Nationals Arm Race

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

Obligatory Post on the 2019 Hall of Fame class


Rivera's last Yankee Apperance. Photo Jim McIsaac/Long Island Newsday.

Rivera’s last Yankee Apperance. Photo Jim McIsaac/Long Island Newsday.

Its that time of the year, so that means Hall of Fame Ballot time.  BBWAA Writers should have mailed in their ballots by 12/31/18, and we should start seeing a glut of “this is who I voted for and why” posts come out this week.

Nearly 25% of the voters got a jump on things and published early; as of Christmas more than 90 ballots were in Ryan Thibodaux‘s tracker and as of the new year he’s got more than 130 of the total 412 ballots available.

If you’re still “in” on the hall after the inexplicable Harold Baines election, then read on.

Here’s two key links for you, if you’re still reading:

And, here’s a link to one of the best “imaginary hall of fame” ballot stories i’ve ever read, from Jay Jaffe, he of JAWS fame, breaking down the ballot in a great way.

My consideration of candidates for the Hall, unlike my consideration of a lot of stuff in baseball, comes down more to “feel” than it does to stats.  I know Jay Jaffe  has his great JAWS thing that tries to do both peak and longevity.  I know has a bunch of metrics per player.  That’s all great.  But it isn’t the hall of stats, it isn’t the hall of WAR.  Its the Hall of Fame.  Its the hall of marquee players from their day.  I look at the players I’d vote for and … they’re the guys you paid money to see.  They’re the arms that were on the mound and you gave the opposing team little chance.  They’re the sluggers who you wanted up in the 9th inning of a tie game.  That’s what makes the game exciting and that’s the lens I like to use when judging players.  Yeah its subjective and partisan; so is every person voting in the BBWAA.  Even Jaffe admits there’s stats and then there’s consideration in his excellent article linked above.

With my imaginary ballot, here’s how i’d vote.  Since there’s a (ridiculous) limit of 10 players per ballot, I’ll list these players in rough order of voting priority to start:

New to the 2019 Ballot Candidates:

  • Absolute Yes on Mariano RiveraRoy Halladay.
    • Rivera may be the closest we ever get to a unanimous player; a dominant closer who impacted the post-season for two decades and was a great guy with no enemies in the press.
    • Halladay was the best or among the best pitchers in baseball for nearly a decade, winning Cy Youngs in both leagues and throwing a post-season no-hitter.  He unfortunately also gets posthumous votes thanks to his ill timed death early in 2018.  Yes, his inclusion technically “lowers” the SP bar .. but I think its just about time people started realizing we have to re-think the way we evaluate SPs in our game.
  • Slight pause to consider Todd Helton, Lance BerkmanAndy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt, but then still vote no.  For each, here’s a couple of thoughts:
    • Helton had a 5 year stretch where he was once of the most feared  hitters in the game, and accumulated a ton of WAR … but was kind of a lack-of-power 1B who got a boost playing in Colorado and probably wasn’t anywhere close to the player that Fred McGriff was, who couldn’t sniff the hall.
    • Berkman was an even better, more dangerous hitter … he retired with a career OPS+ of 144, but aged badly and was done by 37.  His intolerant political views can’t be helping him either (in the same vein they’re affecting Schilling)
    • If you didn’t like Jack Morris, you probably don’t like Pettitte either, as they profile very similarly.  Pettitte has the distinction of having the most Wins in the first decade of the new year … and with Morris’ inclusion every “decade leading” wins getter is in the Hall.  But something tells me that streak ends here.  He also has a bona-fide PED testing result that, for some reason or another, isn’t viewed with nearly the vitriol as other PED-associated players (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, etc).  Amazing how the media narrative changes based on the player (Pettitte == “good guy” while Bonds == “bad guy.”)
    • Oswalt burst onto the scene and was one of the best pitchers in the NL for the first half of his career … then disappeared and was done as an effective pitcher by the age of 33.  He’s like the Orel Hershiser of his generation, but only half as accomplished.
  • No on everyone else, and there’s nobody really close.

Returning Ballot Candidates; i’m not re-litigating these candidates, since i’ve written many times on them in the past.   Plus, most of these guys have been on the ballot so long that, frankly, nobody wants to hear your justification any more.  Its like politics; reading my blog post isn’t going to change your opinion on the Border Wall.

  • Absolute Yes on Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina
  • More tepid Yes on Curt Schilling, Manny Ramirez, Fred McGriff
  • Almost ready to say Yes on Gary Sheffield, Billy WagnerScott Rolen
  • Pass for now on Jeff Kent, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones.

