Nationals Arm Race

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

Getting the band back together: Cabrera re-signs along with other moves


Cabrera is back. Photo via newsday

Cabrera is back. Photo via newsday

It was a busy Saturday for Nats GM Mike Rizzo.  In quick succession we heard about three moves:

  • The team re-signs 2B/3B Asdrubal Cabrera, 1yr $2.5M.
  • The team signs 2B Starlin Castro to a 2yr/$12M deal
  • The team previously signed RHP David Hernandez sometime in Dec 2019 to a minor league deal (which was just announced on Baseball America)

Cabrera was awful for Texas last year and got outright released; he lit it up for Washington, mercifully taking over for the completely ineffective Brian Dozier and lighting it up for the team down the stretch (slash line for DC last year post-signing: .323/.404/.565).   Cabrera played 3B for Texas but mostly 2B for DC; right now he’s your starting 3B opening day save any other move.

Castro clearly is the starting 2B; he moved there a few years ago, played it exclusively for several years but moved to 3B last season to make room for a prospect.  He was reportedly telling teams in FA he was only interested in playing 2B … so we have our starting 2B.  His signing seems to clarify what the team’s infield will be looking like come April.  He has two straight years of right around league average OPS+, but in 2019 he spiked homers, hitting 22 of them on the year playing a lot of games in pitcher-friendly NL East stadiums.

Hernandez was a great middle reliever in 2018 for Cincinnati, but blew up last year and signs a MLFA deal in an attempt to get back to the majors.  I like this as a low-risk/high reward move for a team always looking for the next 6th/7th inning RH reliever.

With these moves … as per the updated Big Board, your starting lineup come 4/1/20 looks like this (here’s a guess as to the lineup)

  • Eaton (RF)
  • Turner (SS)
  • Soto (LF)
  • Kendrick (1B)
  • Castro (2B)
  • Cabrera (3B)
  • Suzuki (C)
  • Robles (CF)
  • Pitcher

That’s  … a big step back from what we showed offensively last year, obviously.  The loss of Anthony Rendon in the middle of the order is pretty apparent.

Is this a playoff team?


Cabrera becomes the fourth 2019 team member/FA to re-sign with the team, joining Stephen StrasburgHowie Kendrick and Yan Gomes.  Pretty much the entire industry assumes Ryan Zimmerman is re-signing to be a bench bat as well.  So a lot of the veteran crew that was credited with helping the team win in October is now back.

Is this a good thing?

The oldest team in the majors last year has now resigned FAs who will be playing in their

  • age 34 year (Cabrera)
  • 32 (Gomes)
  • 31 (Strasburg) and
  • 36 (Kendrick).

They join other presumed starters and key relievers north of 30 in :

  • Kurt Suzuki (2020 will be his age 36 year)
  • Max Scherzer (35),
  • Anibal Sanchez (36)
  • Adam Eaton (31)
  • Sean Doolittle (33)
  • Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias (both 31)
  • Wil Harris (35)
  • Starlin Castro (30).

Um.  That’s a lot guys on the wrong side of 30.   And a lot of assumptions that the production like we got out of Cabrera (143 OPS+) continues into 2020 if he’s indeed the starting 3B.


Oh, ps: all appropriate tabs in the Big Board are now updated for these transactions.  We’re now at 36/40 on the 40-man roster.  New payroll estimate is $185,452,709, leaving us $22,547,291 under the cap for 2020.  For all of you still holding out hope for Josh Donaldson … you should stop.  He’s soliciting 4yr deals north of $100M; the numbers don’t add up.  If this team has $22M and change left and are not going over, then we’re out of the Donaldson mix.

I’m not sure what’s next.  Does the team pursue a trade for a 3B?  Clearly they don’t want to give up Victor Robles in a Kris Bryant trade (and I don’t blame them, whether or not they have one year or two of his services).  Maybe we’re going to see some Rizzo trade magic coming soon.

69 Responses to 'Getting the band back together: Cabrera re-signs along with other moves'

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  1. Hey Todd it took a new decade but we finally agreed on something! That Dozier was completely ineffective! Some here were arguing for him somehow.

    I don’t hate the Castro signing. He has good contact skills and I value that more than a higher walk lesser contact guy, as the K’s are the real rally killers in the National League. Maybe Long can work some magic with him and tweak him up to a really good year and/or hope alot of his many hits fall into the important ab category.

    Or do you think we get this new B squad of hitters more effective by platooning everyone alot more than we usually do?

    Marty C

    4 Jan 20 at 10:10 pm

  2. 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 (UPDATED COMMENTS):

    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 Adams, 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). By the way, could there be an acceptable package of prospects for Bryant or Arenado? If Arenado is available, would we be willing to include 2 of our 3 best prospects?

    (2) Sign a LH First Baseman to platoon with Kendrick (Moreland or Thames/Adams, 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. Another option could be receiving a reserve outfielder in the Seager trade (Kyle Lewis?).

    (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!!!


    4 Jan 20 at 10:56 pm

  3. Quite an interesting mix of position players we have now rostered:

    C Kurt Suzuki
    C Tres Barrera
    C/1B Raudy Read
    C/1B/3B Yan Gomes
    1B/2B/3B/LF Howie Kendrick
    1B/2B/3B/SS Asdrubal Cabrera
    1B/2B/3B/LF/RF Jake Noll
    2B/3B/SS Starlin Castro
    2B/3B/SS Carter Kieboom
    2B/3B/SS/OF Wilmer Difo
    INF/OF Adrian Sanchez
    LF Juan Soto
    OF Victor Robles
    OF Andrew Stevenson
    OF Victor Robles
    OF Michael A. Taylor

    Sure, in the year 2020, you’re probably not going to see Gomes starting any games where he’s not behind the plate, or Kendrick in the outfield, and I’m sure no one is very excited by the idea of Cabrera playing shortstop or Noll playing second base or Difo playing anywhere. But still, that’s quite a range of positional experience — albeit some more extensive than others — and it gives Davey Martinez a lot of options for working hot bats into the lineup or making substitutions.


    5 Jan 20 at 4:26 am

  4. Thanks, Todd, I had given up trying to figure where we stand on the 40 man. There’s still plenty of room.

    I thought we could finally stop with this ‘too many on the wrong side of 30’ mentality after winning the World Series. The Nats were by far the oldest team in baseball last year and all those ‘only software needed’ people went in to hiding.

    Yes, you’re going to have a lot more injuries with an older squad but the Nats made it work.

    Boswell, of all people, is still talking like Donaldson is in play. Please!

    Mark L

    5 Jan 20 at 7:06 am

  5. Boswell not the only one talking about how Donaldson is still in play. The numbers don’t work. Its pretty frigging obvious. Unless you move someone to make room who makes more than a mlb min. There was some context-less post on one of the blogs that basically said, “oh the Nats can still sign Donaldson” yesterday … with zero mention of the payroll!

