Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats 2017 Draft Class Wrap-Up

66 comments

Crowe signed for exactly slot. PHoto via d1baseball.com

Crowe signed for exactly slot. Photo via d1baseball.com

A quick summary of the Nats 2017 draft, now that the signing deadline has passed.

Here’s a link to my tracking XLS to show my work.  It has round, overall, slot figures, known bonuses, twitter accounts and some links for pertinent stories.

By my counts, here’s how the financials worked for this year’s draft:

  • $5,503,500: Nats bonus pool for the top 10 rounds and all overages in rounds 11-40.
  • $5,778,675: Bonus pool with 5% cushion (above 5% cushion they lose draft picks, below they just pay tax on the overage)
  • $5,673,800: total bonus figures paid to the top 10 rounds of players plus the over-slot deal given to 12th rounder Jackson Stoeckinger
  • $220,300: thus the amount they went over the official bonus pool
  • $54,875: the amount they left “on the table” under the 5% cushion figure (clearly not enough to get Montes de Oca).
  • $6,836,300: the total amount of (known) bonus dollars paid to all their signed players.  mlbpipeline.com did a good job this year getting bonuses for practically everyone who signed, unlike prior  years where anyone outside the top 10 remained mostly a mystery unless they were huge over-slot guys.

Over Slot deals:

  • 1st rounder: Seth Romero: $269,600 over slot.  We’ve discussed this ad-naseum; really have no idea how he was able to command an over-slot deal.
  • 7th rounder Jackson Tetreault: $121,900 over slot, a Juco guy with a commitment to USF that they had to buy him out of.
  • 9th rounder Alex Troop:  $47,000 over slot: a solid college junior with leverage to go back to school
  • 12th rounder Jackson Stoeckinger: $50,000 over slot to buy the Juco pitcher out of a commit to Kentucky.

Under slot deals:

  • 3rd rounder Nick Raquet, $47,300 under slot, though not nearly as much as I thought he’d be under.
  • 4th rounder Cole Freeman, $50,000 under slot, again a surprisingly high bonus figure paid out to a senior with no leverage.
  • 8th rounder Jared Brashner, $139,600 under slot, the classic senior sign to save cash for other acquisitions.
  • 10th rounder Trey Turner, $31,300 under slot to the TJ rehab pitcher who probably was happy to get what he got.

Some quick research on the seven guys who didn’t sign turned up a couple of useful links:

  • 24th rounder Tim Richards, a senior SS from Cal State Fullerton, has apparently elected to retire rather than take whatever miniscule bonus figure the Nats offered and show up to play in Florida.  That’s amazing to me.  He just finished a great CWS showing, clearly has talent, and i’m shocked he’s just hanging them up.  Why not give it at least one summer in pro ball?  You got drafted for crying out loud; you have the rest of your life to be an adult.
  • 34th rounder Bennett Sousa announced via Instagram the unshocking news that he’d return for his senior year.
  • No real surprises on the HSers who didn’t sign.  Only surprise really was how how high they took Dusty Baker‘s kid as a legacy draft.  I wonder if the Nats weren’t trying to make sure they got him rather than some of the other teams Baker has been associated with, so as not to be shown up with their manager, and that explains why he went so high.
  • No real surprise that Bryce Montes de Oca didn’t sign either, once it became clear that the nats 3rd and 4th rounders didn’t really result in that much savings.

66 Responses to 'Nats 2017 Draft Class Wrap-Up'

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  1. Didn’t they leave $100k on the table, according to your numbers?

    I’ve realized that I will literally forget about almost everyone in this draft except Romero, unless and until someone starts to produce in A+.

    I’d really like Osuna, even with the anxiety, or almost slightly less, Iglesias. Makes too much sense for their window and payroll situation. So what would you pay? Really don’t want to give up Robles for a reliever, but anyone else would be in play for me. Soto and Luzardo? That’s a hefty package, for sure, but I’d do it for Osuna. Something less for Iglesias.

    And then get Doolittle, or failing that Madson.

    Wally

    11 Jul 17 at 5:17 pm

  2. Doolittle actually has some pretty amazing numbers this year.

    I don’t think any of the available relievers are worth Robles, either, even Osuna. As for who to trade, I’d love it if they’d avail themselves of the “Trea Turner rule” and ship Seth Romero out. I’d ten times rather trade Romero than Luzardo, who is already back throwing mid-90s.

    I had wondered what had happened to Tim Richards. That’s disappointing, as he looked like the type who could make it to A+ or AA at least. He was probably offered $2,500, though, and with a college degree and not a lot of MLB potential, I can’t say that I blame him.

    I’ll chip in a bit more tomorrow.

    KW

    11 Jul 17 at 8:23 pm

  3. $50k versus 100k left; maybe have a xls error :-)

    Richards not taking a shot; I think he’s going to regret that decision. Unless he has a compelling reason to immediately need a $35k/year salary versus the $1200/month he makes in the low minors, i don’t understand the decision. Its not like he’s some low-end prospect who went to a no-name school; he was named to the frigging all CWS 2017 tourney team!

    Todd Boss

    12 Jul 17 at 8:56 am

  4. Yeah, there was definitely something weird about the Richards thing. FWIW, he did play a good part of the season with a sports hernia. But why not let the Nats pay for the surgery?

    KW

    12 Jul 17 at 9:04 am

  5. I’ve been somewhat negative about what the Nats did in this draft, so I’ll start off with the positives for once. Overall, I really liked how many seniors they got from strong teams in Power 5 conferences to fill out the draft. I know these guys will “age” quickly in the system, but they will also bring a drive and polish to the system from which the JUCOs, Latin kids, and knuckleheads can benefit. I’ve talked before about how crazy-competitive it is, year-round, just to get on the field for a top college team. These guys know all about conditioning, fundamentals, and focusing on the game. Plus with 6-7, 270 Gabe Klobosits in the Auburn clubhouse, a certain knucklehead had better think twice about picking fights with his teammates!

