Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats do absolutely nothing at Trade Deadline


The Nats on 8/31/20 are 12-20.  They have the second worst record in the NL.  They have the 5th worst record in the majors.  But thanks to the crazy 2020 playoff structure they sit just 3.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.  They’ve had season-ending injuries or opt-outs of multiple planned core players; they’ve lost to presumed rotation members in Joe Ross and Stephen Strasburg, they’ve lost a middle-of-the-order off-season acquisition bat in Starlin Castro.  They’ve lost both their lefty specialist relievers in Roenis Elias and Sam Freeman.  They lost an important bench bat/team leader in Ryan Zimmerman.  They’re now throwing out AAA starters twice every five games, and have had severely disappointing seasons from a slew of players they were counting on (Anibel Sanchez, Adam Eaton, Carter Kieboom, Eric Thames, Daniel Hudson, Sean Doolittle, and so on).

So what did they do at the deadline?  Zip.  Nothing.  Nada.

Maybe the farm system is now so utterly depleted (given that they’ve already called up their consensus #1, #2, #5 and #10 prospects on the year with little impact) that they couldn’t offer enough in trade to actually acquire someone they wanted.   Perhaps more to the point, the price tag it would have taken to acquire starters (given the spate of pitcher injuries this year and the competition in the area) may have been too high for the team’s taste (how pissed would you be if they had flipped someone like Jackson Rutledge or Cade Cavalli yesterday for a 3rd starter one-month rental?).   It seems foolish to think they have the cavalry coming in to help; right now the only 10-day DL player they have is Seth Romero, who is only up because they needed a lefty bullpen arm.  Brock Holt?  That’s not a savior.  Neither is Josh Harrison (though to be honest he has hit well).  So I guess the plan is to assume that all those veterans listed above who have sucked so far are short sample size regression to the mean candidates and they’ll be rebounding … within the next few days?

Meanwhile, the rest of the division at least tried to improve:

Not earth shattering moves, but it is notable that the Braves lead the division with a rotation that’s being held together with scotch tape, and they just acquired Milone to fill in because he’s better than whatever else they apparently have at their disposal (remember when people shuddered at the pipeline of starters in the Atlanta system?  yeah’ they’ve all crapped the bed this year).

So, what to make of this?  Are you happy they did nothing?  did we want a sell-off?  Or do we have confidence they can turn it around and squeak into the crap-shoot playoffs for 2020?

12 Responses to 'Nats do absolutely nothing at Trade Deadline'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Nats do absolutely nothing at Trade Deadline'.

  1. does this comment work?

    Todd Boss

    1 Sep 20 at 11:16 am

  2. At this point I’m glad the Nats did nothing. The division is terrible and anything can happen in September.
    The last thing they needed to do was trade away more players; to get starting pitching costs a fortune and let’s just see what we have in Fredericksburg at this point.

    That said, they might have a run in them and make the playoffs, at which point Fedde & Voth can watch from the seats.

    Mark L

    1 Sep 20 at 1:48 pm

  3. Honestly, there wasn’t that much the Nats could have done at the trade deadline. It didn’t make a lot of sense to go all in, and even if they wanted to, they weren’t going to be able to trade for three starting pitchers. It’s pretty telling that the prospect-rich Braves, who needed starting pitching more than anyone, could only come up with the great Tommy Milone, who promptly got shelled in his first start for them. Sanchez, Fedde, and Voth are all better than Milone. They just need to pitch like it.

    Really, that’s the bottom line here — that trio has thus far sabotaged the season. The Nats have lost 14 of the 19 games in which those guys have pitched. I know some folks don’t group Fedde with being quite as bad at the other two, but FIP says he’s just as bad (and reverting to that mean in his last two starts), and his low K rate is unsustainable.

    But let’s also stop doing stupid things, like putting Suero in a winnable game on Monday night and making it unwinnable. That should have been a Finnegan or Harris role.

    What to do now? Start by optioning Suero and moving Voth to the bullpen (since he’s out of options) or telling him to say his arm aches. Call up Crowe or McGowin. Got to try something.

    The sad part is that they’re wasting epic seasons by Turner and Soto. Trea is turning into that superstar folks thought he could be three years ago. Too bad they’re not getting a lot of support. Robles, Eaton, and Thames have not been good, and Garcia cooled quickly. At least Cabrera is still hitting the ball hard but is having terrible BABIP luck. On a positive note, Harrison is partying like it’s 2014, and his low BABIP indicates that he might could even get better. After a slow start, Gomes has been on fire.

    I’ve been on the verge of giving up for several days. Right now, I think they would have the #5 overall draft pick. And yet they’re only 3.5 games out of the playoffs. Weird season, in many ways. But a few more games like the last three and we need to start surveying the 2021 draft class . . .


    1 Sep 20 at 3:19 pm

  4. I should note that people seem to be forgetting that Voth was the leader, by a pretty good pace, in the first (real) Spring Training for the 5th starter slot, ahead of Ross and Fedde. It’s not a given at all that Ross would have beaten him out, as Voth had pitched better. It was looking like Ross would be the long man and Fedde would be stretched out in the minors (due to his miraculous 4th option, which he has yet to burn, BTW).


