Nationals Arm Race

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

All QO-attached players now signed and 2020 Draft Order finalized

43 comments

At least we got a 2nd rounder... Photo via wtop.com

At least we got a 2nd rounder… Photo via wtop.com

With the Marcell Ozuna signing earlier this week, the last qualifying offer-attached player has signed, which means (barring any more stripping of draft picks due to brazen and ridiculous sign stealing by un-penalized players) that we’ve also finalized the 2020 draft order.

This is a two-parter post, closing the books on the 2019 off-season Qualifying Offer accounting, and then a quick look at the 2020 draft.


First up; lets look at players who had QOs and see how they fared.

YearPlayerOld TeamNew TeamDraft Pick ForfeitedSigning DateSubsequent contract (w/o options)Money up/down per AAVQ.O. Screw the player?
2019Gerrit ColeHoustonNew York Yankees2-62, 5-160438109yr/$324M18.2No
2019Anthony RendonWashingtonLos Angeles Angels2-48438107yr/$245M17.2No
2019Stephen StrasburgWashingtonWashingtonnone438087yr/$245M17.2No
2019Zack WheelerNew York MetsPhiladelphia2-53438035yr/$118M5.8No
2019Madison BumgarnerSan FranciscoArizona2-54438145yr/$85M-0.8No
2019Josh DonaldsonAtlantaMinnesota3-100438454yr/$92M5.2No
2019Marcel OzunaSt. LouisAtlanta3-99438511yr/$18M0.2Not really
2019Jake OdorizziMinnesotaMinnesotanone437831yr/$17.8M8.3No
2019Will SmithSan FranciscoAtlanta2-67437833yr/$39M-4.8maybe
2019Jose AbreuChicago White SoxChicago White`none437831yr/$17.8M1.8Not really

Ten players had QOs slapped on them to start the off-season.  Seven of those players signed elsewhere, meaning seven players cost their signing teams draft picks.  Now, the sting of those draft pick losses isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be: 2nd rounder at best, and we saw some interesting teams signing players this time around.

Meanwhile, for the first time in a while I don’t really think any one player got completely screwed by having a QO associated with his FA status.  8 of the 10 players with QOs improved their contract AAV.  Madison Bumgarner accepted a slightly less AAV than the QO figure, but signed for 5 years after a down season, so he can’t be disappointed.  Lastly reliever Will Smith may have taken a significantly lower AAV, but as a reliever he’s gotta be happy about guaranteeing 3 years and $39M.  Even Ozuna, who signed just a one year deal, didn’t *lose* money and rids himself of the QO for next season, and reportedly turned down more money and multi-year deals.

Compare this to last year, where two marquee FAs (Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel) both waited til after the draft in mid-June to sign and both took significantly lower money than they were probably due.

In case I havn’t made it sufficiently clear in the past, I think this QO system is ridiculous, and that the MLBPA expended a ton of its political capital in the last couple of negotiating sessions to modify it, yet it still continues to screw over players while enabling the owners to pursue what now acts like a hard salary cap.  I think it should be completely abolished.  At this point in the game, does it make sense to tie free agency to draft picks?  I don’t think so.   The Nationals netted a mid-second round extra pick (what ends up being 72nd overall) for losing their marquee hitter in Anthony Rendon in his prime; is this a fair compensation?  Of course not.  I’m not sure what the right solution is.


 

So, now that the last QO players has signed, the 2020 draft order is finalized.

Its best seen here at mlb.com: https://www.mlb.com/draft/2020/order , but doesn’t really put in all the details pick by pick.

At the end of the day, 13 Original picks had been lost by teams.  Here’s all 14 and why they were lost (the “xth overall” is the original number, assuming no other lost picks)

