Nationals Arm Race

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

2017 MLB Rotation Rankings 1-30


Lester: the best pitcher on the best rotation heading into 2017. photo via Grantland

Lester: the best pitcher on the best rotation heading into 2017. photo via Grantland

Even though there’s still about 20 “starting pitchers” still on the FA market, none of them really project as anything more than a 5th starter competition or a MLFA signing at this point in the off-season, so I thought it was high time to break out my 2017 Rotation Rankings.  (Here’s a link to last year’s rankings)

This is not a ranking of 2017 projected performance, nor a WAR ranking from last year, nor anything statistical in nature.  This is me looking at individual players and gauging the overall “strength” of the rotation, with subjective rankings then applied.  This is also a lot of me asking, “Who would I rather have as a fan?” type questions; would your rather have Chicago’s 1-2-3 or New Yorks?   This starts with the identification of the roughly 20 or so best pitchers in the league right now, calling them “Aces,” then looking at those who are just a notch below an Ace, and going on down in order to think about the overall strength of a rotation.  There’s plenty to argue about; for example I absolutely classify Stephen Strasburg as an “Ace” in this analysis; his performance over the last 5-6 years by nearly any measure statistically easily ranks him in the top 10-15 arms in the league even if he’s never sniffed a Cy Young award thanks to his injuries.  But injuries factor in: I no longer classify Matt Harvey as an Ace thanks to his 2016 season.  Feel free to dispute/argue about individual opinions/rankings in the comments.

Here’s my master rankings table just showing the projected rotations.  In this Google Docs link i’ve got my full working file, color coded for Aces/#2s/#3s as well as 6th starter/long man depth identified plus some minor league depth.  Also identified are 2017 acquisitions to get a sense of the rotation turnover.  If you can read the Google XLS it may be easier than reading the table below.

TeamRotation Rank#1#2#3#4#5
Chicago Cubs1Jon Lester Jake Arrieta Kyle Hendricks John LackeyMike Montgomery
New York Mets2 Noah Syndergaard Jacob deGromMatt Harvey Steven MatzZach Wheeler
Boston3Chris SaleDavid Price Rick PorcelloSteven WrightDrew Pomeranz
Los Angeles Dodgers4 Clayton KershawRich HillKenta MaedaJulio UriasScott Kazmir
Washington5Max ScherzerStephen StrasburgTanner RoarkJoe RossGio Gonzalez
Cleveland6Corey Kluber Carlos Carrasco Danny Salazar Trevor BauerJosh Tomlin
Detroit7Justin VerlanderMichael FulmerJordan Zimmermann Anibal Sanchez Daniel Norris
Toronto8 Marcus StromanAaron Sanchez Marco Estrada J.A. HappFrancisco Liriano
St. Louis9Adam Wainwright Carlos Martinez Michael WachaLance LynnMike Leake
San Francisco10Madison BumgarnerJohnny Cueto Jeff SamardzijaMatt Moore Matt Cain
Pittsburgh11 Gerrit ColeJamison TaillonTyler GlasnowSteven BraultIvan Nova
Tampa Bay12 Chris Archer Jake OdorizziAlex CobbBlake SnellMatt Andriese
Arizona13 Zack Greinke Robbie RayShelby MillerTaijan WalkerPatrick Corbin
Texas14Cole HamelsYu Darvish Martin PerezAndrew CashnerA.J. Griffen
Houston15Dallas Keuchel Collin McHugh Lance McCullersCharlie MortonMike Fiers
Seattle16Felix Hernandez Hisashi Iwakuma Drew SmylyJames Paxton Yovani Gallardo
Chicago White Sox17 Jose Quintana Carlos RodonMiguel GonzalezJames ShieldsDerek Holland
New York Yankees18Masahiro Tanaka Michael Pineda CC SabathiaChad GreenLuis Severino
Baltimore19 Chris Tillman Kevin GausmanDylan Bundy Ubaldo JimenezWade Miley
Philadelphia20 Aaron Nola Jeremy HellicksonJerad EickhoffVincent VelasquezAlec Asher
Atlanta21Julio Teheran Bartolo Colon Jaime Garcia R.A. DickeyMike Foltynewicz
Kansas City22Ian Kennedy Danny Duffy Jason Vargas Nate KarnsMatt Strahm
Miami23Wei-Yin Chen Edinson VolquezDan Straily Tom KoehlerJeff Locke
Minnesota24 Ervin SantanaHector Santiago Kyle GibsonPhil Hughes Jose Berrios
Oakland25Sonny GraySean Manaea Kendall GravemanAndrew TriggsJharel Cotton
Colorado26Jon Grey Chad BettisTyler AndersonTyler ChatwoodJeff Hoffman
Los Angeles Angels27 Garrett RichardsRicky Nolasco Matt Shoemaker Tyler SkaggJesse Chavez
Cincinnati28 Homer BaileyAnthony DeSclafaniBrandon FinneganRobert StephensonScott Feldman
Milwaukee29 Matt Garza Chase AndersonZach Davies Wily PeraltaJunior Guerra
San Diego30Luis PerdomoChristian FrederichPaul ClemensJarred CosartCesar Vargas

