Nationals Arm Race

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

2019 Draft Race to the Bottom; we have a winner!



Its that time of year; for all the non-playoff contenders, the last few weeks of September are for “showing some fight” and “making a run to build on for the next season.”

In reality, wins in September for a lost team are really only good for one thing: “costing your team spots in the 2019 draft.”

Luckily for one team though this year … the #1 draft pick in 2019 is already sewn up.  The Baltimore Orioles, the pride and joy of Peter Angelos and the major’s best (and most expensive) team back in the mid 1990s … has officially bottomed out in a way that not even the Houston Astros could accomplish.

As of this writing (9/20/18) they sit at 44-108, a .289 W/L percentage.  They sti an astounding 59 games out of first place.  They project to around 46-47 wins, which means the 2003 Detroit Tigers’ ignominious record is safe.  But they’re still projecting to be one of the worst teams in the history of the 162-game era.

Baltimore currently has an 8 game “lead” for the #1 overall draft pick.  Amazingly, Kansas City sits at #2 … and they have nearly as large of a lead for that pick over the next worst teams.

So, how about our Nats?  After selling off and waving the white flag (a few weeks too late, and without getting under the damn luxury tax threshold so why did they bother but thats a different story for a different post), the Nats as of this writing sit at 77-75, projecting to 82-83 wins.  They sit precisely in the middle of the 1st round: 15th overall pick (technically they are the 14th worst team, but Atlanta will get the 9th overall pick thanks to blowing their negotiations earlier this summer with Carter Stewart).  Thanks to the machinations of the standings, its likely that irrespective of how they play out the string, they’ll pick no better than 14th overall in the 1st (and 13th of 30 there on) and no worse than 18th overall in the 1st (and 17th of 30 there after).

So, that’s not bad.  They’ve picked in that general area a few times just in the past few years actually.

  • In 2012 they picked 16th overall and got Lucas Giolito.
  • In 2014 they picked 18th overall and got Erick Fedde

I guess the consolation prize for this year is a slightly better shot at a good arm in that 14-18 overall pick range.

Written by Todd Boss

September 20th, 2018 at 9:24 am

9 Responses to '2019 Draft Race to the Bottom; we have a winner!'

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  1. . . . and yet the world is still waiting to find out whether Giolito and Fedde are major-league pitchers.

    In fact, the Nats’ decision on whether Fedde is rotation-ready is one of the key decisions that will frame the coming offseason. Are they comfortable with a rotation of Max/Stras/Roark/Ross/Fedde, with Rodriguez and McGowin in Fresno? If so, then they don’t have to spend big (or trade big) for another starter, at least until the trade deadline as Ross is approaching shut-down and Stras is on his annual DL vacation.

    Is that a good enough rotation to contend? It’s really hard to say, isn’t it? Is there a glaring enough weakness to encourage them to go spend a fortune on Corbin? I don’t think so. I can’t see them thinking that they want to spend more than $10-12M more on the rotation, if that. But they’ll certainly be looking for a couple of veteran arms who’ll take minor-league contracts (preferably without June 1 opt-outs).


    20 Sep 18 at 10:22 am

  2. So, my next post will include 2019 payroll machinations, which drive “gm for a day” theoretically discussions. I did a lot fo that work today, but your point about whether Fedde is ready to be the 5th starter is included.

    So weird to say “… and so and so in Fresno.” What a ridiculous situation. The Nats should absolutely do what hte Mets just did; buy an east coast AAA team and just own it. Pursue Richmond as a AAA city again and that’d make the most sense.

    Todd Boss

    20 Sep 18 at 11:59 am

  3. There’s no rush; we’ve got a LONG Hot Stove season this winter.

    I’ll be very interested to see if your calculations indicate that the Nats could come up with the cash to extend both Harper and Rendon. Ghost at Nats Talk has been saying that they don’t have enough. Of course you get into a bird-in-the-hand argument there if the Nats hold back their money for Rendon but then he doesn’t extend.

    Rightly or wrongly, I think the Nats will make a credible offer to Harper, but not an over-the-top one. I would think it would come out around $27-28M AAV, with at least two opt-outs. At 10 years, that doesn’t get him at Stanton territory, but at 12 years it does. I’m sure the Nats would prefer that it only be about seven years.

    So . . . the 800-pound gorilla of offseason financial questions will be out of Rizzo’s hands, awaiting Boras’s call. Can Papa Ted seal one last deal?

    Beyond Bryce, the “have to” offseason list involves ~$12M to restock the bullpen and some amount to come up with a semi-credible catcher, if one exists. Another starting pitcher is more in the “nice to have” category.

    Of course if Bryce does re-sign, the interesting possibility of trading Robles or Eaton for pitching and/or catching comes into play. I think they’ll trade Taylor no matter what. He has no role right now, and he’ll be arb-eligible.


    20 Sep 18 at 1:31 pm

  4. Now that the offseason has officially begun, just saw that Bryce Harper is the 2nd worst defensive outfielder in all of baseball.
    -25 runs saved. He’s looking more and more like a 1st baseman.

    Mark L

    22 Sep 18 at 8:31 am

  5. From Boz’s chat today, as part of his answer to the inevitable Harper question:

    “As a writer, I enjoy the complexity of it. If I were just a fan, I’d probably feel pretty conflicted and really, really hope — as in cross fingers — that the Nats come out of this next five-month transition phase in strong shape. There are several ways to do it. But it can also be messed up badly, leaving a fairly pedestrian future for a few years.”


    24 Sep 18 at 1:38 pm

  6. Harper’s defense: yeah i just don’t get it. Has he slowed *that much* since his age 19-20 years, when he was clearly a plus defender by range? Maybe so. Maybe he’s a LF slugger like a Barry Bonds.

    Money for both Rendon and Harper? Not by my calcs.

    Todd Boss

    24 Sep 18 at 3:00 pm

  7. Quite a bit of Nats chatter in Boz’s full post, so I’ll share the link before closing it:

    Interesting point from one of the questioners: if Boras and Harper drag out the process, like Boras usually does, does that screw the Nats from doing the other things that they need to do this offseason? I think it does. If they make an offer, it needs to be now, and it needs to be more or less take it or leave it.


    24 Sep 18 at 3:37 pm

  8. Is this the end? Bryce’s last game in DC in a Nats’ uniform? Or was that last night if today gets rained out? That’s just hard to fathom. The team was already trending in the right direction when Bryce was called up, but the nation took notice when he arrived. Bryce and the Nats’ great successes (and failures) for these seven seasons are forever linked.

    I don’t think he’s coming back. I’ve gone round and round on this thought, but it just doesn’t make sense for the Nats to offer him as much as he’ll want. They can’t afford an AAV in the $35M range for the next decade. I don’t know whether he’ll get that anywhere, but I’m guessing that he and Boras will try to make it happen. I don’t see the Nats going beyond $30M per, and I’m not sure even that much makes sense for them. That’s a totally different question from whether Bryce is “worth it.” He probably is to some teams, but probably not to the Nats.


    26 Sep 18 at 9:37 am

  9. KW; new posted exactly on this topic (payroll for 2019). Check out my analysis and see what it probably means for this team going fwd

    Todd Boss

    26 Sep 18 at 10:58 am

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