Nationals Arm Race

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

Hall of Fame candidates with Nationals ties (2019 version)


Dunn on the 2020 HoF ballot. Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images North America

Dunn on the 2020 HoF ballot. Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images North America

This is a semi-recurring piece that we’re bringing back out because your 2020 Hall of Fame class has not one but two former Nats players of some prominence have made it onto the 2020 ballot.  We have not done this post in a couple years, so I’ll catch up the last two HoF ballots and then do the 2020 ballot Nats players.

See the 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 versions.

At the end we speculate about who the first Hall of Famer might be wearing the Curly-W.

2020 Ballot players with Nats ties (2020 ballot).  Mark Zuckerman beat me to the punch here, writing an excellent article on both the below players.

  • Adam Dunn; two seasons of three true outcomes, the slugger Dunn was a great presence, took a beer-league softball player approach to hitting, and crushed the ball for this team for two seasons while Mike Rizzo rebuilt the farm system.  In 2010 he somehow avoided the ignominious feat of 200 strikeouts in a season by just one … a figure he subsequently blew through two seasons later as his career collapsed in Chicago.  I doubt he gets any votes and his career implosion upon moving to Chicago remains an oddity; he had 462 career homers but was essentially done as a player at the age of 33.  He should have had 5-6 more seasons of hitting 35 homers, putting himself firmly in the conversation of the best power hitters in the sport’s history.  Sometimes sluggers just … lose it, and fast.
  • Alfonso Soriano played one infamous year in Washington in 2006, was forcibly removed from his preferred position at 2B in spring training, had a 40/40 season, still holds the franchise season record for homers, and used his one season in Washington as a launching pad for a massive contract in a big market going forward.  His departure netted us two comp picks under the old system (he was a “type A” FA), which we used to select Josh Smoker and Jordan Zimmermann, one of which helped setup the franchise for

One other interesting name on this ballot?  Cliff Lee, who was with the franchise just prior to its move to DC, but was part of the ridiculous Bartolo Colon trade made in 2002.

2019 Ballot players with Nat’s ties: (2019 ballot with voting results and stats from

We forgot to do this post last year, but there was one candidate with Nats ties:

  • Rick Ankiel, who spent two full seasons with Washington providing amazing defense in center (to go along with his amazing arm) but paltry hitting at the plate from 2011-2012.   In 2012 he was essentially a backup to newly promoted Bryce Harper for the Nats break-out season, but he did not appear for the team in the 2012 post-season ( he was not on their 2012 post-season roster).  Ankiel’s comeback story is pretty compelling, but it did not earn him  any hall of fame votes and he fell off the ballot after one year.

2018 Ballot players with Nats ties (2018 HoF Ballot):

  • Livan Hernandez: wow, what an important player in our history.  He was the starter in our first ever game in DC, and also started our first home game.  He made the all-star team that year.   He came back to the team in 2010, retired in 2014 and for a time was part of the Nats spring training staff.  He was named on one ballot and has fallen off going forward.
  • Brad Lidge: an infamous member of the Nats-to-Oblivion club, he signed on as a former-closer middle reliever for the 2012 team and got lit up.  Not Trevor Rosenthal lit up, but he was not effective.  He was released in June and hung em up.  He did not receive any votes on the ballot.

Notably, Vladimir Guerrero was elected in this ballot, long time Montreal player.  If only he had made it to Washington.


Nats connected names on the 2017 ballot and 2017 eligible:

  • Ivan Rodriguez, aka “Pudge,” who surprisingly signed a 2-year deal with the team after the 2009 season and played his last two years with the rebuilding team, splitting time with the up-and-coming Wilson Ramos and retiring after the 2011 season.  He was part of the rebound years for the franchise but missed out on their breakout 2012 season.  There was some surprise when he got in on the 1st ballot, given his PED rumors, but I take his election as a sign of the changing times with the electorate.  There’s definitely a difference between suspicions and a real failed test, and inarguably Pudge is one of the best catchers of all time so there’s no reason to keep him out.  Here’s a great link of a video of Pudge finding out he was elected.
  • Matt Stairs, whose name I can’t quite say without cursing, who sucked at the teet of the Washington Nationals payroll for half a season in 2011 before being mercifully released on August 1st of that year.  His final slash line in his sole season with the team: .154/.257/.169.  He went 10-65 with just one XBH for the entire season.  Stairs now is now a regular in my semi-annual “Nats to Oblivion” posts, last done in April of 2016.  He received zero votes and falls off the ballot.
  • Alex Cora: like Stairs, he signed on as a veteran FA to be a role player with the 2011 Nats and retired after the 2011 season.  Unlike Stairs, Cora wasn’t judged to even be worthy to make the ballot.
  • (As we all know, Tim Raines, Vladimir Guerrero, Orlando Cabrera and Larry Walker all grew up with the Montreal franchise, but never appeared for the team post-move to Washington, so I havn’t included them here.  Cabrera was the closest to appearing in a Nats uniform, getting traded to Boston mid 2004 season just prior to the move).

Useful Hall of Fame links links:

  • 2017 Ballot on, with links to vote counts, stats, etc.
  • Full Voting figures via

The rest of this post will let you answer the trivia question, “Prior to Ivan Rodrigiez’s enshrinement, what former Nats player has come the closest to Hall of Fame enshrinement?”  (Answer at the bottom).

We’ll work from most recent to oldest.

2016 Ballot:

Not a single Nats-connected was on the official Class of 2016 ballot.  As it turned out, There’s actually quite a few guys who were *candidates* for the 2016 ballot by requirements, but who didn’t make the cut who also had connections to the Nationals.  In fact, there’s quite a few of them.  Here’s a good list, thanks to the excellent research by Bill from

  • Ronnie Belliard: Played pretty well for the god-awful stretch of Nationals teams from 2007-2009, posting a nifty 123 OPS+ during the middle season before getting traded away at the 2009 trade deadline for two minor leaguers who never went anywhere (Luis Garcia, Victor Garate).  Stuck with Los Angeles one more season before hanging them up at 35.  Played parts of 13 seasons in the majors but didn’t rate a spot on the ballot.
  • Jesus Colome was an important part of the Nats bullpen during the same 2007-2009 span that Belliard was involved with, getting more than 120 appearances his first two seasons before posting an 8 ERA in 2009 and getting DFA’d in July.  He got picked up the next year by Seattle and got a few appearances (hence why he’s not on the “Nats to Oblivion” lists) and, if you can believe it, is still pitching at age 37 in the independent Atlantic league as we speak.  He did manage 10 distinct years w/ MLB appearances though, so he qualified.
  • Jose Guillen came to Washington with the Expos, played one solid year in 2005, had a season-ending elbow injury in 2006, then bounced around the league for a few more years.  He was active for 14 total seasons but never made an all star game.  He hit 24 homers for the surprising 2005 Nats … and led the league in HBPs.
  • Cristian Guzman signed a somewhat controversial 4yr/$16M contract (it cost the team its 2nd round pick) that started when the team moved to Washington, was god-awful his first year, then had to have shoulder surgery to miss the entirety of 2006.  He recovered his stroke in 2007 and actually made the all-star team in 2008 (our only representative during the dark years) … which was enough to convince our idiot GM Jim Bowden to give him a 2yr/$16M extension to an aging shortstop w/ no power on the wrong side of 30.  Not surprisingly, his OPS dropped 100 points in 2009 and the team dumped him on Texas in a trade-deadline deal after he had lost his starting job to Ian Desmond, netting the Nats two RHPs (one of which Tanner Roark makes this one of the better trades ever consummated by the Nats executive staff).  Guzman played in 15 more games for Texas, batted .152 and never played again.