So i’ve got absolute Yes’s on 6 guys, tepid Yes on another three, then would probably throw on Sheffield as my 10th.

I vote Yes on Mariano, Halladay, Clemens, Bonds, Edgar, Mussina, Schilling, Manny, McGriff and Sheffield.

I get the arguments for Walker, for Wagner, for Sosa, for Jones.  That’s why lots of people say there’s 14 worth candidates on this year’s ballot but only 10 spots.  Maybe next year.


41 Responses to 'Obligatory Post on the 2019 Hall of Fame class'

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  1. The whole steroids thing has really screwed up the HoF considerations. It’s probably time to acknowledge that MLB players aren’t saints, and just go ahead and recognize Shoeless Joe, Rose and those steroid abusers who clearly had HoF talent anyway (Clemens & Bonds).

    The fact that the baseball writers allow their personal feelings about a particular player to justify a yes or no vote is also idiotic. Personally, I couldn’t stand Clemens, and actively rooted against Bonds breaking Aaron’s record even before his steroid use became known, but there’s no denying those two guys were likely the best pitcher and hitter of their generation. Keeping them out is a dumb as keeping out the all time hits leader or a guy who had a .356 career average. After all, OJ Simpson is in the NFL HofF and the last I checked the building in Canton hasn’t collapsed as a result.

    Karl Kolchak

    2 Jan 19 at 7:06 pm

  2. A significant element that’s been missing here is admission/contrition. Rose would have been in the Hall long ago if he’d just fess up. He’s not even accused of anything that affected his stats, unlike all the ‘roid guys. (I also happen to think that Rose was somewhat overrated and not even among the five best players on the Big Red Machine, but he set several records due to longevity and certainly belongs in the Hall sooner or later. I do laugh when people try to say that Rose [career OPS .784] was similar to Shoeless Joe [OPS .940], though, or more contemporarily to Wade Boggs [.858] or Tony Gwynn [.847]. Nope. Heck, Rose still significantly trails the great Harold Baines [.820].)

    Getting back to admission/contrition, the only ‘roid guy who has really fessed up is McGwire, yet HOF voters dismissed him even faster than they did Sosa. McGwire has a higher career bWAR than a truckload of guys still on the ballot: Helton, Sosa, Kent, McGriff, Berkman, etc. His career OPS would rank him third among the guys on the ballot, behind only Bonds and Ramirez. (McGwire ranks #10 all time in OPS.) He’s also generally been thought of as a nice guy, unlike some others among the tainted.

    All of this said, Jaffe makes the point over and over in a bunch of his ballot posts that the Hall lost all moral high ground on steroids when it let in Blind Eye Bud Selig. I agree. Unstated is that there have also now been three guys elected who have some level of taint/innuendo: Pudge Rodriguez, Bagwell, and Piazza. Obviously, there’s more known evidence against some of the folks currently on the ballot than on some of these guys, but others are very similar cases. So if voters are drawing distinctions, I’m not sure how, because they’re moving the standard back and forth.

    I’ve also seen the argument that maybe the voters can/should try to determine who would or would not have had HOF stats without the juice. Good luck with that! Bonds and Clemens are in with or without, although I’ve argued that Roger’s career arc might look a lot more like Pedro’s if not for the injection of another decade of wins. Manny would be in regardless as well (as would/should ARod when he comes on the ballot). It gets iffy when you get down to guys like Sosa and Sheffield. As things turned out, though, Sosa is #9 on the all-time HR list. (McGwire is #11. Palmeiro is #13.)

    Again, how do you separate? On the B-R sortable stats of the current ballot, Sosa’s general stat line comes out pretty close to McGriff’s, if you ignore the HR boost. Everyone seems to think that McGriff is very marginal/borderline (although he’s miles ahead of Baines in just about every category). But the fact is, history still credits Sosa with 609 HRs, which should make him a mortal lock.


    3 Jan 19 at 10:14 am

  3. Hall of Fame electorate and hypocrisy: I used to think that the NFL-method of selecting candidates was superior; a small committee of experts, each making a pitch/presentation for a candidate almost like a lawyer pitching a jury, then voting.

    … and then the committee added Harold Baines. Showing basically the absolute worst possible outcome.

    Frankly, with the purging of voters who no longer cover the sport and the general addition of newer voters (all of whom seem to vote for 10 players every time and vote for Bonds/Clemens) eventually this situation will clean itself up.

