Nationals Arm Race

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

Draft Tracker and Big Board Administration

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Hello all.  Quick news for 2020.

Two of the most vital online resources that I (and many other Nats fans) use are the “Big Board” and the “Draft Tracker” google spreadsheets.

In case you’re not aware of what these resources are:

  • The Big Board is a multi-tab Google spreadsheet that maintains several vital resources for the current season:
    • The Roster Tab: this keeps track of the current rosters of each of Washington’s 8 affiliates (MLB, AAA, AA, High-A, Low-A, Short-A, GCL, DSL plus known players in Extended Spring).
    • The Releases Tab: keeps track of player releases (or otherwise departing) across all the affiliates, both in the off-season and during the season
    • The Options Tab keeps track of Player Options for the 40-man roster
  • The Draft Tracker is one big Google spreadsheet that has every Nats draft pick in one place ever since the franchise moved to 2005, with schools, known bonus amounts and player disposision.

These resources have been around for many years.   In the beginning, they were created/updated by Brian Oliver, the founder of the original Nats prospect tracking website NatsFarm.com.  Then the anonymous “Springfield Fan” took over for a while.  Then Luke Erickson of NatioanlsProspects.com got involved and was a primary maintainer/creator for  years, first as “Sue Dinem” and then as himself.  In fact, these two sites are now so old that i’m not sure even who gets credit for creating them initially (so, apologies if I got it wrong who started them).

This post though is to basically announce that yours truly is taking over admin and updating of both sites.  The conversation to make this change got started in the fall when I offered to do some updates on the 2019 draft class for the Draft Tracker (which was still incomplete), and then one thing led to another and .. well now i’m the owner.

I have made some updates/additions to the two pages since taking over:

  • I’ve updated the Draft Tracker for the 2019 class, and have updated all the past classes for known player movement for this off-season.  With Ryan Zimmerman‘s option getting declined, the oldest surviving originally drafted player still with the team is Michael A. Taylor, drafted in in the 6th round of 2009.  Technically Stephen Strasburg was also a 2009 draftee of course, but his 6-week foray into free agency puts him a step below Taylor in Nats longevity :-)
  • I have also added in my personal draft class notes for the last five drafts (2015-2019 inclusive).  These spreadsheets duplicate a lot of the main draft tracker information, but are useful during the draft class negotiations to figure out how close the team is to their respective caps each year (that’s primarily how I use them each season).
  • I’ve updated the Big board for all post 2019 season movement, which include dozens of major- and minor league free agents.
  • The options tab is updated, including recently discovered 4th options for Erick Fedde and Raudy Read.
  • I’ve uploaded to the Big Board my master Nats Prospect Ranking XLS, which contains every Nats prospect ranking I could find dating to 2005.   This is a running XLS i’ve maintained for years to keep track of all prospects in the system.  Now i’ve put it online and will keep updating it as we get new rankings throughout the off-season.
  • I also uploaded my 2020 Payroll tracker that basically now emulates what Cots does … I figured i’d put this online to refer to instead of just mentioning it when I post, so you can “see my work.”

Basically, I went through a lot of the resources that i’ve been maintaining myself for  years and put them online.

Anyway; now if you run into an issue or an error on the pages you know who to call.

Any suggestions or comments, please let me know.

A sincere thanks to all who have kept these sites running in the past.  15 years of franchise data is now stored online in these spreadsheets in one form or another.  Great stuff. I’m glad I can help going forward.

Happy New  Year!

Written by Todd Boss

January 2nd, 2020 at 11:45 am

26 Responses to 'Draft Tracker and Big Board Administration'

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  1. Todd — Thanks for taking over the spreadsheets. Great resources.

    Re your reply to my comment about Bryant on the previous post: makes a lot of sense. If the players agreed to the service-time rules in the CBA, and the Cubs followed them to the letter of the law (if not quite the spirit), then MLB may indeed side with the Cubs and allow them to keep the two years of control. The second year would, of course, drive up the trade price for Bryant.

    The latest scuttlebutt is that the Cubs and Rox have inquired about Robles as part of a trade package. While I’m not as convinced as some that Robles is on his way to significant stardom, he’s already an average to above average player who is under team control for five more seasons. Plus the Nats have NO ONE even in the pipeline to replace him.