    If your team acts like it cannot go over the luxury tax (as ours does), then there’s not going to be a Donaldson signing.

    Todd Boss

    5 Jan 20 at 9:18 am

  6. Could this just be the Nats trying to up the ante for the Braves. Sure hope so.

    If you’re not going over the cap for Series hero Rendon you’d better not for anyone else.

    Mark L

    5 Jan 20 at 10:45 am

  7. This would definitely qualify as an “unexpected” move, but Kyle Seager isn’t the only Seager who has been mentioned in trade rumors this winter. If the Dodgers and Red Sox, say, hook up on a Mookie Betts trade, Andrew Friedman could push for Corey Seager to be included, as the Dodgers are trying to avoid adding too much to the payroll and they’re trying to clear an infield spot as Gavin Lux, a natural shortstop, has emerged. Problem is, the Red Sox already have Xander Bogaerts under contract for years, and they have Rafael Devers at third base, and they’re trying to shed payroll.

    The Nats could be the “third team” in a three-team trade scenario, moving a top prospect or two like Carter Kieboom to Boston in exchange for Corey Seager, who would presumably shift to third base (where he has a little, although not a lot, of experience).

    Corey is about six years younger than Kyle and is a comparable hitter to Kyle in his prime:

    C. Seager, 2017-19: 118 OPS+
    K. Seager, 2012-14: 118 OPS+

    Spooky. Anyway, you’re basically trading for a young Kyle Seager, although he’d need to be converted into a third baseman. I figure shortstops can really play anywhere, so that’s not a major concern. Really, the major concern is how rare three-team trades are and how unlikely it is that the Nats would get involved in a deal between the Dodgers and the Red Sox.


    5 Jan 20 at 3:08 pm

  8. I don’t understand why the media, both national and particularly local, believes that Donaldson is still in play for the Nats. Even when they’ve been over the tax line, it’s been just barely, and once clearly was by accident. It’s not gonna happen for JD, and it shouldn’t.

    The Nat lineup now essentially is the one it had in the playoffs, save for the rather major substitution of Castro for Rendon. The rotation is the same; the bullpen is already improved, and could improve more. The bench isn’t done yet.

    At the most granular level, you win baseball games by scoring more runs than the opponent and allowing fewer. Unless they add someone like Bryant, they’re not going to match last year’s production. But there was a significant deficiency in last year’s bullpen. If there’s going to be a big trade, I’ll keeping hoping for Giles or Yates.

    As for Corey Seager, I would be very interested, but I think the Dodgers would be very wary of potentially improving one of the two teams in the NL that can really compete with them (the Braves being the other). (In the meantime, why aren’t the Dodgers doing much about their bullpen? Using a starter in relief didn’t work out quite as well for them!)


    5 Jan 20 at 7:45 pm

  9. The Donaldson rumor should die. The Arenado rumor should die, at least as far as the Nats are concerned. I don’t think the Nats have the level of prospect capital the Rox would want, and his AAV would put them way over the tax line. Plus he has an opt-out two years.

    I will say, however, that I don’t believe folks who think the Cabrera and Castro signings mean they’re the starters. I always thought that if Cabs came back, it would be with the understanding that he’s more Difo’s replacement as a multi-function bench piece, and they basically paid him as such, less than half of what Castro is getting. So I wouldn’t count out K. Seeger, Bryant, or something else still being in play. But I’ll also keep pointing out that I think Rizzo & Co. envision a larger role for Carter K than most in the Natosphere are acknowledging.

    Castellanos for 1B . . . Theoretically, he’d be a nice bat to add, but then you’re going to be forced to play Kendrick somewhere other than 1B to get him ABs. I actually think a 1B time-share between Howie and Zim could post collective quality numbers. I could also be interested in Moreland, but not Thames, who makes Espinosa look like a contact hitter. I don’t understand talk of Adams coming back. Yes, he had 20 HRs, but also terrible PH numbers and K numbers.


    6 Jan 20 at 9:11 am

  10. Look, the Donaldson rumor absolutely positively should not die. It’s fine – and a different thing entirely – to think that signing Donaldson is an unwise move because he’s old and the end of a four year contract for him might be ugly. But what people are saying on this thread is that the Nats shouldn’t sign Donaldson because it will take them over the tax threshhold. I can’t imagine why a fan – presumably everybody on this board is a fan – could possibly give a shit about that. It may be true as a descriptive matter (the Nats are unlikely to sign Donaldson because of the tax), but it’s certainly not as a normative one (the Nats shouldn’t sign Donaldson because of the tax). Fans should be clamoring for owners to spend more money, and to treat the luxury tax threshhold as some sort of arbitrary cap is to be the mouthpiece for billionaires. Stop doing it, please.

    If the Nats don’t sign Donaldson because of the luxury tax threshhold – and I think they probably won’t for basically that reason – then they should be criticized far and wide for not spending enough money. It’s not remotely unusual for a team winning the world series to go over the threshhold – see the Red Sox and Astros as recent examples – and we should hold the Nats to that standard.

    As for the lineup, it needs another big bat, period. Donaldson could be that guy, but it needs to be somebody (it could have been Rendon, but that ship has sailed). As currently constructed, the team will score fewer runs than last year. That may be ok if the bullpen improves (something we can reasonably count on) and the starting stays the same (our rotation was quite healthy last year – can we reasonably expect that after all the innings in 2019?).

    Sign Donaldson. I don’t care about the luxury tax and you shouldn’t either.


    6 Jan 20 at 10:10 am

  11. Derek, your arguement would make sense if it was only about the money. It isn’t.
    Go over the cap and you lose draft picks and international signing money, as in your future.

    Plus, if you’re not going over the cap for Rendon, why would you for anyone else. Mortgaging the future is just not smart.

    Mark L

    6 Jan 20 at 10:14 am

  12. Mark, I don’t think that’s right. The penalty for going over the luxury tax by less than $20 million (or thereabouts) is only money. The other penalties kick in if the overage is larger, or if the team is a serial offender (which the Nats are not, because they got under in 2019). So, in this case, it is just about the money. (Note: they’d have to forfeit something to sign Donaldson because he’s subject to a qualifying offer from the Braves, but that’s separate from the tax).

    And I agree, they should have gone over the thresshold for Rendon. But they didn’t. They shouldn’t make the same mistake with Donaldson.


    6 Jan 20 at 10:46 am

  13. Whichever one of you is correct matters. I don’t care if they spend money (at least unless its so much it affects other spending, like locking up Soto or turner). But I do factor in loss of picks into the analysis.