Discussion; i’ll take the discussion in rough groups.

Top 5: I have the Chicago Cubs, NY Mets, Boston, LA Dodgers and then the Nats.  Why?

Well, if Harvey was healthier i’d still have the Mets #1 as I did last year.  I still think the Mets 1-2 punch of deGrom and Snydergaard is better than anyone elses.  If Harvey returns to form and Matz stays healthy, the Nats may be in trouble in 2017.  But those are huge what-ifs, enough to knock the Mets below Chicago for now.  The Cubs for me have two Aces who just finished 2nd and 3rd in Cy Young voting while their #3 just posted a 2.13 ERA.   And if their planned #5 doesn’t pan out, they have the prospect depth to make a move and acquire what they need.  Despite the acquisition of Sale, I do not think Boston’s rotation is better; David Price is just too shaky for me on a week in/week out basis and Porcello, despite his Cy Young in 2016 just isn’t an “Ace.”    But many have argued Boston is above both NY and Chicago; perhaps its recency bias due to the big moves of the past winter meetings.

I have the Dodgers just ahead of the Nats right now for two reasons: I think the strength of their 2-3-4 slightly trumps our 2-3-4, especially given Joe Ross‘s health question marks.  And any rotation headed by Kershaw is going to be highly ranked.  You can’t drop Washington much below #5 because no other rotation has the 1-2 Ace potential that the Nats do, and Roark is starting to (finally) get the recognition he deserves.

Ranking spots 6-11: Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, St. Louis, San Francisco and Pittsburgh.

So, a lot of people highly rate Cleveland’s rotation, higher than a couple of teams in my top 5.  And if Carrasco and Salazar are healthy I agree with them.  But they’re not, so they get dinged a bit.  I still have Verlander rated as an Ace after his comeback 2016; maybe that’s a little too high … but the rest of their rotation is all solid, being one of the only teams that I think has #3 starter quality even to the #5 starter in Daniel Norris.   Toronto and St. Louis are both in the same spot; several very good arms who just fall below “Ace” category; in Toronto’s case it may be just a matter of time before we’re calling Aaron Sanchez one of the best in the league and in St.Louis’ case the same with Carlos Martinez.  Some have San Francisco higher based on the fact that Bumgarner may be the 2nd or 3rd best pitcher in the game … but the back end of their rotation is so shaky they get dropped almost out of the top 10.  Likewise with Pittsburgh:  things get thin fast past the top 3 for the Pirates.

Ranking spots 12-16: Tampa, Arizona, Texas, Houston, Seattle.