    KW

    2 Jan 20 at 2:12 pm

  2. Coincidentally … i should make clear that yes I absolutely think Bryant’s service time was manipulated. No i don’t think it was fair. But you have to have a line somewhere. I mean think about it; if the service time line for a year was 165 days out of 183 instead of 172 … then you damn know that all these players would be spending 3 weeks in AAA instead of two. Does it make sense to make it 172 days? maybe. But i sense that the number was collectively bargained to give teams a little leeway …

    Todd Boss

    2 Jan 20 at 3:42 pm

  3. Todd, there is so much symmetry between yours and Luke’s site that this just makes it seamless. I guess we should have a farewell party for Springfield Fan.

    One of the dumbest navel gazing headlines I saw was today with ‘Nats reluctant to part with Robles in trade’ How dumb was that?

    Rizzo has a lot of work left to do.

    Mark L

    2 Jan 20 at 5:12 pm

  4. Todd, thanks for this and everything you do. You’re a National treasure.

    And for the news(!) of the day…the Nats sign Will Harris at 3/24M. Personally, I don’t love giving three-year deals to relievers, especially not when they’re 35. But on the plus side of the ledger, Harris is the model of consistency, and the Nats really, really needed a good reliever (or two, or three) this winter.

    The implications for the rest of the offseason? Well, it’s pretty obvious Daniel Hudson isn’t coming back; evidently, he and Mike Rizzo simply couldn’t see eye-to-eye on fair market value, and the Nats valued Harris a lot more highly. The Nats now have something like $24-30M to spend this winter before hitting the CBT threshold, depending on whose numbers you use. Josh Donaldson would be basically all of that, either putting us slightly over or leaving Rizzo with just $5M or so, tops, to work with. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this deal (which, according to Harris, had been agreed over the weekend) broke tonight hours after a longtime Braves beat reporter confirmed that Atlanta has offered a four-year deal for Donaldson. Looks like mission accomplished for Rizzo on forcing the Braves into an overpay, and I think we see a pretty quick pivot toward a less expensive alternative, whether that’s Kyle Seager or someone over whom we haven’t spilled as much virtual ink.

    SaoMagnifico

    3 Jan 20 at 2:41 am

  5. Todd – I can only take credit for giving these a home. Springfield Fan should get the lion’s share of praise for taking what Brian started over on Nationals Farm Authority and maintaining them over the last nine seasons. I barely touched them, which was (is) tremendously helpful because during the season it’s a challenge just to do the day-to-day, especially now that my time is limited to just a couple of hours max in the morning.

    Luke Erickson

    3 Jan 20 at 6:03 am

  6. Nice to wake up to the Will Harris news. Like Sao, I’m sort of shocked at giving a 35-year-old three years. Hard to argue with his numbers on the field, though. He’s been dang good for a long time, one of the elite non-closers in the game (he doesn’t have an MLB save, although that may be about to change). He’s also been durable through heavy use, pitching more than 60 innings for five of the last six years.

    I also agree that this signing all but closes the door on Donaldson, and I’m fine with that. The Nats have so many holes to fill that spreading the Donaldson money over three or four $6-8M players, like Harris, makes more sense.

    I don’t think the Harris signing closes the door completely on Hudson, though. The Nats still need another bullpen arm (or two). If the choice was between Harris or Hudson, I’m not sure they would have even been talking with Hudson, as Harris is demonstrably better. Maybe they’ve just been giving Hudson’s agent time to explore whether a team would give him “closer money.” The answer seems to be no, and the Harris signing would seem to set the bar for Huddy at $1-2M less, although there are still some prominent teams out there that haven’t done much to help their bullpens (Dodgers, Cubs).

    Another option for the Nats would still be to explore a trade for Giles or Yates.

    But yes, I agree/think/hope Harris is the first shoe to drop of the Nats Plan B, so hopefully we’ll see several more pieces taking shape in the next few days.

    KW

    3 Jan 20 at 7:21 am

  7. Overall, though, I’m excited to get Harris. He’s one I’ve been jumping up and down about all winter. I thought he and Will Smith were the two elite relief arms on the market, and I doubted the Nats would pay “closer money” for Smith, so Harris seemed like the logical target. He must have had some strong offers for the Nats to go three years, though.

    I’ve always thought Donaldson would be going back to the Braves, if they would match the years, even for a little less money. We’ll just have to hope he starts his inevitable career fade sooner rather than later!