    And while I don’t know the specifics, I do think the Nats have never been more than $10m over the tax line, yet have lost picks, so I am inclined to think it kicks in differently. Maybe you need to be over more than 1 year in a row to get to loss of picks? Seems to be a lot of value in teams ‘resetting’ the tax.


    6 Jan 20 at 11:01 am

  14. Here’s what says:

    “Beginning in 2018, clubs that are $40 million or more above the threshold shall have their highest selection in the next Rule 4 Draft moved back 10 places unless the pick falls in the top six. In that case, the team will have its second-highest selection moved back 10 places instead.”

    The draft pick penalty kicks in only after the team is $40 million above the tax threshold (which means there is no draft pick penalty between 0 and $40 million above the threshold), and the penalty is not a “loss” of a pick, but a pick that is ten slots worse.


    6 Jan 20 at 11:18 am

  15. Wow, now Hudson is back. A little nervous about a 2 year deal, but much happier with the bullpen heading in to ST. Hopefully there isn’t a Trevor Rosenthal like implosion in any of these guys. Could Rainey or Suero be added to the MAT/Ross/Fedde group of ML worthy trade bait?


    6 Jan 20 at 4:29 pm

  16. On the luxury tax argument, count me on the side of understanding why they don’t want to exceed it even though the Lerners are rich and can afford the tax penalty, and why it’s ok as a fan to not what the team to incur penalties. Derek you’re forgetting the penalties associated with signing or losing QO players. From MLBTR:

    Teams “still face some ongoing impact beyond the money owed. Inking a free agent who declined a qualifying offer will cost a bit more in compensation than it would have otherwise — specifically, $1MM in international amateur bonus pool spending capacity along with the team’s second and fifth-highest draft picks. The rules also suppress the level of compensation available to teams that lose QO’ed free agents after exceeding the luxury line”


    6 Jan 20 at 4:53 pm

  17. MLBTR link from my last

    Derek, yes these are not killer penalties by any means, but quickly add up to reduce future competitiveness. The most over looked consideration to me with saying the team should exceed the tax this year is that it’s either A) not just for one year since it would be a multi year deal, bringing in to play the repeat offender penalties, or B) the team would have to sacrifice future options like signing other FA’s or their own players in order to get back under the tax next year. Yes, some players will come off the books, but others will be getting big raises (Turner, Soto) and you still have to replace the players that become FA’s. You can’t just boil a decision on Donaldson, Rendon, Harper or any other major signing to “the Lerners can afford a $xM tax this year.”

    Rizzo’s job really is like playing 3D chess with juggling current competitiveness, future needs and resource restraints (real or artificial as they may be).


    6 Jan 20 at 5:04 pm

  18. Hudson, then Thames. Both seem like reasonable deals. Maybe Hudson is a little rich but not that bad.

    I think they are done, except for Zim, and I’d guess the plan is Kieboom in AAA and Howie gets a bunch of reps at 3b, and then see where that takes them. Rizzo clearly thinks that cheap vets are the new market inefficiency and I’m kind of a fan. Clearly a low risk strategy while he rebuilds the farm system.

    I’d still like to see Soto and Turner extended, which I think they can do now.


    6 Jan 20 at 7:00 pm

  19. Wow, things happening fast and furiously. I’m glad to have Hudson back, and at $1-2M less per year than I thought he’d command. I will still fantasize about adding a Giles or Yates on top of the crew they’ve got, but what they have now looks pretty darn good on paper. But then so did last year’s bunch . . . (Relievers seem to go up and down about as often as the weather, which is all the more reason not to overpay for them.)

    Thames has legit, huge, massive power . . . against RH pitching . . . when he’s not striking out almost as much as Michael Taylor. The K’s have been my real hesitation on him. It will be interesting to have him spend some time with Kevin Long. (Same for Starlin Castro; the FG piece on Castro’s signing notes how he seemed to embrace launch angle mid-2019, with very good results.)

    I do scratch my head a little about how Thames will fit with Kendrick, as you don’t want Howie only playing against LHP, if they’re actually sort of platooning at 1B. Now, Zim would be more of a natural platoon partner for Thames at 1B, but does that push Howie to 3B? Lots of options, and of course there’s no guarantee that they bring Zim back. (Also curious how much of Thames’s OF time has been in RF, which I guess means he has a decent arm? I have no idea.)

    I’m not going to relitigate the Donaldson thing, other than to say that I’d love to have him . . . for two years . . . if he would fit in the clubhouse. But a 4/$100+M contract is going to be a huge gamble for someone. Yes, of course the Lerners could afford it. But to me, the Thames signing is yet another sign that they won’t.

    In the meantime, all praise to Rizzo for seemingly exploiting the market inefficiency for early-30s middle-class talent. Will all of the deals work out? Probably not, but there’s not a heck of a lot of risk/sunk costs in any of them, other than the three years for Harris (but not at a “closer” price).


    6 Jan 20 at 8:26 pm

  20. So where are we with the money left below the tax line? I’m thinking we were at around $21M, minus a collective $10M for Hudson and Thames, so now ~$11M? That number could go up with the subtraction of Taylor, Difo, and Sanchez, of course (the latter two really would seem expendable with all the INF talent they’ve signed). I’d still lobby for Pillar (although he’s not the defensive star he once was) to replace Taylor for half the price, and perhaps another INF/OF super-utility like Holt or Brad Miller. Really, all three of those should be available for $2-3M or less apiece.

    Rizzo almost always makes one impact trade as well, and that hasn’t happened yet. There would now seem to be less room in the bullpen for the “loser” between Ross and Voth (with Fedde still eligible to be optioned). We’ll see.


    6 Jan 20 at 8:32 pm

  21. Also, if they’re going to go over the tax line, I’d rather do it for Bryant than Donaldson. They could probably still finagle Kyle Seager under the tax line if they got rid of MAT and Difo, but I think that deal is less likely with all the infielders they’re accumulating. I will say that I think of Cabrera more as a reserve, though, and his low contract number leads me to believe that Rizzo does as well.


    6 Jan 20 at 8:41 pm

  22. Good evening to all.

    Two potentially excellent moves leave us in a much more enviable position.

    What next?

    (1) A starting 3B

    Josh Donaldson
    I do hope all the recent flurry of moves mean we are no longer pursuing JD; but then again, Rizzo has surprised us in the past with totally unexpected moves, plus on paper we could be a better team than the 2019 WS Champion with JD at the hot corner. Would the luxury tax threshold constrain Rizzo to pursue what he deems would make his team better? My feeling is that he would prefer to operate within that limit, but if need be and a potential move would make the team way much better, then I do not think it will inhibit him from pursuing such an option. To him, the possibility of a deep playoff run and a potential repeat championship may be worth the penalty; plus who knows if a potential MASN grievance resolution might make help offset the impact of the penalty, and then more. My biggest concern with JD, and why I would prefer we do not go this route is team chemistry. For some reason, I’ve got the feeling he’s not a great fit for us.