Five teams that all could/should be higher.  Tampa just stole one of the best arms in the minors in Jose De Leon and have some very talented youth in their rotation; if these guys click Tampa shoots upwards.  I’m not entirely sure what to make of Arizona; they have Greinke (the lowest remaining Ace in terms of rotation rankings) and they have what should be a #2 in Shelby Miller, but what the heck happened in 2016?  Meanwhile former Nat-farmhand Robbie Ray has a massive delta between WAR rating systems that its hard to figure out how good he is: B-R rated his 2016 at just 0.7 bWAR while Fangraphs called it a 3.0 fWAR season.  Well which is it?   Perhaps we’ll see some regression to some sort of mean for him in 2017.  Both Texas and  Houston have Cy Young-calibre starters at the head of their rotations with question marks: Darvish b/c of injury, Hamels  because of age and Keuchel due to a bad 2016.  Seattle’s rating increased over the course of the offseason with their wheeling-and-dealing GM Mark DiPoto acquiring Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo to improve that rotation several clicks.

Ranking Spots #17-21: Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta.

The White Sox lost at least 5-6 rankings spots when they moved Chris Sale, who was by far the biggest name to move this off-season and, in fact, is the ONLY projected starter of any team ranked in my top 10.  That’s pretty amazing; teams are just doing such a better job of building pitching staffs.   The Yankees are precariously holding on to this spot; if their #1 Tanaka goes down with his partially torn UCL, they plummet into the bottom 3.  I’ve never rated Baltimore’s rotation, but they keep making the playoffs, so maybe I just have a blind spot here.  Philadelphia’s rotation could be a year or two from being in the top 6-10 range if these youngsters pan out.  Atlanta maybe should be slightly lower; I like Teheran but others do not.  Atlanta did by far and away the most acquisitions of any team in terms of pitching: 3 of their 5 projected opening day rotation guys are new on FA contracts, and almost all their depth is newly acquired MLFAs.

Ranking Spots #22-23: Kansas City and Miami

It just worked out this way, but both teams who had tragedy strike and take away their aces ended up ranked right next to each other.  The loss of Jose Fernandez cost Miami around 9 spots, and the loss of Yordano Ventura probably cost Kansas City 5-6 ranking spots.  Miami (like Atlanta) will depend on several new faces in 2017 as a result, while Kansas City may be looking at an accelerated rebuilding process.

Ranking Spots #24-26: Minnesota, Oakland, Colorado

I could see why you may think Oakland should be higher, but until their newcomers like Sean Manaea (who I always like to point out was on the board and was draftable in 2013 at the spot we gave up to sign Rafael Soriano in Mike Rizzo‘s eternal Quest for a Closer) succeed for more than a couple of months, Oakland stays ranked this low.  I wouldn’t vociferously argue the order of any of these teams: they’re mostly ranked by their aces this low.

Ranking Spots #27-30: Los Angeles Angels, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and San Diego

At least the Angels and Cincinnati have a couple of arms that you may briefly consider in fantasy; you can’t say that for Milwaukee or San Diego.  In fact, if you told me that the “next 5” for San Diego was actually their planned rotation, I’m not sure i’d rank them any worse than the first 5.  Milwaukee has instead depended on veteran players for their low ranking level, with their team ace Matt Garza making more news lately for having his Ferrari vandalized and for piping up about birth control on twitter than for his capabilities on the mound.  Always a good sign for your coming season.

So, what do you guys think of my rankings?


28 Responses to '2017 MLB Rotation Rankings 1-30'

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  1. I guess my first reaction is that your view of injuries seems a little inconsistent. You mention (and ding) the Mets and CLE, but not Stras nor others that have similar concerns? I understand why you may have done it, but that just feels like a personal gut call. I’ve tried to assume health unless its clear that the pitcher doesn’t have it.

    So, while I don’t think that I can go 30 deep, I’d say that my top 5 is LAD, NYM, WAS, CLE, CHC, followed by TOR, STL and BOS.

    LAD has Kershaw and then is just so deep, so it doesn’t feel like they will ever throw less than a 4. NYM are just so talented, as is WAS. CHC – I dunno, I just don’t like them that much, and several have age on them which worries me. And I’ve never liked most on BOS’ staff, other than Sale. Alternatively, I view TOR as significantly underrated. The kids on DET could be interesting, but I am not willing to bet on them yet.