2015 Ballot:

  • Aaron Boonewho signed a 1yr/$1M FA contract to be a backup corner infielder with the abhorrent 2008 Nationals team.  Boone’s crowning baseball achievement was his extra innings walk-off homer that ended one of the best games in MLB history (Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS between Boston and the Yankees, ranked #6 by MLB’s panel a few years back when ranking the best 20 games of the last half century).  Ironically one of his lowest moments was just a couple months later, blowing out his ACL that subsequent winter while playing pickup basketball, costing him the entirety of the 2004 season and the trust of the  Yankees organization.  He missed 2/3rds of the 2007 season after another left knee injury and the Nats were probably his last gasp shot at extending his career at the age of 35.  He got a decent amount of playing time thanks to the fragility of Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson, somehow got another guaranteed MLB deal the following year, went 0-14 for Houston and was released.  He’s now an analyst with ESPN.  Received 2 votes on the 2015 ballot.
  • Ron Villone signed a minor league deal in 2009 and was quickly added to the Nats active roster, where he appeared in 63 games as our primary one-out lefty.   He pitched the entirety of 2010 on another minor league contract with Syracuse, posting a 6.59 ERA as a 40-year old and never earning a call-up.   In 2011 he was invited to spring training again (perhaps with the hope that he’d join the organization as a coach) but he got cut, then pitched a handful of indy league games for his home-town New Jersey indy league team, got hammered, and hung them up.   He retired having played in 15 seasons for no less than 12 different teams.  In 2012 he took a pitching coach job with the Cubs organization (one of the teams he managed NOT to play for during his career) and has been moving up their organization in that capacity since.  Received Zero Hall-of-Fame votes by virtue of not appearing on the BBWAA ballot.
  • Julian Tavarez signed a one-year deal in the beginning of 2009, started out decently but had an awful stretch that resulted in his DFA in mid July 2009.  He never threw another pitch in organized ball, abruptly retiring considering his mid-season release.  He ended a 17-year career spanning 11 different franchises.  Received Zero Hall-of-Fame votes by virtue of not appearing on the BBWAA ballot.  According to his wiki page, he now resides in a suburb of Cleveland (his original professional team) but does not list any post-career activities, baseball-related or otherwise.  Received Zero Hall-of-Fame votes by virtue of not appearing on the BBWAA ballot.

Both Tavarez and Villone belong to the infamous “From Nationals to Oblivion” club, a topic we revisit on an annual basis.

Note: it is not entirely clear to me why Villone and Tavarez were not actually ON the 2015 ballot; both seem to have the qualifications (10 years of experience and 5 years retired) and both were on previous versions of the “anticipated ballot” at, but neither showed up on BBWAA’s official ballot for this year.  Pete Kerzel did a post reviewing “Nats connected” 2015 ballot members when the ballot came out in Nov 2014 and only mentioned Boone.  I include them here since it seems to me they *should* be on the ballot and I’m not sure why they were not (unless someone is passing judgement on the “quality” of HoFame ballot members).  Are they pushed to subsequent ballots for some reason?  If anyone has insight i’d love to know.

2014 Ballot:

  • Paul Lo Duca: one of Bowden’s more infamous signings; he went from our opening day catcher in the 2008 season to being released by August 1st.  The highlight of his tenure here was having his name being revealed in the Mitchell Report just a couple days after signing with us.  After his release, he signed on to finish out the season with Florida, took a year off and attempted a come back in 2010 (signing a ML contract with Colorado but never appearing above AAA).   Hard to believe this guy was a 4-time all-star.  Received Zero hall-of-fame votes.

2013 Ballot:

  • Royce Clayton; signed a contract to be the Nats shortstop during the lean Jim Bowden years, and then was included in the Mega swap of players that headed to Cincinnati in the 2006 season.  He hung around for one more season in 2007 as a backup short stop and retired afterwards.  Received Zero hall-of-fame votes.
  • Mike Stanton was picked up in mid 2005 after being released by the Yankees, and he pitched well enough for the Nats that he was able to fetch a couple of low-level prospects in a late September move to Boston (who was looking for some late season bullpen cover).  The team then re-signed Stanton for 2006, and flipped him again mid-season, this time to the Giants for Shairon Martis.  Stanton toiled a one more season before hanging them up after 2007.   Received Zero hall-of-fame votes.