    Kyle Seager
    Until tonight, I had been bullish on KS, as a 3B option. I am of the belief that, if healthy, he could be prime candidate for a bounceback season away from the confines of Safeco Field. Plus, he would be an excellent addition for our infield defense, given his track record so far. Nonetheless, I have a feeling that KS is less appealing as an option if it would put us over the tax threshold, than JD, KB or others. His upside from what we currently have may not be that much; therefore, pursuing such an option may not be worth it.

    Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado… José Ramírez, Eduardo Escobar, Matt Carpenter(?)
    Is the window for a repeat championship worth raiding our farm system of its top prospects again? For some reason I remain adamant to think we should go this way, maybe with the exception of Arenado (given his track record and contract), and KB to a lesser extent. Why hasn’t Carpenter been mentioned as a potential target?


    (2) Another backup infielder and/or outfielder
    Given we may have some wiggle room for a couple of more signings, and still remain under the luxury tax threshold; how about…

    Brock Holt, Brad Miller, Scooter Gennett and/or Kevin Pillar, Billy Hamilton, Steven Souza
    All these are potential options that would enhance our bench and provide Dave Martínez with even more lineup/matchup flexibility. With all due respect, I’m not sold on Difo, Sánchez or even Noll on our bench. With minimal investment and additional risk we could do way better.

    I’m getting way more bullish on the 2020 by the day. I admit, I was of the belief in May that we were in need of a change in leadership (Rizzo and Martínez). Thankfully, I was proven wrong. Therefore, I admit that even if no one is perfect all the time, nowadays in Rizzo and in our coaching staff I trust.

    Good evening to all.


    6 Jan 20 at 10:21 pm

  23. How about a potential trade for Evan Longoria along with Tony Watson? Would it make sense? Longoria seemed to bounce back sonewhat last season, plus Watson could make our bullpen even stronger.

    Just food for thought.


    6 Jan 20 at 10:38 pm

  24. I still feel like there’s a trade coming. The infield mix is just missing that one piece, and it ain’t Ryan Zimmerman, sorry. Maybe they can do him like Ichiro and sign him to a really cheap deal so he can have a farewell tour and then retire early in the season after one last homestand.

    The Nats are realistically probably priced out on Seager, but there are some other, less obvious options out there.

    I’d love to somehow get Brian Anderson from Miami, although I don’t know why they’d trade him. There was a bit of buzz around Hunter Dozier a month or so ago; the fielding metrics are not kind to him, but he can definitely hit. If the Rockies can’t/won’t move Arenado, that leaves Ryan McMahon with nowhere to play, and he could be traded for pitching. David Fletcher was displaced in Anaheim by some guy named Anthony Rendon, and he may struggle to find playing time with the Angels now. These are all young players it would certainly cost at least one or two of our precious few blue-chippers to acquire, but they might be worth it.

    Among the older vets category, Freddy Galvis sure looks redundant in Toronto these days; Jed Lowrie is quite reasonably seen as a bad contract after missing almost all of 2019, so the Mets would be glad to get rid of him even if it meant dealing with the Nats; and Jake Lamb, who is coming off two lost years in Arizona but is somehow still on the right side of 30.

    One other interesting option would be Jeimer Candelario, who has been miserable at the plate since moving to Detroit but is a plus-plus defender, still young, and he does have a good year or two with the stick behind him. He’s blocked from regular playing time with the perpetually rebuilding Tigers. Probably gettable for a Jackson Tetreault- or K.J. Harrison-type prospect at the very most.


    7 Jan 20 at 1:33 am

  25. One thing that really strikes me is that every field player they’re signing, even Thames, can play multiple positions. They’ve basically built Team Zobrist for Zobrist’s former bench coach. But it also means that they’ve stayed away from the position-limited Dozier, and perhaps Scooter Gennett as well, who seems like a strong bounce-back candidate.

    Sao, I also thought about Brian Anderson yesterday, although as you say, why would the Marlins give him up? Every Fish can be had for the right price, though!

    I don’t know. I agree that it feels like there’s still a piece or two to be added. LH mentioned Pillar, Hamilton, or Souza for the OF, any of whom likely would sign for less than Taylor is owed. As for the INF, the one more piece might just be . . . Carter Kieboom. But with all the infielders they’ve added, I really do think they’ll have him in the minors for the first month.

    If they go big (and over the tax line), I’m more intrigued by Bryant than I am Donaldson, even though they’d have to give up some serious prospect capital to get Bryant. Taylor would be a good fit with the Cubs as a piece, though, as he’d certainly be an upgrade on Almora. (Theo really seems flummoxed by the Cubs’ tax-line situation and has sat on his hands the whole offseason.)


    7 Jan 20 at 5:17 am

  26. Just counting heads . . . and concluding that Rizzo isn’t done. Field players definitely on the roster: Gomes, Suzuki, Kendrick, Thames, Castro, Cabrera, Turner, Eaton, Robles, Soto. That’s 10. Teams will carry 13. That leaves us with Taylor, Stevenson, and Difo/AdSanchez. Sorry, but those are some weak links right there. Zim could bump one of them, but I’m really not sure how he fits, unless Kendrick is playing somewhere other than 1B. The SS capability of Difo/AdSanchez isn’t needed with Castro and Cabrera on board. I’ve campaigned for someone like Brad Miller or Brock Holt who could cover both INF and corner OF. I’m not a Stevo fan, but he’s cheap and he was effective as a PH last season, so I’d probably keep him. I’d replace Taylor with someone cheaper who doesn’t strike out as much, though.

    So . . . either Zim, Stevo, Miller/Holt, or Miller/Holt, Stevo, Pillar/Hamilton/Souza.


    7 Jan 20 at 10:17 am

  27. Exceeding Luxury Tax has other penalties according to MLB Beginning in the 2017-18 offseason, any team that is over the luxury tax threshold and signs a Major League free agent that has rejected a qualifying offer will lose $1 million from their international signing pool in the following signing period. A team that is not over the luxury tax would only forfeit $500,000 of its signing pool in the subsequent period.
    As Well with free agent signings and why Washington did not get a higher pick when Bryce Harper signed with Philly
    If your team signs a qualified free agent, it still has to surrender a draft pick. However, that’s no longer its top unprotected pick by default. Instead, here’s what your team will give up:

    • If your team exceeded the luxury tax last season, it will forfeit its second- and fifth-highest picks and will have its international bonus money pool reduced by $1 million; an additional qualified free agent will cost the team its third- and sixth-highest picks. In other words: All first-round picks are now protected, and the highest pick a team can lose is from the compensatory sandwich round immediately following the first round.

