Nationals Arm Race

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

Quick Dozier signing reaction


Dozier slides nicely into the 2B hole on the Nats roster. Photo via

Dozier slides nicely into the 2B hole on the Nats roster. Photo via

Well, for those who were not convinced that the Nats would roll into 2019 with a Wilmer Difo/Howie Kendrick platoon at 2B … the Nats solved your problems just now, signing former all -star 2B Brian Dozier to a one year deal worth $9M.

Immediate reactions seem to think its an overpay.  He did see his BA  and his overall production plummet in 2018, going from All Star/down-ballot MVP levels in 2015-16 to abhorrent in 2017.  Even so, he still provided a full 1.0 bWAR in 2018 … which would significantly improve upon the combined -0.8 bWAR the Nats 2B provided the team last year.

Another gamble from Mike Rizzo, betting he can get a rebound year out of a former star.

I like the gamble.

  1. Dozier’s signing is a one year deal; the old adage “there are no bad one year deals” comes to mind.  If he’s a total bust, its just money.  Yes perhaps money that could have been spent elsewhere (bullpen) but there’s more P depth in our minors than 2B dept right now.
  2. He doesn’t block Carter Kieboom at all.
  3. Even if he hits .220 again, he hits for power, and would be an improvement over the black hole we had running last year at 2B.
  4. This mitigates any concerns you had about starting Kendrick, or Difo for an entire season
  5. You can do worse than a Gold Glove-calibre former All Star defender in the #7 or #8 hole.

Add a couple more incremental wins to the ledger for this team.

Roster implications:

  • This puts them at 41 players; someone needs to drop.  My guess is Matt Reynolds, who is out of options and who was never going to make the 2019 team.
  • This also likely pushes Difo back to AAA; he’s gone one option left and there’s no room on the active roster.

I saw a couple of comments on the previous thread expressing some dissatisfaction over the move.   But feel free to discuss more.   The question I have for you is this: does this signing make the team better in 2019?

Written by Todd Boss

January 10th, 2019 at 3:59 pm

22 Responses to 'Quick Dozier signing reaction'

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  1. If Difo gets shipped to Fresno who is the back-up SS?


    10 Jan 19 at 5:43 pm

  2. Yes, Difo is the only SS-capable guy on the bench, so he stays. It just leaves them with two very underwhelming PH options in Difo and Taylor. Baring further action, bench is set with Adams, Kendrick (if he’s ready by Opening Day), Taylor, Difo, and whoever is sitting between Gomes and Suzuki. If Kendrick isn’t ready, the competition for the bench spot would be between Stevenson and Brandon Snyder . . . so you would hope they would sign more viable options. Spencer Kieboom is a very good catching reserve at AAA. They’ve got very little backing up the other spots, though.

    I agree that Matt Reynolds gets DFA’d. He may well make it through waivers with so many other decent options still unsigned. Other alternatives would be to trade Gott or Severino, both of whom are out of options and likely will be somewhere else by April 1.

    Spending-wise, Ghost at NatsTalk has the Nats at $198M, which is $8M below the tax line of $206M, but 198 doesn’t include potential incentives for Rosenthal and Sanchez.


    10 Jan 19 at 9:00 pm

  3. As I said on the last post, I don’t tremendously love this deal, but I don’t hate it, either. I would have preferred that the Nats spend the larger chunk of cash on another reliever, but this investment leads one to believe that they’re more concerned about Kendrick than they’ve admitted. I did NOT want Difo as a regular, even for a month.

    Dozier was probably the only one from among the better 2B options who would take a one-year contract. The Nats paid a 1.0 WAR price for him, and Steamer projects him to bounce back to 2.6. As I noted earlier, I think Dozier is the type of hitter who could really benefit to exposure to Kevin Long. If he returns to the 30-40 HR level, he’s a steal. If he’s still the .182 hitter he was in LA, um, we may see Carter Kieboom in May. (Although I’m high on Kieboom, he struggled at AA in ’18 but bounced back with a strong AFL performance at the end of the summer.)


    10 Jan 19 at 9:31 pm

  4. Concur on Difo. Right now the bench is Difo, Adams, Kendrick and Taylor, which seems fine actually but for the fact that Taylor has never shown he can hit in a reserve role.

    Anyway, if the Nats would just sign a lefty reliever (Tony Sipp, anybody?) and extend Rendon, I’d say this has been one enormously successful offseason.

    Karl Kolchak

    10 Jan 19 at 11:01 pm

  5. I’d take Sipp in a heartbeat! Do they have enough money left for him? Hard to know. Ross took $500K less in arb than projected, so every little bit helps.

    I don’t know whether there’s another “significant” signing like Sipp out there for the Nats, but there are a truckload of good role players still unsigned, and another reliever or bench player in the $1M territory might be in the cards, as could a handful of guys on minor-league contracts.

    Dozier price looks pretty reasonable compared to 2/$20M for Lowrie, who is a weird fit for the Mets, albeit another good hitter. They’ve definitely gotten better, although most of their “new” blood is well on the wrong side of 30.