    I’ve always shied away from Sosa for one primary reason: he, moreso than any other slugger from the era, seemed to “turn on a switch” of performance that is hard to attribute to anything other than steroids. At age 28, he had a sub 100 OPS+ and 36 homers in 162 games played. Then his next 5 seasons: 66-63-50-64-49. I’m sorry, but you just don’t go from a consistent 35-40 homer to a sustained 50% higher peak without some help. Sosa also has a corked bat issue. Amazingly, Sosa retired with 600+ homers after essentially getting run out of the sport in his age 38 season.. imagine if he played til he was 42 like Aaron.

    Todd Boss

    3 Jan 19 at 10:26 am

  4. Current ballot: I have no idea how they break the logjam that they’ve created with the steroid guys. Bonds and Clemens are near the top of all-time greats, and Manny is not far outside that inner circle. If you’re ignoring the outside factors in your vote, Manny is much higher on my ballot than Edgar Martinez would be.

    I think Halladay should be in the HOF (and that his election should make Max close to a lock, as their careers are pretty close, with Max having a chance to maintain longer), but I don’t see how you let in Halladay without also including Mussina and Schilling. Pettite is not really in the same class with these guys and would be a separate discussion. I’m not saying that he doesn’t belong, just that he doesn’t belong at the same level of Halladay, Mussina, and Schilling.

    I think you could get into a similar discussion with Rivera and Wagner. Yes, Rivera belongs, no doubt, first ballot. But sort the stats and look how close Billy is to Mariano. In fact, Wagner was probably better than any of the other relievers who are already in the Hall strictly as relievers other than Hoffman. (Smoltz and Eckersley also had significant records as starters. In fact, Eck had 100 complete games! [For reference, Clemens, who pitched forever, had 118.])

    I have no idea what to do with the Mile High disparities of Helton and Walker. Those are issues almost as confounding as what to do with the ‘roid guys. They were both exceptional hitters, and Walker was a great defender, with one of the best arms in the game. They were at least as good hitters as Edgar Martinez . . . but then McGriff, Sheffield, and Berkman would also be close to that circle. (And every one of them was significantly better than Baines.) Yet the only one of that group who seems to have a high probability of getting in, at least for now, is Martinez.

    I have a soft spot for arguments in favor of Rolen and particularly Andruw Jones. I don’t see how one can say that Rolen should get a plus-up because of defense (seven GG) without saying the same about Jones (10 consecutive GG), who would be in the conversation for the greatest defensive outfielder of all time. Yes, his career was relatively short and tailed off badly at the end, but his 434 career HRs is still a significant number and ahead of a lot of all-time greats. Both are easily in the top 10 of 3Bs and CFs, respectively, of all time.


    3 Jan 19 at 11:00 am

  5. Todd, I’m the most iffy on Sosa as well, for the reasons you mention. He’s one it would be really hard to argue would have been HOF level without the boost.


    3 Jan 19 at 11:03 am

  6. I remember watching Sosa at Comiskey when he was still with the ChiSox and was a scrawny strikeout machine ala Danny Espinosa. His career perfectly overlapped the steroid era, and I doubt he’d have hit more than 300 without the juice. To me it was like when Brady Anderson suddenly hit 50 HRs that one year. You just gotta roll your eyes.

    Karl Kolchak

    3 Jan 19 at 12:06 pm

  7. Aside from the supercharged stats, there are other career effects that are pretty obvious when you look over the careers of the suspected/accused. McGwire and Sheffield in particular, and Clemens in the years right before he started using, had real problems staying healthy. All of sudden, they’re stringing together full season after full season.

    The other big factor is the obvious lengthening of the productive years. There may not have been a cleaner-living, harder-working player than Dale Murphy, but he fell off a cliff at 32. Among guys under consideration now, Halladay ceased being great after 34 and was done at 36. Andruw Jones didn’t play a full season after age 30 (and still hit 434 homers). The all-time great Pedro Martinez had his last full season at age 33. Junior Griffey, one of the greatest players in the history of the game up to age 30, was very average and oft-injured after 30. That’s how NORMAL players, even some of the greatest ever, actually age. Griffey and Bonds were fairly equal through age 30, as were Clemens and Pedro, and Pedro was pitching against the steroid-era hitters. Clemens and Pedro had different body types, but Junior and Bonds were pretty similar, at least until Barry started to look like a body builder.


