Nationals Arm Race

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

Ask Collier 7/21/17


Doolittle has settled right hin. Photo via federal baseball/getty images

Doolittle has settled right hin. Photo via federal baseball/getty images

Off days seem to be accompanied by mail bags.  And that’s good, because i’m kind of in a writing lull.  I have no interest in looking at the hundreds of players in the game and trying to write one of those speculative, useless “hey we should make this trade” posts.  So here’s nats beat reporter Jamal Collier‘s latest mail bag and how i’d have answered the questions he took.

Q: With the A’s trade and Robertson traded, do you think the Nats still look for a closer? Or do they go for another bullpen piece (ie Neshek)?

A: …. and yet,  here we are, needing to look at all 30 teams and all the theoretically “available” closers to write an educated answer.  *sigh*

Ok: here’s who is for certain selling: Detroit, Chicago WS, Oakland, NY Mets, Miami, Philly, Cincinnati, San Diego, San Francisco.  And here’s who probably should be selling: Baltimore, Toronto, Atlanta, maybe Texas.

That’s 12-13 teams, some of which have pretty good closers.  So there’s some arms available.  But at what cost?  Does anyone want to stomach the trading of yet another set of higher-end prospects for a rental “proven closer?”  I’m hoping the team goes a different direction, with a trade of lesser quality prospects for another couple 7th and 8th inning guys.

Bullpen now:  Doolittle, Madsen, Albers, Romero, Perez, Blanton and Grace.  Lefty heavy, and Blanton just cannot seem to get it together.  So another righty to replace Blanton could work, given how bad he’s been this year.  Maybe the return of Glover or a healthy/effective Kelley is what the team really needs instead of another trade (because who else on that current list of 7 do you want to jettison?).

Collier says that the team added a lot of payroll and may not do another blockbuster.


Q: Will the Nats make a push for a fifth starter at the trade deadline?

A: Nope.  They’ll give Edwin Jackson starts until he gives them a reason to dump him, may try existing internal solutions, and will eventually call up Erick Fedde to try him out too.  But they seem likely to cull the veteran 1yr FA market next off-season instead of overpaying now.  Of course, that being said seemingly the next available option in AAA (Jacob Turner) just got absolutely shelled (1 2/3rds innings 6 runs) … maybe he had transaction-lag from being activated and DFAd within like a 24 hour period.  A.J. Cole seems to have nearly exhausted his effectiveness as a starting pitcher; wow how far has he fallen.  Hill and Voth both now demoted to AA, along with Greg Ross.

Collier agrees.


Q: Who are the tradeable assets on the big league squad & in the minors? Likeliest to be dealt?

A: Hmm.  Most tradeable assets (outside the obvious all stars/marquee players we’d never move) on the big league squad might be Taylor and Goodwin thanks to their excellent seasons, and Gio Gonzalez who has pitched great and has two more option years.  But now that Ross is on the shelf for a year, we can’t possibly trade Gio.  Eaton should be back  in 2018 so there’s no room for both Goodwin and Taylor; i’d guess they’d trade one of them and let the other start in LF after Werth plays out his contract.  That is unless the Nats seek to improve offense in LF (like I think they should) and go for a big bopper … then they might have two OF trade assets (I think i’d rather move these guys than have them sit to be the 4th option).

In the minors?  Andrew Stevenson comes to mind as someone who might be surplus to requirements in the short term and be someone worth flipping.  That is unless we move both TAylor and Goodwin; then he’d make a perfect 4th OF for 2018 behind a LF FA acquisition.  Past that?  Its pretty empty in AAA and AA, so you’d be looking at guys in Low- and  High-A as trade assets.  Perhaps even lower; we have a number of high-dollar IFAs in the GCL right now.

Collier doesn’t even speculate; i guess he’s not a minor league guy.

Q: Will Koda Glover close games when he returns?

A: Lets get him to return first.  Is there even a time table for him to return?  Honestly I was almost assuming he was done for the year.  If he does return … then yeah, absolutely he’s in the closer mix.

Collier says the same thing basically.


Q: Any word on Davey Lopes return?

A: didn’t even know he was gone.  Its been a busy summer.  :-)

Collier has no updates; he’s away on personal matter.


26 Responses to 'Ask Collier 7/21/17'

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  1. This is the time of year for trade speculation, it’s unavoidable. Personally, I’d dangle Ross out there to see what he might return. It’s not crazy for teams to value guys coming off TJ, especially if their timing lines up. Would the Pods or CIN see value in a 2019 starter with a quality track record of performance at a young age with three years of control. And should it allow them to avoid trading Soto or Kieboom (I assume Robles is untouchable, and I’m less enamored with Fedde).

    Would Ross, Fedde and 1 or 2 low A guys get Iglesias? Expand it a little (add Severino) to include Barnhart or Mesoraco’s contract? Barnhart could fit nicely in the Nats window.


    23 Jul 17 at 8:12 am

  2. I’m excited to see what Stevenson can do. High energy SB guy at the top of the order is missing since Turner went out. He may not start against Ray, but it’s time to see what we have in him.