  • 1st round, 30th overall:  Forfeited by Houston 1/13/20 for cheating scandal
  • 1st round supplemental, 31st overall: was to be compensation for Minnesota for Jake Odorizzi but he took the QO
  • 2nd round, 49th overall: lost by Los Angeles Angels for signing Anthony Rendon
  • 2nd round, 54th overall: lost by Philadelphia for signing Zach Wheeler
  • 2nd round, 57th overall: lost by Arizona for signing Madison Bumgarner
  • 2nd round, 64th overall: lost by Atlanta for signing Wil Smith
  • 2nd round, 67th overall: lost by New York Yankees for signing Gerrit Cole
  • 2nd round, 69th overall: Forfeited by Houston 1/13/20 for cheating scandal
  • 2nd round supplemental, 76th overall: was to be compensation for Chicago White Sox for Jose Abreu but he took the QO
  • 2nd round supplemental, 82th overall: was to be compensation for Washington for Stephen Strasburg, but he re-signed with the team.
  • 3rd round, 109th overall: lost by Atlanta for the Marcell Ozuna signing
  • 3rd round, 111th overall: lost by Minnesota for the Josh Donaldson signing
  • 5th round, 172nd overall: lost by New York Yankees for signing Gerrit Cole (they lost a 2nd pick b/c they were a luxury tax violator, as the Nats were last  year).

At the end of the day, thanks to all these changed/lost picks, the Nats draft slots gain some spots in the later rounds and will look like this; we have four picks in the top 100 this year, which is great.

  • 1st round: #22 overall
  • 2nd round: #56
  • 2nd round supp: #72
  • 3rd round: #96
  • 4th round: #124
  • 5th round: #154
  • 6th round: #183
  • 7th and on-wards: every 30 afterwards

How does 22nd each round compare as to how the Nats have picked relative to the round over recent years?

  • 2019: 16th each round
  • 2018: 27th each round
  • 2017: 28th each round
  • 2016: 18th each round
  • 2015: 29th each round
  • 2014: 19th each round
  • 2013: 30th each round
  • 2012: 16th each round
  • 2011: 6th reach round
  • 2010 and before: usually pretty high each round :-)

Since the 1st rounder is always the most important pick in a draft, here’s a quick glance at who was drafted with the 22nd overall pick in the first? over the past few drafts:

  • 2019: Greg Jones, a SS from UNC-W picked by Tampa.  Hit .300 in first pro season in Short-A ball.
  • 2018: Ryan Rolinson, a LHP from Ole Miss picked by Colorado.   full season starting in the Cal league in 2019 with a 4.87 ERA
  • 2017: Logan Warmoth, a SS from UNC picked by Toronto; Promoted to AA mid 2019 season but struggled in Eastern league
  • 2016: Will Craig, 3B from Wake Forest picked by Pittsburgh; played all of 2019 in AAA, hit 20+ homers at multiple levels
  • 2015: Beau Burrows, prep RHP from Texas HS picked by Detroit: top 100 prospect, pitched in AAA as a 22yr old in 2019
  • 2014: Grant Holmes prep RHP from South Carolina HS picked by Los Angeles Dodgers.  Some top 100 buzz, pitched most of 2019 in AA as a 23yr old after missing 2018 with injury
  • 2013: Hunter Harvey, prep RHP from North Carolina HS picked by Baltimore.  Lots of top 100 buzz, missed a year w/ injury, in the mix for MLB spot.
  • 2012: Marcus Stroman, RHP from Duke picked by Toronto.  51-47 as a MLB starter, all-star in 2019.

… so there’s some promise of picking in this range.

 

43 Responses to 'All QO-attached players now signed and 2020 Draft Order finalized'

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  1. I just read that Donaldson gave the Braves a chance to match the Twins offer and they said no thank you.

    That’s more than Rendon did for the Nats.

    Mark L

    24 Jan 20 at 1:24 pm

  2. It’s pretty slow news when the “excitement” is signing Welington Castro to a minor-league deal. They could do worse for insurance, and they obviously don’t trust Raudy Read if something happens to Suzuki or Gomes in the spring. They’re obviously cornering the market on Castros . . . both of whom played for Davey with the Cubs.

    Sorry to see Souza likely ending up with the Cubs, although he’s got more of a chance for semi-regular playing time there than in DC.

    KW

    24 Jan 20 at 4:10 pm

  3. And Zim is back. I don’t hate it, but I’m just not sure how he fits. He can only play 1B, and the assumption is that Castro will play every day at 2B. So where’s Howie playing? Third? I really liked a Thames/Kendrick platoon at 1B. We’ll see. Maybe Zim only starts a couple of times a week?

    Oh well, I did predict a few days ago that Kendrick would be our Opening Day 3B.