    3 Jan 19 at 12:54 pm

  8. Checking in on the present, if I’m Rizzo and Papa Ted decides to make his last great deal with Uncle Scotty (a five-hour meeting? Really?), here’s what I’d do. Since the tax line will be blown (I don’t see any way they can make trades and restructure contracts to get under it if they’re adding $30M for you-know-who), I’m trading Eaton and Fedde (and Garcia if need be) to Cleveland for Kluber and assembling one of the great rotations of the 21st century.

    As it is, I love the way Rizzo has played the offseason. He was aggressive in fixing what needed to be fixed and basically spent (nearly) all the available cap space before the Lerners made the Harper decision. It sure seemed like Rizzo saying “if you want him, you’ve got to go over the tax line to do it, because I need the rest of the money to fix everything else.” Also, he didn’t wait for Harper. That was my biggest fear, that Rizzo would be constrained from making significant moves while the inevitable months-long melodrama played out.

    Is he coming back? I don’t know, and I don’t particularly care. He could probably get more money to get booed in Philly for a decade or to play on the south side of Chicago for a really bad team that’s very much a junior partner to the team on the north side. Half Street may be looking more appealing, even at a bit of a discount.


    3 Jan 19 at 2:51 pm

  9. Robertson to PHI, 2/$23m. pretty good deal for Phillies.

    Speaking of PEDs, I wish they took HGH off the banned list. Best I can tell, it helps players heal more quickly and has a legit medical use. What doesn’t everyone want that, and how exactly is it different than other things that help players heal more quickly? I’d say why certain things are banned and others allowed is poorly understood by almost all fans and media people, and maybe even people in baseball. They don’t all do the same thing. What’s medically safe should be the guiding principle.


    3 Jan 19 at 2:52 pm

  10. I’m not quite as bullish on what Rizzo’s done, although I get your main point being relief that they didn’t let Harper’s saga hamstring them. I think he’s playing a high risk game.

    The only one that I unequivocally like is probably the one that makes people the most nervous: Corbin. He’s young, good and I think he has as much chance to overperform the contract as underperform. The Gomes trade was pretty good.

    But Rosenthal’s performance is risky coming off TJ, and not cheap if he performs. Suzuki is just a yawner to me, as is Sanchez.

    If he stops here without a significant bullpen addition, he would get a B-/C+ from me. That bullpen needs another piece.


    3 Jan 19 at 3:21 pm

  11. I’m very bullish on what Rizzo has done, hence my previous comments showing how it could lead to a 98 win team. I’m good with the Corbin move; unlike Boswell i’m not convinced that sliders are the death of arms. What attracts me to Corbin is the fact that he gets guys out without throwing 100. To me, that means he’s goign to age well. I think Sanchez is underrated: he was always a solid, under the radar guy with Miami.

    Todd Boss

    3 Jan 19 at 8:05 pm

  12. I wrote as the offseason began that I hoped that the Nats would try to do more than just fill holes, do something that could make them demonstrably “better.” Well, Corbin = better in my book. He’s a gamble, but he was also the best starter on the market by a decent amount. They had to do something about catcher, and I like the two-headed solution they came up with better than overpaying for Grandal or Ramos. It’s not perfect, but there were no perfect options. If Suzuki can coax a couple of more good seasons out of Sanchez, all the better.

    Rosenthal was a stud in 2017 (FIP of 2.17, K9 of 14.4). He’s only 28, and he’s been clocked at 98. Plus Lilliquist knows him. (Barraclough also started out with the Cards, FWIW.) I’ll agree that as gambles go it was on the pricey side, but Rosenthal has a lot of upside if he’s truly back.

    Now what? The Nats seem to have hit a holding pattern. Are they waiting to see what the Lerners want to do with You Know Who? Are they waiting for the latest recovery news on Kendrick? (For those who have forgotten, Howie was slashing .303/.331/.474 when he got hurt. Compare those numbers to any 2B on the market before you get excited about any of them.) Meanwhile, prices on other options should be dropping by the day.

    I would have liked to have had Robertson but always thought he would be too expensive plus seeking an opportunity where he could close. Ottavino and Britton are still out there. I’d rather the Nats spend big (relatively speaking) on one of them than on someone like Lowrie.


    4 Jan 19 at 11:08 am

  13. Just when you thought it was safe to return to the park next year without the spectacle of having to watch a grossly overrated, pouty little brat anymore. To think what they could do with that $300+ million if they spent it wisely. It’s just like Boras clients R Soriano and Weiters, but on a much grander scale–they’re going to vastly overpay beyond what any other team would for a guy whose name recognition far exceeds his actual production. And how did those two deals work out?