    1 Sep 20 at 4:35 pm

  5. Look at Atlanta, other than Fried, the rest of the rotation at this point has a 7.04 ERA. Milone might knock that down to 6.90. πŸ™‚

    Philadelphia added 4 relievers so their bullpen is now only bad.

    Anything can happen at this point. I agree on McGowin and Crowe, bring them up.

    Mark L

    1 Sep 20 at 6:11 pm

  6. OK, forget what I said about Finnegan being a safer bet to keep a game close. Good grief, this season is going down the toilet. We wouldn’t even have to tank that much harder to get to Kumar!


    1 Sep 20 at 9:19 pm

  7. Yikes. Time to play all the kids the rest of the way. Still plenty of ABs for the vets to share, but the kids need the experience. Bring back Kieboom and don’t let Max go more than 100 pitches for any reason.


    1 Sep 20 at 9:43 pm

  8. I think the recalcitrance has more to do with the minors not operating (/of course *you* do). Hear me out… by definition, a deadline trade would be the Rizzo offering up a prospect or three who are overvalued in exchange for major-leaguer, or, if he’s packaging a major-leaguer, looking to get back a minor-leaguer who’s undervalued.

    Also, don’t forget that the Nationals are among the 10 teams not sharing video (and the A’s, natch) from the Alternate Training Sites. That alone may be a dealbreaker; who wants to give away a month of a known quantity for a(n) unknown quantit(ies)? Especially when the threshold for making the playoffs is so low.

    Luke Erickson

    2 Sep 20 at 6:21 am

  9. Luke, I hadn’t heard about the teams that are and aren’t sharing video from the training sites. That’s interesting. Should we assume that the Astros and Red Sox are still watching even if they’re not supposed to be? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) The Red Sox and Nats have two of the highest payrolls in baseball and both could end up picking in the top 5 in the next draft.

    And yet . . . they’re STILL just four games out of a playoff spot. That sure seems like a false hope right now, but I know the team and manager feel like they can’t quit.

    Do you try to play Kieboom? I don’t know. Cabrera/Harrison at 3B probably gives you a better chance to win. Voth and Fedde are “kids” who probably stay in the rotation due to lack of other options. They’re giving Sanchez a lot of deference as a veteran, but it would be good to know what Crowe looks like with an extended MLB run. Hard to see them picking up Sanchez’s $18M option for 2021. Ross will be back, as will Stras of course.

    There’s also no way they’re picking up Eaton’s $10.5M option, although I wouldn’t close the door on them trying to bring him back for half that, which is essentially what they did with Gomes. They really have no OF options in the minor-league pipeline, so they’ll be looking to sign or trade, or perhaps move Soto to RF and put someone like Castro or Kieboom in LF.


    2 Sep 20 at 9:21 am

  10. The upcoming FA class:

    Yes, that gosh-awful Jordan Zimmermann contract finally will be done. He’s been on the IL all 2020.


    2 Sep 20 at 9:26 am

  11. I’ve been quiet for awhile, and this is reminiscent of the 2019 start, when we all wanted to sell and the season seemed lost.

    Perhaps the season is lost. The starting pitching has failed from 4th-7th, Strasburg is out, and neither Scherzer or Corbin has performed to World Series expectations. That noted, can both Scherzer and Corbin improve? Yes, certainly. Can Sanchez and Voth? Maybe. Fedde is, well, Fedde. McGowin must be injured or have some other story unaccounted for, perhaps even COVID. Crowe never goes up a level well.

    I’m not sure the Nats would have had the personnel to trade for a top flight starter like Lynn, which is the only kind of starter they could have used at the deadline in order to go at a WS run. Strasburg returns next year and there will again be a big three and the Nats can then plan for whom to add in a #4 role (replacing Sanchez) until the top pitching prospects can break in.

    As for other positions, Eaton and Robles have underperformed offensively, and that’s that. Robles defense is marvelous, but he has to take that next step and is still very young. Eaton has it in him as well, and came alive late last year as well. Perhaps there is hope.

    Where does Kieboom fit in? It seems he should be getting at bats once he works on whatever afflicted him at the plate. After all, there is no Starlin Castro, Howie is not playing the field, and Thames has really underperformed. It’s too early to quit on Kieboom, but is the team playing to the playoffs or to finish the schedule? The team needs power, but it needs defense, too.

    Is the catching defense a part of the pitching misery? I’ll leave that to the gurus. Suzuki looks dated. Gomes has not fulfilled all star promise. Realmuto will be out there and may be the next overpay with salaries off the books. He would fit in very very well here.

    Otherwise, there are positives in the bullpen on which to build. Rainey is a keeper, and Hudson was worth the investment. Doolittle is going to fade out of town, I’m afraid, unless he comes back at lower cost and a different role in January or February. Who’d ever have envisioned that?


    2 Sep 20 at 11:22 am

  12. The team feels like it never gelled. Too many options turned into no certainty.

    But Castro was a good addition. The team feels like it has dived with him out, even with Turner and Soto’s resurgence.


    2 Sep 20 at 11:24 am

Leave a Reply