    I actually like Klobosits (36th round) and Engelbrekt (40th). They’ve pitched well thus far and have been promoted to Auburn. Engelbrekt can barely break 90, but a lefty who is all arms and legs and can throw strikes can stay in the game forever if he keeps getting guys out.

    I have high hopes for JUCO hitters Eric Senior (13th) and Jamori Blash (23d). Both are bigger, athletic guys with lots of (still-raw) power, and Blash has an MLB pedigree with a brother in The Show. I would much rather take flyers on guys like these than the smaller speedsters types like Upshaw on whom they lavished a significant bonus last year.

    Crowe (2d) was a steal where he fell (65th pick). Being a year older, the hope will be that he can advance quickly.

    I like Troop (9th), who was a Friday starter at Michigan State. He was a two-way player there so is just getting to focus solely on pitching for the first time. He’s big (6-5, 210) and has been solid in his early pro starts.

    Tall JUCO pitchers Tetreault (7th), Stoeckinger (12th), Johnson (17th), and Storm (21st) are lottery tickets but not bad bets at all where they were picked and what they were paid.

    KW

    12 Jul 17 at 9:05 am

  6. As for the downsides . . .

    I like having Freeman (4th) and even Racquet (3d) in the system; I just don’t like how high they were picked and how much they were paid.

    That leaves me not liking how they used picks in rounds 1, 3, and 4, so it’s hard for me to have overall love for this draft. I also didn’t love how they used nine of the first ten picks on pitchers. I know the draft was said to be strong on college arms, but jeez. For an organization desperately in need of hitters with some pop, nine arms plus a slap-hitting SS in the first ten picks ain’t exciting.

    They didn’t do much with high-schoolers in this draft, which is fine with me. Connell (11th) seemed like a reach, but they didn’t pay him much, and at least he’s got a little size to fill out. The Darren Baker pick was a complete waste, when they could have gotten another competent college bat.

    I feel like I should me more PO’d about the Montes de Oca deal than I am. Clearly, he dropped to the third day because of signability concerns, and they were valid. He’s already had multiple arm issues and certainly would have “repeatable delivery” concerns at his size.

    Overall, what do we have? I only see two guys who on paper look like potential MLB talents, Romero and Crowe. Both have had arm issues, Romero has the head issue, and Crowe is a year older than norm. I don’t think Hill (5th) and Johnston (6th) are much more than Voth/Mapes/Simms types at best. As I said, I do like the JUCO investment in both arms and hitters, as those may be some of their best-chance lottery tickets this year. But they’re still lottery tickets.

    KW

    12 Jul 17 at 9:06 am

  7. Hi gang, wanted to wait till the AS break to post this hilarious piece. From the Richmond Post Dispatch.

    http://www.richmond.com/obituaries/killebrew-patrick/article_863f515d-cc63-5565-bc9b-00b8be664a80.html

    Mark L

    12 Jul 17 at 9:20 am

  8. Are we supposed to make the donations at the Nats’ ticket office?

    KW

    12 Jul 17 at 9:37 am

  9. This post will be proven to be premature. It took us two years to discover that McKenzie Mills would be relevant to us, for example.

    Pitchers get no instruction now. So in a pitcher heavy draft, all that we can look for is whether they get on the mound and how well they do now. If they show well, great. If not, then they will work on what they have over the fall and then we will see how they respond.

    The Nats do not challenge the hitters they draft. Occasionally a college bat is rising from the draft to Hagerstown in his first year, but the Nats go slow. So we don;t really knw what we have with college age products who are playing a longer year and going to a wooden bat and likely won’t, until this time next year.

    Even those who advance quickly, and who are seen by the pundits to be likely major league regulars, like Max Schrock (now the A’s #16 mlb prospect) are two years ago drafted and in AA.

    What I would point out is that 1) yes, we signed almost everyone 2) we drafted and signed a number of underage college pitchers, which means less miles on the arms 3) the convergence of draft talent and Latino talent is really contributing to organizational depth at the lower minors. When players start getting promoted from A- and A+, we can then see players rise to the levels they should be at at this stage.

    forensicane

    12 Jul 17 at 11:08 am

  10. Oca is not a Nats failure. They were in touch with him before draft and he got word of an extra year of eligibility after they drafted him. As for Richards, they signed Merrill so it is a wash. Bryan Lippincott retired, too, to go into financial services after a much higher drafting AND a successful pro debut in the organization a couple of years back. Some folks have to get on with life.

    forensicane

    12 Jul 17 at 11:11 am

  11. I don’t think Merrill is as good a hitter as Richards, but he’s from a similar top program with (presumably) a similar exemplary work ethic, which I was praising with the later-round draftees. He should be a benefit to the system, particularly in the instructional league in the fall when paired with kids like Antuna and Garcia.

    It’s interesting, considering the recent success of Mc Mills, Watson, and Weston Davis, that the Nats didn’t follow a similar pattern with a few more later-round HS arms this year. They only drafted a single one: Nelson Galindez (22d round), a 6-3, 220 LHP. He does have that in common with the others mentioned — he’s big. It looks like they decided that the similar value was much more in JUCO arms this year.

    KW

    12 Jul 17 at 11:48 am

  12. Juco targeting makes sense. It’s a population that is less scholastic by nature and yet more advanced physically than a high school product.

    Plus, getting a guy out of Juco, where there is less immersion in the identity of the school (Bennett Sousa VA) means the player is less likely to want to stretch out college as a once in a lifetime experience. No one wants to make Juco last as long as they can.

    It’s a scout’s responsibility to find the HS players who really are not scholastically motivated. That makes Galindez types a more predictable sign at 125K.

    Re: Merrill – the Nats liked Richards more, so they drafted him. But if he was that highly valued, they would have drafted him a lot higher. And he does not want to play.