    • If your team received revenue sharing last year, it will forfeit its third-highest pick. An additional player will cost the team its fourth-highest pick.


    7 Jan 20 at 2:46 pm


    Continuing a trend … Nats sign two more guys deep into their 30s.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jan 20 at 2:49 pm

  29. Count me as extremely happy that Castro said he believes he’s the Nats new 3rd baseman.

    Mark L

    7 Jan 20 at 5:45 pm

  30. Yes, rdexposfan, the loss of international money is a concern for me if they go over the tax line. The Nats’ international pipeline has been significantly more effective in recent years than their drafting, all the more when they waste picks on guys like Romero and Denaburg.

    What I like about the the 2020 squad the Nats have built thus far is that it reminds me of the Giant teams of 10/12/14. Those teams didn’t have a lot of star-level hitters beyond Posey, but they were deep with veterans who battled in every AB, good starting pitching, and deep bullpens. The Giants had Posey as their one rising star hitter, while the Nats have Soto.

    Do the Nats have enough, particularly in a division where four teams are trying and the Braves are especially talented? That’s hard to say. I’m sympathetic to those who would like to see a bigger bat at 3B, even if it means going over the tax line. I have hard time wrapping my head around four years for Donaldson, though, plus he would mean additional lost draft pick because of the qualifying offer. Of the trade possibilities, K. Seager doesn’t move the needle for me, as his Steamer projections really aren’t that much better than Cabrera’s or Castro’s. So I keep coming back to Bryant. Could the Nats get him without putting too big of a dent in their already-depleted farm? Bryant would also put them over the tax line.

    (Speaking of QOs, it seems like Ozuna is really screwed. I haven’t read a lick of buzz about him. And the Cards seem not to be spending. Actually, the whole top of the NL Central seems not to be spending — Cards, Brewers, and Cubs — while the Reds have made a number of moves.)


    7 Jan 20 at 8:52 pm

  31. Bullpen (8 total to make the club):

    Locks (3): Doolittle, Hudson, Harris

    Likely (2) (although with options): Rainey, Suero

    The Field (choose 3): Strickland, Elias, (Ross or Voth), D. Hernandez, Guerra, Abad, Finnegan, Bourque, Braymer, A. Williams, Barrett

    Also potentially materializing from the farm at some point: Condra-Bogan, Istler, Andrew Lee, Fuentes, maybe even Matt Cronin in a Glover-like run through the system

    FWIW, Elias and Hernandez were very good as recently as 2018, and Strickland was terrific up through 2017. I’m skeptical whether Abad is anything more than minor-league depth at this point in his career, all the more so as a loogy likely to be hurt by the three-batter rule.

    My guesses to make the team from “the field” would be Strickland, Elias, and the Ross/Voth loser, but there’s nothing guaranteed for any of them. Hernandez is on a minor-league deal and would seem to be first-call status. Guerra and Abad are also on minor-league deals. Finnegan and the others still have options. There’s lots of buzz about Finnegan, so he’s definitely one to watch if he has a lights-out spring.


    7 Jan 20 at 9:16 pm

  32. I can’t help but take note of the remarks by Castro and Harris, as opposing players, about wanting to play for the Nationals.It seems to have been only yesterday that the team was contending with Washington Post-fueled poison that the team and its clubhouse were somehow undesirable, and the Lerners-are-cheap nonsense. It is satisfying to read these comments and wonder to what degree they resonate with a potential fence-sitter like Donaldson.

    Clearly now, the Donaldson storyline is the next domino to fall on moves that impact the Nationals setting up their team. If he comes aboard, the depth and positional flexibility is notably improved. The team is embedding contingencies of veteran players in anticipation of injury. At the same time, the ripening of top position prospects in the upper minors will also likely include training them for positional flexibility.

    The bullpen improvement and Harris and Hudson being under contract provide cover for the continued development of quite a number of post-Glover relief prospects who may yet break through. Rainey is clearly someone who has it in him, and hopefully won’t be yet another Nats reliever (Rivero, Gott, Adams, Cedeno, Treinen) who gets away because the team gives up on him. It’s good to have Menhart in a position to refine young pitchers.

    But there are others on the verge that can really make this year interesting, especially if they can excel at Fresno. I’m watching Bourque, Finnegan, Bogan, Istler, Cronin, German, Lee, and Bartow, at the very least, knowing that there are others coming back into form off of injuries that also can deliberately make their way up the system in time to assess the futures of Ross, Fedde, Voth, and the higher priced starters like A. Sanchez.

    I like an infield whose defense can feature Donaldson, Turner, and Zimmerman. I love the idea of Kendrick, Cabrera and co. on the bench and subbing in. Stevenson and Taylor are fleet and defensively highly skilled.

    Above all, it’s easy to see a number of players whose numbers can improve upon last year.

    Rizzo is doing his job this winter.


    8 Jan 20 at 1:02 am

  33. With how the team stacks up RIGHT NOW, the value of a trade for a third base upgrade, for the prospects it would cost, is harder to defend than simply adding Donaldson.

    Anyone who comes in will take playing time away from stalwarts like Kendrick. So he had better bring serious two way talent. Donaldson has it – whether he has it for four years is debatable. But an Arenado or Bryant or Jose Ramirez trade would not be worth the prospect cost. And I can’t get excited about Seager pushing Castro or Kendrick to the bench, or even pushing Zimm out, at a cost of 15 million plus. Blecch.

    At this point, even without Donaldson, the Nationals have solidified their roster for potential free agent defections in 2021 (Suzuki, Doolittle). They have options on numerous key players that give them flexibility to weigh renewing for another year vs. prospects vs. alternatives. And the roster feels deeper. And that’s a good way to approach a long season, especially given the history of key injuries that have affected the team as recently as last year – and the need to have a next man up that is truly up to the task.


    8 Jan 20 at 1:12 am

  34. Once the moves are seemingly done, hopefully the dialogue starts with Boras about locking up Soto long term. Rizzo will have to admit that his priority last year, signing Rendon, remained unmet, and the price tag became unreachable. Hopefully that lesson is internalized.


    8 Jan 20 at 1:14 am

  35. For me, the intangible also is the psychological effect of taking Donaldson away from the Braves, whom we need to remember outplayed the Nationals this past regular season.

    If Doolittle’s assessment is to be believed, Donaldson definitely impacts the clubhouse, and for the better. That is also an addition to the Nationals that is a subtraction to the Braves.

    And so I’m happy with the Nationals adding only Zimmerman, and I’m happy with their adding Donaldson as well. Now that they have the people onboard that they have signed, the bullpen is better, they are better with Thames than Adams, and better with Castro than Dozier. Minus RENDON.