2012 Ballot:

  • Vinny Castilla: signed a two year deal to join the Nats, timed with their inaugural season in Washington, but was traded to Colorado for SP Brian Lawrence when it became apparent that Ryan Zimmerman was set to man the hot corner in DC for the next decade or so.  Played one more season and retired after 2006.  Received Six (6) Hall-of-fame votes.

2011 Ballot:

  • Carlos Baerga: signed a one year deal as a 36-yr old to join the Nats in their inaugural season and serve as a backup infielder.   Hit .253 in part-time duty and hung ’em up after a 14-year career that can be well described as “journey-man.”   He was an integral part of the early 90s Cleveland Indians as their starting 2nd baseman and a 3-time all-star, and ended up playing on 6 major league teams and spent parts one season in Korea.  Received Zero hall-of-fame votes.

So, outside of Pudge’s election, the Nats greatest Hall of Fame achievement is Vinny Castilla receiving 6 sympathy votes.

We still have to wait a while to see another player with a “W” on their hat in Cooperstown.

So, who might that actually be?  In the years since we started this sad post, the team has acquired and played more than a few elite, regular all-star type players who may very well be in Cooperstown at some point.

  • Bryce Harper?  Not likely; if he makes it, he’ll likely wear a Philly cap based on the 13-yr contract he’s signed there.
  • Anthony Rendon?  despite his great 2019 season, he suffers from similar issues as guys like Scott Rolen; top-notch defensive 3B are a tough sell to Cooperstown.   He’s now signed with LAA for the next 8 years or so; if he makes it to Cooperstown, he’ll have earned it likely based on his next few seasons of work moreso than what he’s done with Washington … which means no curly-W for him.
  • Max Scherzer: most likely; he’s basically guaranteed his Cooperstown entry with his 3rd Cy Young award, two of which have come with Washington.  I think that pushes him over the edge to wearing our hat.
  • Stephen Strasburg: right now he seems like he’s in the Kevin Brown category of good but not great pitchers when it comes to Cooperstown consideration; he needs a Cy Young on his resume before someone really considers him.

22 Responses to 'Hall of Fame candidates with Nationals ties (2019 version)'

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  1. Funny, Todd, how you talked about Adam Dunn falling off a cliff once he got to Chicago. He was said to have the worst work ethic of any player in baseball, which certainly his last good year being at (I think) 30.

    Mark L

    28 Dec 19 at 3:13 pm

  2. Mark — Dunn was fun to watch (when he wasn’t striking out, a lot), but if that rumor is true, you have to wonder what his teammates thought of him. At any level, someone with a poor work ethic is usually toxic, even if he’s a good/fun person to be around. Ultimately, no one likes a goof-off for a teammate.


    28 Dec 19 at 8:00 pm

  3. So what the flip happened to the “Hot” Stove? It’s gone cold as ice, unless you believe the Pale Hose and Jays are building title contenders.

    I’m sick and tired of waiting around to see where Josh Badhair wants to bring rain, so let’s do Rizzo’s work for him. Without JD, we’re working with around $40-41M according to Todd, but only $38M according to Sao, which I think is Ghost’s figure. To that, I’ll add the projected arb for Taylor (3.25) and Difo (1.2), as they won’t be on my roster (big surprise, I know). That gives us $42-44M, which is a nice chunk of change.

    The first thing I’m doing is trading for Ken Giles (projected 8.4M hit) (and if you don’t get him, figure on paying Hudson 6-7M). I’m also signing Will Harris (7M). Starters are Big 4 + Voth/Ross, pen of 8 is Giles (or Hudson), Doo, Harris, Rainey, Suero, Strickland, Elias, and one from Ross/Voth/Fedde.