    KW

    25 Jan 20 at 6:51 am

  4. Mark Zimmerman brought up a good point today, the 3 players manning 1st base last year cost $25 million, this year $9 miilion.

    Let’s face it, the ages of the players tells you that they are going to be injury-prone. Now we have the face of the franchise back. I like this team.

    Mark L

    25 Jan 20 at 1:48 pm

  5. Anyone know how Atl avoided giving up their 1st round pick?

    Matt

    25 Jan 20 at 3:42 pm

  6. Zimmerman was not our best option to round out the roster. He’s limited to one position that was already covered, and he’s a rather mediocre hitter and fielder at this point in his career. But it’s no surprise to see him back, and hopefully 2020 gives him a great sendoff.

    SaoMagnifico

    25 Jan 20 at 4:41 pm

  7. Matt — ATL did forfeit its second-round pick for the Will Smith signing. A QO signing doesn’t cost a first-round pick anymore. But the Braves also add a comp pick for losing Donaldson.

    Also, since Bud Selig is long gone (thank heavens), can the ridiculous “Competitive Balance” picks go away? Rewarding teams for not spending is nuts. They should be penalized for not spending.

    KW

    25 Jan 20 at 8:49 pm

  8. There are still a number of interesting guys still left looking for jobs. By my count, the Nats have 11 of 13 field slots pretty much guaranteed: Gomes, Suzuki, Thames, Zim, Kendrick, S. Castro, Turner, Cabrera, Eaton, Robles, Soto. Two slots left, one of whom needs to be CF-capable. Taylor, Stevenson, Difo, and Ad. Sanchez available in-house, with only Stevo having an option.

    Maybin, Pillar, and Jon Jay all are CF-capable. Any of them willing to take a minor-league deal to compete with MAT and Stevo? Matt Joyce has at least stood in CF as recently as 2018. He’d be a nice LH bench bat; corner OF reserve.

    Then there are the trio of Swiss Army Knife guys, two of whom have OF time (Brad Miller and Holt), plus Flores all over the INF (but not defensively good anywhere).

    If you’re looking for non-roster pitchers to give a spin, they’re a number of guys who used to be good: Buchholz, Shelby Miller, Tyson Ross. Among relievers, I wonder whether Cody Allen still has anything left. Also, I’m not sure why there hasn’t been more interest in hard-throwing swingman Collin McHugh, to whom I might be willing to give an MLB deal, albeit with no promise attached to it.

    KW

    25 Jan 20 at 9:22 pm

  9. Matt Duffy, who is SS-capable and only age 29; virtually no pop, but he also doesn’t strike out much. Plus he has plenty of time at 3B in case other options there crater.

    KW

    25 Jan 20 at 9:28 pm

  10. KW – thank you. I didn’t realize all 1st round picks were now protected.

    Matt

    25 Jan 20 at 11:28 pm

  11. Duffy could be an interesting add as NRI. If he is willing. I’ve always liked him but injuries really ruined the arc of his career.

    Agree that Joyce could be a nice bench guy but backup CF is a must if they want to trade MAT, Pillar makes sense there

    Wally

    26 Jan 20 at 8:21 am

  12. For Matt and others who might be interesting, this piece concludes with a detailed analysis of the Braves’ situation, basically losing second-round and third-round picks for Smith and Ozuna, plus losing $500K in international money for each:

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/01/teams-that-gained-or-lost-draft-picks-via-qualifying-offer-free-agents.html

    KW

    26 Jan 20 at 2:43 pm

  13. Wally — Heyman has tweeted that Senzel is available, so it’s publicly out there. Don’t know what they’d want for him. I would think this is more just advertising to see if anyone is interested more so than a full “for sale” sign. There’s no money to be saved by moving him, and he went 2d overall in the draft, so they probably attach some value to that which isn’t reflected in actual performance.

    Senzel looks like sort of an Eaton-type player who potentially could be Eaton’s replacement, and, well, the Nats did give up a truckload to get Eaton. But I don’t know that they’d give up that much at this point with no real starting position available for Senzel at the moment. Let’s see, last week Wally posted last week trading Fedde, Crowe and Garcia for Senzel. I’d do that, but then I’m skeptical of Garcia’s upside. Would that be enough? One would think the Reds will indeed be trolling for pitching.

