t have a problem with the Nats spending on one of the big-three closers.

    Bautista would be a total wasted Dan Snyder-type signing. Don’t go there. With Cespedes, I just don’t see how he fits. He’s a left fielder. He doesn’t want to play CF or even RF and doesn’t do either of them well. Plus the money it would take to sign him would close whatever door there still might be to keeping Bryce.

    I wouldn’t hate Fowler to fill the CF spot. Is he the best option? I don’t know. All I know is that I really want Espinosa out of the equation. I think even playing Revere in CF (with Trea) at SS would be an improvement over Danny. But I do think the Nats will do something to pick up an OF or SS. (I’ve made my argument for trading for Simmons and won’t repeat it.)

    Catcher? I’m stumped there as well. Weiters seems like a money pit waiting to happen. I’ve been pitching a trade for Vogt for three years. He’s said not to be much of a framer, though.

    We’ll see. Is it expected of the host team of the Winter Meetings to make at least one big deal?

    KW

    28 Nov 16 at 12:51 pm

  2. OH yeah forgot about the Fowler FA signing rumor. But yeah he’s out there; seems more likely to go back to Chicago or to StL.

    Todd Boss

    28 Nov 16 at 1:19 pm

  3. One can anticipate that in the next CBA, the owners will do away with draft choice penalty compensation.

    Since I cannot see the Nats paying Harper 600m or more, I cannot help but wonder whether the Nats would trade him now, when the return can be obscene. I know what I am suggesting is sacrilege to the thinking that you don not break up a team that is close to a championship. I get it.

    But they can bring back incredible (if ultimately more affordable) talent in return (people like Sale, Miguel Cabrera, Trout, a top catcher, move a contract like Zimmerman) and get creative in three or four team megadealing. Even with his 2016, Harper retains fanny-in-the-seat hypeable trade value.

    I just don’t see the Nats signing Harper to a deal of that magnitude. Especially after the Strasburg-Ramos-Heyward-J Zimmermann-J Upton-G Stanton circumstances. They may not have the balls to do it, but that would certainly be “aggressive.”

    The bigger issue is that IF they aren;t going to sign him, it cannot be Bryce’s team. And his personna is outsized. You cannot make him the heart of your team and the FOF if he is not going to stick around. and the team needs transition; RZimm is done (even if they keep him), Werth is in his last year, Rendon does not have the personality, Murphy is a candidate, as is Turner, of course.

    I like that Rizzo plays the long game of roster development. This is a decision worth debating here, while we wait for real rumors to materialize.

    So shoot it down if you wish. But I’m curious whether anyone here indulges the curiosity.

    forensicane

    28 Nov 16 at 2:28 pm

  4. Trading Harper has the same issues as the Angels face with trading Trout: how do you possibly get equal value? And Trout is on a 9-figure deal; Harper is a MVP quality player on arbitration salary; his value literally cannot be measured. If WAR is $8-9M on the open market, then how do you value a player who is capable of a 9-10 win season? Also, trading harper has the same issues the Pirates face with trading McCutchen; he’s coming off a down year, so you’d be “trading low.”

    In the end, I just don’t see it. The Nats strategy should be win now while they have him, then attempt to regroup once he’s gone. Max out payroll and make a run at things, make sure you’re in the playoffs, make sure you are in a position to succeed in both regular and post-season while we have Harper, then deal with tomorrow, tomorrow.

    Todd Boss

    28 Nov 16 at 2:44 pm

  5. Well, the Pirates have considered trading McCutcheon, and they are a high grade organization.

    I understand the WAR statistical argument. But in the end, it is just a statistic, and the Nats are one injury away from nothing with any one player.

    As for trading low, I don’t see it as “low” as others, particularly for a franchise that thinks they can sign him long term.

    In my gut, I’ve always thought the runs at Heyward-Cespedes-Upton were all meant to embed a post-Harper star at a corner OF position, just as Scherzer was signed a year ahead of Zimmerman’s departure because he was available. Rizzo is not a regroup kind of guy.

    I trust Rizzo to identify a talent who has it in him to get to a higher level. Someone who sees Josh Donaldson when he is great and sees him able to become a megastar. Harper could bring back a controllable piece of that nature and more, and so yes, I think that is how you replace.

    You may be right. But I still think it can be done with the right creativity.

    forensicane

    28 Nov 16 at 2:58 pm

  6. The Pirates aren’t exactly in the same position we are. Payroll limited, small market team entirely dependent on home grown players, no real clear path to the playoffs right now and coming off a season where they finished 25 games out of first and in a market where they’re always going to get outspent by at least 2 of their divisional rivals. If Pirates finished 95-67 last year they’d be stupid to consider trading their marquee player considering the salary he’s on.

    Yes of course in the end you listen on every trade offer. I was just saying any reasonable trade for Harper is out considering his injury-riddled 2016.

    Todd Boss

    28 Nov 16 at 3:14 pm

  7. Here are my offseason objectives (in descending order of importance):

    1) Move Trea to SS, get an outfielder that can hit, and mercifully end Danny’s Nats career as an everyday player.

    2) Stay out of closer bidding wars. Kelley, Treinen, Solis, and Glover could make for a formidable back end of the bullpen (with Lopez a possible addition if necessary). The Nats were in first place in 2016 by a comfortable margin despite having a mediocre (at best) closer through the end of July. An upgrade can be had later in the year if it’s necessary. Four-plus years and 80-plus million dollars is too much for a relief pitcher, period. That money is better allocated somewhere else.

    3) Move Bryce to CF, broadening the pool of outfielders that can hit whom you might acquire.

    Derek

    28 Nov 16 at 4:11 pm

  8. Derek: Agree, Agree and Agree. Great strategy for me.

    Todd Boss

    28 Nov 16 at 4:33 pm

  9. I’d be open to trading Harper if the price was right. I don’t think the Nats will be, though. The moral hazard theory of ‘the risk of looking too bad if they trade him, and he explodes for two more 10 WAR Seasons, outweighs the possible upside of the trade’. Might not even matter who they get back, that would be a trade that would live in infamy and I just don’t see an executive or ownership group taking that risk. Maybe next year, when they only have 1 year left? Maybe. But if they did, I think they would get a boatload for him, even after last season.

    On what they will do, I have no idea.

    As for what they should do, I’d like to see them sell some prospect depth for a closer like Colome from Tampa, and a quality OF or SS (I am willing to keep Turner in CF if they can get a good SS). KW mentioned Simmons, whom I like. I’d even consider Cosart because I assume the price would be low. Would Voth get that done? Here is an out of the box suggestion: sign Turner, move Rendon to 2b and Murphy to LF (werth to RF). Defense takes a big hit but that would be a very deep line up. Slug away.

    If they go the OF route, we’ve mentioned names that I still like, such as Eaton, Pollock, even JBJ. I’d say Ross would be the main piece in those trades.

    Lastly, thinking out of the box for C, I’d like to see a trade here too for a young guy who they’ll have for a while. Is roberto Perez or Yan Gomes available? Would you take a flyer on Blake Swihart?

    Wally

    28 Nov 16 at 9:39 pm

  10. Todd… I missed the part where was Zimmerman was hurt for most of the season. I think the only thing hurt was his feelings. His little layoff seemed more like a forced timeout to try to get his act together.

    I agree it’s hard to bench your declining stars making $20 million a year. But i certainly don’t consider it “capping” them as long as those fat paychecks keep clearing at the bank. Ryan Howard has been similarly marginalized and he doesn’t seem too worried about it.

    I’m hoping like heck that Zimm turns it around. Werth I’m not worried about his feelings since he’s a short timer and kind of a jackass. Team needs to have the balls to bench guys like Cubs did Heyward if they are stinking it up. Drew might be a good insurance policy to cover for Zimm as could move Murphy to 1b if Zimm implodes.

    If I’m going to spend big money or prospects, I would go with an A+ bat or a A+ arm like Sale. I would rather play a rookie than spend 7-12 million on the decliners like Weiters or medium good type bats like Fowler. Cespedes I don’t like just for personality reasons. Not good optics when he is playing golf most game days.

    Marty C

    28 Nov 16 at 9:59 pm

  11. There is no deal I can envision that would make Robles expendable. He is too important to the team and will be a team leader and charismatic property when he hits the bigs to stay in 2018. That, of course, is the year after Werth.

    I wonder to what degree the Nats are thinking about giving Severino a shot, especially if they can bring back Ramos at lower risk. Severino brought a lot to the table while he was up with the Nats. If they do not have plans for him, surely there is a lot of trade interest in him from other teams, perhaps moreso if the perception is that the Nats did not know what they had in Sandy Leon. I would rather Severino play rather than Wieters. And I am not turned on by Fowler either.

    If prospects are to be dealt, one of three (Giolito, Lopez, and Fedde) starters could be part of a deal for a premium chip, and I mean premium. All three will be arguably ready to contribute at the ML level in 2017, with six plus years of control. It’s a fruitless decision to trade any of them, in my opinion, unless there is a top quality and controllable talent coming back. Giolito is still highly thought of, and Fedde may be undervalued right now relative to where he will be a year from now.

    As a long suffering Expos fan, I lived through the Bartolo Colon and Mark Langston trades. The idea of trading top prospects reminds some of the Gio Gonzalez deal, but all I can think of is Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Randy Johnson. Never again, please! Trading prospects? OK. Trading top prospects for shortish tenure (2 year) players? Let other teams do that.

    As for Harper, the reasonable offer would come from a GM wanting to make a splash with a fan base, like Preller in 2016. Rizzo got whom he wanted there. Or, a team not afraid to spend that brings in marquee talent that feels they could potentially lock him up, like the Giants or the Rangers. Or one that needs to go to another level and has certain talent (Freddie Freeman) to dangle. If a team can overpay for Shelby Miller, they can overpay for Bryce. And of course, if the deal isn’t there, it isn’t there. But unless MASN settles and the Nats win the WS for the next two years, I’m afraid he is gone.