    The draft we can evaluate is the International Draft of 2016. The players have been in the academy for a year. And now, five (!) are regulars for the 9-3 GCL Baby Nats at age 16-17. Ricardo Mendez didn’t get the big bonus, but he has grabbed onto the CF job and will not get moved out of the lineup, despite being in the #9 spot.

    forensicane

    12 Jul 17 at 12:52 pm

  13. Boy, Richards is sure getting a lot of ink for a college senior who was drafted very low. I’d bet he would have been less than 50/50 to break out of A ball. I know that he went to a good school, but what am I missing? Why such fascination?

    As for Romero, maybe we ought to look at him as a top 10 talent that the Nats had no chance at unless he had some issue. And as far as issues go, weed and kind of an immature jerk are not bad ones. As someone said earlier, better this than child abuse.

    Lastly, as for org needs, I think pitching has outpaced position players so I’m glad that was their focus this time. They have quite a number of interesting position player prospects, although admittedly at low levels. Whereas after Fedde, there are only three or four around low A or below that have the promise of major leaguers.

    Wally

    12 Jul 17 at 2:31 pm

  14. “Whereas after Fedde” . . . yep, there’s a HUGE pitching gap, all the way down to Hagerstown, where Mills, Watson, and Sharp currently ply their trade. That’s why I wanted Crowe signed earlier, so he might have a chance to make it to Hags by the end of the year.

    I don’t think the Nats missed out on a major-leaguer with Richards, just a good college bat gamer type. He played injured much of the year, and missed part of it, so he had to know that his stock had dropped.

    As for the international “draft,” alas, there’s no such beast. It’s still the Wild Wild West; just ask Bowden and his buddy Smiley. It’s got to be hell trying to pick players from among under-nourished, under-coached 16-year-olds. All in all, though, the Nats seem to be having increasing success in the Latin field, in Venezuela almost as much as the DR.

    KW

    12 Jul 17 at 2:41 pm

  15. I won’t beat the Romero thing in the ground, at least any more than I already have. His background certainly isn’t as bad as the Oregon State pitcher’s. As I’ve noted, I’m nearly as frustrated with Romero having gained 40-50 pounds one offseason as I am his serial knuckleheadedness. I also don’t like how he let his team down, time and again. I’ve been in those types of team situations, and it’s a cancer on the whole squad.

    Maybe he proves to be a “top 10 talent” and model citizen. Since he’s ours now, I hope he does . . . but the odds are greater that he doesn’t. Was he a risk worth taking? We’ll see. There were several other quality college arms still on the board at the time.

    KW

    12 Jul 17 at 2:50 pm

  16. Ok, to play devil’s advocate, college pitchers taken close to but after Romero: Brendan Little, Nate Pearson, Alex Lange, Drew Rasmussen. I liked Little, I think you (KW) mostly liked Lange and maybe Pearson, Rasmussen has some health issue causing TBR to pull their offer.

    I’ll bet a beer that Romero has the most WAR during his years of control of that group, by a handy margin. Rizzo’s group is pretty good at picking elite talent (less so the unpolished gems), so I’ve come around that Romero probably has that. I understand the makeup issues and am not saying it’s a slam dunk, but I won’t be surprised if he turns out like Carlos Rodon and the likelihood with the other guys is that every one is a reliever.

    Wally

    12 Jul 17 at 10:38 pm

  17. I still think the $340K listed on Freeman is an error. That’s exactly what the guy picked right after him got (a HSer), and I’ve seen him listed elsewhere as signing for 150K against the 390K slot value. He was offered 300K last year as a junior and didn’t sign so I doubt that went up.

    Sources:

    https://www.mlbdailydish.com/2017/6/15/15812484/2017-mlb-draft-signings-tracker
    http://www.baseballamerica.com/draftdb/index.php

    Melissa

    12 Jul 17 at 11:05 pm

  18. Melissa, good points. Maybe you could Tweet at one of the beat writers and see if they know/can find out.

    Does the money the Nats saved roll over matter? Is that an additional amount they have available next year?

    Wally, you’re sorta making my point for me — that there were a number of high-quality arms still available when the Nats took Romero. Also, the three of those four who signed did so for several hundred thousand less than Romero did. So to take Romero AND his baggage AND to know that you’re going to have to pay him $500-800K more, they must have liked him significantly better than the other options. Time will tell whether they were right.

    KW

    13 Jul 17 at 7:16 am

  19. OK, I’m ready to shift gears to upgrading. Maybe Todd will have time to post about this at some point. I guess the overriding question is what do the Nats need? Do they really need a Closer (TM), or just a couple of reliable late-inning arms they could mix and match with Albers and E. Romero? There are a bunch of guys out there who could help who wouldn’t cost Closer (TM) prices: Doolittle, Hand, Swarzak, Kahnle, Joe Smith, Blake Parker, etc., etc. Curiously, one name I haven’t heard mentioned much is one who would make a lot of sense: Everyday Felipe.

    If they decide that they need a Closer (TM), does it need to be an experienced Closer (TM)? In other words, are they looking for an older guy who can sorta be the leader of the bullpen, as Melancon seemed to become last year? If so, about the only guy who fits that bill in Robertson. I just somehow have this feeling that if Robertson were really available at a price they’re willing to pay, they would have had him months ago.

    Iglesias and Justin Wilson don’t have long experience closing, and Osuna is only 22. Osuna seems head and shoulders above everyone else out there, but he’d probably cost head and shoulders more, at least Soto-plus, maybe Robles-plus. Is any closer worth that much?

    If the Nats are going to have to pay a higher price, would it be better for them to spend that capital on a starter? How about a lefty like Sean Manaea or J. A. Happ? Such a move would bolster the bullpen by pushing Ross or Roark out there, and probably both of them in the ‘pen for the postseason. I wonder what our buddy Billy Beane would want for a Manaea/Doolittle package.

    I say that the Nats add two arms by the end of the month, and that they don’t trade Robles, Soto, Fedde, or C. Kieboom to do so . . . so the return probably won’t be as spectacular as many hope it will be.