    2 Feb 17 at 3:34 pm

  2. I tried to be as consistent with injuries and past performance as I could. For example; yes Strasburg got hurt in 2016 but it was a lesser injury that was just badly timed. Compare to Carrasco and Salazar, both of whom have only made 30 starts once in their careers and ended last year on the D/L. Harvey was hurt yes … but he was also god-awful last year, so its hard to predict what he may do in 2017. Matz is good … and has NEVER been healthy. At least Stras has a full 34 start season under his belt.

    The problem with saying LA is better than a team like Chicago is when you line them up. Kershaw > Lester sure. But who would you rather have, Arrieta or Rich frigging Hill, who was pitching in indy ball 2 years ago? Then who do you want, Hendricks or Maeda? you may like Urias over Lackey in the #4, but its kinda hard to argue against what Lackey has done in a hitter’s park. And then the 5th starters are a wash. So on a whole thats why LA is lower for me.

    Todd Boss

    2 Feb 17 at 3:45 pm

  3. When I said that your injury assumptions looked like a personal gut call, it wasn’t a criticism of where you came out, but I meant it as a statement that it’s hard to compare apples to apples if we each go with our gut, rather than use the same assumption. As an example, you say Stras’ injury was lesser and badly timed, whereas I think it was scary enough to be my #1 risk factor heading into 2017. wherever you fall on that risk greatly affects where you place WAS on this list, right? So I mostly assumed pitchers would be healthy unless it’s being reported otherwise. That bumped the CLE guys high, although I do think you make a fair point that some pitchers like Matz have never demonstrated durability, which ought to matter.

    But Harvey has been phenomenal in his career until last year, which ended with an injury. So I can easily excuse that poor performance due to pitching through injury, and since he is in his prime and the injury isn’t so threatening as a shoulder, I assumed he bounces back. And to give this one another gut feel, if I had to bet who pitches more innings next year, I’d take Harvey > Stras. But I didn’t factor it that way.

    On LAD v. CHC, (1) I think it’s fair to say that I am just not that impressed with CHC pitching, So I am probably less rational on them, but (2) Kershaw is probably 3 WAR better than Lester, (3) it doesn’t matter that Hill was in Indy ball two years ago, it matters what he does now, which has been very good; that being said, I take a healthy Arrieta over him, but it’s kind of close and I am concerned that Arrieta is slipping, (4) I don’t think Montgomery will last as a starter, so I don’t think it’s a wash, and lastly, but maybe most importantly, (5) the 30 starts each will get from SPs not in the top 5 will greatly favor LAD. We can’t even offer a two year deal for a reliever but they are paying big bucks to their 6, 7 and 8th starters. This is where money is really providing value.


    2 Feb 17 at 6:10 pm

  4. Belisle to the Twins, on a major-league deal and $2M guaranteed, neither of which the Nats were probably willing to do.


    2 Feb 17 at 7:48 pm

  5. I think you’ve got the top six rotations more or less right, although like Wally, I’m not completely sold on Boston. As noted, the overriding factor in establishing the “best” rotations will ride on health.

    The Cubs had a remarkable run of starter health last season, in addition to the emergence of Hendricks as well as Lackey and Hammel holding it together. Only Arrieta regressed a bit, but regression from Cy level leaves one still pretty darn good. Now, Hammel is gone, Lackey is a year closer to the end of the line, and we get to find out if Arrieta’s regression is a “thing.” I think the Cubs are very strong in their top three, but their back end is suspect. With their offense, it won’t matter, though, at least until the playoffs.

    On paper, the Mets have the five best arms on the list. On the field, Wheeler didn’t pitch at all, Harvey threw less than 100 innings and had another surgery, and none of that group managed to get to 200 innings. If that quintet throws 900 innings, the Mets could challenge the Nats, but I don’t think that’s going to come anywhere close to happening.