    Hitters already on the team are Gomes, Suzuki, Kendrick, Turner, C. Kieboom, Eaton, Robles, and Soto, so five to add (unless you’re keeping Stevenson): A. Cabrera (6-7M), T. Frazier or Dozier (6-7M), Zim (4-5M), Brad Miller (2M), and Pillar (2M). Taking the max costs I listed, the total added would be $38.4M. I don’t love the Frazier/Dozier INF option, but those guys are probably the best bang-for-buck among the FAs.

    For those holding out for Kyle Seager (14.3 AAV) instead, you could still take on that number and add all the guys I’ve listed (with the possible exception of having to go with Stevo instead of signing Pillar, or getting Zim to take less).

    In a perfect world, I’d like to be able to add a bigger INF bat, but not at the Donaldson price/years. J.D. Martinez has a cap hit nearly as high (23.75) plus would require some serious trade capital. Maybe there is another significant bat out there to be added; maybe there isn’t.

    Anyway, that’s just some quick back-of-envelope doodling with guys who interest me.


    28 Dec 19 at 8:29 pm

  4. Sure seems like the Braves are waiting on Bryant’s service time grievance, Donaldson is waiting on the Braves, and the Nats and Twins are waiting on Donaldson. I don’t care what the Twins do, but I do care what the Nats do, and while Mike Rizzo deserves all due credit for bringing us a World Series this year, I do think it’s a bad look for him to wait by the phone for weeks, hoping the Braves go somewhere else and Donaldson has to settle for the Nats. I also don’t like that we appear to be twiddling our thumbs while players come off the board, although as you note, KW, the pace of signings has slowed considerably.

    I don’t like Donaldson, I don’t want us to sign Donaldson, and I hope the fact that Donaldson hasn’t signed here yet means someone else is going to have the dubious pleasure of paying his 34-year-old self a gross amount of money for a stupid number of years. But at least from the outside, it sure looks like Rizzo has zeroed in on him to the exclusion of building a team around him.

    I guess I just hope that one, our avenues of opportunity w/r/t filling out the roster don’t seal up while we’re waiting for Godotnaldson, and two, he doesn’t lose his mind entirely and give him an AAV that will prevent him from putting a complete team on the field unless the Lerners relent on staying under the CBT threshold.


    28 Dec 19 at 8:47 pm

  5. Now messing around with the constraints if you add Donaldson for $25M (or J.D. Martinez for nearly that). Subtract the Taylor and Difo amounts, you’re starting with $17-19M to fill out the rest of the roster.

    So . . . I still think you have to get another significant bullpen arm, which would be Harris or Hudson in the $6-7M range, but not both. So you’re going with both Fedde and Ross in the ‘pen, or one of those and Finnegan, or Bourque/Braymer/A. Williams — someone in-house.

    I also think they still need to spend $6-7M on a versatile infielder like Cabrera, but if they go budget, they’d be looking at someone like Brad Miller (who theoretically could be a SS sub) and/or Neil Walker (who can’t play SS). Could you get Moreland for less than Zim? You’d certainly be keeping Stevo with the big club to save money. Maybe Yadiel Hernandez would also get a real shot? Just trying to figure out how I’d fill out a bench with only about $10M to spend on all those slots.

    Is it worth it to squeeze the rest of the roster that much to add another significant bat? I’d say no, regardless of what one thinks of Donaldson (I’m not particularly a fan, either, and I hate the thought of a 4-year deal). The bullpen wouldn’t be as strong, and the bench wouldn’t be as deep. The bench was a real strength in 2019.


    28 Dec 19 at 9:07 pm

  6. It basically breaks down like this, for me, not touching the Taylor/Difo/Ross outlays for now:

    Scenario 1:
    3B – $25M
    RP – $7M
    1B – $2M

    Scenario 2:
    3B – $15M
    RP – $7M
    RP – $3M
    1B/RHB – $2M
    1B/LHB – $2M
    2B/UT – $5M

    That $10M in savings between signing Donaldson and trading a minor return for Seager is worth three players in this breakdown (I’ve allocated them as an extra reliever, another first baseman or first base-capable player who could platoon with Zimmerman and/or Kendrick, and a second baseman or utility infielder who could start at second or platoon with Kendrick, Kieboom, and/or Seager). If we give up a better package in exchange for the M’s eating more of Seager’s salary, we have even more money to play with, and maybe then we can get both a starting second baseman and upgrade Difo’s utilityman spot.