    Todd, your Pirates point is well taken, but the Pirates underperformed this year. Teams will overpay for “marketable” players and Harper is that. Injuries are as they are but it’s not like he put up Jay Bruce numbers. He is still Bryce Harper.

    forensicane

    29 Nov 16 at 3:49 am

  12. We kicked around the Harper trade idea here about six weeks ago. I even tried to come up with some scenarios, but none seemed to make sense for either team, particularly with Bryce coming off a “down” year. I speculated on deals like Seager/Urias or Sale/Eaton/Robertson. I don’t think Simmons/Calhoun from the Angels would be enough. Maybe you could trade Bryce/Gio/Danny/Giolito for Trout . . . But no, in the real world, I don’t see anything there that makes sense.

    Derek’s point about closing in-house and Fore’s about giving Severino a chance point to a conundrum for the Nats: they have potential solutions in the system for closer, CF, and C who are close. That makes it hard to overpay for a short-term solution for any of those slots, particularly ones that might be 4- or 5-year deals. But how close are they, and how much faith should we put in the quality of Glover, Stevenson/Robles, and Severino? Do the Nats risk a year of the “window” by relying on internal transition? They have some other closer options and sort of a CF bridge with Revere/Taylor/Goodwin, but there’s no fallback at C if Sevy can’t make contact.

    Wally touched on another thing: my favorite bat in the FA pool is Justin Turner, but I just don’t see how the Nats can make him fit in the lineup. I’d rather spend on a gamer like Turner than a prima donna like Cespedes.

    Marty, the Zim thing is why I keep proposing someone like Brandon Moss or Logan Morrison, a 1B/LF type who you can claim is “platooning” with Zim or Werth, depending on who is struggling more. I’m not thrilled by either of those options, but I think either would be a more credible alt-starter than CRob . . . or your boy Skole.

    KW

    29 Nov 16 at 8:14 am

  13. MartyC; Here’s a link to the Nats transaction list from 2016 and here’s Zimmerman’s 2016 game log. He went on the D/L 7/9, came back off, then missed another three weeks to open August. But the evidence of his injury could be seen all the way back to June.

    He had a rib strain, in case you don’t remember. Can you imagine being a baseball player fighting through a rib strain? can you imagine trying to be a middle of the order power hitter, turning on inside mid 90s fastballs when every time you swing it feels like you’ve got a knife in your back? I can tell you because i did precisely this one season; i had a massive bruise from a pulled muscle in my back and I couldn’t play for weeks.

    Here’s the thing on athletes; it isn’t as if they get injured monday, then go on the D/L tuesday and then magically 15 days later t hey’re fine. No; generally these guys injure them selves at some point, try to play through it, get treatment, maybe take a few days off (see the beginning of June when Zimmerman didn’t play for 6 days but didn’t go on the D/L), then maybe take a small D/L trip, come back as soon as they can because they have a sense of urgency since they’re getting paid many millions of dollars to play, not to sit in the clubhouse playing cards, sometimes re-aggravate injuries, etc etc.

    Its just like your attitude on Harper’s 2016. Everyone who professional observes the team agrees that he clearly had a shoulder injury, played through it to the detriment of his stats and performance, but stayed on the field. I don’t understand why you don’t account for injuries when players don’t perform well. The year that Rendon had the hamate bone removed? His power disappeared, as everyone predicted it would. The year that Werth broke his wrist? He came back and was basically a slap hitter because it takes months of inactivity and rest to return 100%.

    Todd Boss

    29 Nov 16 at 8:54 am

  14. Bartolo Colon trade; I think its worth remembering the context of that trade; the caretaker GM thought the team was getting contracted. Of course that was an awful trade. Less defensible might be a trade like the Mark Teixeira trade (Teixera to Atlanta for Beau Jones, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Look at that list of players again; that was what Atlanta traded for exactly ONE season of Teixeira’s services.

    Todd Boss

    29 Nov 16 at 8:59 am

  15. KW, Robles is a top level CF prospect who’s very valuable, but he’s 19 and spent less than half the year at high-A. He’s not “close” under any reasonable definition of the word. He probably starts the year back at Potomac, no? And Stevenson may be closer but I doubt the Nats consider him an everyday-caliber player at this point. Maybe if he has a great 2017 in AA/AAA.

    The fact of the matter is that, if Turner moves to SS, there is going to be one OF spot open in 2017 and one open in 2018 (and likely to be one open in 2019 if Harper leaves). Signing Cespedes would make a lot of sense – he helps the club in 2017 and is a built in Werth replacement. I have some reservations about his attitude and his approach at the plate, but he’s an excellent hitter and plays good defense in a corner spot.

    The reason I focus on OF is that upgrades are available. Even if Cespedes costs too much, he’s appreciably better than the plausible in-house alternatives – Revere, Michael A, Goodwin. Another place to upgrade is catcher, but I don’t have nearly the same confidence that Wieters will hit better than Severino next year. It’s much easier to suffer through Severino’s empty .260 (with no walks) if Danny’s bat in the lineup has been replaced by Cespedes.

    The same logic applies with less force (and also less $) to Fowler.

    Derek

    29 Nov 16 at 9:58 am

  16. Boz made the point in his chat a couple of weeks ago that if the Nats do choose to roll with Severino, Danny HAS to go (or be consigned to the bench). The Nats might be able to afford one empty bat before the pitcher, not two. I completely agree there.

    Stevenson struggled after promotion to AA this year but really dominated in the AZ Fall League, posting Trea-like numbers. Yes, he’s definitely “closer” than Robles. Both from seeing Robles once and from Luke Erickson’s comments, Robles still needs a fair amount of refinement on the bases and in the field. His bat will play, though; he made solid contact in every AB when I saw him. He’ll be at Harrisburg at some point in ’17, perhaps with a Sept. cameo on South Capitol. I could see Stevenson up by midseason, but it would be a stretch to project him breaking camp with the big club.

    I don’t hate the idea of getting an OF. I just don’t see a lot of good fits. I have no interest in seeing the Desi whiff show for four more years. Cespedes will want a huge contract for five years, really shouldn’t play anywhere but LF, likely won’t age well, and probably will rub some folks the wrong way. (Although Murph could give them the clubhouse scoop.) I don’t know how good, particularly in CF, Fowler will be after a couple of years. Gomez seems like a real roll of the dice, will come with a lot of Ks attached, and will probably want three years. Bautista is an aging slugger clearly on his downward descent.

    That takes care of all the FAs. I still like the odds of the gamble on Cutch more than most, but only if he comes at a reasonable price (no Robles, Giolito, or Lopez). Eaton and Gardner haven’t been playing much CF recently, and the price for five years of Eaton would be high. Blackmon had a career year and one would suspect he would already have a new address if the asking price weren’t too high. There haven’t been many rumors about him this offseason that I’ve seen. I could get excited about Pollack, but he hasn’t been mentioned much, and the price would have to be right coming off major injury.

    Maybe I’m a picky Black Friday shopper, but none of those guys strike me as the perfect combination of good deal/good fit. Don’t get me wrong, I DO think the Nats NEED to upgrade on Danny by adding an OF or SS. I’m just not excited about the options.

    KW

    29 Nov 16 at 10:59 am

  17. I should add that I’m still not convinced that Stevenson is an MLB starter, though. So no, I’m not saying that the big club should count on him too heavily.

    KW

    29 Nov 16 at 11:00 am

  18. The Nats may also be apt to do the unorthodox, and some of their moves noted above that did not come to fruition did reflect that kind of team building. They almost signed Mike Leake, as well.

    So we also have to be prepared for the possibility that they entertain someone who is not considered top tier yet has it in him to be — think Daniel Murphy.

    with that said, I am keeping my eye on Carlos Gomez, Brad Zeigler, Boone Logan, Greg Holland, Steve Pearce, and a few more heralded.

    forensicane

    29 Nov 16 at 12:24 pm

  19. Cespedes re-signing with the Mets, for “only” four years, but for $110M. That just changed the landscape of the OF market.

    KW

    29 Nov 16 at 2:22 pm

  20. A cynical thought on Stevenson. Lets play a game:
    – Batter A: .341/.373/.453 with a .361 Babip, 5 homers, 7 SBs in 232 high-A at-bats.
    – Batter B: .304/.359/.418 with a .358 babip, 1 homer, 27 SBs in 273 high-A at-bats.

    Same age. Same draft pedigree (i.e., both coll jr draftees from big-time baseball schools). Which batter is “better?” The OBP is basically the same (the difference between .359 and .373 on base percentage is four additional times reached over a half a season). One batter hits for a bit of power and a higher average while the other has a ton more speed with nearly the same OBP. As a differentiator, one of these players also plays a premium defensive position (CF) while the other plays a position that is not (2B).

    In case you couldn’t guess, Batter A is Max Schrock’s line this year while Batter B is Stevenson.

    Todd Boss

    29 Nov 16 at 3:46 pm

  21. Cespedes signing surprised the heck out of me.

    Todd Boss

    29 Nov 16 at 3:47 pm

  22. Cubs sign Jay, so Fowler’s market just contracted. The Cards need a CF, though.

    KW

    29 Nov 16 at 8:18 pm

  23. I didn’t want Cespedes for the Nats, but I would have preferred him out of the division. Oh well, the Mets now have hamstrung their finances with his deal and the Walker QO acceptance. I don’t think Cespedes will age well, and he’s worn out his welcome everywhere else pretty quickly.

    Do the Nats now get in the Fowler picture? I can’t get too excited about paying for an aging CF, but he played very well defensively in CF last year. I would be fine with having him for two years, but he’s going to want three.