    KW

    13 Jul 17 at 7:47 am

  20. Speaking of bullpen lefties: Tim Collins has been activated with the GCL Nats to begin rehab. I doubt he will be MLB-ready by the time the Nats have to make deadline trade decisions, but he could be by late in the season. He’s a long-shot, but a shot nevertheless.

    KW

    13 Jul 17 at 7:54 am

  21. Freeman bonus amount: could be an error; i heard a podcast with a scout who said flat out that the bonus figure for one of his clients on mlbpipeline.com was wrong.

    But, if its wrong and the Nats had another 200k to play with, then that seems to indicate a failure in their process. Because that’s a lot of cash that should have gone elsewhere. You cna’t get that money back; you either spend it or its gone.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jul 17 at 9:12 am

  22. I think its interesting to note that Sammy Solis was optioned to AAA, but no corresponding move yet announced. As noted, Collins is now rehabbing at GCL; he could be a like for like replacement for Solis. But he’d also require a 40-man spot and a corresponding move. Depending on how bad Glover’s injury is, they could xfer him to 60-day d/l to make room. Or the reaper comes calling.

    My current pecking order of “next players off the 40-man” goes like this: Cordero, Gott, Cole … then a tougher decision on someone like Skole, Adams or Marmolejos.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jul 17 at 9:32 am

  23. Good for Richards for presumably getting a real job for real wages and not accepting sub-min wage to chase a very unlikely dream. Hopefully he is a smart guy with a promising career elsewhere.

    Andrew R

    14 Jul 17 at 12:23 am

  24. Tim Collins hasn’t even faced live game action yet. There’s no way he’s ready now. It’s a long shot that he’s ready by Sept., but he’d certainly be an upgrade on someone like Ollie.

    For the playoffs, the Nats likely will carry 12 pitchers, with four starters and eight in the ‘pen. One of those will be Ross/Roark. If everyone else gets healthy, who is out there? Albers and Romero are givens, so we’re up to three. If healthy, Glover is probably there as well, and Treinen, too, unless his mental implosion continues. His stuff is still good. That’s four/five, depending on health.

    Frankly, the rest are replaceable/upgradeable. There’s no way I want Perez on the postseason roster again. Kelley and Blanton are both capable of getting their stuff together and being on that roster, but they haven’t done so yet. I don’t think either has been completely healthy. I’m sure that Solis hasn’t been. I have no idea why they called him up this last time, as he had struggled at Syracuse and really struggled with the big club. When healthy, he’s nasty, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

    So I think realistically, they’re shopping for at least two arms, at least one a lefty. They may need to add three.

    Are there any internal options? Austin Adams is on the 40-man. He has a 2.50 ERA, an awesome 13.3 K/9 . . . but a frightening 7.3 BB/9. He’s given up as many walks as he has hits. Suero and Cotts might be worth looks at some point, but both would require 40-man moves. Suero has been terrific this year at both AA and AAA, with a 12.5 K/9 and 0.865 WHIP at Syracuse.

    KW

    14 Jul 17 at 7:16 am

  25. The deadline scramble is starting to heat up. The Cubs traded for a starter . . . with a 4.49 ERA. He’ll fit right in. I had looked at Quintana but really didn’t think he was worth the asking price with his mediocre performance this year.

    KW

    14 Jul 17 at 7:18 am

  26. So MASN ruling seems positive for Nats, but I do not see how this ends any time soon. It really is a terrible arrangement for Nats and MLB has done a horrible job allowing this to situation to fester, even though it’s only mildly impacted the Nats in reality. The other takeaway is never do business with Angelos of any kind. I’m usually able to see both sides of everything, but it’s hard to see this as anything other than Angelos using his knowledge of the court systems to delay and drag out his fundamental contractual responsibilities. and I stand by that conclusion even if Angelos had any legitimacy in his position on the Bortz methodology. The guy will just keep appealing and without some kind of negotiated settlement, this goes on for another 5 years.

    So if I was the Lerners, I would completely change tactics. I’d try to negotiate with Angelos in terms of ‘what does it take to get out of this deal’? The Lerners will have to pay, maybe $100m, but that’s worth it to be able to control their own destiny.

    Wally

    14 Jul 17 at 7:25 am

  27. Re: trades, first the Nats have to know what to expect from injured players. Specifically thinking about Glover, Ross and Taylor, all of whom would be on the playoff roster but each have potentially season threatening injuries (I assume Turner and Werth are back by Mid Aug). I am probably jumping the gun on Ross, but his career and 2017 injury history is what pushed me there.

    Starting with MAT: obliques can be notoriously finicky. This is a bigger concern than the media is giving credit to. It’s not a certainty that he is back before Sep, imo. And if it takes that long, who knows how he performs since it is basically spring training all over again. do the Nats really go with some combo of Harp, Werth (I assume he’s back by Aug) and Heisey/Goodwin/Raburn? Probably but that is a very poor defensive OF. I wouldn’t rule out a low level, 4th OF trade if MAT really takes that long.

    Pitching: honestly, no one in the pen is so good they couldn’t be upgraded but you’re right, they can’t add 6 arms. They need 2 shutdown arms, and then maybe 1-2 more good ones. Without pushing a starter to the pen, I’d say the ideal scenario is Osuna/Iglesias + Doolittle/Wilson + Madson/Watson. I now think the ‘Closer’ is the most important one, because I think psychology does matter and it’s become an issue.

    Once you add those guys, start adding back your then-current best arms. Right now that’s Albers, Romero, Treinen, and maybe Blanton. Perez hasn’t been bad, but he seems to be all gimmicks. Grace is AAAA for me, and I can’t use Kelley or Glover until they show they are healthy. And I have major worries about Glover’s health.

    Wally

    14 Jul 17 at 7:58 am

  28. My thinking has always been that the MASN situation won’t be settled as long as Angelos is still breathing. So the Nats operate on the “deferred money” promise that they’ll get it at some point.

    KW

    14 Jul 17 at 8:20 am

  29. How crazy would it be to at least inquire what the Marlins would want in exchange for dumping Stanton’s salary? I read on MLBTR that they want to move him, but insiders think the return they could get would be minimal because of the salary.