    Scenario 1’s Opening Day positional roster is something like:
    C – Gomes/Suzuki
    1B – Zimmerman
    2B – Kendrick/Sanchez
    3B – Donaldson
    SS – Turner/Difo
    LF – Soto/Stevenson
    CF – Robles/Taylor
    RF – Eaton

    Scenario 2’s Opening Day positional roster is something like:
    C – Gomes/Suzuki
    1B – Moreland/Zimmerman
    2B – Cabrera/Kendrick
    3B – Seager
    SS – Turner/Difo
    LF – Soto
    CF – Robles/Taylor
    RF – Eaton

    Assume Carter Kieboom comes up either when the Nats are confident they will have an extra year of control after he spent some time with the major league club in 2019, or when the Nats judge he likely won’t be a Super Two in a couple seasons either, based on his performance and the Nats’ needs. No matter what we do, I’d be surprised to see him break camp with the big league club because of the service time factor (unless Kris Bryant somehow wins his grievance, in which case all bets are off).


    28 Dec 19 at 11:50 pm

  7. Sao — I think there’s a third scenario, one where the Nats are paying only around $7M for a 3B, be it Frazier, Cabrera, Kendrick, or even Correa. That would leave them with the opportunity to add two $7M bullpen arms instead of just one.

    I intentionally didn’t try to slot infielders into actual positions because I think a lot of that will be up in the air going into the spring. I would suggest that you’re overplaying the Nats’ willingness to commit to Kendrick at 2B on a regular basis. I see him more as a 1B, and possibly the 1B who plays against RHP since he had a .930 OPS against them last year. In other words, they could go RHB/RHB in their “platoon” at 1B and still bring back Zim (which I don’t think is a 100% given, by the way). Another option for Howie would be 3B, where he was actually pretty good in a SSS last season.

    I would also suggest that you’re underplaying the idea that Kieboom will be a regular this season, either at 2B or 3B (I would guess more likely at 2B). At some point, if you believe in the talent, you’ve got to play the kids and live with the ups and downs, as they did with Robles in 2019. If they do commit to Kieboom, though, they darn well better sign a capable veteran INF reserve and not depend on Difo or Sanchez if the Kieboom experiment goes bad. (They sure seemed to give up on Difo last season when he cratered so badly filling in for Trea. He disappeared to the minors — as did Taylor — not reappearing until Sept., and not playing much even then. I think the only reason they tendered him was because of the uncertainty over 3B and the INF slots.)


    29 Dec 19 at 8:07 am

  8. It’s amazing how everybody is being held hostage by the Bryant ruling. I’m firmly in the 4/$100m is stupid for Donaldson camp.

    J.D. Martinez is an impact bat but he plays DH-quality defense.

    Surprised Rizzo has not moved faster on the bullpen front.

    Mark L

    29 Dec 19 at 8:27 am

  9. I don’t discount the possibility Kieboom eventually comes up and forces Cabrera or whomever we add there (if anyone; if we sign Donaldson, that’s presumably Kendrick/Difo’s position for the first month or two of the season) to the bench.

    IMO, the only way we sign Todd Frazier is if we trade Eaton, and that doesn’t seem likely. They loathe each other. It’s hard enough to keep them from going at it when we play Frazier’s team; imagine 220 days of trying to keep the peace between those two hotheads.