    Stevenson: Was what he did in AZ a fluke of the western air, or a sign of progress? Here’s Callis’s take:

    http://m.mlb.com/news/article/209797098/the-next-big-leaguers-from-afl-to-mlb/

    KW

    30 Nov 16 at 8:01 am

  24. Fowler->Cardinals was always the leading rumor. Jay is an interesting signing for Cubs; this means they’re committing to Schwarber in LF, Jay in CF, Heyward in RF. That means no room in the inn for either Soler OR Almora, both of whom start for a lotta teams in this league. I sense a trade. Cubs just non-tendered their 5th starter and right now they’re set to head into 2017 without a real 5th starter option. Almora is a CF but light hitting; Soler has the potential to be a beast.

    Trade: Gio Gonzalez for Jorge Soler straight up, Soler plays RF for us, we shift Harper to CF. Would you make this trade? Might not be enough from Nats->Cubs though given Soler’s ridiculously cheap contract. We may need to throw in another player, maybe someone like Fedde.

    Todd Boss

    30 Nov 16 at 9:21 am

  25. Stuff I saw thought Jay would platoon with Almora in CF. Eight mil seems steep for a platoon guy, but considering what they’re paying the platoon guy in RF . . .

    I do think the Cubs are a bit weaker with Jay/Almora instead of Fowler, which is always a good thing!

    Soler strikes out too much for my taste and probably would cost too much in trade terms for a guy who hasn’t produced a lot of power. Can’t see the Cubs being too eager to trade with the team that was #2 in the NL in wins, either.

    On the other end of the wins spectrum, the Reds are said to be floating Billy Hamilton. I wouldn’t think he would require a top-prospect package. At the same time, I’m not sure he’d give the Nats that much more other what they could get from Revere/Stevenson.

    The Nats have to make the tender decision on Revere by Friday. A straight non-tender would seem like a signal that they plan to actively seek another OF.

    KW

    30 Nov 16 at 9:41 am

  26. I’d gladly bet on Soler’s upside.

    Tendering Revere for $6+MM would be one of Rizzo’s dumber moves and I cannot see it happening. There is no meaningful difference between Revere, MAT, Goodwin or MdD, except that one makes $5+MM more than the others. Let Rizzo find a guy like Soler, Ozuna, Fowler, etc and then let MAT and Goodwin battle for the 4th spot until Stevenson or Robles arrives.

    Andrew R

    30 Nov 16 at 12:20 pm

  27. I don’t think they tender Revere at the expected arb price. I could see them signing him for the year for half that, though. He has to know that he wouldn’t have much leverage after his awful 2016 . . . although Jay did just get $8M.

    I want MAT on the same bus out of town as Danny. There’s no contact and no sign of adjustment with either one of them.

    I honestly don’t know how Goodwin fits in the picture. After two years of not being good (in part due to injury), he had dropped off the radar. Is there a chance that he could still be a potential starter? I think he’s definitely in the bench conversation.

    I’ve been looking at the projected prices/years for Fowler and have pretty much talked myself out of that option. I can’t see the Nats wanting him for four years, or for $70-80M. (But I can’t see the Cards wanting him for that price, either.)

    So let’s trade for Simmons or Cozart and keep Trea in CF. I can’t find a good OF option.

    KW

    30 Nov 16 at 12:45 pm

  28. Or give up nothing and re-sign Drew as the everyday SS. I wouldn’t love it, but I’d hate it a lot less than giving Fowler close to $20M per or watching Bautista fall apart.

    KW

    30 Nov 16 at 12:53 pm

  29. Oooooooor put Turner in Short, since you know he’s a SHORTSTOP. And put a perfectly capable 24-yr old Harper with good speed and a great arm in Center where he belongs. Now your problem isn’t with two of the harder positions to fill (SS, CF) but with one of the easiest positions to fill (corner OF).

    Todd Boss

    30 Nov 16 at 2:22 pm

  30. I’ve never had a problem with Bryce in CF, but then my name’s not Rizzo!

    I don’t like the price/age profiles of the corner OFs on the market, though. Don’t get me wrong, a Bautista-like bat would look great in the middle of the Nat lineup, but not a 2016-Bautista bat. The Cutch-Nats rumor seems to be alive again, for whatever that’s worth.

    KW

    30 Nov 16 at 2:52 pm

  31. Unless they feel confident that they will acquire an acceptable SS or OF, I would tender a contract to Revere. $6m means that he needs to be worth about .75 WAR which I think he beats handily if he gets 400 PAs. I think last year’s performance was injury related and I see him as substantially better than MaT or Goodwin.

    I don’t think he fits the profile for such a huge decline in 1 year at his age. So I think it’s all injury.

    Wally

    30 Nov 16 at 3:09 pm

  32. Wally; you lay out the argument well for keeping Revere. He only sucked in 2016; he was perfectly fine in 2015 and in the years prior to that. If the team says, “well he played through injury so that explains why he was so bad in 2016” they may very well tender him and negotiate a negligible raise but perhaps some performance incentives and go into 2016 with him in CF.

    That is of course if you believe he was injured. Or if you believe that a player can be nursing an injury AND still be playing. It is noted that Revere’s injury was an oblique sprain, and by his own admission he ended up altering his mechanics to work around the injury. Sounds familiar….

    Todd Boss

    30 Nov 16 at 3:19 pm

  33. Well, to take it even one step further, he’s 28, had 4 straight seasons of BABIPs between .325-.344, and dropped to .234 last year. Usually a good base runner, but that was down too. Screams injury to me.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think he is a flawed player and best in a platoon probably – never a good fielder and no power – and so I hope they find someone better. But for $6m, he easily has value and is clearly better than internal alternatives. I’d tender him and trade him if I find someone better.

    In the absence of a clear upgrade, I’d keep both him and Espy and let ST decide which one starts, and where Turner plays. Not great, but acceptable.

    Wally

    30 Nov 16 at 7:20 pm

  34. Calling Dr. Boss…

    Todd… what was Harper’s injury the other 3 out of 4 years he wasn’t elite?

    Revere was obviously injured. I’d like to see Harpers swing speed this year compared to last as he looked like he was ripping it to me. Hard to hit the ball though when your right foot is in the 1b dugout. Pretty sure his right foot wasn’t injured.

    I’m still hoping for Sale. After all, Zimm, Harper, Espi, Revere, Taylor, Robinson, were horrid, Werth was average at best and we still crushed the division. So I guess pitching is the most important thing. Get Sale and fill the other spots with our young stock. They can’t perform much worse than the above mentioned.

    Marty C

    30 Nov 16 at 7:24 pm

  35. I’m surprised there is no discussion re McCutchen and who would be a good swap. Trades or even a three team swap that brings back Sale and McCutchen would certainly be “aggressive.” I suppose that in the next week, we will learn about how much the Nats truly value their crown jewels.

    I don’t buy into the “Nats don’t trade anyone of value” talk. We gloated about the Fister deal; but the reality is that the Tigers asked for Jordan, the Nats said no, and then asked for Ray and heard yes. Ray has a career path ahead of him. Jordan is out of baseball. Fister is long gone, notwithstanding our chest beating at the time.

    Souza was a highly touted prospect whom the Nats sold high. He has trouble staying healthy but I could still see him elevating his game this year. Meanwhile, Ross has not yet realized his own potential.

    I hope the Nats don’t trade Robles, for anyone with limited service time. And I value Michael Taylor, but let’s face it, he’ll be lucky to get starting time here. Yet he could still take it to the next level that he showed only last spring training. Other players have gone to Pittsburgh and have taken off.

    The Pirates seem very ready to move McCutchen. I think the Nats can assemble some attractive pieces for both McCutchen and Taylor, trade from the starting pitching surplus, without decimating the farm system. As I see it, if Sale and McCutchen both come back, the Nats can move:

    Gio Gonzalez
    Michael Taylor
    Danny Espinosa
    Austin Voth
    Jesus Luzardo
    Carter Kieboom
    Andrew Stevenson

    even before they get to the top six (Robles, Lopez, Giolito, Glover, Fedde, Soto), or Ross. Put Ross above and the list gets far more compelling, especially when you reckon the haul for Shelby Miller and the hysteria about controllable starting pitching.

    Other teams will value players differently from us. So Dombrowski proved that his deal and analysis was no laughing matter when he traded a player with two years left. Ray was the key.

    I would love it if inclusion of a high prospect was contingent on inclusion of Zimmerman to the AL.

    forensicane

    1 Dec 16 at 2:31 am

  36. Another point. The Pirates don;t feel they got hosed for Melancon, trading for young Nats pitching. Yet Rivero had rather worn out his opportunities here. They said that once about Melancon before he got to Pittsburgh. So the fact the the Pirates contacted the Nats, not the other way around, shows that they see Rizzo as an honest broker, as do the A’s.

    It has that feel of the days before the Gio trade. Nats are better off getting McCutch before a bidding war affects the trading price, just as they got Melancon.

    forensicane

    1 Dec 16 at 3:43 am

  37. I’ve been on board for a Cutch trade. Others here haven’t. I think Cutch for Gio+ makes sense for both teams. The Nats aren’t going to want to include one of the top three prospects, and rightly so. Even in his “bad” year last season, though, Cutch’s wRC+ was 106, which is better than anything Danny or Revere have ever posted. Cutch was at 168 the year before. He was MVP top 5 2012-15. That guy may be gone for good, but the one who is left is still better than what we’ve got at the moment.

    Now, whether Cutch should still be in CF may be another matter. It still might make more sense to move Bryce to CF and Cutch to RF, considering the drop in Cutch’s defensive metrics.