    Karl Kolchak

    4 Jan 19 at 1:22 pm

  14. I still like Bryce as a player, but I’ve kind of moved on from him. And while I don’t care what they spend if the team is competitive, it’s hard to see his contract not causing consequences elsewhere.

    I’ll tell you what I definitely don’t want to read. If he comes back they’ll be 1 million articles about how he had no market, and Boras pull another one on the Lerners… that just gets irritating.

    I’ll also add that at this stage, I don’t think Eaton has a big trade market. He’s good, but many teams have filled their OF needs. CLE, which has budget issues even after their deals, and NYM are the two big ones that jump out at me.


    4 Jan 19 at 2:10 pm

  15. My joys from watching Harper play over the last seven seasons have far, far outweighed the frustrating times, so I’d be a hypocrite to say that I wouldn’t miss him. Would re-signing him be a smart “baseball decision”? No. But here’s the deal that most seem to be missing — it’s NOT a baseball decision. Baseball decisions involve maximizing talent with the budget at hand, and Rizzo has done that. He’s significantly improved the team while staying until the (very random and arbitrary) luxury tax line.

    If Harper re-signs, it will be because a multi-billionaire likes him. Money has never been an object for the Lerners, at least with the baseball team. If you don’t believe me, notice that the ballpark still has no corporate name. And I sure wish people would stop saying that if Bryce comes back, Rendon is gone. The Lerners have plenty of money for him, too. Will the Nats be able to stay under the tax line with them? No. But if anyone was really worried about that pesky line, Corbin wouldn’t be a Nat.

    If Harper does sign, I wasn’t kidding about trading Eaton as the center of a deal for Kluber. The Indians need Brantley’s replacement, and they’d love to move Kluber’s contract. If the Nats are already over the tax line, who cares about adding that contract. (Can’t see the Nats trading with the Mets.)

    (I’ll add that I really like Eaton and wish there was some way to keep him, but I just don’t see where he would play in the OF. The Bryce-in-CF experiment didn’t work. So just trade Soto for Kluber AND Bauer . . . [kidding!])

    We’ll see. I’m not really surprised that the circle on Bryce has come back around. I’m also not surprised that he’s finding the market for the places he’d like to be — Dodgers, Yankees, and Cubs — to be cold. Philly and Chisox aren’t appealing, and never were.


    4 Jan 19 at 9:23 pm

  16. Pitcher salaries aren’t cheap. Herrera got 2/$18m. Essentially the Sanchez deal, when I think the guy may be on the brink of collapse. I don’t see another notable bullpen acquisition for the Nats.

    Each offseason I like to play a game: which signings would you like to have for your team at the price they signed for? I’m hard pressed right now to find many. Maybe Ramos at 2/$19m? Miller at 2/$25m. After that, believe it or not, I jump to the bigger ones that everyone said were super risky: Corbin and Eovaldi. I at least think those guys are going to be good. The others, like Herrera, run the risk of not even being any good at a sizable price.

    I think Rizzo’s instincts to move early, which some criticized, is proving to be spot on in terms of pricing. Guys aren’t getting long term deals, but there aren’t any screaming buy low deals going on either, and only a few high quality guys left on the board.


    7 Jan 19 at 5:13 pm

  17. One more thought: they ought to trade for Will Smith (SFG). They should be able to get him without giving up Robles, Kieboom or Denaburg (my #3, while I acknowledge that most would have Garcia here). I think a package of Crowe, Agustin and someone else gets it done, and i’d Pay that price. If Garcia Is the centerpiece, I think they could get more, and maybe even package it with KW’s dream of MAT for Panik. Need a decent 4th OF if they do this, though.

    Smith was excellent last year, but merely good for his entire career before that and only has 1 year left of control, so I don’t think the package is high but not too high. But Ottavino is going to cost britton money at least, and I wouldn’t pay that.


    7 Jan 19 at 7:54 pm

  18. I would take Smith or Watson from the Giants, but not at a hefty price, and certainly not including Garcia. The Nats have made hay with with few second-tier prospects they have/had, but they don’t have many left. Crowe would be one of the few in that tier.