    If Stras and Ross stay healthy and Gio doesn’t get any worse, I’ll take the Nat rotation over the Dodger one. The only match-up the Nats “lose” on paper outright is Claw vs. Max, the reigning Cy Guy. Hill’s smoke and mirrors won’t last forever. Urias has big promise, but we know from recent (and now traded) experience that big promise sometimes takes time to translate to big results in The Show.

    Cleveland’s five is pretty solid across the board. Boston’s is star-heavy up top but pretty suspect at the back end (a la SF). It’s curious that the Giants spent so much on a closer but didn’t address the back end of their rotation.

    I don’t think STL is in the top 10. You’re going on reputation for them. Look at last year’s results. Martinez was the only starter with an ERA under 4.62! All the rest also had WHIP over 1.3, with a couple pushing 1.5. All of that adds up to the look of a team on the verge of slipping.

    When you get past the top 15 or so and think about the holes still remaining in rotations across baseball, I have no idea why teams didn’t make more of a push to get a deal with the Nats for guys like Cole and Voth. No, they won’t win any awards, but they can eat innings at the back of a rotation better than so many guys who are doing it. Think about a team like the Angels, who have a better-than-average everyday lineup. But they’re going nowhere with that rotation. The Brewers moved a lot of guys last year, but again, they didn’t end up with much for their rotation. The Chisox may have mortgaged their immediate future, but they got nearly a full prospective rotation in return. It will be interesting to see how quickly they try to work Giolito into it.


    3 Feb 17 at 8:00 am

  6. Say no to Romo! Either Sergio or Tony . . . although Tony probably throws harder. Sergio is down to the mid-80s.


    3 Feb 17 at 8:05 am

  7. I definitely had a hard time ranking St. Louis. You’re absolutely right; all on reputation of past dominance of Wainwright and Wacha; two years ago I had them both as “Aces” and that would have put them immediately into the top 3-4. Lynn was a very underrated 4th starter, and Leake is an interesting case as well; year after year of bouncing just over or just under league average perfomrance (career ERA+ of 98); what does that make Leake? Perhaps one of the better 5th starters in the game.

    Todd Boss

    3 Feb 17 at 8:33 am

  8. Romo rumors: huge difference of guaranteed versus non-guaranteed contract right? If its $2M guaranteed then that kind of sends shockwaves through the rest of the depth.

    As of this moment, here’s how I think the 9 relievers stack up: Kelley, Treinen, Glover, Solis*, Perez*, Adams, Gott, Martin, Cordero, Grace* .

    If you guarantee a spot to Romo, then he slips inbetween Glover and Solis presumably, bumping Adams or Gott to AAA. But yeah; his pitxh f/x numbers for 2016 are not impressive: 83-89 with average of 85.9 mph on his fastball. yikes.

    Todd Boss

    3 Feb 17 at 8:37 am


    Law’s list of “sleeper prospects” for each team; his choice for ours isn’t exactly a sleeper to us: Juan Soto. But i guess Soto is a sleeper to the rest of the world.

    Todd Boss

    3 Feb 17 at 9:44 am

  10. Wally,

    Harvey’s injury/surgery was no joke. There are only a few dozen pitchers who’ve had thoracic outlet surgery and some of them never made it back. Of the guys that have made it back, the best are probably Kenny Rogers, Matt Harrison, and Jaime Garcia – not guys on your Cy Young shortlist.

    I’d rather have Strasburg’s melange of smaller injuries than have him have thoracic outlet surgery any day.

    FWIW, Zips (which uses injuries as an input) projects Strasburg for 160 IP next year and Harvey for 140.


    3 Feb 17 at 10:23 am

  11. Soto: I think I was the only person who voted Soto #1 in Luke’s top bats list over Robles. I’m not down on Robles; I just think Soto has a higher ceiling, particularly on the power “tool.” Robles still looks more like a gap power/speed disrupter type.

    It will be interesting to see if the Nats want to give Soto a full half-season at Auburn, or if they have enough confidence in him to let him sink or swim at Hagerstown at age 18.