    If Donaldson comes here, the team is better in the lineup and on defense at 3B, and the Braves may then be prompted to divest a number of prospects to reel in Arenado. I’m OK with that. He’s a top player, but I’m not convinced he would replicate his Rockies production in Atlanta. And they would inherit that salary and year commitment.


    8 Jan 20 at 9:47 am

  36. The Donaldson “negotiations” seem to be getting weirder by the day. No one seems to know whether he even has a four-year deal on the table, or anything close to $100M, much less the $110M that is said to be the deal-clinching price. His agent seems to be playing a massive game of chicken. Or he’s holding out because he really wants to be in ATL, but the Braves aren’t close to his price. Or something.

    One bit of news, that Fore just mentioned, that makes me a little more willing to consider Donaldson is the word that Doolittle has been texting him to come and thinks his fire would fit well in the clubhouse. Maybe Rizzo swoops in with something like 3/$90M and closes the deal?

    On the flipside of all of this, I’m wondering whether we’re all being suckered in by the myth of the clean-up hitter much like we often are by the myth of the closer. If you have competent hitters throughout your lineup, as the Nats seem to have, including a legit “big bat” in Soto, do they really need another big bat? Boz thinks Turner will develop into a middle-of-the-order bat, and he did post a .497 SLG last year, and 19 HRs, with a hurt hand. Castro hit 16 HRs in the second half last season after embracing “launch angle” and now gets to work with the real guru, Kevin Long. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that both of those guys could hit close to 30 HRs apiece. Thames and Kendrick could combine to top 40 at 1B. Soto has a shot at 40 by himself. Gomes and Suzuki combined for 29 last season. That’s pretty good power throughout the lineup.

    Another point — it’s impossible to sign or trade for ANYONE who can/will do what Rendon did in the playoffs last year, particularly his amazing streak in the late innings of elimination games. Not even TTB would likely replicate that feat. But that’s what I fear the Natosphere REALLY feels like it is missing — a miracle-worker. No amount of money above the tax line will replicate that.

    So I don’t know. I would be excited if they add Donaldson, but I’ve never thought it was a big possibility. I’m not unhappy with the team they have, plus a few more bench pieces.


    8 Jan 20 at 10:10 am

  37. Most significantly — I’m glad Rizzo stopped waiting on a Donaldson decision and went on and got a lot of good pieces for the roster. Sure seems like Jan. 1 was a drop-dead date, and that after that, Riz was going to spend his money.


    8 Jan 20 at 10:12 am

  38. I would not fault Donaldson’s agent for what he is doing. Boras did the same with Harper last year and got what he wanted. As spring training approaches, there will be certain teams that may see Donaldson out there and may have their own needs unfulfilled by trade, may feel the need to add a big name for fan interest, and may then pull the trigger to create momentum as the Phillies did with Harper. He loses nothing by waiting – for now. It’s still only 1/8. And the trade market is still dormant. And it’s his last big shot for a mega contract. And he believes in himself and for good reason.

    Doolittle made a point of saying that Donaldson really keeps himself in shape. That noted, you can’t fault him for envisioning a career with the longevity of Chipper Jones, and trying to sell that to a team that lived through a player having three all star appearances AFTER age 34.


    8 Jan 20 at 10:43 am

  39. For some perspective, Scherzer signed with the Nats on January 21, and Bryce Harper signed on February 28. A lot can happen to all of the teams in the game before then that affects their calculus.


    8 Jan 20 at 10:46 am

  40. Boz goes even further than I did in explaining how he thinks the Nats are going to create/save enough runs with their mid-range shopping spree:–and-successful/2020/01/07/8763534c-3199-11ea-91fd-82d4e04a3fac_story.html

    He also sounds pretty convinced that Zim will be on the club, and that Donaldson won’t be. We’ll see.


    8 Jan 20 at 1:03 pm

  41. He may be right. To me, Zimm is pretty low risk with the roster we have now, and I still remember 2017.


    8 Jan 20 at 1:19 pm

  42. Lots of interesting stuff here to unpack:

    I guess Sao will agree with the ZiPS projection of Kieboom as turning out to be merely pretty average. If so, then I’d probably be willing to trade 6+ seasons of pretty average for two mid-career of Kris Bryant.


    8 Jan 20 at 3:19 pm

  43. KW, that was the best summation of the Nats 2019 season I’ve read by far.
    As for Kieboom, we’ll learn soon enough if he’s ready for the show.

    Mark L

    8 Jan 20 at 6:32 pm

  44. I still think the Donaldson contract ends up upside-down for whoever signs him, but I’m less adamantly against it than I was before we signed Harris, Castro, Cabrera, Thames, and Hudson. When it looked like it was either Donaldson or a bunch of complementary pieces, it was a no-brainer for me, but now that we have all the other pieces in place, well, it’s just money, and it isn’t mine.

    I still don’t like the guy, though.


    9 Jan 20 at 1:53 am

  45. Sao — I had the same fear: that they would sign Donaldson and then skimp on filling out the rest of the roster. They didn’t, though; they got some of the best-available players at nearly every position . . . although they still need to address the OF.

    Like you, I still can’t see how four years for Donaldson ends well, although we’re still not sure whether that mythical fourth-year offer actually exists. I’ve also shared the concern over how he would fit in, but Doolittle’s enthusiasm for him eases that worry.

    Donaldson’s agent is the same one as Machado’s, who ended up getting the Padres to basically bid against themselves last offseason. To me, this situation is starting to have the same feel to it. Are the Braves the only one really bidding?

    In the meantime, the Nats only have two 40-man slots left at present, although a couple more easily could be cleared. (Can you DFA guys pending arbitration?) There’s still a lot of buzz that Zim is returning, although I’m not particularly enamored with Howie being pushed off first base. Maybe he and Cabrera are actually sharing third? (If so, they might combine for offensive numbers comparable to Donaldson’s. JD is likely better defensively.)


    9 Jan 20 at 7:21 am

  46. Rizzo plays the long game, too. He planned long to get Scherzer. If the Nationals are staying below the line this year, they are looking ahead to little coming off the books next winter, but Realmuto hitting free agency and the likely highest value target they would invest in.

    Though continued progression by Philly and Girardi as manager may speak to a greater likelihood that he gets retained there.

    Sure would be nice to see a catcher within the Nationals system take a big step forward to look ML ready by the end of this year. Realistically, there are “only” 3-4 options, and Reetz is now rehabbing a knee injury (so 4 is a bit ambitious).

    If the Nats can somehow retain all of them beyond the spring (Ready would have to pass through waivers unclaimed and that may not happen), playing time would be hard to parse out in AAA-AA. I suppose we could envision Ready being packaged in a trade to one of the many organizations seeking catching depth. Along with finding a home for Difo (and possibly Taylor), I can only hope that such a trade nets a real meaningful prospect return. Rizzo has been generally good to very good with that.