    KW

    3 Jan 20 at 7:35 am

  8. Other than Gzmes 6 & 7 of the World Series, Harris was unhittable all year in 2019.

    Count me as thankful also that this closes the door on Donaldson. Goodbye!

    Mark L

    3 Jan 20 at 10:00 am

  9. I like the Harris signing. current Nats bullpen still has some holes. Its looking like Doolittle*, Harris, Rainey, Strickland, Suero, Elias* … then a question mark for the 7th reliever (Barrett? Williams? Finnegan) and then the 8th seemingly being Voth/Ross.

    Todd Boss

    3 Jan 20 at 12:04 pm

  10. I updated my payroll calcs: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/186nm-v5F-zTCoR2Be7TFYM3e2cZ-gYi2WVqJLEkHdmc/edit?hl=en#gid=1435065007

    I’ve now got the team committed to $176,952,709, with a $208M cap leaving $31,047,291 left. This is assuming an 8M cap hit AAV for the Harris contract and has some arb estimates, hence why it differs from other estimates and Cots. Cots is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Au_xTIni1eJbDGzravS1482wBbzN9DBQaOY1wwo2Mr0/edit?usp=drive_open&ouid=102402795225850924380 … they have the team at slightly less than I have them: $30,627,291 with this signing. We’re off by $420k exactly, which is in the arb payroll guesses.

    Todd Boss

    3 Jan 20 at 12:07 pm

  11. Now that it looks like we are moving on from Donaldson, I kicked the tires on Starlin Castro. He made $11 & $12 million the last two years for which he hit at a .735 OPS rate. Can you say meh?

    Would be a good 1 year sign while the Nats wait for Kieboom/Garcia to develop. Still like Seager better but …….

    Mark L

    3 Jan 20 at 2:27 pm

  12. Or how about Brock Holt. He played 6 positions last year and the last 2 years his OPS was .771 & .774 and he’s looking at around $4 million a year contract.

    Mark L

    3 Jan 20 at 4:54 pm

  13. And Mark L summons a Starlin Castro signing at 2/12M. The reporters still say the Nats aren’t giving up on Donaldson, but it sure looks to me like Rizzo set a timer, and now that the calendar has turned to 2020, it’s business time.

    Going off what Cot’s Contracts has plus the Castro, Harris, and Finnegan deals, the Nats look like they have about $24M in roster space below the CBT. Well, unless you go to a fifth year on Donaldson to bring that AAV down, signing him smashes through that soft cap and has the Nats paying luxury tax in 2020. Good luck trying to get below it in 2021 with Strasburg, Corbin, Scherzer, Donaldson, Harris, Castro, Gomes, and probably Eaton still under contract, Soto getting a mammoth raise, Turner getting what will probably also be a really big raise, and the Nats needing to find a way to replace Doolittle and Sanchez and their team-friendly contracts.

    As I see it, Plan A (extend Rendon) is out, Plan B (sign Donaldson) is on its way out, and we’re looking at Plans C, D, and E. In some order, those plans are trade for Bryant (which probably takes every last blue-chipper we still have on the farm), trade for a salary dump like Seager or Longoria, or go cheap by signing a JAG like Cabrera or Flores and keep our powder dry for the trade deadline, I guess. It’s not hard to see why those seem like backup plans.

    SaoMagnifico

    4 Jan 20 at 12:07 am

  14. I have not been a fan of pursuing Castro, but I do like the price, a lot, particularly considering what Cesar Hernandez got. It still gives the Nats the flexibility to keep adding more mid-level guys.

    In looking at Castro’s stats, one thing I do like is that he lowered his K% by about three points last season. On the flipside, his walk rate went down by about the same amount, resulting in an unacceptably low OBP of .300. (BABIP was also not his friend at .293.) He does have good pop (22 HRs, 31 doubles) and will be moving to a more hitter-friendly park. I have no idea what has happened to his speed, as he stole 22 and 25 bases in his first two full MLB seasons but has been in single digits since, with only 2 in 2019.

    They’re out on Donaldson. Just can’t see it now. Actually, never could see how it made a lot of sense, considering how many positions they had to fill with the limited nut they had. If they weren’t willing to go over the tax line for Rendon, they’re sure not going to for Donaldson. (But I’ve been wrong before.) Did Rizzo keep playing along just to drive up the price for the Braves? We’ll never know!