    Reliever list: I’d have Gott ahead of Adams, based on his MLB experience (in the same Angels org as Adams), and I’d have Cordero and his alleged 100 mph heat ahead of Martin. But that’s all pretty speculative, and it won’t take much for Tim Collins to pass a few of those guys, either. Also, there will be a long man in the bullpen, be it Cole, Worley, or Jacob Turner.

    Romo: Yep, huge difference if he’s willing to take a non-guaranteed minor-league deal. As suspect as he’s been, I’d have a real hard time guaranteeing him money.

    Speaking of guaranteed money, $6.5M for Logan, and Blevins said to be close to getting around the same. If you folks haven’t started forcing all of your kids to throw left-handed, start now!


    3 Feb 17 at 10:36 am

  12. I agree with both of you – just say no to Romo. I’d be fine with Blanton on a Logan-style contract. He’s probably the last guy left that I’d give a MLB deal to. Otherwise just go with what we have at this point or some more NRI deals.

    Soto as sleeper? Must mean he can’t think of anyone else. My true ‘sleeper’ (meaning a guy that isn’t on anyone’s lists) is Ian Sagdal. The guy just seems to have a good hit tool, and those guys often find a way to be useful in other ways and get to the pros. Kind of like soft tossing guys with excellent command.


    3 Feb 17 at 10:47 am

  13. Law ranked out his nats top 10 and then gave his next 9 or so. You really have to look deep to find a “sleeper” he didn’t mention. Soto was his sleeper in that he wasn’t on the top 100 minor league wide.

    SAgdal is a good one. I think my outside the org’s top 10 sleeper is Tyler Watson, and the “out of nowhere” may be someone like Simms or Mapes. Mapes has never appeared on any list i’ve seen, some of which go down 30-40 deep.

    Todd Boss

    3 Feb 17 at 10:52 am

  14. Among the FA pitchers left, I’d be willing to give a major-league deal to Blanton, Hammel, Wood, and maybe Henderson Alvarez depending on his medical report. Presumably Hammel and Wood are holding out for starting gigs, though.

    Incidentally, directly related to the initial topic of this thread, the fact that the Nats haven’t aggressively pursued FA starters like T. Ross and Hammel AND traded Giolito and Lopez leads me to believe that they’re pretty confident in the health of Stras and J. Ross.


    3 Feb 17 at 11:09 am

  15. Here’s the starters I still have on the FA market (with Age):

    Henderson Alvarez (27)
    Jorge De La Rosa (36)
    Nathan Eovaldi (27)
    Doug Fister (33)
    Jason Hammel (34)
    Matt Harrison (30)
    Edwin Jackson (33)
    Mat Latos (29)
    Colby Lewis (37)
    Tim Lincecum (33)
    Jon Niese (30)
    Jarrod Parker (28)
    Jake Peavy (36)
    Williams Perez (26)
    Alfredo Simon (36)
    Jered Weaver (34)
    Jerome Williams (35)
    C.J. Wilson (36)
    Travis Wood (30)

    Todd Boss

    3 Feb 17 at 11:17 am

  16. Sagdal and Davidson both made huge OPS improvements last year, at little over age for their levels. The Nats haven’t really known where to play either of them. I’ve projected that Davidson may get a look at 2B at Harrisburg since Mejia didn’t look ready for promotion.

    As for sleepers, it would be a great story if Mapes or Simms were to make it to an MLB bullpen. You could almost declare Voth a sleeper since he continually gets so overlooked.

    Last offseason, I predicted Glover’s run all the way to the big club. I also thought Andrew Lee could progress a couple of levels as a starter, but he ended up with another TJ. My magic 8-ball is hazy on such things this year, though. I know there’s been a lot of excitement about Stevenson after what he did in the AFL, but he struggled in AA before decamping for AZ. If he shows up in Harrisburg playing like he did in Glendale, then yeah, he could get a call-up at some point. The same could go for Drew Ward.