    Once the trade winds kick up, I think we can expect that sort of roster clearance. I just can’t see any alternative for Ready and Difo if they are out of options, and I am sure there are organizations that will value both, especially with how Difo played late last year in AAA (and in 2017 as a fill in starting SS) and Ready having sock in the bat.

    I’m reminded of the roster logjam we had when the Nationals brought LaRoche aboard for 1B. Mike Morse, much as we loved him, became expendable. Rizzo sold high at a time that everyone knew Morse was expendable, worried about getting nothing for him because others knew we had a roster crunch, and on January 16, Rizzo got quite a good haul.

    Nathan Karns was expendable as spring training beckoned – he brought back three players on February 14, including Felipe Rivero.

    If Taylor is indeed headed out of town, surely there is someone who values him highly as well. He has a lot to dream on, and has value to us even still (and his contract will be an easy fit for the overwhelming majority of teams).

    Rizzo plays the waiting game very very well. I think we have more in the stocking coming, literally and figuratively, as the next weeks unfold and teams sort out their unmet needs with all of the best free agents (especially the best pitching), off the table in early January. It’s not just about whom the Nationals bring in, but whom the Nationals swap out to restock the lower and middle minors. Those are trades one can make more aggressively when creating depth at the major league level.

    Even at AAA, the Nationals have made it through the offseason well. Jacob Wilson is back, Drew Ward is back, Yadiel is still here. The only loss for nothing was Marmolejos.

    When that happens, and a Trevor Gott or Pedro Severino or Austin Adams goes for nothing, it’s an organizational failure. When it’s a Nathan Karns deal two months earlier, that’s a smart call.

    So as I see it, there has to be a plan for what to reap for Difo-Ready-possibly Taylor, and whomever the Nats determine, of the Ross-Voth-Fedde-McGowin quartet, that truly has no future at the ML level with the Nationals.

    For all of how the pundits devalue Nationals prospects, there is helium for Mario Sanchez, Will Crowe, and Ben Braymer to AAA (in part because there is a lot of helium of A+ to AA pitchers like Cate, Teel, and Tetrault). Extracting value out of the commodities at AAAA is the overlooked expectation for a good GM. And so, Rizzo’s task list is far from over.


    9 Jan 20 at 2:39 pm

  47. Fore — Raudy Read actually has been granted a fourth option year . . . because he missed so much time the year he as suspended. What a country!

    Very tough blow for Reetz to have the knee injury when it FINALLY looked like something had clicked for him.


    9 Jan 20 at 2:58 pm

  48. KW – No room for Ready, Gushue, Barrera and Reetz once Reetz comes back from injury. If that gives Ready more value, great. But if he has no future here, get something for him and let Gushue and Barrera have the AB. Barrera arguably belongs in Fresno.

    Spencer can be brought back on a minor league contract to help mentor in Reetz at AA.


    9 Jan 20 at 3:18 pm

  49. Daily tea leaf reading: it sounds like we’re actually close to the decision of Bryant’s case, and that he’s going to lose, leaving him two more years under team control. Cubbie asking price for him already said to be “astronomical,” to the point that there hasn’t been much real interest. So I’ll stop even hoping that the Nats look in that direction. Anyone asking for Robles is sure to hear a dial tone in response.

    I’m not really thinking they’re still that much “in” on Donaldson, either, but I won’t rule them completely out, if the bottom falls out of his over-inflated asking price.

    So . . . what’s left? Does Zim still fit somewhere? There’s a lot of scuttlebutt that he’ll be coming back. I keep pointing to OF upgrades. So far, the Nats have made no trades, which is very unusual, but if Rizzo is pretty firm on keeping Kieboom and Rutledge, then they’re not going to be players for higher-level guys.

    For cheaper tweaking, I keep pointing to the possibility of more bullpen upgrades. Giles is projected to make $8.4M, Yates only $6.5M. The Nats could add either of those numbers and still get under the tax line. Both guys have only one year of control left, so the price shouldn’t be that much. Offer Ross + Taylor and throw in a second-tier minor-league arm if need be. (I’d prefer it to be Fedde + Taylor, but folks here keep telling me that Fedde doesn’t have much value. Considering how bad most #4-5 starters in the league are, I’d say that he does.) The Nats don’t “need” another reliever, but either is more elite than what they have, and younger than Doo, Harris, and Hudson. That’s the one area I see where they could fit another elite talent under the tax line, and without giving up a top prospect to do it. If you truly hope to counter the loss of Rendon by giving up fewer runs, then double down on that strategy.


    9 Jan 20 at 3:21 pm

  50. No trades of pieces for non-controllable talent.


    9 Jan 20 at 5:21 pm

  51. Also, if the Nata go 4 deep in the BP, someone else will rise from the you g players they have. Already with Harris Hudson Doolittle, they are a quantum ahead of last year.


    9 Jan 20 at 5:23 pm

  52. I’m with fore on non-controllable talent.

    Mark L

    9 Jan 20 at 7:56 pm

  53. I consider Taylor (now signed to avoid arbitration) and Fedde as “surplus,” not “pieces.” I hope neither is on the 26-man roster when the season opens (although Fedde still has an option), so trading them is an easy way around dealing with them. I have more faith that Ross could still turn into something.

    I would be much more skeptical of giving up 6+ years of control of Kieboom for someone who is only controlled for one or two seasons. But I doubt that’s going to happen.

    I still really, really hope they will sign an OF or two in the $1-2M range so they can find a new home for Taylor, and perhaps keep Stevo as AAA depth.


    9 Jan 20 at 9:25 pm

  54. It’d be great to see Steven Souza Jr. back in the organization. Certainly could be a big upgrade over Andrew Stevenson.


    9 Jan 20 at 10:59 pm

  55. Good pinch hitters are not so easy to find. Just ask Matt Adams. Andrew Stevenson really proved he had outgrown AAA. He is a great defensive outfielder, already notably above league average, can steal bases, is a smart player, and hustles in an infectious way. He’s even got more power than Hamilton could have. I’d rather have him around.

    We can debate until forever about Taylor’s value, but other teams definitely value him. And it just takes one. Consider that Jose Martinez headlined a deal for the #4 lefthanded pitching prospect in all of baseball. I wouldn’t value Martinez. But TB does.

    And so it is with Taylor – and Ross. And even Fedde. Don’t kid yourself. None of us were enthusiastic about Nate Karns. And there he was, netting the Nationals, singlehandedly, Felipe Rivero, backup catcher (that we needed at the time) Lobaton, and a former first round pick who had skills but just could not stay healthy. And Fedde has pedigree, and is increasingly removed from TJ surgery, as is Ross. That certainly worked for others, notably Jordan Zimmermann.