    Stanton’s higher-paying years kick in next season. It would be a risk to take them on because of his injury history. But when you look at the numbers (http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/stantmi03.shtml), they’re really not bad compared to what Bryce is hoping to get, and it wouldn’t be a terrible hit at all if he opts out after 2020.

    I just really fear that he’s going to end up with one of our big-money rivals, the Dodgers or Cubs. Imagining Stanton in the heart of either of those batting orders over the next decade is frightening.

    KW

    14 Jul 17 at 8:39 am

  30. I don’t see a Stanton deal, nor do I think he’s worth it given how often he gets injured.

    I’d love Yelich though. Fills a hole in CF too.

    Wally

    14 Jul 17 at 10:25 am

  31. I’ve been on the Yelich train for a while, even while he has struggled this year. I would like him better as a longer-term fit for the Nats than Ozuna, who has been an object of desire of certain segments of the Natosphere.

    In looking at the Quintana deal, it looks like the Cubs gave up comps for Robles and Fedde to get him, plus two other guys. Wow. This for a pitcher with 2017 stats that comp well to Gio’s miserable 2016.

    The Cubs, of course, haven’t seemed to have a problem with doling out top prospects. Do the Nats cling too tightly to theirs? I don’t know. The Nats have a legit title shot this year, and the infamous “window” should be just as open in 2018 as well. If ever there was a time to “go for it,” it’s now. But I would prefer “go for it” deals that also work to keep the window open beyond 2018, which is what the Eaton trade was. Those types of deals have higher prospect price tags, though.

    We’ll see. The clock is ticking.

    KW

    14 Jul 17 at 11:05 am

  32. Soto, Luzardo, Goodwin, and Cole for Yelich and A. J. Ramos. Who says no?

    KW

    14 Jul 17 at 11:33 am

  33. I think both would say yes to that from a value standpoint but Nats would say no this year. The Nats only because Yellich is controlled for so long.

    But Soto and Luzardo are two of their 3 biggest trade chips after Robles (D Johnson being the third, imo). And the maximum value for the Nats this year is pitching. Yelich is a wonderful piece but they can cobble together what they need for 2017.

    Although I like it the more that I think about it. Maybe add Phelps too.

    Wally

    14 Jul 17 at 12:53 pm

  34. Ross to the DL (uh-oh), Gott and Adams called up. The odds that the Nats might trade for a starter just increased.

    KW

    14 Jul 17 at 1:05 pm

  35. Wally, as much as I love what Daniel Johnson has done this season, I don’t think that he would have that much prospect/trade value. Although I personally think the whole deal that decides whether a guy is or isn’t a “prospect” is often a crock, it matters a whole bunch among the fraternity that makes trades.

    I’ve written before that the Nats have a couple of trade-chip issues right now: there’s a significant gap between their top guys and the next tier, so there’s not a lot of “middle-ground” guys to offer; and other than Robles and Fedde, they’ve got no one else of much value in the top three tiers of their minor-league system (catchers Read and Severino excepted). Most teams making trades want guys who might be able to help in the majors within a year or two.

    I’ve made some backhanded comments about trading Seth Romero right away, but honestly, if the fraternity thinks he is as close to “major-league ready” as we were told at draft time, I think he becomes a chip. He’s easier to project as a major-leaguer right now than Luzardo is. But there seems to be a lot of “prospect” buzz about Luzardo, so he may be a fast riser on offseason lists, probably more than McKenzie Mills, despite his stellar season at a higher level.

    KW

    14 Jul 17 at 3:14 pm

  36. Johnson is young, toolsy, plays CF and looks like he is putting it together. I think that leads to high trade value (relatively speaking). My guess is this is the highest his buzz gets, so not a bad time to sell high. Kieboom has been hurt for much of the year, so while he showed well in his brief time, his total ml experience is small and his recency bias is trending down due to injury. But your right, his pre-draft pedigree may cause his value to be higher.

    I do not believe that Romero can be traded for 6 months from the draft, even as a PTBNL, so I do not think he is a chip right now. But I do think he would have more value than DJ.

    Wally

    14 Jul 17 at 3:43 pm

  37. As I watched the Nats methodically destroy the Reds on Friday, with a starting lineup that included Difo, Heisey, Drew, and Goodwin, it struck me that this really in the time to “go for it,” whatever going for it may mean. At the very least, get two or three relievers, and kick the tires on a starter and an OF.

    Heisey has been really bad, although I do understand Dusty giving him a start or two in Cincy, where he used to play. When Taylor comes back, though, someone’s got to go. It’s sure not going to be Goodwin, and Raburn deserves to stay a lot more than Heisey does. Raburn has an OPS+ of 95; Heisey’s is -3.

    I’m not thrilled at the thought of going to the postseason with Difo as part of the bench, but I also don’t see them paying the premium to add someone like Cozart.

    If Cingrani was auditioning for a shot to join a contender, he should have gotten the Nats’ attention. FWIW, he was a teammate of Rendon’s at Rice. I haven’t heard any trade buzz about him, but he’s quietly having an excellent season after several years of mediocrity.

    KW

    15 Jul 17 at 2:06 pm

  38. Argh. Oh well, see you in 2019 Joe Cool.

    Wally

    15 Jul 17 at 6:30 pm

  39. Obviously the Nats are dealing. Because they are up 9.5 games, they need not panic deal with two weeks to go before the deadline. Especially because teams that will be sellers are yet to be fully in the seller column yet. So even though the need is acute, and Gott apparently not the answer, there is no compelling need to deal desperately until the relief pitcher market cools. As it is, there are few contenders who really need relief help.

    Teams want pitching. The Nats have very few transcendent prospects but a few hot ones and a lot of depth at certain positions.

    A few predictions:

    1) Fedde will get a chance to be the fifth starter. But I would think the Nats will be in the market for a bargain.