    There’s not much in the way of hitters who could surprise with a trip to Half Street beyond those guys, though, unless you count Robles. I assume he’ll start back in Potomac (see him while you can), but if/when he gets to Harrisburg, he could be in line for a late call-up.


    3 Feb 17 at 11:25 am

  17. For the starter list, I’ll bet a couple of nickels that the Nats get at least one of them on a minor-league deal as another insurance policy.


    3 Feb 17 at 11:27 am

  18. For you Expo fans still out there, this one’s for you:

    “Jeffrey Loria, art dealer: I was eaten by wasps, so I never owned the Montreal Expos.”


    3 Feb 17 at 11:41 am

  19. Drat, Logan Morrison signs back with the Rays. Adam Lind now is about the only hope to upgrade on CRob.

    The guess would be that the Nats see Drew taking over full time in the lineup if (when) Zim goes down, presumably with Murphy sliding to 1B. They just can’t see CRob playing regularly (see Dave Cameron’s comment from yesterday).


    3 Feb 17 at 1:55 pm

  20. I’m not a LoMo guy. Prefer Lind because I think he’s a more consistent hitter.

    What about Park? Would you claim him for the remaining contract (3/9m)? I would. Redundant with Zim but $3m per year isn’t terrible for a guy with that power potential


    3 Feb 17 at 7:17 pm

  21. I predicted that the Nats would bring in a couple of recovering former starters, but Jeremy Guthrie??? He was never that good even in his alleged prime. Nothing ventured, nothing lost, I guess.

    Looks like Romo is probably/maybe going to the Dodgers. The Giants have to be laughing about that. I didn’t want him with the Nats.

    If the Dodgers get Romo, I wonder if they’ll back off Blanton, whom I’d much prefer over Romo. (And by the way, so much for all the talk early in the offseason that the Dodgers were financially strapped and couldn’t afford to re-sign both Turner and Jansen, or much of anything else.)

    Wally, I did look at Park’s stats when he got DFA’d. He was awful last year in MN, but there is something tempting about a guy with back-to-back 50 HR years, no matter what league. Like you, I’m just not sure where he would fit with the Nats as a RH hitter and 1B-only. (The same goes for Napoli.)

    Meanwhile, the Nats are still rolling along with two 40-man slots open less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers report.


    4 Feb 17 at 7:42 am

  22. They probably need those spots for Worley and maybe 1 other NRI. Still, there could be quality depth guys available now for $2-3m per. Pagan and Lind, for instance, would look to be quality improvements over MAT and CRob. That’s a pretty good value, although I’d not like to see either getting 400 PAs.

    I’ve given up on Blanton, and hoping that we aren’t trying to take Romo from LAD.


    4 Feb 17 at 12:25 pm

  23. I would much prefer Pagan and his low K rate over Taylor. He’s a guy who could legitimately play two or three games a week in place of Werth. Pagan made $11.25M last year, though, and 4/$40M over his contract. Would he take $3M just to stay in the game? He and his agent have to be realizing that teams haven’t exactly been beating down the door for him.

    However, the Nats have a player somewhat similar to Pagan in Goodwin, maybe with a little more power. Goodwin has virtually no MLB experience, though.


    4 Feb 17 at 6:44 pm

  24. Rosenthal joins the chorus wondering why the Nats haven’t done more in the offseason:


    6 Feb 17 at 11:07 am

  25. I’ll take a little time over lunch to respond to the Rosenthal piece. Like everyone else, I do wish the Nats had done a little more this offseason. At the same time, a number of things have to be remembered.

    The first is that it’s hard to improve on a 95-win team, no matter what you do. I’ve said more than once that the offseason motto should be “first do no harm.” I know that some feel longer-term harm was done in the Eaton deal, but it’s also true that Eaton was the highest WAR player from 2016 to change teams. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else make that point. Eaton produced more WAR than Jansen and Chapman combined.