    We’ll see. Cutch does seem to be on the move, and the Nats are rumored to be heavily in the mix.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 5:27 am

  38. Marty. Sheesh. Lets go year by year with Harper to dispell your statement that a) he wasn’t playing through injuries and b) he wasn’t “elite” in “3 of his 4 years.”
    – 2012: debut season as a 19yr old; 118 ops+, 121 wRC+, 4.6 fWAR/5.1 bWAR. He accumulated those WAR figures despite having missed the first month of the season. His fWAR figure put him 24th in the league. He missed no time to injury. I’m not really sure why you wouldn’t classify this season as elite. If you’re one of the 25-30 best players in a league with 750 active players at any one time … that’s elite.
    – 2013: He frigging ran into a wall. Literally. And when he did that, he injured his left knee. He tried to play through it for 2 weeks, kept getting worse, ended up on the D/L for a month. Look at his 2013 splits by month: he had an 1.150 OPS in April, then never came within 300 points of that figure the rest of the way through. You think maybe its because he had bursitis in his left knee, the one he pushes off of in the batters box, and perhaps that affected his swing mechanics? Despite that injury, he still managed a 4 win fWAR season, posting a 137 WRC+ figure and a 133 OPS+ figure. That wRC+ figure would have ranked him 20th in the league had he qualified (he missed too much time) and his fWAR still ranked him 36th in the game despite playing in only 118 games that year. Do you not call this an elite season?
    – 2014: He tore a ligament in his thumb, which kept him out for more than two months. You think maybe tearing a ligament in your hand may affect your batting? Its not even worth looking at the stats he did put up because of it. His ISO plummeted in 2014, from the .206-.212 figures he had in 2012-2013 to .151 in 2014. No surprise why; i’m sure his thumb wasn’t 100% for months.
    – 2015: No injuries, first full healthy season since his debut season, and he puts up a 1.109 OPS figure on the year. That was the 79th best OPS figure in the history of the game, and his 8.8 bWAR season ranked similarly. Heady company and no surprise he unanimously won the MVP despite the Nats being out of playoff contention early.
    – 2016: didn’t hit the D/L, but missed a slew of games throughout the year and had ample evidence that some injury was affecting him. Again I point you to the splits: a 1.121 OPS in April was completely in line with the destruction of league pitching he had displayed all year in 2015 … then something happened. He only hit .200 in may. Why? Look no further than Tom Verducci’s article citing a hidden shoulder injury that Harper had been playing through for months. He doubled down on the report a month later. This reporting (from one of the game’s most respected national writers I might add) was supported by some statistical analysis of his outfield positioning after someone noted that he was playing like a little leaguer would with the bottom of the order up. See this link at mlb.com citing statcast data: he went from playing his normal outfield depth in Apr and May to cheating in more than 10 FEET (!) by season’s end. Also in the article are his average velocities coming out of RF: also showed a significant decline by season’s end.

    So, sorry, I will still maintain that Harper played through a shoulder injury for much of 2016, which sapped his power, opened him to get beat high and away, and forced him to adjust his mechanics. This opinion is supported by multiple professional observers of the game, a respected national reporter, and statcast statistics.

    So Marty, tell me. which seasons are you claiming he’s not elite because he’s a bum? Because if you don’t agree with any of the above injury history, then we really can’t have a conversation about post-mortem analysis of the guy. For me its pretty simple; when he’s been healthy, he’s been at least “elite” trending towards “hall of fame” quality. When he’s had an injury that drastically affects his ability to swing a baseball bat with venom (hand, torso, knee, shoulder), he hasn’t been.

    Some guys stay healthy; i’m not sure its really a “skill” as much as its just plain physiological luck. Trout has never hit the D/L, Ripken didn’t miss a game for 15 years. Other guys just get snake bit. How many times has Ryan Zimmerman hit the D/L in his career? BaseballProspectus used to track injury history for players but stopped; Zimmerman had 7 D/L trips prior to 2015 and another 3 in the last two years. That’s 10 trips in a decade of playing for a litany of different issues. And inarguably it has affected Zimmerman’s career. I just hope Harper doesn’t have the same problems staying healthy.

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 16 at 9:03 am

  39. On Nats and Cutch:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-nationals-work-best-for-andrew-mccutchen/

    I don’t think Lopez/Giolito/Robles should be in play. Doesn’t the fact that the Nats wouldn’t part with Robles for an extra half year of Cutch mean that they’re not going to part with him now?

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 10:25 am

  40. forensicane, how on planet earth are we getting both Sale and McCutchen without giving up any of our top 6 prospects? That is simply outside the realm of possibility.

    So is a Gio for McCutchen trade. The Pirates won’t do this because there’s no upside there. The contracts are essentially identical, and McCutchen is a better player.

    I’d give up any one of the Nats top 3 prospects for McCutchen. Giolito would probably be the toughest (for me) to part with but all 3 are premier guys. Robles may end up a star, but he’s 19. He could have a down year, get hurt, and still be in AA ball during Harper’s last year. So I’d give up Robles plus some other prospects, but not Robles and anybody else from the top 3 or Fedde. Of the top 3, Lopez is the guy I’d most want to trade.

    And KW, we know the Nats talked Robles for McCutchen in July but we don’t know why the talks broke down. Perhaps the Nats offered Robles straight up and the Pirates said no.

    Derek

    1 Dec 16 at 11:12 am

  41. Todd… I’m not accounting every cold streak Harper has ever had to injury like you are.

    His 6 month long flailing at curve balls are mechanics, not swing speed even. Hard to hit the ball when your right foot is in the 1b dugout.

    You are just assuming he was injured. One could also make an argument that they floated injury to save face and excuse his awful season. Or maybe he just had the some little aches and pains they all play through. Rizzo even confronted him about injury and he said he wasn’t hurt.

    If he was injured, then he should have been sitting, because he was really bad. Even worse looking to the eye than the stats showed. He reduced his personal value and hurt the team by playing through injury if that was the case. He could have sat and healed up and been an actual threat instead of a liability in the playoffs. My personal opinion is that he was like a golfer who lost his mechanics and could not get it back. And Matt Williams wasn’t around to help him.

    Zimmerman of course has an excuse. He wasn’t hurt all season with new injuries. His shoulder is just chronically ruined. If you can’t throw a little ball like you used to, I doubt you can swing a heavy bat like you used to either.

    Marty C

    1 Dec 16 at 11:14 am

  42. I said “Gio +.” Yeah, I know that the Pirates may want to shed some salary, but they also want to be playoff-viable, so they need established talent in this deal. And they need pitching. If they don’t want Gio, fine; the Nats have guys like Cole and Voth who can start in the majors in 2017. If they want field players who can play right away, we’re talking Taylor, Espinosa, Goodwin, maybe Difo. I’m not saying to trade all of them, just that they’re the guys who are MLB-ready. We could also include Skole to make Marty happy.

    “Junk,” some will say. Well, they’re the guys the Nats have available who can play now.

    I’m not saying that the Pirates won’t also want prospects. They would. But the Nats aren’t desperate enough to need to deal from their top three.

    We’ll see. My guess would be that if the deal happens, it will include a prospect beyond the top three (but maybe as high as Fedde), one or both of Cole and Voth, and perhaps one from Taylor or Goodwin to backfill the Pirate OF.

    Sale is whole different animal. I would think the Chisox would want two of the “big three” prospects, plus other stuff, a deal that makes no sense to me from the Nats’ perspective.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 11:50 am

  43. His 6 month long flailing at curve balls are mechanics” Yes, because he was hurt and was changing his mechanics because he probably felt like he had a knife in his shoulder.

    You are just assuming he was injured” Yes Marty, all those links I just posted with dates of his D/L trips were made up.

    they floated injury to save face and excuse his awful season” If that’s your theory … then what’s your reverse theory for why he was so amazing in 2015?? Why he was a top 25 player in 2012? For why he was still excellent even when fighting known injuries in 2013?

    If he was injured, then he should have been sitting.” Your opinion … and not really supported by reality. Because the reality is that even an injured and hampered Harper was BETTER than any of the alternatives, likely why he played through the pain. Would you rather see a hampered Harper versus a full season of Taylor? Of den Dekker? Of Goodwin? Of any other option on the roster?

    He reduced his personal value and hurt the team by playing through injury” So Harper is also the Manager and the team doctor and the General Manager? You don’t think this was a collaborative decision? Who makes out the lineup card every night?

    My personal opinion is that he was like a golfer who lost his mechanics and could not get it back” Ok lets use your golf analogy. What is your explanation for why Tiger Woods was so awful prior to his taking a year off? Because according to you, it couldn’t possibly be because he had multiple back surgeries in 2014 and 2015. It had to be because he was a head case and was a bum.

    Zimmerman’s shoulder is just chronically ruined.” oooh ok, so Zimmerman gets a pass because he has a chronic issue, but Harper doesn’t because … he’s young?

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 16 at 11:52 am

  44. Also, I’m not advocating overpaying for Cutch. He’s a wRC+ 106 player who may not be able to play CF and doesn’t have a great arm for RF. Of course the Nats would hope that he improves closer to his earlier levels, but don’t overpay for “hope.” The Pirates can’t expect to break the bank with a guy coming off a real down year.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 11:56 am

  45. Another point that isn’t often discussed: we don’t know how the Nats evaluate their talent internally. They may have Fedde ahead of Giolito or Lopez in the grand scheme, for example. Many were upset when they traded Alex Meyer, but they had apparently determined that he wasn’t the fast-track MLB ace that many had him pegged to be. They were right.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 12:01 pm

  46. I would much rather trade Gio + Espinosa + Taylor + Voth for McCutchen than Robles + Voth but I don’t see the Pirates doing that. Gio has real value, and if there’s a way to include him in the deal and reduce the prospect price, I’m all for it (agree to pay his salary!). If the Nats won’t give up one of their big 3, I think the Pirates trade McCutchen elsewhere because they’re going to get a better deal.