    KW

    27 Jan 20 at 10:28 am

  14. I see that Senzel was mostly a 3B in college. Hmm. Would he be a better option than Kieboom? I think there’s more of a chance of Kieboom showing HR power going forward than there is for Senzel, but Senzel might be more “ready” to play 3B at the MLB level right now (depending on how he’s recovering from injury). He certainly could fill a number of backup roles like 3B, 2B, and all across the OF. Of course Brad Miller might be able to do about the same thing, for the cost of a minor-league contract.

    We’ll see. I can’t see the Nats getting too excited about giving up much to get Senzel. But if the Reds are truly looking for back-end-of-rotation pitching, we might be able to talk.

    KW

    27 Jan 20 at 11:44 am

  15. I think the Nats should hold onto their upper level starter talents until they see how they show up in spring training. Of course, knowing Rizzo, it’s hard to envision his standing pat at almost any point.

    Voth has the highest trade value based on 2019 performance and controllability. But unless the player is a top controllable catcher, I can’t see the wisdom of moving him. Ross showed flashes in 2019, but he is not so controllable. What he would return now (relative to the Nats needs and in-house abilities to fill those needs) may render him better off waiting to see if he breaks through wit his return to form pre-injury.

    As for Fedde, he, too is a sell low. He can lose value, but his value right now is a crapshoot AAAA starter or MLB roster filler. Yet he has the stuff to put it all together and really make a place for himself as a ML starter with a nice career. So why give up on him now?

    Senzel is intriguing, but he has had some injuries, and I think we are undervaluing Kieboom and possibly Garcia as well. Garcia is young, plays with a joy that will make him great in the clubhouse, and is an excellent defensive infielder at a tender age that will fill out his body and may portent a very different perception after his second year in AA. I think the Nats would be selling low on him now.

    The Castillo signing was interesting. I wonder whether Kurt Suzuki is more broken down than advertised? Or, to what degree this is insurance for the unthinkable in the spring. Logic says that the Nats are positioning themselves for Realmuto, but a better lay would be a long term option that is at AA right now and one year away, who could come in just at the end of Kurt’s run, with Gomes as a mentor and insurance.

    Otherwise, as far as Nats needs, the infield will sort itself out with many options while Kieboom and Garcia season, and the outfield is stable and with depth replacement both offensively (Hernandez) and defensively (Stevenson and Taylor).

    Starting pitching is inevitably vulnerable with injury. Scherzer gave us a scare, and Sanchez is older. One pop and suddenly it’s next man up, every fifth day. I like that the Nationals have Voth-Fedde-Ross-McGowin, all proven at the AAA level, and I’m confident that Crowe will step up his game in AAA this year, as will Braymer.

    This sets up as a very interesting postseason after 2020, with lots of options and flexibility. Always remember, every year the light comes on for a few people in the system who really step up to another level and change our view of their ceiling. How did we feel about Voth last year at this time? Stevenson? Carson Teel? Cole Freeman? Jakson Reetz? And so we need to be prepared for what those shifting sands enable in a team that has its fixtures but has to be thinking long term.

    I think Rizzo did a masterful job of assembling this squad, with some fallback options in different spots and good vision for the undervalued. And the Nationals are clearly under luxury tax with a “90 win” team.

    forensicane

    27 Jan 20 at 12:30 pm

  16. The other aspect of depth is that it enables you to exploit teems sense of acute needs when inventory runs low.

    Now Castellanos is off the market, and there will be pre-spring training movement of some blockbuster pieces. Maybe they are priced out of the Nationals reach. Senzel is one of the few affordable controllable expendables.

    But other teams will have injuries in the spring, and if players on the Nationals bubble show up very well, they can be flipped for some nice prospect depth.

    forensicane

    27 Jan 20 at 12:48 pm

  17. My god, I would do Fedde+Crowe+Garcia all day long for Senzel. Could he go that cheaply? That’d be amazing.

    SaoMagnifico

    28 Jan 20 at 1:30 am

  18. I’m patently amazed that the Reds have put themselves in a position to even consider dumping the former 2nd overall pick in Senzel, who tore up NCAA pitching and then similarly tore up minor league pitching before arriving in the majors at 24.