    11 Jan 19 at 9:18 am

  6. So is the offseason drama basically over, or is it just beginning?! Ha! As I’ve noted, I’ve loved how aggressive Rizzo has been to strike early, get the choice players, and check all the boxes. One may disagree with a piece or two he has added, but the sum total of talent acquired is impressive. Most importantly, he didn’t wait around for the Boras Circus to play out.

    If Harper does sign, the assumption is that they trade Eaton. If so, do they trade him solely for prospects so as not to add more to the budget, or are they willing to take on salary in return since they would already be over the tax line? Could they get someone like Hand from CLE for Eaton and Solis? Even bigger, would they be willing to take on Kluber’s contract to get something done at that dramatic level? (That would require more trade pieces than just Eaton.)


    11 Jan 19 at 9:32 am

  7. How many WAR is the difference between Eaton and Harper?
    I ask for opinions.
    Baseball-reference projects
    Eaton 278 with 8 HR OPS 780 2018 WAR 1.1
    Harper 265 with 27 HR OPS 889 2018 WAR 1.3
    Personally it seems to me the difference will be less in 2019 because of having more people on base and fewer strikeouts, that is, if many hit and keep the line moving, the number of home runs in the first part of a rally inning does not matter.
    With a 2018 WAR diff on BR of 0.2 it seems that difference is pretty expensive.


    11 Jan 19 at 11:02 am

  8. Difo as only SS; yeah good point. But if Difo stays … that means a 7-man bullpen. Which means one of the following doesn’t make the team: Doolittle*, Rosenthal, Barraclough, JMiller, Grace*, Suero, Glover, Solis*

    Do you cut ties with Solis? Do you send Glover to the minors?

    If you sign ANOTHER lefty reliever like many are pushing for … then who else makes way? Doolittle, Rosenthal are locks based on contracts. Grace and Suero earned their spots last year. So did Miller. So do you move demote Glover? Two years ago he was the closer in waiting.

    Todd Boss

    11 Jan 19 at 11:23 am

  9. Dozier admitted last in 2018 he had a knee injury all year. That seems like a completely reasonable reason for a guy to suddenly stop hitting. Lowrie got 2yrs/$20M versus Dozier 1yr/9M with some deferred. Which is better?

    I’d take Dozier in a heartbeat.

    Todd Boss

    11 Jan 19 at 11:24 am

  10. I’d dump Solis and demote Glover in a heartbeat if the could sign a quality lefty. Chances are, they’ll likely need Glover sooner rather than later anyway when the first injury inevitably occurs.

    The pen as is just looks way too thin and too reliant on guys with big injury histories. After all it isn’t as if the pen hasn’t been a problem every year since 2012 or anything.

    Karl Kolchak

    11 Jan 19 at 1:26 pm

  11. Wow, it’s starting to get weird. Lowrie to NYM for 2/$20m, then DJL to NYY for 2/$24m. In both cases with no obvious position. Huh.

    Would you like either of those deals better than Dozier @ 1/$9m? I don’t know if I agree with Todd, I might take Lowrie. Was never a DJL fan, but maybe just sour grapes since the Murphy batting title thing, tho


    11 Jan 19 at 3:50 pm

  12. Hey–the Nats managed to avoid arbitration with Turner “cheaply” for “only” $3.725 million, or $1.5 million less than MLBTR estimated he would get (which frankly seemed way too high). Of course had Rizzo not royally screwed the pooch by bringing him up in 2015 just to sit on the bench for six weeks, they would have saved about $3 million more.

    Also, A.J. Cole was just claimed off waivers by the Indians. MLBTR noted how Cole “improved” last year, ‘cept for his habit of giving up huge amounts of dingers (2 per 9 IP in 148 career innings). What is it with young Nats’ pitchers and their propensity for giving up home runs in bunches?

    Karl Kolchak

    11 Jan 19 at 7:41 pm

  13. Let’s see, they “saved” .5M over projected on Ross and 1.5M on Turner, but they paid Rendon 1.2M more than projected, so they’re net +800K. Taylor (with absolutely no case, since he was awful) and Barraclough going to arbitration, which will piss off Rizzo. Both of those cases will end up close to projected, so Nats may have saved around $1M that can be spent elsewhere. MAT may also have cashed his ticket out of town, which would open up plenty of money to sign someone like Maybin.


    12 Jan 19 at 8:04 am

  14. Dozier was fantastic in 2015-16 (bWARS of 6.3 and 4.5) … then played with an injury last year. He’ll be in his age 32 season. I like that gamble.

    Lowrie: will be in his age 35 season, just put up two solid seasons of 4.0 and 4.8 bWAR after two terrible seasons and mostly a career showing he can’t stay healthy. And he got TWO years and more money AAV.

    LeMehaiu: will be in his age 30 season, has had exactly one season where his OPS+ was norht of league average, coming off of two bWAR seasons of 2.9 and 3.0 but nearly all of that value was via defense … and he also got more years and more money.