    2) Luzardo is the biggest chip for the Nationals right now, for what they need. Kieboom and Soto are both under peak value. Daniel Johnson, McKenzie Mills, Tyler Watson, and Sheldon Neuse are also high value players that may be tradeable, as are Luis Garcia and Blake Perkins. But they do not need to sell the farm to get Doolittle and Madsen — if they take on the coin. Here comes another Boswell article.

    forensicane

    15 Jul 17 at 11:49 pm

  40. Sorry, I should have mentioned Andew Stevenson and Telmito Agustin as well.

    These are not the best of Nats prospects, but showing well enough to represent value, especially in a package.

    John Simms gets overlooked. But we may yet hear from him this year, post-Ross.

    forensicane

    15 Jul 17 at 11:52 pm

  41. I think Fedde is going to get tossed back into the bullpen, and we’ll see him and Suero up soon, with EJax getting a chance at the 5th starter. Because of the lead, I think the bullpen arms are more important than 5th starter.

    I hear you that there’s no need to panic, but this kind of public failure can exert more pressure than we realize on a management/ownership group and they may not feel the same way. Rizzo will be tested more than he ever has, and I think, one way or another, we are going to lose 3-5 quality pieces from a farm system that is onnthe thin side anyway.

    Agree that Luzardo is a prime piece. Just a guess, but I’d say he is almost certainly gone, as is one of Soto or Kieboom and two other top 10 guys for 2-3 arms. Which is what I think, with that kind of expected losses, I’d pay up for the best arms, not try to get by with a middling arm or two.

    Get ready for a summer of 40 man moves. Might need 4 spots.

    Wally

    16 Jul 17 at 8:11 am

  42. Step 1: Have Adams and Gott on the first plane back to Syracuse. People weren’t kidding with the Adams comparisons to Nuke LaLoosh! DFA someone and give Suero a look. But get on with acquiring the much-needed bullpen pieces.

    Step 2: Start Fedde on Tuesday. He’s a first-round pick, and he’s older than Ross. It’s past time to find out if he’s a major-leaguer.

    Step 3: Unless Fedde is lights out, trade for a starter. My strong preference is for a lefty, with the Dodgers in mind. Although he hasn’t been mentioned by many, J. A. Happ has been good, but his price shouldn’t be ridiculous since he’s older and only controlled for one more year. (I seriously doubt they could get MadBum, but he’s still my dream acquisition.)

    Step 4: Tanner, time to step it up. No more excuses. Really, if Roark gets his act together and Fedde shows that he’s functional, they don’t have to trade for a starter. But they HAVE to have a fourth starter they trust for the playoffs.

    KW

    16 Jul 17 at 8:17 am

  43. I was posting at the same time as Wally. It will be interesting to see if it’s EJax or Fedde on Tuesday. I’ve no problem with bringing EJax up as the long man (much prefer him to the Cole), but it’s really time to find out if Fedde is the guy. EJax was very good as recently as 2015.

    KW

    16 Jul 17 at 8:21 am

  44. Does Fedde really seem ready to you? He hasn’t looked dominant by any stretch, even AA. The Nats and Dusty have made mistakes with throwing young guys into high leverage situations. They wind up failing and it winds up slowing down their ultimate development path. I’d say break him in as lowkey as possible.

    Also 5th starter is less important at this point in this season than relievers. I wouldn’t say this at the beginning of a season, but makes sense to me now, past the midway point and with a 10 game lead. How many starts does a 5th have left this year – 10? The Nats have favorable pitching matchups almost always for 3/5s of their games, but bad relievers could weaken that chance at winning. EJax v some other 5th starter they get on the market would likely have less than a 50% chance of winning, so I think making sure of the win in the 3/5s of their games (by getting quality relievers to close it out) is better than marginally improving their chances in the 5th starter games.

    So max out your pen now. That would be the only thing I do. While I’d like an OF too, they are going to spend an uncomfortable amount getting relievers and I just don’t think it’s worth it to continue that drain for an OF.

    Wally

    16 Jul 17 at 9:16 am

  45. It might make sense to DFA Gott and Adams and see if no one claims them. I’m. Ore concerned with losing Adams, but that may just be that I’ve seen Gott fail more. I’d also put Skole and Cordero high on the DFA list.

    Wally

    16 Jul 17 at 9:28 am

  46. While this is completely pie in the sky, I can see the Nats trading Soto and Goodwin (or Stevenson) along with pitchers like Luzardo and Watson in a deal that would bring back Verlander and Wilson. With Ross out and no prospects sure to help in the rotation in 2018, AND with Roark struggling and the Nats already thinking about rotation insurance, Verlander guaranteed, and back with Scherzer, would be better than what the Nats can do in free agency otherwise, this fall. Unless Romero proves to be a key rotation cog, and he has not yet started pitching yet, there is no one other than Fedde whom the team can feel confident to add to a post-Gio rotation in 2019.

    For a Verlander/Wilson/(other talent- Avila?) mega deal, I would back up the truck. The history between the two teams is positive as well, because the Nats traded them Ray in the Fister deal.

    forensicane

    16 Jul 17 at 12:30 pm

  47. Teams have taken bigger risks to add for callup than the Nats would with Fedde. I think he was being transitioned back to starting because of their concern about Roark, and has been building up his arm.

    I wonder if there is any consideration to sending Blake Treinen down to turn him back into a starter?

    Rizzo has proven to think through these situations well. As bad as the Nats bullpen has been, no one could have foreseen how disappointing each of Treinen, Glover, Solis, Blanton, and Kelly have been. The deal for Romero is looking like a steal, and Albers and Raburn very wise pickups, notwithstanding Albers’ spectacular flameouts when they have happened. I think we can trust his scout’s eye on what’s out there, and gauging the market.

    One has to credit the Nats for the success they are having despite being down three outfielders, Trea Turner, Joe Ross, Kelley and Glover, just considering injuries alone.

    forensicane

    16 Jul 17 at 12:37 pm

  48. Espinosa DFAd by the Angels this morning, Guess the team won’t get to take advantage of his Ks while in Anaheim this week. How long before someone offers him a bench spot?