    Blocked at 3B by Suarez … the Reds could have (should have!) just stuck him elsewhere on the dirt. Instead they sent him to CF so they could play Jose Peraza full time at 2B (2019 slash line: .239/.285/.346). I’m pretty sure Senzel has NEVER played CF in his life prior to Cincy putting him there: the sole post-high school evidence he’s ever played in the OF was one (1) game in the cape cod season after his sophomore year in college when he covered in left field. You know for damn sure he wasn’t playing the OF in high school either.

    So, he gets hurt, a bad injury (torn labrum) but he’s not a pitcher so he had surgery in Sept and may very well be ready by opening day. Peraza was a FA; so the team had a completely natural spot to move Senzel to … so what do they do?? They sign Mike frigging Moustakas to a four year deal to play second base. A career 3B himself … he did play some at 2B last season. So instead of waiting and seeing if moving to 2B is a natural position for their best prospect in years … one who’s pre-arb and controlled for 5 more years .. they give out the largest FA contract in franchise history to Moustakas to further block Senzel and to lock him in to a position he’s barely played.

    And then! they sign not one but two FA outfielders in CF Shogo Akiyama and now corner OF Nick Castellanos to further block Senzel.

    I just gotta say; what in the hell is Cincinnati doing? You need one 3B not three. You generally look to trade older, more expensive assets not younger, controllable assets. You generally don’t sign unproven 31yr old japanese imports to layer your 24yr old top prospect.

    All of this says to me: cincinnati has no trust in Senzel. And there’s a huge opportunity. Yeah; if you could dump a bunch of marginal prospects (Fedde, Crowe, etc) to get him and install him at 3B for five years at below market value? Hell yeah sign me up. If it costs Garcia? Which would you rather have? 2nd overall pick or a lottery ticket in Garcia?

    Todd Boss

    28 Jan 20 at 10:45 am

  19. My interest in Senzel is driven by the fact that beyond Kieboom, the Nats have no other top-level field-position talent on the immediate horizon. The Nats have been signing and re-signing all of these thirtysomething guys more out of necessity as from any new team-building strategy.

    (And no, I’m still not convinced that Garcia is a top-level talent. The vague comparisons to Soto leave me perplexed. I would be very glad to be wrong, though. Maybe he takes AA by storm this year.)

    I do understand Fore’s concern about maintaining depth in starting pitching. That’s a real strength of this club right now. At the same time, you only need so much depth. Also, a number of otherwise good teams suck in their last one or two rotation slots (witness the flyer the Brewers just took on Shelby Miller). If teams like the Reds aren’t at least calling the Nats to inquire about one or more from among Voth/Ross/Fedde/McGowin, they’re nuts. And the Nats don’t need all of them, particularly with some decent options nearly ready in Crowe, Braymer, and Mario Sanchez, with Fuentes not too far behind in the pecking order. I’m not claiming that all of those guys will be effective MLB pitchers, but they’re probably better than the Oriole rotation!

    Anyway, I’d be particularly fine with moving Fedde if some other team values him. Is Crowe really the next Roark, or the next one in a long line (including Fedde) to stall out at AAAA quality?

    KW

    28 Jan 20 at 10:59 am

  20. Todd — I don’t know anything about the Reds, so this is only speculation, but perhaps Senzel doesn’t homer enough for what they think they need in the Great American Bandbox. That’s all I can come up with. I agree with the head scratching over what they think they’re doing with roster construction. But they may need those homers since they didn’t spend much on pitching. If they trade Senzel, it HAS to be for pitching, right?

    I don’t blame the Reds for sorta going for it, as they’re in the same division with three good teams that haven’t really done much in the offseason. But yes, it’s very fair to question where the Reds think they’re actually going to play all of those guys in the field, and what kind of defense they’ll have.

    KW

    28 Jan 20 at 12:27 pm

  21. He’s not a shortstop.
    And a torn labrum may limit his utility at 3B.
    SO, then, as a college star with lesser power, what does he add as a player that can only be stached in AAA for so long?

    The Nationals have Cole Freeman at AA. He is a high average, high hustle, good defense 2B and polished winner. They have Garcia, who can play all three positions in the IF well — and is more advanced offensively than was Senzel at 19, and a big body and high BB IQ. And they have Kieboom.