    29 Dec 19 at 1:23 pm

  10. I forgot about the Eaton-Frazier bad blood. Yeah, that’s a non-starter.

    Of course I keep bringing up Brian Dozier, pointing to his projected offensive stats being as good or better than guys like Seager or Frazier, and most keep dismissing me, or even comparing Dozier to Espinosa (Marty). I’m not a Dozier cheerleader, and I don’t think he’ll ever get back to his Twin numbers, but he’s still a quality hitter who draws enough walks to balance his K’s and who plays pretty good 2B. (Probably with Kieboom at 3B?) Could Dozier play 3B? He did come up as a SS. At one point I suggested rotating Kendrick, Dozier, Cabrera, and Kieboom at 3B during the spring and see who sucks least.

    I don’t know. I’m just trying to come up with ways to fill out the roster at a reasonable cost. I don’t hate the idea of Seager, but if you could have Dozier + Will Harris for the same AAV as Seager, I’d take the second option. (Either way, I’d also like to have Cabrera back for his INF flexibility, including SS capability.)

    I’m just ready for SOMETHING to happen on the Nats’ front. Is Rizzo really waiting on Donaldson’s decision, or just for the prices to go down or be set? Cesar Hernandez’s $6.25M from the Indians is encouraging to me. That says to me that Cabrera and Dozier aren’t worth more than that, and perhaps a little less, considering age and mileage.


    29 Dec 19 at 7:35 pm

  11. Dozier’s contributions were underrated in 2019, IMO. No, he wasn’t the great slugger he was with the Twins, but he was a roughly average hitter who played very good defense (regardless of what B-R’s metrics say).

    The issue with Dozier is that the Nats pretty blatantly shelved him as soon as they got Cabrera. I get why they did it — Cabrera was lights-out as a Nat, and they rode the hot hand, and it obviously worked out — but one, I can’t imagine Dozier is enamored to return after getting benched down the stretch (for the second year in a row), and two, I don’t think the Nats were all that impressed with his performance considering they made no real effort to find regular playing time for him late in the season and especially the postseason.


    29 Dec 19 at 11:55 pm

  12. I’d be the first to admit that Dozier is imperfect, but so are most of the other options in our price range. He really struggled for the first two months of the season, but he was a key cog when the team got hot in June and July and got back into it. Cabrera was so hot after he arrived, though, plus Kendrick basically had to play when he was able, so Dozier became the odd man out.

    There are many unknowns of the current front-office conversation, but a couple related to this discussion are whether they think Kieboom is ready and plan to commit to him at 2B or 3B, and where they envision Kendrick getting most of his PT. As of now, he’s more or less the only 1B on the roster. I doubt he’s going to get a lot of regular time at 2B, but they could try him at 3B, where he’s been decent in a SSS. Anyway, if they see Kieboom or Kendrick in the 2B/3B conversation, then they probably need just one more starting infielder for those positions. If Kieboom is thought not ready and Kendrick mostly a 1B, then they’re going to need multiple guys, which is the scenario where I see a potential reunion with Dozier.

    The other reason Dozier comes up is that the other 2B options, besides Cabrera, aren’t too appealing. Starlin Castro is sort of boom or bust, and supposedly with a questionable work ethic. The flexibility of Brad Miller and Brock Holt intrigues me, but it would be a stretch to sign either to be a regular starter right now. Gennett is only one year removed from a terrific season, but he was so bad in 2019 that he might have to take a minor-league contract. (Sure would be interesting to see what Kevin Long could do with him, though.) Wilmer Flores had a surprisingly good season with the Snakes last year around a lot of missed time due to injury, and Long would be able to provide a good read on him from their Met years together.


    30 Dec 19 at 9:51 am

  13. Wilmer Flores has always irritated me, but I’ve been thinking for a while he would be a really good fit for the Nats with his history with Long/Roessler and Rizzo’s little birds in Phoenix.


    30 Dec 19 at 3:29 pm

  14. Yeah, I’ve generally felt similarly about Flores, but then I felt the same way about Cabrera when he was a Met and Phil, and he turned out to be OK once (back) wearing our colors. Maybe Flores is even a younger, safer, possibly cheaper alternative to Cabrera since he’s also SS-capable, although he doesn’t have Cabrera’s power. I do find it curious that the D-Backs turned down the very affordable $6M club option on Flores, though. What do they know that everyone else doesn’t?