    MG

    16 Jul 17 at 1:02 pm

  49. And the deal is done. Doolittle and Madison for Treinen, Luzardo and Neuse. Kudos to fore, KW and others on predicting the pieces to go. Had to clear at least one 40 man spot, hence including Treinen, but turns this in to more of a 1.5 man bullpen upgrade. Still need more?

    MG

    16 Jul 17 at 1:20 pm

  50. And EJax starting on Tuesday. I dislike that the least of the current options. Hope he finds some magic again.

    MG

    16 Jul 17 at 1:23 pm

  51. Big price, but really, we knew it would be. And not as big as it could have been. Luzardo looks very promising but very far away. Neuse has talent but I feel like the org has depth there. I regret the inclusion of treinen, but isn’t this where we got him from? Despite his failures this year, he continues to have substantial promise and I would have much rather seen Solis go, but I suspect Treinen is why we got off with ‘only’ Luzardo and Neuse. Somewhat like the MM deal last year.

    But I give this a thumbs up. Kudos to Rizzo’s team for finding value in last year’s draft, getting guys of value and not touching the Big 4. Already turned into these guys plus part of Eaton. Doolittle’s health will be key to how this turns out for Nats, and they can’t stop here. 1-2 more pen pieces.

    Wally

    16 Jul 17 at 1:48 pm

  52. The team still needs a starter. And it still needs a closer, if they want to protect Doolittle for the post season.

    And the team still has the assets it has. Not to diminish Luzardo, but with Mills and Watson legitimately above him, and other lefthanded arms such as Romero comparable, the team sold at a good time. As for Neuse, as a college grad playing at Hagerstown one year after draft, it’s not clear how high he projects. At the risk of starting a fight, Max Schrock has a greater MLB potential, and the team flipped him for a rental who is not the caliber of Doolitle. Treinen washed out here.

    But this trade is why many of us love Rizzo. And yes, the team took on salary. I’m delighted to see controllable talent come in.

    forensicane

    16 Jul 17 at 1:50 pm

  53. Re: Neuse: Of course we all hope the Nats sign Rendon, and Ward has tanked, but the ascendance of Kieboom and the system being flushed with the young Dominican infielders now at GCL made him expendable, notwithstanding his power and speed.

    It isn’t just a matter that the Nats did not trade their biggest name prospects; I had Neuse at #12 in my own rankings, and Luzardo at 23 (in part because he has not been active until this past week).

    So whether the team has other plans to make trades is unclear, but the assets to do so are in place, and Rizzo goes from a position of strength.

    The trade serves, as noted by Wally above, what a special draft last year’s was. Fantastic job by the Nats there, and hopefully we will see similar returns in 2017. Interestingly, the Nats brought in undrafted but well regarded Sean Adler yesterday, a left handed starter with an excellent slider but low velocity, but great heart, from NC State — just as his former teammate Williamson hit the 60 day DL.

    forensicane

    16 Jul 17 at 2:01 pm

  54. I think the reason that Luzardo had much higher trade value than 23 in the Nats system is pedigree. He was considered a first round talent before blowing out his elbow, and his first couple of starts post rehab showed a return of his stuff. So while you (understandably) would like to see some performance first, I do not think many around the league have that requirement. And while I genuinely like Luzardo, now is the perfect time to sell high on him. He has so much more development time to go through and many, many do not make it from such promising starts.

    Fore- did you confirm that the Nats took on all of the salaries, especially Madson? That would be a wonderful sign, and bodes well for another deal. Watching the game today, I wonder if taking on Bailey’s remaining contract would offset much of what they need to add to get Iglesias. Solves their 5th starter problem too, but it comes down to money and the Nats willingness to absorb it.

    Wally

    16 Jul 17 at 2:20 pm

  55. A few quick points. First of all, Doolittle is controlled for three more seasons, and Madson for one more. So the control is a big deal, particularly for Doolittle, if he can stay healthy.

    Second, while the deal seems a bit pricey on first glance, the Nats made it without giving up one of the big four of Robles/Soto/Fedde/Kieboom, and they made it with players from the GCL and SALLY league. Yes, Luzardo may have been #5 on that prospect list, but between the drafting of S. Romero and the emergence of Mc Mills, they’ve a got a couple of other young lefties already farther up the food chain, not to mention Tyler Watson (who has struggled recently).

    They got two quality bullpen arms, both of whom have great stats this year, and both of whom have multiple years of postseason experience (two rings for Madson). However, they didn’t get a Closer (TM), at least a current Closer (TM), although both have closed in the past. But they also didn’t pay the closer price. (Actually, they got two guys for a price pretty similar for what had been floated for Robertson — Luzardo and Ward.)

    Neuse was looking like a solid player, but also one sorta difficult to project. He’ll likely end up at 3B, but then so will Kieboom, and they’ve already got Ward, and of course we hope they re-sign Rendon. Neuse has some power, but is it enough to play a corner position for a contender? I guess that’s no longer ours to ponder.

    KW

    16 Jul 17 at 2:47 pm

  56. EJax vs. Fedde . . . The deal with Fedde is exactly the same as it was with Giolito and Lopez: you don’t know what you’ve got until he gets a look in The Show, but if he lays an egg in The Show, then he loses trade value. So while it may save a little weird, I hope they either bring him up or trade him now.

    However, unless they’re really confident in Fedde, I’ll bet they’re trading for a starter who is controlled for at least one more year. This is the Window (TM), 2017 and 2018. If you don’t believe it, you’re missing the fireworks show in Cincy. This team is locked and loaded offensively. It’s go time, go-for-it time.

    Good news so far today on Tanner, by the way.

    KW

    16 Jul 17 at 2:59 pm

  57. KW

    16 Jul 17 at 3:12 pm

  58. Wally – I agree and I agree on Neuse as well. A high draft pick does give you pedigree, as demonstrated by Dane Dunning in the same draft. Three draft picks in the same draft flipped for key ML pieces in less than a year — unbelievable.