    Derek

    1 Dec 16 at 12:14 pm

  47. My guess would be that if the Nats give up one of their top three, it would be a pitcher instead of Robles, as they have a lot more RHP depth than they do positional players. But that’s just a guess. If they’ve decided that Robles is only going to be a 10-15 HR guy in the majors, and/or that Soto is more the real deal than Robles, perhaps they’re not as attached to him as we think they are.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 12:26 pm

  48. http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/12/nationals-pirates-accelerating-talks-on-andrew-mccutchen.html

    Just saw this link, indicating and further supporting a big move for McCutchen coming. Interesting point here is that the Nats would consider flat out non-tendering Espinosa, which I find shocking since I feel he has trade value.

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 16 at 12:31 pm

  49. What if the deal is Ross and Robles for McCutchen; would you do that? I think I would.

    Or, Ross+Taylor+Fedde for McCutchen? Is that less of a deal? Probably.

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 16 at 12:33 pm

  50. I still think the Bucs HAVE to get MLB-ready talent back, probably more than just Taylor . . . which is why Ross might be a part of the conversation.

    I don’t know where I would stand on trading Ross over Giolito or Lopez. Ross is already established; the other two may have higher potential upsides, but will they reach them inside of the “window”? Also, Ross is still on his first elbow, unlike Giolito.

    Yes, I’m surprised by the Danny non-tender rumor. That hadn’t even occurred to me. But hey, he’s not represented by Boras anymore, so we have have no reason to worry about pissing him off!

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 12:40 pm

  51. All the talk of moving gio and he may stay if the Pirates covet Ross more, as well they should as a pre-arb player with more control.

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 16 at 12:44 pm

  52. I had the same thought about Gio staying if Ross goes. Can’t see them risking both Lopez and Giolito in the rotation right away.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 12:45 pm

  53. Assuming all are healthy, I think Ross right now is more valuable than Giolito and Lopez. He may end up with two fewer years of control (depending upon how Giolito and Lopez get used this year), but he’s proven to be a successful MLB starter, and he has some upside left. The scouts would probably rank Giolito first (body + stuff), Ross second (body + track record, but concern about getting lefties out consistently), and Lopez third. I guess I value track record more than the scouts do. So, if healthy, I think Robles + Ross would be too much for McCutchen. I would probably trade Ross and a lesser prospect for McCutchen though.

    But Ross’s health is a big question mark. That surely affects his value.

    Derek

    1 Dec 16 at 1:06 pm

  54. Ross + Robles for McCutchen? NFW. I’d be very unhappy with that.

    Robles should be off limits for Cutch. he’s too important as a replacement for Werth and Harp. I know that he is still in A, but the track record of these young, super highly ranked position players is pretty good, so I am in.

    So that leaves a package fronted by either Ross, Giolito or Lopez (I also think the Gio idea is a non starter). I’ve said that I believe Cutch is showing decline, but I acknowledge that I could be wrong, so while I wouldn’t include any of those guys, I guess that I could live with it if the rest of the package wasn’t too good.

    My hunch is that it is Ross, plus 2 others, maybe Voth and Bautista types. If its much more than that, I won’t like it.

    Wally

    1 Dec 16 at 1:21 pm

  55. If this happens, what are the other dominos?

    Could they trade Espy to the Pods for Norris?

    Revere gets traded or non tendered, presumably?

    Without offsetting Cutch’s salary, I think it knocks them out of a FA closer.

    Wally

    1 Dec 16 at 1:26 pm

  56. I think the reason the Cutch deal has suddenly become a “thing” is that the Nats want some certainty before they have to make the tender calls tomorrow. There also might be multiple levels to this, such as a pending deal for Danny if they get Cutch.

    If the Nats do get Cutch and non-tender/trade Danny and non-tender Revere, that’s (off the top of my head) $11.5M projected arb salary savings, which would offset all but about $3M of Cutch. I don’t think they would be hamstrung on other deals.

    I must say, even though I’ve been one who has been pointing to Cutch all of the offseason, I’m uneasy about the rumored price point. I do think he will bounce back, but not all the way, and he may not be the centerfielder. Admittedly, if he was coming off the 168 wRC+ season, the asking price would be all three of the top prospects plus other stuff. But to me, Ross is worth even more than a prospect since he’s a controlled young starter who has already proven himself.

    I assume we’ll know soon enough since there does seem to be a push to get this done before the tender deadline.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 1:53 pm

  57. Heyman has the Nats finding Chapman too expensive and turning their attention back to Melancon.

    There are also rumors out there that the Bucs are pushing on the Cutch deal harder than the Nats are. Perhaps they have some close calls on tenders they have to make as well and want to know their salary situation. Anyway, I hope that means the Nats are the ones playing hard to get.

    In case Robles is included, I could see why. His power is still much more “projected” than real. There are also questions about his arm strength. Don’t get me wrong, I like his upside, and the Nats are very thin in position prospects, but he’s still more projectable than actual at this point.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 2:18 pm

  58. Here’s a prediction: Nats go absolutely bonkers and sell the entire farm system down the river to try to win now:
    – trade Giolito and Lopez for Sale
    – trade Ross, Robles for McCutchen
    – Sign Jansen for $18M/year.
    – Sign Wieters for $15M/year

    2017 lineup: Turner SS, Rendon 3B, Harper RF, McCutchen CF, Murphy 2B, Werth LF, Wieters C, Zimmerman 1B.

    Rotation: Scherzer, Sale, Strasburg, Gonzalez, Cole/Voth/Fedde/veteran 5th starter from somewhere
    Bullpen: Jansen, Kelley, Treinen, Glover, Solis, Perez, veteran FA as mop-up guy

    how about them apples!

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 16 at 4:13 pm

  59. Zuckerman says Nats offering Robles and Lopez,
    But Pirates want a third player.

    I’d really dislike this, if true.

    Wally

    1 Dec 16 at 5:18 pm

  60. Wally: Eh. I’m not as high on Lopez as you are. I’m still not convinced he has a 3rd pitch and isn’t headed towards the bullpen. that’s the long-time consensus opinion from scouts; what did we see in the majors that countered that? Yes he throws hard; but what did he have besides a 4 seamer?

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 16 at 5:26 pm

  61. It Robles that bothers me. I like Lopez but would be ok including him.

    My issue with Robles is that I think he is a high probability prospect, despite only having reached A. If you look at the track record of such young prospects reaching consensus top 10, the outcome is high. He’s my top prospect, over Giolito.

    To include him in a deal, I’d want a star with less risk than Cutch. He could headline a deal for the old Cutch, not the one coming off last year. To add Lopez just suggests that PIT is selling him at full 2015 value. I wouldn’t do it.

    Maybe it’s being mis reported.

    Wally

    1 Dec 16 at 5:37 pm

  62. I’ve been offline for a few hours . . . and nothing has happened, unless we count the Loby deep discount. (Does he still have an option? I don’t think he does.)

    I’m very uncomfortable with Robles + Ross, or Robles + Lopez, and this from someone who has been a champion of a trade for Cutch. That’s just too much for only two years of control of a guy coming off his worst season. I’m not sure he’s worth one of the top three prospects or Ross, and the rumors have them wanting two of them . . . for only two years of control.

    Lopez may be my favorite from among Lopez/Giolito/Ross/Fedde. I look at Lopez and see Pedro. I’m not saying he’s going to BE Pedro, but he’s got the heat and the confidence. Even if he ends up being ONLY a reliever, he’s going to be a Miller-type one, blowing smoke for a couple of innings at a time.

    We’ll see. I don’t think a deal with two top prospects gets done.

    KW

    1 Dec 16 at 8:23 pm

  63. Hey Todd, might be a good day to post a new page just for today. It feels like Dec. 2 could be a memorable one in Nats’ history.

    Will the Nats mortgage the future of some top prospects to go all in for the “window” by acquiring a former MVP? Or will they decide that the price is too high and the prospects too valuable?

    Will the Nats part ways with a guy in Espinosa who, as much as he’s confounded us at times, has been one of the constants of the franchise since before the glory years?

    Will they part ways with a guy in Revere who is their only return for an all-star closer/first-round draft pick?

    Hardly mentioned, but there’s also the prospect that they’ll be trying to buy out arb years from some pretty decent talent in Harper, Rendon, and Roark.

    Nope, no distractions this Friday whatsoever!

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 6:49 am

  64. A couple of more Cutch thoughts in a world already littered with them.

    First, why do the Pirates seem so obsessed with prospects in this deal? Have they decided that they can’t compete for the playoffs for a couple of years? I know they’ll be trying to save money and may not want salaries from guys like Gio or Danny, but if they end up with guys like Robles and Fedde in exchange for their middle-of-the-order bat, they’ve really lowered their chances over the next couple of years.

    I’ll also add that Cutch has always been one of my favorite opposition players to watch, which is part of the reason I’m in the tank for him. Another was Daniel Murphy, even when he was a hated Met.

    I also see that Fowler is seeking an insane $18M AAV over at least four years. A deal like that would make no sense for the Nats.

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 7:00 am

  65. I’ve been thinking about this a little differently – though still very much against the proposed trade (Robles, Lopez + prospect).

    Here’s a list of guys I think they could get essentially for this package, so maybe it’s worth thinking about which one you like best, if you assume that Nats are willing to trade this package:
    AJ Pollock +
    Adam Eaton + Nate Robertson
    JBJ +
    Sonny Gray + Doolittle
    Archer – depending on the third guy

    I’d probably take any of those deals. I’m just not convinced Cutch is the player he used to be.

    But the thing that balances me is that Rizzo has earned his rep as a shrewd talent evaluator, so he must be convinced that Cutch is all the way back. I’m not, but acknowledge he’s much smarter. But this is the kind of deal that can cost a franchise dearly, and an executive his job.