    I’ve not been on the Panik bandwagon. I think that was some folks at NatsTalk. He’s owed $3.8M, plus higher arb next year, and for that price, you’ll have your pick of 2Bs who are still available now. (And I’m still not completely convinced that the Nats need one.) The crowded 2B market is starting to resemble the 1B market a couple of years ago when the Nats got Lind for chicken feed.

    I’m conflicted about what to do with MAT. The Nats are going to need a solid OF reserve, one who is CF-capable, as both Robles and Eaton have a lot of recent injury history. Taylor is awful as a pinch-hitter, though, so it’s sort of a Catch-22. Could they bring in Jay or Maybin and move Taylor?

    In general, I agree about the prices on the reliever market. The Herrera deal really surprised me. I’ve thought all along that Ottavino would get a $10M+ AAV and didn’t see how that would fit with the Nat budget. That’s why I liked the Rosenthal deal, another Rizzo early strike. Yes, it’s a gamble, but if he’s back to 2017 form, he’s a still.

    On the reliever discount side, don’t be surprised if Greg Holland gets called back sometime in Feb. if the price is right.


    7 Jan 19 at 8:52 pm

  19. He’s a “steal,” not a “still.”


    7 Jan 19 at 8:53 pm

  20. Sorry I had the panik idea wrong. I’m with you on MAT; he’s imperfect but he fits what the need at a decent price for this year.

    Holland’s ok, but in this market, he’s probably going to get $5m guaranteed. I’m not sure he’s any better than their minimum salary guys.


    7 Jan 19 at 9:20 pm

  21. OK, so the Chisox’s fallback for Harper was . . . Jon Jay? Jay would have been my top choice to replace MAT because of the LH bat, but they haven’t dealt Taylor, so there’s not really an opening. I’m even less of a fan of Stevenson as the #5 OF, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them add a couple of OFs with MLB experience on minor-league deals just to see what they can do in the spring.

    Speaking of minor-league deals, I wonder whether they could get Neil Walker on one, considering there’s no action on the 2B market and how bad he was last year. Walker had a very good season and a half with Kevin Long, so Long may know how to fix him.

    As for what the Nats will do over the remaining weeks, part of that remains a mystery because no one really seems to know how much money they have left under the cap. I’ve seen anywhere from $6M to $14M. The longer the 2B market remains stagnant, the more weeks the Nats have to judge Kendrick’s recovery. If it starts to look like Kendrick will be ready, then they could have a larger chunk to drop on another reliever.

    We’ll see. They’ve already made the major fixes. We’re approaching the bargain shopping season as players and agents start to get desperate. That’s one reason I keep mentioning Holland — he’s a Boras client. I wouldn’t want to pay him more than $4-5M, though, coming off what was an awful season for him overall.


    8 Jan 19 at 8:42 am

  22. OFs still available include Span and Granderson, who was once one of Long’s star pupils. CarGo is still out there was well. All three of those played for $5M or less last season. I could be interested in any of those in the $2-3M range. I imagine Adam Jones is wanting more money than that, as well as an opportunity to start.

    It’s actually kind of curious how slow the OF market has been, as a number of good teams have slots to fill, and Brantley is really only the “name” guy who has signed.


    8 Jan 19 at 9:02 am

  23. I’d bet big money that Kendrick will not be ready to play effective 2B until a few months into the season. Span or especially Cargo would be good at $3m, if they’ll take it, and Walker for $1-2m would also be worthwhile. Can’t see CarGo’s market falling that low, though. Those would be good bench additions.

    As for pen, I’d also see cheapo options, so it all depends on price. What about Blevins, if Rizzo can put their history behind him?


    8 Jan 19 at 9:25 am

  24. Yes, I expect Blevins and Shawn Kelley to be introduced as newly returning Nats at the same press conference! Ha! (I suspect Rizzo has a LONG memory.)

    There is a former Nat bullpen fixture out there who might be a good fit, though — the legendary Ollie Perez. It completely escaped my notice, but he was awesome with the Indians last season. Not kidding. Look it up. He could be had for >$2M. I think you could get Span, Walker, and Perez for about $7-8M total.


    8 Jan 19 at 10:18 am

  25. That would be a pretty good use of the remaining money, and leave room for a Rendon extension (if it can’t be structured to hit next year) and a moderate midseason pick up.

    I’m good with that, sign them up.


    8 Jan 19 at 11:17 am

  26. Lots of love for Lowrie in the Natosphere, but he could still end up with an AAV >$10M. I think he’s a Machado hostage right now, and he might be a Harper hostage as well with the Dodgers (and possibly the Nats). He’s a West Coast guy and would make a fair amount of sense for the Dodgers. I have difficulty seeing the Nats committing so much $$$ to a 2B with C. Kieboom so close.