    Getting value for a struggling Treinen – excellent. Getting Doolittle, who was a clubhouse favorite, for a playoff run — excellent. Ejax was also a well liked player here, and he is coming back on Tuesday — all smiles.

    Rizzo is back and looking at a trade market from a more secure position, just as more sellers climb into the boat. I am still thinking that this is where the Nats can acquire a piece to give them the proven closer and the starting pitching depth they lack. Whether it is a Justin Wilson package or an Osuma package or even an Iglesias package, baseball believes in the Nats young talent and Rizzo knows how to sell it as well as Boras does his players. Well done, Rizzo.

    The whole adding salary discussion is overrated. The team adds value even as it adds salary with Doolittle. The team was ready to add at least some of Robertson’s huge salary this spring, so payroll may be less than the team allotted and now Rizzo can take advantage of it. Madson is an expensive bullpen piece, but less expensive than Robertson. This is a “go for it” deal for both 2017 and 2018, allowing some of the younger talent to rise this year and next that will be faring at A+ by year’s end and AA-AAA by end of next year. I’m very happy with this especially as I compare this trade and the strategy behind it with the last three deadline deals we saw – Melancon, Rzepc, and Papelbon.

    What the trade means is that the Nats are not likely to pursue Robertson without major salary relief, and so the market shifts to them on that front. One can just sense Rizzo sniffing around for a solution overlooked on the starter-closer front.

    forensicane

    17 Jul 17 at 1:18 am

  59. Fore, I’ve got to respectfully disagree with you on the adding salary issue. It’s a massive step in a positive direction for the Lerners. Rizzo has been hamstrung from several trades that might have made a difference in the playoffs in previous years, plus the Nats have had to overpay in terms of personnel given up in so many trades to get the other team to eat salary. Do you wish we still had Rivera, Schrock, or Pivetta? We had to overpay in all those trades because of the salary issue.

    As for Robertson, to me, Doolittle is a pretty good Robertson comp. If you’re still looking for a true closer, go for someone better than Robertson, like Osuna. I’m not sure Rizzo is going to want to pay a price that high at this stage, though.

    Meanwhile, we have the choice of EJax over Fedde for the start on Tuesday. Maybe it’s just because they don’t think Fedde is stretched out enough. Still, it’s somewhat disconcerting that the supposed top starter prospect isn’t the choice to start, even with a big lead in the standings.

    KW

    17 Jul 17 at 7:47 am

  60. I think the assumption of salary is a big (positive) deal too, because of their reluctance to do it in season and the corresponding impact on prospect cost of trades. Would like to add value while limiting the cost to the system as much as possible.

    Not with you on the EJax v Fedde decision though. They have rushed some of these young guys recently and Fedde does not look ready to me. Plus, they lack of upward promotions in general have to be to let the prospects perform as well as possible until trades are done. Not sure why that applies to someone like Robles though.

    Wally

    17 Jul 17 at 8:13 am

  61. Man, it always seems that when I do a long weekend away from computer, a ton of sh*t happens. Ross TJ, trade, new 5th starter coming up. Sheesh that’s 3 different posts I won’t get to write. I’ll put up a placeholder with all thoughts later today after I get settled in. I have some time this evening.

    Todd Boss

    17 Jul 17 at 9:16 am

  62. Todd lives! I thought he must have been trapped under a rock or something to miss all the excitement over the weekend.

    Wally, I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you. If Fedde isn’t ready, then by all means, go with EJax. What’s troubling is that instead of a first-round draft pick, they think a re-re-retread, who was most recently cut from the one of the majors’ worst pitching staffs, is a better option. What does that say about Fedde? And if Fedde isn’t an option, then yeah, let’s see what’s out there on the starter trade market.

    KW

    17 Jul 17 at 9:24 am

  63. KW, My point was different. The Nats traded for Melancon, making 9.65 million, at the deadline last year. The Pirates forked over only 500K. So the Nats assumed that salary.

    What Madson and Doolittle are making between them, the rest of this year, is comparable. My point is that I do not see this as a massive change in organizational approach.

    What I do note is that Rizzo was trying to add high priced talent this spring (Robertson), and the fact that he could means the payroll ceiling was higher. The fact that he did not means that the nats may still have room, prorating anticipated salary through year’s end.

    I think another deal will come if Rizzo thinks he can get the terms he wants, which means he waits for the overeager teams to overpay and the market remaining to tank — unless there is someone he really wants bad.

    The Nats still have some sell high talent, and need a starting pitcher. Ross will be out all of next year, and the starter market looks overpriced in FA.

    forensicane

    17 Jul 17 at 4:10 pm

  64. Actually, the rumor was the the deal of Luzardo and Ward for Robertson fell through because the Nats (Lerners) wanted the Chisox to cover all three years of Robertson’s salary. That’s insane if true.

    As for what the Nats did end up adding, it’s ~$5M this year, which is considerably more than the >$1M they assumed on Melancon. I’m not the only one saying that this is a significant change in procedure; nearly everyone is noting it. It’s a big step for the Lerners, presumably after years of coaxing by Rizzo.

    Of course the greedy among us want to know if they’re will to take on more! I’m still trying to decide whether I think they need another starter. A lot depends on whether Roark is truly rounding into form. Another lefty starter might significantly improve their chances against the Dodgers, particularly in a seven-game series.

    KW

    17 Jul 17 at 7:54 pm

  65. I say no to another starter. It isn’t that I don’t think they could use one, it’s just that I don’t think they need one enough to take away from their remaining assets. They’ve got a big lead, the 5th starter probably only has 8-10 starts remaining, he won’t help in the playoffs and they need to reach into their system depth again for another reliever still.

    I’m not even sure a 5th starter comes ahead of a CF, to be honest. I’d just throw EJax, Turner, Cole even and get through it. Look for someone better for next year in the offseason.

    Wally

    17 Jul 17 at 8:39 pm

  66. new posted.

    Todd Boss

    17 Jul 17 at 10:53 pm

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