    10 Jan 20 at 2:34 am

  56. I saw somewhere that Souza paid his own way to a World Series game or two to see his old buddies, so apparently he’s still got a fondness for the organization. It’s also mid-January and he isn’t signed, so getting him on a minor-league deal isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The last season he was healthy (2017), he hit 30 homers.

    The other intriguing thing about Souza is that he plays RF. The Nats face a tricky $10.5M option on Eaton for 2021. Unless Spanky has an outstanding season, I could see the Nats either looking to move on from him, or at least doing the decline/re-sign dance they did with Gomes. Souza is only a year younger than Eaton, though.

    Let’s see, um, Souza hasn’t PH much, and when he has, he’s been awful at it: .087, with only two hits in 28 plate appearances! Very SSS, but certainly a red flag.


    10 Jan 20 at 6:48 am

  57. I’m more intrigued by two years of Corey Seager than I am by one year of his brother for twice the AAV. Not sure the Dodgers would want to trade him to one of the other major contenders in the NL, though, or if the Nats would have the trade capital to get him.

    I do find it curious how quiet the Dodgers have been this offseason. The Treinen signing is wishful thinking, and of course he’s NOT going to be the guy you want out there in an elimination game. They really seem to be banking on their prospects, plus Friedman seems to be unusually reluctant to get involved with large/long contracts.


    10 Jan 20 at 7:28 am

  58. The dream we are not yet discussing is a long term extension for Trea. This should be the Rendon lesson. It’s arbitration day.


    10 Jan 20 at 10:00 am

  59. They can’t take the AAV hit of a Trea or Soto extension this offseason. Sounds good theoretically, but the current CBA/tax line make it very difficult for big-spending teams to tie up a lot of money on controlled players.


    10 Jan 20 at 10:03 am

  60. they can sign an escalating extension that really kicks in after 21 (Max, Sanchez, Eaton, Gomes, Hudson off the books).


    10 Jan 20 at 10:32 am

  61. Yes, but the AAV hit is different from what a team is actually paying each year. So if Trea is only being paid $7M now but averaging $16M per year across the life of the contract, his AAV number is $16M for 2019.


    10 Jan 20 at 11:45 am

  62. Aaah. Really? That blows!


    10 Jan 20 at 11:54 am

  63. OK, I’m trying to figure out this one: The Cards gave up 15 runs in their last two NCLS games, including one started by their supposed “ace,” yet they’ve signed no quality pitching and are looking at trading their top young starter for Arenado . . . which would take away the main position Carpenter plays, even though he’s still owed at least $39M. (Some scuttlebutt that Rockies would take Carpenter in return, but why would they want that turkey of a contract?) (Also, for those who think Donaldson will keep hitting forever, or at least four more seasons, note that he’s the same age as Carpenter, who just fell off a cliff career-wise.)


    13 Jan 20 at 9:52 am

  64. Boz just said in his chat that the chances of Zim being back for 2020 are “100%” . . . but I’m not 100% sure about that. I don’t hate the thought, and, IF HEALTHY, he could be an effective RH bat in a limited role. But Zim is very position-limited on an otherwise flexible team. Even Thames can stand in the OF every now and then. Kendrick is at a point in his career where 1B is his best defensive option, but signing Zim would push Howie to 2B or 3B the majority of the time.

    Also, no one knows (publicly) how cheaply Zim would play. The price for a position-limited 1B who probably won’t get more than 350 plate appearances is, um, only around $1-2M.

    The Nats do still have a little loose change and probably aren’t done with their signings. I think the total they have left under the tax line is around $11M, but there’s an extra $5M that could be added to that by finding new homes for Taylor, Difo, and Ad. Sanchez. I’d like to see them upgrade the bench more, particularly over Taylor and Stevenson in the OF. If they don’t sign Zim, a more versatile guy like Brad Miller or Brock Holt might make more sense. Another reliever in the mix would always be welcome, and they’ve yet to add a rehabbing starter or two on minor-league contracts (Clay Buchholz?).


    13 Jan 20 at 12:00 pm

  65. Oof… so long AJ Hinch, I guess. I’ll admit that I’m impressed with MLB’s serious response. I had expected the loss of draft picks, but not much more. What’s the over/under on Alex Cora’s continuing employment?

    Once again, great job to the Nats for beating a really bad organization!


    13 Jan 20 at 5:06 pm

  66. Wow, good for MLB for coming down hard, although the fine of only $5M is a joke in this day and age. The owners really need to expand that amount to around $100M so there can be a real penalty. I did sorta chuckle at the language saying that Hinch wasn’t “supportive” of the trash can system. Um, it’s your team, dude. Nothing happens in your dugout without you consenting, and this happened for months, probably years. No sympathy for him whatsoever.

    But if Hinch got a year (and fired) for being a complicit bystander, what should Cora get? It should be more than Hinch, shouldn’t it? And I’m sorry, Beltran should NOT get a pass for being a player at the time. What he did was clearly “detrimental to the game.” The Black Sox got banned for life. That would seem harsh, but he should get whatever Cora gets, which should be more than Hinch, so two years?

    Luhnow always struck me as the smarter-than-you type, the Enron of baseball (in the place formerly known as Enron Field). He’ll probably never work in the game again.


    13 Jan 20 at 8:48 pm

  67. And of course Cora’s involvement taints the Red Sox’s 2018 title as well. So MLB has back-to-back cheating embarrassments. Thank goodness for the Nats! And the Nat pitching that was so good that the Astros couldn’t even beat it by cheating.


    14 Jan 20 at 5:02 am

  68. Good morning to all from “chilly” Puerto Rico.

    Two quick comments:

    (1) MLB Disciplinary Action – Bravo for Manfred and MLB for taking strong disciplinary action and making certain that the integrity of the sport is essential for the sport to continue to remain as our undisputed national pastime. Moreover, given the findings about what was happening, I do hope and expect that Cora and Beltrán are both dealt with in the same manner. Doing otherwise would give the appearance of a double standard. On a sidenote of mine, let’s hope the NCAA learns from MLB, and begins to provide the same sense of moral example when schools act in violation of the applicable regulations.

    (2) I agree 100% with KW re: Zimmerman and the better use for the remaining financial fkexibility. Bring RZ into the organization in an administrative/personnel position and have a RZ special event or designation of something in recognition of his unique and exemplary contributions to this franchise. But I believe that at this point in time his contributions would be minimal at most.

    Go Nationals!!!


    14 Jan 20 at 6:15 am

  69. LH — from what I’ve seen, MLB isn’t going to punish Beltran because he was a player at the time and MLB is afraid of dealing with the player’s union. This would be the same player’s union that’s so weak that its players are screwed going and coming in the current CBA. Somewhere, Kenesaw Mountain Landis is spinning in his grave.


    14 Jan 20 at 8:48 am

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