    It is pretty amazing how many free agents are still out there.


    8 Jan 19 at 1:11 pm

  27. LAD is an interesting case study. I am mostly an Andrew Friedman fan, and think his strategy of spending money on high quality depth is very effective and underrated. Plus his use of the 10 day DL to keep his pitchers fresh is cutting edge and effective.

    That being said, he is crazy to not make Harper his centerpiece player. He’s just over thinking it. They have great attendance and TV revenues, and their long term contract situation is reasonable. Sure they have Seager to get locked up, but they could easily afford a 10/$350m deal for Harper, and he fits their team well.


    8 Jan 19 at 2:42 pm

  28. Got to think there’s a serious case of cognitive dissonance in the Dodger front office right now. They even made the deal to clear the money for Harper, but they can’t/haven’t pulled the trigger on it. There is NO WAY that Harper wants to end up in Philly, no matter how much the Phils offer. He’d take a lot less than the Phils offer, and probably somewhat less than the Nats offer, to end up in Dodger Blue. Despite all the Yankee talk and the winks to the Cubs, LA is where he’s wanted to be all along. But what if Friedman is being smart and “only” offering something like 7/$210M?

    Also, what’s the perception of Bryce in the Dodger clubhouse? They agreed to take on a prima donna in 2018 and it didn’t go well. Most accounts make Harper out to be easier to get along with as a person than Machado, but still.

    My guess is that Bryce’s list right now reads as follows: 1) Dodgers, 2) Nats. And that’s it. I’ll bet he got a good enough offer from Uncle Ted that he feels like his landing would be cushioned if Friedman doesn’t come through. I think the meeting in Philly is just for show. He had six years of listening to Werth horror stories about Philly, and Werth played on a squad that was a lot better than the one there now.


    8 Jan 19 at 3:41 pm

  29. There’s still the outside possibility of a Stanton trade to the Dodgers (which he likely would approve) to clear a spot with the Yankees for Harper. All of that would be an MLB earthquake.


    8 Jan 19 at 3:44 pm

  30. Yeah, I think Stanton is a lesser player but a righty, which fits them, and Harper fits well on NYY. But I agree with you – Harper doesn’t really seem to fit NY, and I think they’ll turn on him at some point. I think your handicap of LAD, then WAS is spot on.

    I wonder how long WAS leaves their offer open, and whether the Rendon extension is linked. Seems like it has to be, right?


    8 Jan 19 at 8:44 pm

  31. Rizzo is very savvy and HAS to have already had a conversation with the Lerners along the lines of “if you guys decide to bring back Bryce, you’re still going to have to give me the latitude to extend Rendon.” Bringing back Bryce wouldn’t be a “baseball decision”; it would be a marketing/brand decision well beyond the bounds of anything Rizzo could decide himself. I know I’m in the minority in this thinking, but I don’t believe a Harper return would close the door on a Rendon extension. Yes, the Nats likely would be over the tax line for the foreseeable future, but other than the lost international money (since the Nats are doing better with Latin signees than draft picks), I wouldn’t really care, and Rizzo may not, either.

    I really have a hard time seeing Harper ending up in Philly. It’s not just the town/fans and what we in the DC area think of them. Other than Robertson, the Phils have done almost nothing to improve this offseason and may be the #4 team in the division right now after what the Mets have done. The contrast with what Rizzo has done is stark. Having the Phils in contention would be the only way for Bryce to keep his brand at a high level in a second-tier city, and it’s just hard to see that combo right now. Of course Bryce might hit 60 in that bandbox, which would still keep some attention on him, but not as much as he’s used to. (Plus he wouldn’t have much protection in that lineup, so why pitch to him?)

    I think the Dodgers need the firepower of a Harper or a Stanton more than most are acknowledging. Let’s see, they’re losing 81(!) homers collectively from Grandal, Puig, Kemp, and Machado, not to mention that Chris Taylor fell back to Earth in 2018. Seager will be back, but all in all, that lineup has some holes, particularly from the right side of the plate.

    My prediction is that after the totally-for-show meeting with the Phils on Saturday, the Dodgers will have a window of about 7 to 10 days. If nothing is happening on that front, I expect Boras to (metaphorically) show up on the Lerner doorstep around MLK Day. It will take them a few days to work out the deferred money and opt-outs, so I’ll say a signing would happen during the last week of January.