    Senzel has value to the World Champion Nationals at this point only if he is a star. If he clogs a pipeline in place of a potential star, he is not worth it.

    If they put Senzel at 3B, they relegate Kieboom to 2B AFTER Howie is done. Im not so sure Howie is done after 2020, and his contract has an option year. Kieboom cannot be stached that long, either. And Kieboom has every bit of two way potential that Senzel has — well younger and only one level below.

    As for Crowe, sure, I’m OK with him going, but Fedde?

    Whatever it is that makes Senzel regarded as a former first round pick, well, so was Fedde. And as someone drafted lower for injury, so was Giolito. There were many people drafted ahead of Mike Trout, and many duds who were drafted #2.

    After Felipe Rivero, Lucas Giolito, Austin Adams, and Trevor Gott, I’m a bit leery about the Nationals giving up on a pitcher that is ripened, not excelling, but still with swing and miss pitches. And so I’m reluctant to trade away starting pitching that slots in as affordable, controllable and potentially able to help NOW — unless it meets a clear team NEED. Fedde is close enough to that.

    forensicane

    28 Jan 20 at 5:45 pm

  22. I am sure teams are calling.

    But the Nats majors NEED is high-end affordable-controllable bullpen lefty and a top prospect two way catcher.

    Other than that, I think they are smarter to save Fedde for depth or a trade during the year necessitated by unexpected long term injury to a key irreplaceable player.

    forensicane

    28 Jan 20 at 5:51 pm

  23. Let’s send Dusty some of his favorites as a Trashstros housewarming gift: Taylor, Difo, and Adrian Sanchez. Seriously, Dusty is the only one who has ever gotten anything out of MAT, and the Trashers have Marisnick’s hole to fill in the OF. I know the Nats wouldn’t get much in return, but they’d free up a little salary space.

    Re lefty-killer relievers: in 2019, LH batters hit .205 against Hudson and .207 against Harris. In this age of three-batter relievers, these type of guys may prove more valuable than loogy types. And perhaps not too far down the road, Cronin will show up, and maybe even the notorious Seth Romero.

    Garcia vs. Senzel: yes, there’s a chance that Garcia turns out to be just as good. It’s hard to compare, particularly since they really pushed him 2019. I’m just not that excited about him yet, though. We’ll see.

    As for Fedde, he struck out fewer than five batters per nine innings in 78 MLB innings in 2019, a pretty good sample size. That’s just, um, not good, nor does it offer much promise of bullpen future success. His velocity for all of his pitches was also off by 1 MPH or so. That’s unusual for someone age 26, unless there was some underlying minor injury or something.

    KW

    28 Jan 20 at 7:47 pm

  24. KW – persuasive points on Fedde.

    As for Garcia, he’s a 19yo who just played AA. Far from a finished product or ceiling. Statistically, I would have to think that players who hold their own at 18-19 in AA are far more likely to play in the bigs. 19!

    The Senzel point may be moot with Suarez’ announced injury.

    Also, one has to think that the Reds are stockpiling in order to bring in a SS brand name star, like a Corey Seager, rather than just prospect or depth inventory.

    forensicane

    28 Jan 20 at 9:55 pm

  25. Blocking Cole Freeman is not a good reason not to acquire Nick Senzel. Freeman doesn’t have anything close to Senzel’s prospect cachet, and I’d be unwilling to give up on the 24-year-old Senzel after one below-average season with the bat. At the absolute minimum, he’s an athletic super-sub who is cheap and controllable. The likelier case is that he’s an everyday player, and possibly a multiple All-Star, whose best years are ahead of him.

    As for the Astros…if they do get Dusty, yes, absolutely, load him up with the fringe guys on our roster.

    SaoMagnifico

    28 Jan 20 at 10:24 pm

  26. No one is speaking of blocking Freeman. Freeman is the retort to the idea that there are no 2B prospects in the system. He is.

    I would not block Kieboom for Senzel, Kieboom being younger, without a torn labrum, and with best years ahead of him too.

    As for cheap “super sub,” fortunately the Nats have plenty such players whom they picked up.