    Wally

    2 Dec 16 at 7:23 am

  66. Wally, my guess is that the Nats have decided that they need a bat with power to replace the Ramos and Espinosa production in the lineup, not to mention offset the prospective Zim/Werth struggles. That’s why a Sale deal hasn’t made sense to me, as it isn’t really a need area. I’m not an Archer fan and don’t understand the fascination. If they’re trading with the Rays, it should be for a closer or CF. I’ve always like Gray, but he would be a big gamble coming off a bad year. Pollock would be a gamble coming off a major injury.

    Do the Chisox really want to deal? There’s been a lot of smoke but very little fire thus far. To me, it wouldn’t make sense for them to trade Eaton and his five years of affordable control, as he should still be good on the back end of a rebuild.

    I’m not saying that your proposals are wrong or necessarily bad, more so that they may not be on table. The Cutch deal seems like a bird-in-the-hand thing, a very tangible offer vs. other things that could or could not materialize.

    Re whether Cutch is close to rebounding, see his 2016 splits:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=mccutan01&year=2016&t=b

    His OPS was .810 in August and a healthy .886 in September. His walks went way up in those months and his Ks back down.

    We’ll see. I think it’s going to happen . . . but happen at a prospect cost that will give us some pause.

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 8:17 am

  67. OK Todd, here’s more fodder for your over-the-top, totally all-in scenario:

    http://www.fanragsports.com/mlb/heyman-latest-chris-sale-derby/

    Of course the Chisox are beyond insane if they think the Nats are trading Turner for Sale, or for anyone not named “Trout.”

    The buzz continues. Pirates’ front office said to be looking at video of Nats prospects. Steve at Nats Talk has word from Nats source that Cutch isn’t Rizzo’s priority today, that he’s working on another trade. My guess would be that one involves Danny, whose time as a Nat seems short, one way or another.

    Anyway, I’m glad Rizzo is holding the phone on the Pirates, perhaps insisting that they come down a step or two from the top level of prospects.

    Rangers also said to be in the Cutch conversation.

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 10:36 am

  68. KW – that’s the rub, right? I don’t mind trading prospects, or anyone on the team really. It just has to be good value. And that is my problem here, if reports are to believed. If I felt more confident that we were getting peak Cutch, then I’m good and I would have the same reaction here as I did with the MM and Scrabble trade: its a high cost, but if the guy performs, it will be worth the cost. In this case, I just have a hard time being confident in that.

    Wally

    2 Dec 16 at 11:16 am

  69. FWIW, some sources are saying that the Nats won’t part with Robles or Giolito for Cutch. We don’t know if that’s true, of course, but it might explain why the Bucs haven’t leaped at the offer. I have no info on this, but if I were the Bucs, I would be pushing for Ross, as they need guys who can help keep them in contention right now. And considering his injury, I wouldn’t mind if Ross is the “big” piece to go. But I would have pause if it’s Ross and Lopez.

    I agree in not having an issue in parting with prospects to fill holes. I’ve lost no sleep over Schrock. I do have more faith in a Cutch bounce-back, though, particularly if he’s batting between Harper and Murphy. Yes, that’s two MVPs and an MVP runner-up . . . albeit with two of the three looking for bounce-back seasons.

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 1:25 pm

  70. I think Ross > Lopez, but you’ve talked me into being OK if either are in. Just want to hold onto Robles unless its bringing back an all star without these questions

    Wally

    2 Dec 16 at 2:31 pm

  71. Last I saw was that the Nats were holding firm on giving up only one top-five prospect (plus a couple of others). That’s territory where I would be more comfortable. Not even sure who they would consider the #5 after Giolito/Lopez/Robles/Fedde. Maybe the five also included Ross. No way Turner is even in the discussion, and I doubt Soto would be, either. I haven’t seen him mentioned.

    Lopez, Stevenson, and Tyler Watson? Just a wild guess. I’d prefer that Taylor be one of the pieces.

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 3:07 pm

  72. Is there anything more useless in life than to go to MLBTR only to find “Rangers Claim Brady Dragmire”?

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 3:10 pm

  73. Lopez, Sevenson, and Watson doesn’t seem like enough to get it done, does it? I do like the fake tweet that said the deal was Voth, Skole, and Danny. In every Nat fan’s dreams!

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 3:28 pm

  74. Probably not, but it’s so hard to say. I have listened to MLB radio for a while, and I think the Cutch deal may be the opposite of the win-win. The more vocal pirates fans hate the idea of trading him under any circumstances. I, and most Nats fans that I’ve read, want no part of him at the rumored asking price.

    Lose-lose?

    Wally

    2 Dec 16 at 3:57 pm

  75. One of my buddies just said that even a Robles for McCutchen straight up would be a loser and he’s be pissed. I tried to remind him that McCutchen was top 3 player the three years prior, is probably one of the best 4-5players in the league, is only making $14M/year, and is only 29. So … i’d be more worried about him if he had the kind of season he just had at, say age 32 … 29 is still prime time.

    Todd Boss

    2 Dec 16 at 4:29 pm

  76. I’d do it for Robles + Voth/Cole (maybe even both). Robles + Lopez is steep, probably right on the edge of a fair deal. Robles + Ross and Robles + Lopez + more is too much so if either one of those is the deal, I’d expect something in addition to McCutchen from Pittsburgh.

    I have a hard time understanding why Nats fans are so unwilling to trade Robles. Yes, he’s a top prospect, but at this point he’s just a probability distribution. At this point – 19 in high A – becoming no better than Michael A Taylor is something like 30% likely for him. If he turns into a star, this will be a bad deal for the Nats. But I don’t know how anyone other than an actual living breathing baseball scout can put the probability of Robles ever having a 4 win season in MLB at more than 50%.

    Shifting wins from 2019 and beyond to 2017-18 is really important, given the club’s roster. I really hope we get a deal done. McCutchen is not Ryan Howard – he has a broad-based skill set and is likely to contribute significantly to the Nats the next two years. Robles, even in the very best case, won’t be an everyday MLB player until late 2018 at the absolute earliest.

    Derek

    2 Dec 16 at 4:46 pm

  77. Pedro Avila for Derek Norris. I was intrigued by Avila, but I’m generally ok with it because they had to do something at C

    Wally

    2 Dec 16 at 5:07 pm

  78. If I believed that Cutch was still one of the top 4-5 guys in the league, then sign me up.

    Wally

    2 Dec 16 at 5:08 pm

  79. Nats just traded for Derek Norris. Now all they need is Milone and Peacock and will have completely recouped the Gio trade . . . If they were going to do this, then why did they pay Loby??? I don’t think he has any options. Severino is the one who needs to play.

    Fore won’t be happy about giving up Avila, who held his own as a 19-year-old at Hagerstown. Not a huge price in the grand scheme of things, though.

    I like Cutch. I want Cutch. Derek, I think the reluctance on Robles has as much to do with the lack of other top position players as it does with projection of Robles. I’m still not convinced by how he projects, particularly on the power front. He also crowds the plate and gets hit by pitches seemingly every other game, leading to multiple missed games already. Anyway, I’m not eager to give him up, but I wouldn’t hate it.

    I don’t understand why the Pirates aren’t after more MLB-ready guys like Cole and Goodwin. We’ll see. I’m just ready for SOMETHING to happen . . . that’s more exciting than a catcher who hit .186!

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 5:15 pm

  80. I’m not ready to hand over the starting keys to Severino and his .300 MiLB OBP just yet. I don’t think it would have been crazy to platoon him and Lobaton (if they replaced Espinosa’s spot with somebody like McCutchen), but Norris is good insurance at a reasonable price. One question: what in god’s name happened to Norris’s BB% in San Diego? He went from a Werth-like 12% BB rate to ~7% in two full years in SD. I wonder if they messed with his approach somehow.

    I’m a lot more concerned with the overall quality of the Nats farm system than I am by the mix of position players vs. pitchers. Pitchers can be turned into position players and vice versa. If the Nats as an organization feel they have a comparative advantage in finding and developing pitchers, that’s what they should be allocating resources toward. It would be better if they were better than everybody else at finding and developing position players too, but it sure seems like the Nats know what they’re doing with arms. So it doesn’t bother me all that much that Robles is the best of a thin bunch of MiLB position players so long as the Nats are willing to deal.

    And I think the Pirates would prefer someone closer to the bigs than Robles, they just don’t think guys like Cole and Goodwin are all that good (they’re not; Cole is an innings eater and Goodwin is a 4th OF; both of those things have value, but no upside).

    Derek

    2 Dec 16 at 5:25 pm

  81. Rizzo arm reclamation project alert: Tyson Ross got non-tendered. Other teams might need him more, and therefore be willing to pay more, but the Nats would be in a position to be more patient than most.

    I share the concerns about whether Severino will hit. Norris had two good years at the plate in OAK but went south in more ways than one when he moved to SD. He’s low-cost and should still have some friends in the organization.

    I know that Goodwin and Cole aren’t great, but they do have value for the right team. Goodwin may become a good bench piece with the Nats, particularly with Revere non-tendered. Cole really needs to go somewhere so he can eat those innings.

    Revere was non-tendered but Danny was. Perhaps there’s enough trade interest in him that Rizzo decided to keep him in play.

    I’ve given up trying to guess what’s going on with Cutch. I imagine the Pirates feel like they’re in a tough spot, as they’ve got to get a defensible return for the face of the franchise. Rizzo’s just waiting. The guess would be that the longer it drags on, the better price the Nats will get. But I said I wasn’t going to guess . . .

    KW

    2 Dec 16 at 9:29 pm

  82. And no news is . . . no news. That’s OK. The leverage is with Rizzo at this point.

    I saw somewhere that Cutch is supposed to appear at a Buc fan fest event today. Awkward!