    Yes; i stand by what I said. I’ll take Dozier straight up over both of these guys … certainly so knowing its one year deal for less AAV. Dozier has a much higher demonstrated ceiling, clearly played through injury last year which completely explains his lack of production, is young enough to not be buying decline, and his value is based on his offense not his defense.

    Todd Boss

    12 Jan 19 at 2:09 pm

  15. As Todd noted, LeMaheiu has ONE season in his career with an OPS+ over 100. One. I’m fine with being able to get Dozier just one season. If he clicks, he’ll be a huge addition to the lineup; if not, Kieboom or Kendrick should be ready at some point.

    Bryce silliness heating up. I still find it hard to believe that he’d go to Philly, but of course Boras has his mouthpieces Bowden and Nightengale already crowing that he will. My prediction stands: Boras will spend this week using the Phil offer to try to goad teams where Harper wants to be (Dodgers, Cubs) into bidding. If that doesn’t work, he’ll be back on Ted Lerner’s doorstep next week. By this scenario, Bryce will sign somewhere probably on the last week of January.


    13 Jan 19 at 2:50 pm

  16. What’s left to do? The biggest question is whether the Nats trust Solis or want another lefty to replace him, since Solis struggles against LHB. Sipp might be a reach with the money they have left (he made $6M last year), but Ollie Perez would be available for >$2M.

    The Nats have a number of RH options in the ‘pen, but I still wouldn’t rule out a Greg Holland return if the price is right.

    On the bench, did MAT just buy his ticket out of town by refusing a generous arb offer? For his $3.25M, someone like Maybin might make more sense.

    The assumption also seems to be that the Nats will add a couple of experienced MLB starters on minor-league deals. That would make sense, if they’ve got the money for it.


    13 Jan 19 at 2:58 pm

  17. Oh, and we were right — Matt Reynolds DFA’d to clear room for Dozier. There should be a good chance that Reynolds will clear waivers and accept assignment.


    13 Jan 19 at 3:01 pm

  18. With Bryce, we won’t know what he’s doing until he decides. I’m not paying attention to the intrigue. Although I have to say, wouldn’t it be pretty cool to see both of them on the Phillies? Heresy, I know.

    I don’t even know that I care that much one way or the other, but it seems like a shame that these guys aren’t getting more interest. I don’t think it’s collusion, but the way the game has shifted …. let’s just say that I won’t be shocked if there is a work stoppage at the next CBA. If I’m the players, i’d want FA to come two years earlier, or maybe at a fixed age like 28, and/or arbitration after 1 year. Owners aren’t going to agree so I see big problems, but this is too one sided.

    I think the Nats are done making moves, unless it Harp or they make a trade to clear some room. I think they are maxed out on payroll. I’m ok with that, you can’t fix everything and this is a good team as is. I know I sound like a broken record, but it has more risk than people appreciate but should be good. The problem is so are most of the other teams they’ll play, so there only a few easy wins. So they could play well and be good this year but still not win the division. Should be a fun year for baseball.


    13 Jan 19 at 4:20 pm

  19. Crossing my fingers on Harper going to the Phillies–that should make them underachievers for years to come!

    Karl Kolchak

    13 Jan 19 at 7:10 pm

  20. Agree with KK. Harper’s 1-2 years away from being a strictly 1B/DH type. Oh wait, the Phillies are in the National League.

    Mark L

    14 Jan 19 at 9:04 am

  21. Oh, there’s a massive shift in the industry coming in 2021. This just cannot go on. covers it pretty well. You just cannot have massive revenue increases while payroll declines. The 50/50 split of revenue (or close to it) is so far out of whack right now that the players have to strike to get some balance back. They’ve been inept for too long in CBA negotiations and need to take a hard line.

    Todd Boss

    14 Jan 19 at 9:27 am

  22. The players really screwed themselves with the last CBA and effectively allowed the owners to legally collude against them. At the same time, I don’t think it’s helping the players in general to have a few seeking longer and longer contracts. Admittedly, 10-year contracts date back to A-Rod, but they didn’t make much sense then and they sure don’t now, even for 26-year-olds. A contract of around 4/$140M would make sense for Bryce. A contract extending that AAV of $35M over 10 years, every cent guaranteed, makes no sense for any team in any sport, even for a consistent stud like Trout. Such contracts only make sense in the NFL, where they’re front-loaded and not fully guaranteed (except for Kirk Cousins — oops!).

    Unlike some here, I wouldn’t mind having Bryce back with the Nats. What I would mind is a long contract that might hamstring the roster for a decade. I do find it promising that Rizzo has already spent right up to the tax line before there’s any decision on Harper, but will the Lerners be willing to go over the line year after year? Would they also give a tax-busting deal to extend Rendon? To me, a deal on Harper only makes sense if they have also still have the latitude to extend Rendon. And that’s a massive “if.”

    That said, an extension for Rendon would not start until his age-31 season and likely would be for at least six years. Oh boy. Does that make sense? I don’t know. There’s no doubt that you’d mostly be paying for “decline” years.

    No wonder Rizzo has no hair!


    14 Jan 19 at 10:23 am

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