    Now, they still have plenty of money to sign Cabrera/Flores, Hudson, maybe guys like Pillar and Brad Miller or Brock Holt to fill out the bench. Oh, and that Zim fella. I’m not a Thames fan, because of the very high K’s, but I wouldn’t rule him out.

    A trade for a bigger name 3B is still a possibility, although Bryant is projected to make $21M, so even that number would leave them in a tight spot if they’re trying to stay under the line. Seager’s number would fit better and still give them a little flexibility, but he ain’t Kris Bryant.

    Also, there’s a real chance that we’re underestimating how much they think of Carter Kieboom. It would be a gamble to depend on him to play an unfamiliar position and fill an important role in the lineup, but it may be a gamble that Rizzo is willing to take. He basically took it last season when he didn’t add a big bat to fill in for Harper and really counted on Soto (although Soto already had more of an MLB track record than Kieboom does.)

    KW

    4 Jan 20 at 7:57 am

  15. Castro did play 42 games at 3rd base last year, so I don’t get the press where he was signed to play 2nd.

    I especially like where he didn’t bitch at all the last 2 years when it would have been only natural playing for a bad team in front of 2,000 people.

    Please, Nats, sign up Zim right now. He’s still the face of the franchise.

    Mark L

    4 Jan 20 at 10:00 am

  16. Oh, I forgot. Ken Rosenthal just said that Donaldson has set a number at $110 million and is just waiting for the 1st club to do it.
    And we thought $100 million was dumb.

    Mark L

    4 Jan 20 at 10:05 am

  17. Now AssCab is back. There is definitely going to be a noticeable offensive fall off this year, but given what happened with Rendon and now JD’s market, I prefer this low cost, multiple option approach. Be nice to add at least 1 more reliever, then tie up Soto and Turner long term.

    I toyed with the idea of taking Lowrie’s salary to get Dom Smith, as has been rumored, but wasn’t sure it was worth it. Be nice to have a LHH 1B under control, but Lowrie is virtually a sunk cost

    Wally

    4 Jan 20 at 10:39 am

  18. Yes, $2.5 million for Cabrera seems just about right.

    Can you say fast and furious with Mike Rizzo. I like everything thus far with all the flexibility of the infield pieces.

    Mark L

    4 Jan 20 at 11:11 am

  19. I’m thrilled to have Cabrera back at that price. I thought he would be looking for $6-7M. No, we shouldn’t expect the stretch-drive version of him, but if he’s anywhere close, it’s the bargain of the century.

    Unless the Nats make another INF move, give Cabrera, Castro, Kendrick, and Kieboom looks at the spring at 3B and see who is most comfortable there. I still think Kendrick is going to be mostly 1B, which the signing of two middle infielders seems to confirm. (Two SS-capable guys may also mean the end of Difo [thank goodness]). (I think Adrian Sanchez might make it through a DFA; Difo probably won’t.)

    So the Nats have around $21M left, plus ~$5M additional if they part with Taylor, Difo, and Sanchez. They probably need another INF, an OF or two, and a reliever or two.

    Speaking of the latter, I love the David Hernandez signing. He was really good as recently as 2018. He and Abad are very good insurance if Strickland and Elias crap out. Plus Menhart seems very good at spotting little flaws and getting guys back on track.

    So now what? Maybe Castellanos for 1B? That’s about the only semi-big FA move I could see them considering, but I’m not sure how necessary it is. Kendrick is a heck of a hitter for the amount of time he can play. A Kendrick/Zim load-share at 1B would probably put up as good or better numbers than Castellanos. (But who would you start on Opening Day? The Face of the Franchise, or the guy who won the World Series?)

    I would still like to see them go after a top-tier closer — Giles or Yates — if they can do it without hitting the top tier of prospects. Put one of those guys with Doo and Harris and you’ve got perhaps the best back end they’ve ever had.

    KW

    4 Jan 20 at 1:40 pm

  20. Unless they’re really going to make a trade for a true 3B, I’d like to see them pick up one more of the cheaper Swiss Army Knife guys — Brad Miller or Brock Holt. If they’re not going to get Giles or Yates, I’d like to have Hudson back. He doesn’t seem to have teams lining up to pay him closer money.