    KW

    3 Dec 16 at 6:50 am

  83. I think the Norris move is a pretty good one; get back a former All Star catcher who may be fixed and who by all accounts has become one of hte better pitch framers in the game, all for a pretty low level arm prospect in Avila.

    Lobaton does not have options …but it also doesn’t matter anymore because he achieved 5 years of service time so he couldn’t have been sent down to AAA w/o accepting it anyway. So 2017 looks like Norris as starter, Lobaton as backup. Not the best situation, but given what was out there and the costs associated with them (thinking of Weiters here), I’m pretty happy with this move.

    Revere non tender predicted and accepted by most observers … seemed like a no-brainer all off-season.

    Todd Boss

    3 Dec 16 at 7:40 am

  84. I’m not sure how I feel about the trade. Avila was, in my estimation, the #12 prospect in the Nats system. They traded him for a .186 hitter who has a low CS%.

    Three things come to mind that give Norris more value; his ability to pinch hit; Span’s eventual comeback after concussion; and the Nats successful gamble on Stephen Drew’s value last offseason.

    It’s hard to experience him as more than a depth piece. And since I was no fan of the Schrock deal, then or now, it sort of depends what becomes of Norris.

    forensicane

    4 Dec 16 at 12:46 am

  85. The more I look at it, the less I like the Norris trade. Dude is AWFUL vs. RHP, both last season and career. He’s slated to make $4M via arb, so he would have been a good possibility to be non-tendered if the Nats hadn’t given up something for him.

    Teams will face RHP 2/3 to 3/4 of the, meaning that for 2/3 to 3/4 of the time, the Norris deal commits the Nats . . . to play Lobaton. I’m still not liking those options.

    And yet in this catcher-depraved market, the D-Backs couldn’t find a team willing to give up anything for Wellington Castro???

    I still think there’s a decent chance that Severino beats out Norris in spring training.

    KW

    4 Dec 16 at 8:23 am

  86. Melancon said to be down to Nats or Giants, in the 4/$60M neighborhood, right where I predicted he’d be. Giant offer said to be slightly better. Not sure what the Nats would do if they don’t get him.

    KW

    4 Dec 16 at 8:26 am

  87. Norris trade: consider what we had to give up versus what we got. We traded a guy who put up decent but not amazing numbers in Low-A for a former all star catcher.

    Forensicake: Avila as nearly a top 10 system prospect a quite lofty estimate; the highest i’d seen him on any list was 23rd on MLBpipeline’s post-2016 list. Consider the “ceiling” for even a starter with that ranking; Voth is considered a TON better by most evaluators and he’s probably at best a 5th/4-A starter.

    I know we all get hung up on our own prospects, but I think Norris as a return straight up for Avila is pretty good work.

    Lemme evaulate this trade a different way: Instead of going with Norris/Lobaton, we could have stood pat with Lobaton/Severino; is that better? We could have signed Matt frigging Weiters to a $50M deal; would that have been better? There’s just not a lot out there. I’m guessing the team probably figures it can “fix” Norris and return him to his power/acceptable average of a few years back, plus his vastly improved defense really helps (he was tied for 2nd in the NL in DRS in 2016 on the apparent strength of his pitch framing skills).

    So, worst case he’s a hole in the lineup at #8 but who is a great defensive catcher. You can’t have .300 hitters at every position. Move Espinosa and get an OF that can hit and suddenly he’s the worst hitter on your roster. There’s worse situations to find yourself in than that.

    Todd Boss

    4 Dec 16 at 8:29 am

  88. And the Winter Meetings are about to open, with the spotlight shining directly on the host organization. I find that curious. Most of Rizzo’s deals come as surprises. The Norris deal fit that profile. Meanwhile, nearly all the rumored Nat deals last offseason never happened: Zobrist, Heyward, Cespedes, Phillips, etc. Just something to remember.

    I find curious how many folks are half-full on the Norris deal but half-empty on what McCutchen might do.

    I find curious other “better” options that some folks think the Nats might have rather than Cutch. Fowler . . . now wants at least 5/$90M. Umm, no. Ozuna? Why do people think that’s ever been a possibility? If the Fish get pitching, they become a legit divisional threat, so it makes no sense to give them any. Plus Ozuna is very streaky, was awful in the second half, isn’t very good defensively, and is said to be a hothead. I want no part of any of that.

    Eaton? The price would be higher than Cutch’s, but I wouldn’t hate it. Pollock? I don’t know why the D-Backs would sell low on him, but then I don’t understand anything the D-Backs do, so you never know. Neither would solve the need for a RH bat, though.

    I keep pointing to Kole Calhoun from the Angels, or Simmons, either of whom I think could be had for deals built around ready-now pitching like Gio, Cole, Voth, etc., rather than the top prospects. Simmons is a punchless bat, though, and Calhoun is LH.

    Desi? No way, but he’s said to be close to re-upping with the Rangers. Gomez? Huge risk and tons of K’s.

    But are any of those actual prospective deals? Who knows. At least while the Pirates sit on Cutch, Rizzo has a chance to look around and field some other phone calls.

    KW

    4 Dec 16 at 8:48 am

  89. Todd, I don’t hate the Norris trade; I’m just not sure it did much to solve anything. But I can understand why they didn’t trust Severino to hit at the big-league level. And no, I didn’t want to invest big to find out whether Wieters has anything left.

    KW

    4 Dec 16 at 8:53 am

  90. Todd,

    Avila is regarded to have an advanced feel for pitching, and at age 19 that is impressive. That he succeeded, despite being ESL, with jumping from DSL in ’15 to Hagerstown in ’16 is very, very impressive.

    The only reason he was not ranked as high by others is that they simply do not spend as much attention on the Nats system as the rest of us do.

    Voth closed very well in the AFL, and so that would help him in perception. But other than Cole/Voth/Fedde/Giolito/Lopez, I cannot accept the argument that any other starter (including Watson and Dunning) deserve on merit to be regarded higher.

    Unless Avila is injured, of course. Which some may feel is Preller’s just desert, and may be part of the Norris portfolio, given his history of concussions.

    forensicane

    4 Dec 16 at 9:42 am

  91. KW – a couple of thoughts on what you said:
    1) – ‘I find curious how many folks are half-full on the Norris deal but half-empty on what McCutchen might do’. Sure they are both bounce back candidates, but the reasons for poor performance are [theoretically] different, most notably the concern for Cutch is he in age-related decline, whereas Norris is three years younger, right at the critical turning point on age. Plus, and this is most important, the cost is much different. Based on rumors (Robles +), Cutch is being values as a star, whereas Norris brought back an interesting but no more A ball pitcher. I’d suggest that ‘interesting A ball pitchers’ are exactly what an org should trade to fill needs. They are such a long way off and so much can go wrong, but developmentally and health-wise (TINSTAAP and all that).
    2) with all of your ‘better’ options, they cost is much less so that makes a huge difference. I don’t love Ozuna, but I assume he comes for Gio and maybe something small. Fowler is cash and a pick. But Pollock is an injury related problem (and he’s RH) and his cost should be high, but not require Robles. Eaton should cost more but you get three more years. I think on balance all of those guys yield a higher surplus (value less cost) than Cutch at the Robles + price.
    3) I do agree that LAA should have the makings of a trade that solves this need. Not with a start but with an adequate player.

    Wally

    4 Dec 16 at 9:44 am

  92. A low level move that I like – Braves signed Jacob Lindgren after NYY DFA’d him. He’ll miss all of next year but they control his rights for 4-5 years more. He looked to be a great LOOGY, if not more.

    Wally

    4 Dec 16 at 11:47 am

  93. Wally, no offense to you, since I know you didn’t start it, but I’ve never gotten the Ozuna concept at all. It would be INSANE to give pitching to the Marlins. Plus Ozuna is a streaky jerk who shouldn’t play anywhere other than LF. No thanks.

    I think the Chisox have been jerking people’s chains all along on Sale and Eaton. For the years of control they have on those guys, why doesn’t the GM think he can have a competitive team within 3-5 years when he’ll still have them? I’m surprised that the Nats-Sale rumors linger.

    I’ve liked the Cutch prospect more than most, but only at a reasonable price, which I considered as only one of the top prospects (plus other stuff). I’m perplexed at the speculation of giving up Giolito, Lopez, Robles, Fedde, and Ross in deals for Cutch and Sale. Right now, the Nats are so weighted to the next 2-3 years and are going to be really scrambling if they give away that much of the next generation. However, that’s sort of the model of what AZ did to win the one title of which Rizzo was a part, FWIW.

    Maybe I’ve been delusional, but I’ve thought all along that the Nats should be able to get reasonable upgrades with their surplus pitching. Gio is a good bet to be healthier and more reliable than Rich Hill, who is about to get a big contract. Cole is better than Volquez, to use an example of someone who just got overpaid. Voth is ready to eat innings at the back of an MLB rotation. Throw Danny and MAT into the mix of guys available who wouldn’t hurt the core or the future, and it seems like something should be available, particularly from pitching-desperate teams. (Hello, Angels?)

    I’m not against giving up a top prospect or two when necessary to get better. The Meyer-for-Span deal certainly turned out well, as did the truckload of prospects for Gio.

    But first, do no harm. The Nats won 95 games last year, and the only significant loss is Ramos, which will be offset somewhat by a full year of Trea. (Well, and the closer situation, which they’re trying to solve.) If nothing develops, I wouldn’t hate it if they just rolled with Danny and/or re-signed Revere at a more reasonable rate of $2-3M. Those aren’t my preferences, but they also wouldn’t hurt the future one iota.