    23 Jul 17 at 12:48 pm

  3. And the GCL Baby Nats throw no hitters in both ends of a doubleheader! How amazing is that!

    Jared Johnson serving notice as a lefthanded Juco starter, and International signees Gilbert Chu and Joan Baez (rehabbing) showed well too.

    That’s got to be some kind of record.


    23 Jul 17 at 3:09 pm

  4. With the trade deadline only eight days away, there is only one AL more than 10 games out of a wildcard. That team, the Chisox, has already declared its sell/buy intentions. We’ve thought of the O’s as dead for months, but they’re just 4.5 out for a wildcard. The Rangers, where the vultures are circling Darvish, are just 3.5 out.

    There are six teams >10 out of the NL wildcard, but three of those six are in the Nats’ division. You’ve also got the everybody’s mediocre NL Central, where the Cards are in 4th place and three games below .500 but only 4.5 games out of the division lead. The Pirates, who have longed been assumed to be selling, are 3.0 out of first place. They ain’t selling . . . unless they have an awful week.

    On top of all of this, there are a number of teams everyone assumed would be selling, and that really are out of it, but they’ve hardly moved anyone. These would include the Reds, the Padres, the Phils, the Mets, etc. The Mets mostly have old, expensive players, and there’s not a lot of market for those. In their quest to move Bruce, they had to cringe at how little the Tigers got for J. D. Martinez, who is better than Bruce.

    So it’s going to be a crazy week. There are a lot of teams who will want to get something for their guys, but they either waited too late, overvalued them, or both. My take is that this is going to lead to a buyer’s market, with some great bargains to be had, but not necessarily if the sellers don’t lower their prices . . . leaving them with nothing.

    Who out there could really make a difference for the Nats? Well, a healthy Britton could, but it’s not clear that he’s fully healthy or that he would be available to the Nats. The Giants swear they aren’t trading Bumgarner, who isn’t healthy, either. We’ve mentioned Osuna & Stroman from the Jays, but there hasn’t even been a lot of buzz that they’re available.

    The bottom line is that Rizzo is kicking a lot of tires, for relievers, starters, catchers, OFs, maybe even a SS if they’re worried about Turner. I don’t think anyone is untouchable, even Robles, but it would have to be a monster deal for him to go, along the lines of Stroman or Fulmer. My guess is that unless something extraordinary presents itself, all we’ll see added is another bullpen arm.


    23 Jul 17 at 3:28 pm

  5. And now we all hold our breath about Stras. An injury there might indeed increase interest in trading for a starter. I guess Fedde would be the next man up.


    24 Jul 17 at 8:52 am

  6. If Strasburg is seriously hurt… that might not be something they can come back from and expect to advance in the playoffs. It seems like they’ll be playing the Cubs in the first round, the same Cubs that they came within one Blake Treinen inning of taking 3 out of a convincing 4 games ealier this season. They took 2 of three from the Dodgers in LA … but that was before the Dodgers caught fire with Bellinger in the lineup. They will need their SPs firing on all cylinders and the top of their order back to have any chance.

    Todd Boss

    24 Jul 17 at 9:44 am

  7. The Giants eliminated the Nats on the way to winning the WS with one legit starter and Peavy, Hudson, and Vogelsong all running on fumes. The playoffs are such a crap shoot that even losing Stras wouldn’t take them out of the running. But of course it would be much better to have him healthy and ready!

    Also, what makes you so sure that the Nats will be playing the Cubs? There are four teams totally in the NL Central race, none of them very good.

    As for the Dodgers, I’m shocked by their record and success. Other than Bellinger, it’s essentially the same team that the Nats met (and should have beaten) in the playoffs. They’ve got the best starter (now on the DL) and the most effective closer in the game, and three or four really good hitters, but they’re very average beyond those guys.


    24 Jul 17 at 10:28 am

  8. Bellinger was in the lineup against the Nats in 2/3 games during the June series (he sat against Gio and pinch hit). In the Max start, he went 0/4 with 3 Ks; in the Stras start, he went 0/2 with 1 BB and 1K. I remember thinking he had no chance against Max – at least one of those Ks was 3-pitch demolition.


    24 Jul 17 at 12:21 pm

  9. And in other news, finally some minor league promotions. Robles to AA, D.Johnson to Pot, among others. Hopefully they keep going strongly , and that Soto and Kieboom get back on threbdield soon.

    Seems like it’s been a difficult year on the farm


    24 Jul 17 at 2:05 pm

  10. What cost Sonny Gray? Is Gray worth the cost? Well, there’s this:

    I’m not giving up Robles for Gray, and Fedde is probably off the table now as well simply because he’s really all the starting pitching the Nats have in reserve (unless you believe in Cole). They pretty much need Stevenson now as well. So I think Gray trade talk would start with Soto and/or Kieboom, if not both. But the Nats don’t have much AAA-AA talent to offer, particularly pitching talent, although it sure would be funny if Billy acquired Cole again.