    I’m not denigrating Senzel. I just don’t see the utility of trading a package as described for him, because of the Nationals needs; and I don’t see Cincy trading him unless they are packaging him for a star at a need position.

    forensicane

    28 Jan 20 at 10:40 pm

  27. On Garcia, agreed. Remember, he was 19 playing AA ball!
    The Reds do have some logjams to clear out. Worth a listen.

    Mark L

    29 Jan 20 at 10:52 am

  28. I’m not the only one questioning the Reds moves as of late. Keith Law crucified them over their last two off-seasons here: https://theathletic.com/1569560/2020/01/29/law-have-the-reds-offseason-moves-put-them-in-the-black/?fbclid=IwAR3Noe_J7pA_ytZj4arAJxinZsvlryWT4FrrDPHtiS0QZ25GX1qSAyYp0rk

    Todd Boss

    29 Jan 20 at 12:17 pm

  29. Kris Bryant lost his grievance so still has two years of team control. Let the bidding begin!

    If you want to talk about an NL Central team that seems to have no idea what it’s doing, let’s talk about the Cubs . . . The Reds sorta remind me of some of the Dan Snyder years, signing a bunch of guys without spending a lot of time considering how they fit.

    KW

    29 Jan 20 at 1:12 pm

  30. Next question of the day; how many options does new Nat Harper have?

    Mark L

    29 Jan 20 at 3:41 pm

  31. According to FanGraphs, Ryne Harper still has three options left. So does Finnegan. Perhaps the bigger deal is that the Nats’ 40-man is now full. To add anyone else, they’ll have to DFA folks, probably starting with Adrian Sanchez and then Difo.

    Harper is an interesting addition, certainly worth picking up for a negligible price, particularly with all the options left. He was on a very good Twins team all season. He was heavily used, and mostly very good, for the first half of the season, then used half as much and struggled in the second half. Looking at those numbers, one is left to suspect that he was worn down, slightly injured, or both. Curiously, he had a much higher K rate against LH hitters than RH. Plus you gotta love a 37th-round pick who actually made it!

    KW

    29 Jan 20 at 6:31 pm

  32. If he has 3 options left this trade is even better. With Noll, Difo and Sanchez you have to think there will be 1 or even 2 spots available on the 40 man.

    Maybe they want to bring up Jacob Wilson; Noll in 456 abs in the PCL/beer league had only a .737 OPS. Seems a waste of a 40 man spot.

    Mark L

    30 Jan 20 at 8:23 am

  33. Rizzo kept that 40th man spot free and now, as free agents have signed and many trades are made, the only drops other teams are making from their 40 mans are players who, in early December when rosters were set, were 35-37 on their depth chart. To get such a player from a playoff team, with three remaining options, and for the light cost of a ninth round arm with a non-descript college career, is a good move, especially given the bullpen depth problems of recent years.

    If the Nats did outcompete other teams to get him, the move (like the Kelvin Herrera trade) is testament to other teams’ belief in the Nats system, and in players that we have never heard about because the pundits follow bonus money and others’ crib notes. Good job Rizzo.

    Now that the roster is at 40, I’m still not convinced the team is done, for Anibal Sanchez is eminently expendable with Bonifacio on a minor league contract.

    There will be blockbuster trades by other teams before spring training, and they will shake loose players from 40 man rosters of some teams with depth in places that help the Nats. I’m happy to see the Nats lurking and being aggressive.

    As for Harper, that he ran into a wall later in the year speaks to how much he was used. The Nationals know all about that with Doolittle and to Martinez’ credit, he adjusted later in the year. Hopefully Harper’s peaks and valleys reinforce careful attention to how to use and not overuse the pen for a long season.

    I’m excited for 2020. There are many players on the Nationals who performed far from peak last year, and/or are playing under “show me” pressure. A case can be made for every single one of the infielders and catcher, as well as Adam Eaton and Victor Robles, Doolittle, Rainey, Ross, Voth, Fedde, and others. That’s great.

    Mark – I like that you mentioned Jacob Wilson. He never really had a chance to fall on his face at the major league level. He went to Asia and did not turn into an Eric Thames, but he’s back, so let’s see.