    30 Dec 19 at 3:51 pm

  15. $6M is kind of a lot for Flores. I’d be more comfortable paying him $3-4M. And the Diamondbacks really didn’t have room for both him and Jake Lamb.


    30 Dec 19 at 11:04 pm

  16. Wilmer Flores is a good bat/bad glove infielder. Same as Canrera, although Canrera was able to drink from the fountain of youth for 3-4 months in 2019.
    Let’s find a 3rd baseman first.

    Mark L

    31 Dec 19 at 5:12 am

  17. Twins apparently making a hard push on Donaldson. Yes-yes-yes — get him out of the NL! Twins also just locked up the last two half-decent arms on the market. Time to float Fedde and/or Ross, as their comparative value just went up.


    31 Dec 19 at 9:49 pm

  18. Absolutely, let’s dangle Ross and see if there are any takers. (I like Voth better as a starting pitcher anyway.) Hopefully the Twins can seal the deal with Donaldson, and we can pivot to trade options early in the New Year.


    1 Jan 20 at 3:05 am

  19. So Bowden, in what seems to be a lighthearted but not-entirely-jokey set of “predictions” for 2020, suggests Atlanta signs Donaldson at 4/112M this month and the Nats trade Kieboom, Rutledge, and Cate for Bryant late in spring training.

    Would you rather get taken for all you’re worth by Donaldson and his agent, or mortgage what is left of the farm for two years of Bryant?

    Hopefully, Rizzo is not operating in a universe where these are the only two choices available.


    1 Jan 20 at 1:46 pm

  20. The question with Bowden is hopefully just navel gazing. What a terrible idea for a trade.

    At least with Seager the Nats won’t have to give up much at all.

    Mark L

    1 Jan 20 at 4:07 pm

  21. Ah yes, this trade advice coming from the baseball genius who gave us Lastings, Elijah, Wily Mo, and 205 losses in two seasons.

    I usually am not sympathetic with the the overly hyped Cubs about anything, but MLB has really screwed them by dragging out the ruling on Bryant’s free agency. The answer is obvious: the Cubs flaunted the system, and any impartial observer would rule that Bryant only has one year of control left. So please get on with the ruling so Bryant actually can be tradeable.

    When I look at Bryant’s stats, I can’t help but think of his buddy from Vegas. They’re above average, but they’ve never consistently reached the transcendent level that was expected. He’s only topped 30 HRs twice despite playing in a smallish park. His walks are slightly down and his K’s are slightly up. Would I like to have a year of Bryant with a chance to extend him? Sure, but only at a reasonable price.

    This reaches a part of the rub that no one is addressing: Bryant is such a marquee player for the Cubs that they will be pilloried if they don’t get a high-profile return for him, but he’s not worth it in terms of realistic baseball trade value. The Nats *might* give up one of their top prospects for him (Kieboom), but there’s no way they’re giving up their two top guys. (And in my book, Rutledge is untouchable, unless the Nats have already determined that he’s going to have Alex Meyer-like “repeatable delivery” issues.)

    The other question not being discussed is what would happen if a team was willing to take one of the Cub albatross contracts as part of the deal? Would they take something like Taylor, Fedde, Eaton, and Crowe for Bryant and Heyward? I don’t know whether I would do that one or not, just thinking about scenarios where the Bryant price would come down if they get to dump a salary.


    2 Jan 20 at 8:53 am

  22. KW: actually on Bryant i have the reverse opinion on what’s going to happen. Its going to be literally impossible for anyone to prove that the Cubs acted in appropriately with Bryant (unless they have emails from the GM to the owner that literally say, “hey lets manipulate his service time even though we all know he’s ready today”). They acted within the rules (like the rules or not) and it’d probably shock me if Bryant won this grievance.

    Todd Boss

    2 Jan 20 at 11:45 am

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