    I’m just trying to think what a package for Gray would look like, and it’s hard to come up with one that would be acceptable to both teams. I think it would have to be like the Gio deal, 4 or 5 for 1. Cole, Ward, Soto, and McKenzie Mills for Gray. Too much? Too little? I don’t know.

    Things to ponder as we await the results of the Stras MRI . . .


    25 Jul 17 at 12:49 pm

  11. Ross, Soto, Baez and Jose Sanchez


    25 Jul 17 at 1:14 pm

  12. I’m guessing the MRI will be bad. Maybe not TJ bad but 6 weeks or so. It’s never a good thing when he shakes his arm like that.


    25 Jul 17 at 1:15 pm

  13. Has there been a report that he had an MRI? I think it’s absolutely necessary for him to have one, but I think the timing is such that it makes sense for the front office to keep quiet about it.


    25 Jul 17 at 1:44 pm

  14. As I recall, the Nats made public last year that Stras had the MRI and “no structural damage,” but he never came back. They ran pretty silent even through the playoffs, where there was always speculation that he could come back. At the trade deadline, I expect them to be even quieter. Stras’s rotation spot won’t come up until Saturday, so they wouldn’t have to declare any intentions until then.

    Right now, the world doesn’t know whether Rizzo is even in the starter market, and I’m sure he likes it that way. I just wish he (and we) had a concrete idea whether Fedde is ready to face MLB hitters.

    Before we find out about Stras, we’ll at least have the second data point on the “new and improved” EJax.


    25 Jul 17 at 2:40 pm

  15. Wally, Baez is just the type of pitcher Beane doesn’t like (unless he can trade him) — big arm, but little in the way of results to show for it.

    Ross is under team control for four more years but likely will miss most of one of those. I still don’t have a total feel on what we’ve got with Ross, even after parts of three seasons. He’s had DL time every season, and his brother, who pitches similarly to how he does, has really struggled to come back. I guess that’s a long way around to saying that I would be OK to including him in a trade, as long as there’s a high-level return. Whether teams would be interested in damaged goods is another matter.


    25 Jul 17 at 2:53 pm

  16. Fedde apparently missing a scheduled start today at Syracuse. Resting to replace Stras on Saturday? Trade? The flu?

    What a great time of year for conspiracy theories!


    25 Jul 17 at 3:10 pm

  17. Yeah it was supposed to be Fedde and Turner today. Syracuse even tweeted out Fedde’s name in the lineup (

    Man, if he heads up, I wonder who gets the Axe.

    Todd Boss

    25 Jul 17 at 4:06 pm

  18. Janes reports that Stras is playing catch, was examined by doctors, and is expected to make his next start.


    25 Jul 17 at 4:17 pm

  19. Dusty told the beat reporters this afternoon that the docs declared Stras “fine,” with no MRI, although Dusty wouldn’t commit that he’s making the Saturday start. Fedde probably is just on hold in case they need him on Saturday. It wouldn’t hurt to DL Stras and skip a start, though.


    25 Jul 17 at 5:32 pm

  20. . . . and EJax turns into the pumpkin we always knew he was.


    26 Jul 17 at 5:06 am

  21. EJackson: now what. Fedde skipped, and is not listed as starter for today either. I’m guessing he does start tonight though and is shortened in case they decide to go with Fedde instead of Jackson.

    Todd Boss

    26 Jul 17 at 10:57 am

  22. Stras (Sat.) and EJax (Sun.) are back-to-back in the rotation right now, so Fedde could be ready to replace either of them.

    *IF* Stras is healthy (big IF), the Nats have some options for the fifth starter slot: A) They could stick with Jackson, knowing that he would probably go about 3-6 with an ERA around 5.00, but he could eat innings; B) they could call up Fedde and see what they’ve got in him, in a relatively low-pressure situation; or C) they could trade for a significant upgrade, one who could replace Ross in the rotation next season (if they’re not confident Fedde is that guy).

    If Stras isn’t healthy, then the back end of your rotation is suddenly Jackson and Fedde/Cole. You’ll be sweating for 40% of your starts, plus more worried that Roark’s recent bounce-back and that Gio’s season-long one aren’t for real. You’ll also have Tanner and Gio as your #2 and #3 starters for the playoffs. Given that scenario, I think a trade becomes much more likely.


    26 Jul 17 at 11:29 am

  23. KW

    26 Jul 17 at 2:42 pm

  24. Hmm.. i wonder if that isn’t an over-pay given that Gray was so bad last year…

    Todd Boss

    26 Jul 17 at 4:14 pm

  25. Robles is too much for Gray but I’d trade Soto for him.

    I’d rather keep the prospects and trade somebody lower down the list for a Verlander/Wilson package but the Lerners aren’t going to pick up that kind of salary.


    26 Jul 17 at 5:19 pm

  26. I’ve already said above that I’m not giving up Robles for Gray, but I’d have everyone else in play. I would prefer Fulmer or Stroman, but those conversations would start with Robles-plus. I think the fact that Gray struggled last year is part of the reason that he wouldn’t/shouldn’t cost Robles.


    26 Jul 17 at 9:03 pm

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