    KW

    4 Jan 20 at 1:45 pm

  21. So that’s, what, about $21M left before hitting the CBT threshold? Seager would take up $15M. There are some cheaper options in free agency who have various warts; Todd Frazier would cause issues in the clubhouse, and Brad Miller and Brock Holt have about as much pop as a wedding banquet in Provo. But Seager’s not perfect himself, and the Mariners are in a position to insist on a better prospect return than most of us would want to give up, even if I don’t think they have the leverage to demand someone like Kieboom or Rutledge.

    Given that the projected bench right now still includes the likes of Difo, Sanchez, and Stevenson, I don’t see the Nats standing pat. At $2.5M, Cabrera wasn’t signed to be the starting third baseman, after all.

    The national reporters and the MASN crew are still talking like Donaldson is on the table, but if the Nats’ offer that is out there wasn’t enough to get him to bite, I don’t see that changing now. Donaldson feels comfortable waiting for a team to up its offer and meet his demands. If the Nats were going to be that team, I don’t think they’d have signed Castro and Cabrera, I think they would have rolled with some combination of Difo, Kendrick, and Kieboom at second base and focused on first base as their remaining area of need.

    SaoMagnifico

    4 Jan 20 at 4:16 pm

  22. I’d be very surprised if they actually are still in on Donaldson and not just talking to support the highest price possible. I think it’s too rich for them.

    Stamen to Pods. Good for him although I like him for the Nats at that price. Nearly doubled his career earnings with this contract heading into his age 36 year. This structure needs to change to give guys with decent major league careers more money. If you have made it for 5-6 years and produced 10WAR or so, that should earn you more than $10m. Sounds ridiculous to write it out like that, especially for a working stiff like me. But while that seems like a marginal guy compared to the stats, that’s actually a pretty rare thing in the world to produce and compared to all the other money in this sport, I think it’s under compensated.

    Wally

    4 Jan 20 at 4:43 pm

  23. I guess Todd isn’t a fan of the Starling Castro pickup? No sign of him on the BigBoard but Asdrubal Cabrera is there? Does a Donaldson signing or Arenado trade mean Castro is released? Is this Todd’s prediction?

    Peric

    4 Jan 20 at 7:00 pm

  24. New posted, and updated. Man have to have some patience on the big board updating! I just heard about it like a couple of hours ago :-)

    Todd Boss

    4 Jan 20 at 7:47 pm

  25. Good evening to all… and all the best in this New Year.

    Evidently things are heating up regarding the 2020 final roster makeup with the beginning of the New Year.

    My two cents:

    Plan A –

    (1) Sign JD. Potent bat in the middle of the lineup, great infield as a result (both offensively and defensively), potentially places us as the favorites in the NL East.

    (2) Not much room for final bench or bullpen makeup (perhaps a Zimmerman signing to cap it all, or Morrison, Walker or Duda); and neither much wiggle room for Spring Training or in-season additions to the roster.

    Projected Bench – Suzuki, Zimmerman, Cabrera, Taylor, Stevenson
    Projected “Law Firm” – Doolittle, Harris & Rainey

    Plan B –

    (1) Trade for Kyle Seager (for Taylor, Fedde, and/or one or two other players, not named Kieboom, García or Rutledge).

    (2) Sign a LH First Baseman to platoon with Kendrick (Moreland or Thames/Walker, Morrison or Duda, as the lesser options).

    (3) Sign a primary reserve outfielder (Pillar-unlikely-, Holt, Hamilton, Souza); with Stevenson penciled as the other outfielder.

    (4) Plus sign another “Tier A” remaining bullpen option (Hudson or Cishek).

    Potential Bench – Suzuki, Moreland, Cabrera, Holt, Stevenson
    Projected “Law Firm” – Doolittle, Hudson, Harris & Rainey

    I don’t know about you all, but even if not an easy decision, I would rather go with Plan B; as it would probably leave me with a bit more wiggle room under the cap, potential better chemistry, a much more solid bullpen, and a much more able bench/supporting cast.

    Then again, I’m not the GM for a World Champion MLB team; rather, just another GM wannabe.

    Best regards to all. Let’s go Nats!!!

    LH

    4 Jan 20 at 10:32 pm

  26. Thank you for taking over the Draft Tracker and Big Board administration. This has been a great resource over the years from when Brian developed on NFA. I don’t comment often here or on Luke’s website but read the articles and comments religiously. I am like a few fans here who got transplanted from Montreal when the Expos moved to Washington.

    rdexposfan

    5 Jan 20 at 5:46 pm

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