    While its been repeated over and over, and is a little ahead of the curve, I really can’t wait to see what Yadiel Hernandez will do in spring training. Maybe there’s no place for him, but he is still a phone call away and hopefully, passable defensively.

    forensicane

    30 Jan 20 at 9:59 am

  34. Adrian Sanchez. As I suspect you figured.

    forensicane

    30 Jan 20 at 10:00 am

  35. By the way, are we so sure that both Drew Ward and Jacob Wilson have re-signed? I would have expected it to pop up by now…

    forensicane

    30 Jan 20 at 11:10 am

  36. Just to stir the pot…

    Is there any scenario under which the Nationals would trade for Mookie Betts? Say, Eaton, Garcia, Suero, Crowe, and a Dominican arm?

    It’s painful to consider the possibility of the Dodgers getting him AND David Price.

    forensicane

    30 Jan 20 at 11:19 am

  37. In the comments of the last post, I floated Ross/Fedde (just one), Eaton, Garcia, and Crowe for Betts and Price, so we’re thinking along similar lines. It seems that the Bosox really want to dump the 3/$96M still owed to Price, but if they do that, they can’t expect as great a level of prospect-capital return as they could get if it was just Betts. But there are very few teams, particularly high-spending teams (including the Nats, and probably the Dodgers as well), that could take on the Price contract and still have the financial wiggle room to even think about keeping Betts.

    As fun as it would be to see happen, I fear the Price contract would leave the Nats too hamstrung to do much in terms of acquisitions over 2021 and 2022. Plus I’d also fear that Boston would insist on Garcia AND Kieboom.

    KW

    30 Jan 20 at 12:35 pm

  38. I’m curious about how interested the Cubs are in moving Bryant. The Nats have plug-and-play pieces that line up well with what the Cubs actually need — CF (MAT), back-end starter (Ross or Fedde), and some second-tier bullpen help. But if the Cubbies are looking for a large prospect haul, or to also unload Heyward’s contract, then I can’t see a conversation with the Nats going very far.

    KW

    30 Jan 20 at 12:49 pm

  39. Betts appeals to me as a two way piece. He has a lot more value than does Bryant, notwithstanding the two years-one year difference.

    Price is an interesting post-Scherzer play. But it would tie the team’s hands just as it has the Red Sox. And I would not yet bet against Max to have a career that ages the way John Smoltz did, given how cerebral, creative, and carefully prepared he is.

    forensicane

    30 Jan 20 at 1:56 pm

  40. I’m a little concerned if the Dodgers get Betts, but he doesn’t address their fundamental problems. Their season ended last year because they didn’t have much of a bullpen, and Treinen ain’t the answer. In their rotation, Ryu is gone and Kershaw hasn’t come close to 200 innings since 2015. They probably have enough offensive firepower to continue to overpower teams in the regular season, but their pitching isn’t built for the playoffs.

    Still, I’d breathe a little easier if Betts joins Machado in the witness protection program in SD.

    KW

    30 Jan 20 at 8:51 pm

  41. It’s interesting to see Fore’s mention of Scherzer in relation to Smoltz. Max is at the point in his career where Smoltz went to the bullpen, mostly because he was coming back from a mid-career TJ. I really could see Max as a closer within a couple of years, when he only has to “empty the tank” for one inning at a time. By then he should have his HOF-requisite 200 wins. We’ll see. He may want to keep starting.

    I REALLY hope the improved bullpen this year will allow Davey to pull the starters a little earlier and maybe allow guys like Max to remain starters a little longer. They’re not getting any younger, they’re coming off an extra-long season, and we want them to have something left for the next postseason.

    KW

    30 Jan 20 at 9:12 pm

  42. That’s part of it, KW. More that he can figure out how to squeeze more years on the mound than would be expected of other mere mortals.

    Smoltz became a closer after injury, yes, but returned to starting at age 38 and was a two-time All Star pitcher AFTER that; at age 39, he actually led the league in games started (!) and wins, and placed in CY Young voting.

    All concerns about injury aside, Max had his highest K/9IP ever last year. With two years left on his contract, the presumption of many that he will sunset out after two years may be overstated. And, if team chemistry holds, maybe he’ll give the Nats a hometeam discount to keep the crew in ’22.

    forensicane

    30 Jan 20 at 11:13 pm

  43. Would love to add a couple of these guys to fill out and improve our bench:

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/01/9-free-agent-hitters-coming-off-productive-offensive-seasons.html

    KW

    31 Jan 20 at 7:34 am

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