    9 Jan 19 at 10:22 am

  32. I would also bet that Rizzo has already had some provision trade talks concerning Eaton, in case he has to move him quickly. The Indians would make a lot of sense, and Rizzo has just traded with them. I would be pleasantly surprised if they managed to go big and get something done with the likes of Kluber or Bauer, but you never know. Trader Billy’s is always open in OAK as well, and Eaton would be an A’s kind of player.


    9 Jan 19 at 10:31 am

  33. Dozier to Nats for 1/$9M. At that price point, I would have rather that they spent it on Ottavino. I don’t like Dozier’s very high K rate, although he has a decent walk rate to go with it. Anyway, Dozier is a decent defender (one GG) who was good in ’17 and really good in ’16. Can he bounce back? The strikeouts make me skeptical.

    Also curious that Rizzo plunks down $9M more at the same time the Bryce Reunion rumors ramp up.


    10 Jan 19 at 11:23 am

  34. Dozier does seem to fit the profile of the type of player Kevin Long might have some success with, though.


    10 Jan 19 at 11:30 am

  35. Agree, not a fan of the deal at this price, and really feel like the performance difference between Dozier and someone that they could get for $3m isn’t much. Kind of surprising too, since there are so many options. But whatever, I’m not terribly upset, just think its an overpay.

    But some scenarios had them only $6m under the lux tax, right? I can’t imagine they are going over for this. At least I hope they aren’t, unless they know Harper is coming back and its a fait accompli.


    10 Jan 19 at 1:40 pm

  36. I had heard anything from $6M to $14M under the tax line. I would say that “I assume they know,” but considering how they miscalculated on the tax line in ’17 and on Trea’s Super 2 day, I don’t think they get the benefit of any doubt! If they do have $5M left, I’d be on the phone to Tony Sipp.

    I think they’re already at 40 on the 40-man, so a move will have to be made before Dozier can be announced. A Matt Reynolds DFA or a trade of Gott or Severino for a bag of ball would be the most likely scenarios. All are out of options and don’t figure to make the club.


    10 Jan 19 at 2:28 pm

  37. If this is the end of the (regular) offseason spending (not counting that Vegas fella who would blow the budget), the Nats have had a remarkable spurt of acquisitions. We may not agree with all of them, and they may not all pan out, but no other team has done half as much (at least not yet). There’s Corbin, Sanchez, Rosenthal, Barraclough, Gomes, Suzuki, Adams, and Dozier. That’s basically a third of the 25-man roster.


    10 Jan 19 at 2:34 pm

  38. plenty of deadwood on the 40 man, imo.

    yes, very active offseason for Rizzo, but it has more risk than people seem to appreciate, and isn’t very cheap.


    10 Jan 19 at 2:46 pm

  39. Todd, you’ve spent more time trying to decipher the CBA than the rest of us. I believe that if the Nats sign a certain player to a large, long contract, as a third-year offender, their tax penalty would be 50% of the amount over the line. The entire Harper amount wouldn’t be over the line, as they’d trade Eaton, perhaps Taylor, and maybe renegotiate with Zim, leaving them maybe $15-20M over the line. If I’m reading the CBA info right, the penalty at the end of the year would be $7.5-10M . . . which they could cover just by selling the stadium naming rights.

    We’ll see. As I’ve said, kudos to Rizzo for not waiting for the Boras melodrama to play out. He’s spent every cent allowable and told the higher-ups that it’s on them if they still want 34.


    10 Jan 19 at 3:21 pm

  40. Dozier was likely the best option the Nats had for a one-year deal. LeMahieu and Lowrie are going to want multi-year deals. They may struggle to get them in a glutted market, particularly LeMahieu, but they’re holding out for them, and the Nats wanted to get something done. They may have paid a slight premium, but maybe only $1-2M (basically the amount they deferred), and they got their pick of the litter by doing so. I didn’t want Harrison, and Marwin G’s bat is probably not equal to his asking price. The Nats didn’t seem to have much interest in poorer defenders like Dietrich or Cabrerra, who likely would have come more cheaply.

    We’ll see. If Dozier returns to enough power to get to 25-30 HRs, that’s a good return for $9M.


    10 Jan 19 at 3:38 pm

  41. […] I been doing this post?  Basically as long as we’ve had the blog.  Here’s (by class) 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.  Dunno what happened for the 2016 preview; must […]

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