    So while the price was high, the Nats inarguably got better by exchanging Danny for Eaton. They inarguably got worse in the catcher department, although there were almost no options there. Very few even half-decent backstops were available as FA or by trade. The Nats took a chance that a once-decent guy will rebound after an awful season. At least they made an effort in a very tight market on that front.

    We all know the closer story, but we saw that one coming. They bid on all of the top three, very legit bids, all that would have extended their payroll beyond where it stands. Would they have had to dump payroll if they had gotten one of them? That’s a question I don’t hear being asked. I think it’s fair to at least speculate that they might have had to trade Gio to cover the cost of one of the big-three closers . . . potentially leaving them with Cole or Voth or a retread signee at the back of the rotation. Yikes.

    Robertson is still out there. He’s worth kicking the tires, but he’s not worth another top prospect. I’d give them Taylor and Cole for him in a heartbeat, though.

    I’ve said all along that I think the bullpen is in better shape, even without a proven closer, than the bench, though. The bench concerns me, particularly reinforcements for Werth and Zim.

    So they haven’t done much “harm,” got better with Eaton, got worse at catcher and uncertain-to-worse at closer, and no better on the bench. They’re still a 90+ win team, particularly when you factor in a full season of Turner and (we hope) a bounce-back from Harper. I’m just not sure what other type of major move people think they could have made, other than overpaying for a closer (which they tried to do, to a point.)


    6 Feb 17 at 12:50 pm

  26. Agree 100% KW. I’m worried about the bullpen, but I don’t fault the Nats for not paying somebody like Sergio Romo or Greg Holland. The probability that Koda Glover has a better 2017 than those guys (or the guys that are similar to those guys and were available) is pretty high in my opinion. I don’t think it’s wise to spend money on the bullpen and am glad they missed out on the high-priced closers. Good relievers break and become useless all the time (see Aaron Barrett for a recent example).

    The bench is a different story. We know what it took to sign Logan Morrison (or someone similar) and the Nats seemingly had no interest. The team needs Werth/Zim insurance and Robinson is a cheap form of that. The problem is that he’s not very good, nor is Heisey (G5 homer notwithstanding).


    6 Feb 17 at 1:58 pm

  27. Bullpen: on the one hand, after all the kvetching i’ve done about the prices they’ve paid over the years for “proven closers” i’m glad they didn’t break the bank. Closers are nothing more than failed starters, guys who had 1 and a half grade 60-70 pitches but not 3 major league average pitches that you need to turn over lineups. To that end, Glover, Treinen, Kelley all are more than capable to close. Its for this reason alone that I was bummed that they traded Reynaldo Lopez; i’m in the Keith Law camp that Lopez will eventually become a closer because he won’t be able to keep up his velocity and mechanics for 5-6 innings every 5 days. But he’s gone, so now we look elsewhere. We know we have big arms in the minors, guys who miss a ton of bats and who aren’t big names; Glover went from High-A to the majors in 3 months and it may happen again.

    I’m not entirely sold on the narrative that closing games requires some super human make up on the mound, no more so than others who are reading this are not sold that “clubhouse chemistry” is a thing.

    Bench depth and Werth/Zimmerman insurance; I read a lot of pundits who think that Werth and Zimmerman should just be taken out back and shot. That’s great to say in the vacuum of punditry, but its something else entirely to tell the Lerners to swallow Werth’s $21M 2017 salary and/or Zimmerman’s $48M due (14,14,18 and 2 million buy out for the next 3 seasons). Not to mention their tenure and position as the veteran leaders of the clubhouse. So yes, in a perfect world I’d love to have a big bashing corner slugger just waiting in the wings to provide theoretical cover if/when either of these two guys gets hurt or under performs … but the reality is that no player who could start would willingly accept a non-starting role. And that’s probably why the team got Drew back, why they were able to resign Heisey, why they didn’t get the likes of Mike Napoli or Bautista or Encarnacion.

    Todd Boss

    7 Feb 17 at 1:39 pm

  28. […] 2017: Cubs #1, Mets #2.  Cleveland and LA Dodgers really the best. […]

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