    KW

    4 Dec 16 at 12:48 pm

  94. A couple of observations:

    1) I just cannot see the Nats trading Robles. The system is so lacking in power and in transcendent position players. Yet his name is being dangled, so…why? Since Rizzo is by nature close to the vest, of course leaks are originating elsewhere, for the Pirates to try to draw suitors. But on the Sale side, I also wonder whether the Nats are signaling that they are open for business and creative deal making, especially because they have a number of players valued by other clubs. It feels like they are playing chicken with the Pirates on McCutchen, and can because they know what other clubs have to offer. Apart from being a shiny object, McCutchen is only theirs for two years. And I don’t think that the team departure from trading for controllable players reinforced that practice in a win now climate. The fact is, they went into 2016 with Papelbon and felt compelled to trade for Melancon at the deadline because they would not meet the price for Miller. Even then, they would have better served with someone more controllable. So signing melancon now makes sense to rid them of an ongoing problem in a key area, while ramping up talent like Glover.

    2) The Nats clearly want a star bat in the outfield. But this is a team trying to sign Heyward long term. How does two years of McCutchen fit into that? Especially at the price of top of the line prospects? In a way, the Eaton talk or other players not mentioned here feel like better fits. If the Nats are going to trade top talent, someone like Sale who has three years of control, or players who have even more control and are on the upswing, are better options.

    3) I can’t help but think Norris, if he is to stay with the Nats, has something to do with the departure of Ryan Zimmerman as well. If he were to fit into a lineup playing 1B against lefties and otherwise a righthanded pinch hit bat and backup catcher and Severino insurance policy, he may have a niche here.

    4) I stubbornly refuse to jump off the Michael Taylor bandwagon. He has too many tools, and last spring was glorious. If the Nats can bet on a bounceback year from Norris, why can’t Taylor find himself in AAA during Werth’s last year and Harper’s dwindling time? Espinosa has had his chances. Taylor has had them, too, but he is no way a finished product. Does anyone know what the organization is doing with him this winter?

    5) When you see how much other teams are overvaluing pitching, I think it behooves the Nats to move inventory at the AAA level that they won’t likely use. An organization ought to have 8 starters entering the season to account for the worst of injury scenarios. The Nats have Scherzer/Strasburg/Roark/Ross/Gonzalez/Giolito/Lopez/Voth/Fedde/Cole/Simms. That’s 11. If they acquire a lefthanded starter, that’s 12.

    The Nats lost Taylor Jordan to injury when he was highly valued. They got return for Robbie Ray. These were deals when there was lest righthanded starting pitching depth than there is now, for sure.

    He is never mentioned here, but I have long been a fan of Paolo Espino. In my opinion, he will one day pitch in the majors. The Nats lost him to minor league free agency, although he has been a steadily improving arm. He is now with the Brewers and they got him by essentially poaching Nats leftovers. Espino had stayed with the system thinking his chance would come, but other arms really progressed and crowded him out. So the idea of getting value before prospects overripen appeals to me, even as I value the prospects. At some point a team of this caliber either uses them or leverages them in a deal at high value, or higher value than they might have a year from now.

    6) The trade of Avila happened after fall instructional league. The Nats know the talent level in the lower minors and the trade tells me they are confident in the Latin arms they have and their likelihood, along with the Auburn and Hagerstown arms in ’16, to push up in earnest and make the grade at the next levels. We barely knew Avila at this time last year.

    7) Span was helped by the Nats medical team when they acquired him. At that time, he was affected by concussion to an uncertain degree. but he came back, all the way back, played very confidently here at his best. Norris has history with the organization and it would have been easy for the Nats to do diligence with him before this trade, especially important given the Padres damaged goods debacle of 2016. Maybe the Nats used it to their advantage. In any event, no one can say that the Pads harbor hard feelings over the Turner deal any longer.

    forensicane

    4 Dec 16 at 12:49 pm

  95. 8) I cannot help but wonder whether the Norris acquisition and Weiters stuff is meant to pressure Ramos to up for a more team friendly deal. I feel like Wilson wants to stay if it can work out.

    9) If they don’t believe in Severino, his value now is at a level like Souza’s. He impressed many people and I am sure there is action on him. Given the uncertainty of his offense to date, if teams feel the Nats cannot evaluate their own in house catching talent (aka Sandy Leon), he may be a key piece in a mega deal.

    10) All of the higher level prospects who are ripening mean that trades have the potential to replenish lesser areas in the system. The obvious, lefty starting and lefthanded power outfield bats and left handed pitching in general.

    forensicane

    4 Dec 16 at 12:55 pm

  96. There are a lot of unknowns this offseason, but here’s one certainty for you: Zimmerman isn’t going anywhere. He’s got a full no-trade clause. Plus as much as Zim struggled, Norris was worse.

    I read the Norris deal as the door closing on a Ramos return. I actually saw that as ironic, as Ramos’s arrival from the Twins made Norris expendable in 2011.

    On the catching front, I’m very curious to see that the Wieters-Nats rumors continue to swirl. You have to wonder whether the Boras camp is feeding them!

    KW

    4 Dec 16 at 1:41 pm

  97. Predictions for the week:

    — Sale doesn’t get traded anywhere. The Chisox are just blowing smoke to see if any team is dumb enough to give them a supersized Shelby Miller deal.

    — The Nats come up a bridesmaid for Melancon, leaving Rizzo still scrambling for a closer.

    — After realizing they have no other real suitors, the Pirates trade Cutch to the Nats in a package headlined by Lopez and Fedde. Pirate fans are furious that they don’t get Robles, even though they had never heard of him until last week.

    KW

    5 Dec 16 at 5:17 am

  98. My prediction: Rizzo says he’s “going hard or going home” and trades every prospect we have to acquire Sale, McCutchen, Wade Davis and Miguel Cabrera. Heck, lets throw in a trade for Jonathan LuCroy while we’re at it. Sell everything to try to win in 2017 and 2018.

    Todd Boss

    5 Dec 16 at 9:07 am

  99. My prediction – we acquire Davis without giving up Robles, Giolito or Lopez.

    We acquire Pollock for Lopez +

    We sign a non closing RP.

    Wally

    5 Dec 16 at 10:21 am

  100. Voth and MAT for W. Davis and Cain. The Royal guys are one-year rentals, so they can’t expect a high return. Of course getting them would leave the Nats in exactly the same boat this time next year.

    I don’t like the Greg Holland option. Too much uncertainty in a year where we need certainty.

    The Melancon ship seems to be sailing, which disappoints me a little, but not too much. As usual, Rizzo had his price and stuck to his guns. I think Melancon will be very good for a couple of more years, but the back end of his contract may not work out well. (See Papelbon, Jonathan.)

    KW

    5 Dec 16 at 11:12 am

  101. I’d not give too much credence to the latest article (MM slipping away). All things considered, primarily payroll constraints, I just have a hard time seeing the Nats go 4-5 years @ $15+ for any of them, without a LOT of deferred money. That’s paying them as guaranteed 2WAR guys for each of those years, which is very pricey. So I think it’s a trade.

    I doubt that Voth and MAT get you either Davis or Cain. I see Davis as more costly than Cain, but if you want both, I’m sure Lopez or Giolito are in there, plus Cole or Voth, plus others. Lopez, Cole, Bautista and MAT? I understand if you didn’t want to do it, but I think a package for both looks like that. I’d probably do that one.

    Wally

    5 Dec 16 at 11:20 am

  102. From day 1 of the off-season Melancon projected by most “in the know” to San Francisco. That he’s now rumored to be imminently signing with them not that big a shock.

    Todd Boss

    5 Dec 16 at 1:02 pm

  103. Pirates said to have asked for Robles AND Giolito for Cutch. They then heard a click and a dial tone . . .

    We’ll see. The Nat attention now seems to be more on Sale. Melancon did sign with the Giants. I don’t blame Rizzo for not going any higher.

    KW

    5 Dec 16 at 4:59 pm

  104. Don’t know about Pirates, but that seems to be the package for Sale. Sale’s great, but that package, sheesh I dunno if I could do it.

    If they go that far, let’s add Ross and bring back Eaton, too.

    Wally

    5 Dec 16 at 9:54 pm

  105. Pretty feverish discussion on the impending (?) Sale trade and whom the Nats would be including. Let me be the first to say that I will not be happy if Robles is included. Trade from a position of strength and surplus. Pitching, pitching, and if they don’t think Severino can hit to hold down a big league job, Severino.

    If it’s Giolito to land Sale, I’m cool with that. Giolito and Robles, not so much.

    forensicane

    5 Dec 16 at 10:51 pm

  106. The trade speculation seems to be reaching new levels of insanity. No one wants to deal reasonably and logically, though, and Rizzo rightly keeps walking.

    The Nats have players they could deal who could really help most teams: Gio, Voth, Cole, Danny, Taylor, Goodwin. But other teams seem prospect-fixated, or perhaps more properly prospect-ranking-fixated. The Nats would probably deal guys like Fedde, Stevenson, Bautista, Abreu, maybe even Tyler Watson, without too much weeping.

    I don’t get the interest in Sale, particularly at the price level being quoted. I don’t think the Nats should pay that level of prospect price for anyone, but if they do, I’d rather it be for a bat than an arm. And no, not for Cutch. He’s not worth two of the top three prospects, at least not to the Nats. A year of Wade Davis isn’t worth a top prospect, either.

    And people who are asking for Turner are absolute fools and wasting everyone’s time.

    Then Boras parachuted into the middle of all this floating the 10/$400M Harper deal . . .

    First, do no harm. At some point, the silly season will end, and certain teams will want to make actual deals involving actually tradeable players.

    KW

    6 Dec 16 at 5:30 am

  107. I just new-posted on the Harper contract thing … those stories got me fired up.

    Todd Boss

    6 Dec 16 at 9:41 am

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