Nationals Arm Race

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

Rule-5 Analysis & Prediction for 2020

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Israel Pineda could be getting the call-up this week. Photo via milb.com

Welcome to the annual Rule 5 analysis post. Lets take a look at who is eligible, who might get protected and make some predictions. 

I suspect that the Rule-5 decisions are going to be somewhat anti-climactic this year. The team called up its two top ranked prospects from the 2017 draft class earlier this year (Seth Romero and Wil Crowe) and its top prospect from the 2016IFA class (Luis Garcia), eliminating some suspense on the decision. They also already did a roster-addition of one more famous name that we talked about at length last year (Steven Fuentes), taking him out of the running. In a “normal” season i’m not sure any of these players would have played, and we’d be talking about adding them to the roster this week.

So honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if nobody got protected this week. But there are a few interesting candidates that you could make an argument for. And the team has a ton of roster room; we only sit at 30/40 slots right now and we’re not buying 10 FAs this off-season.

As always, using the two indispensable Nationals resource sites Draft tracker and the Big Board, and then looking up candidate acquisitions made via trade, here’s some thoughts on who might merit protection.   Also incredibly useful is Roster Resource’s Nats Roster, which keeps track of options, rule-5 status and the like.

The quick Rule-5 rules for 2020; any 4-year college-aged draftee from 2017 or before who isn’t already on the 40-man roster is Rule-5 eligible this coming off season, and any high-school aged draftee/International Free Agent from 2016 or before is newly eligible this year, assuming they were at least 18 as of June 5th of that year.  There’s always a couple of guys who have specific birthdays that move them up or down one way or the other; i’ll depend on the Roster Resource rules and the Draft Tracker for exact details.


Group 1: Newly Eligible 2017 draft College Players this year worth consideration for protection:

  • Cole Freeman, 2017 4th rounder. Was not on the 2020 60-man roster, did not play in 2020, has not played above High-A. Not a candidate.
  • Alex Dunlap, 29th round catcher. Can never have too much catching, but he’s not a candidate.
  • Jackson Tetreault, 2017 7th rounder. I’ve always liked him; he forced a promotion to AA after a month in Potomac in 2019 but couldn’t cut it and got sent back down. Was not on the 2020 60-man roster, a telling sign to his future. Not a candidate, but hoping he can step up in 2021.
  • Alex Troop, 2017 9th rounder who has appeared in Low-A three years running. Good numbers, but not a candidate to get picked.
  • Trey Turner; 2017 10th rounder, middling stats in Short-A in 2019, sort of surprised he survived the 2020 minor league purge. Not a candidate.
  • Jackson Stoeckinger, 2017 12th rounder. Kind of a 5th starter/swing man lefty starter, never above Low-A. Not a candidate, but like Tetreault I like the potential here.
  • Leif Strom, 2017 21st rounder: another guy who I’m surprised survived the May 2020 purge. Has barely pitched since getting drafted, hast a career ERA in the 8s. Not a candidate.
  • Gabe Klobosits, 2017 36th rounder: cleaned up in 2017 right after getting drafted, got hurt in 2018, didn’t give up a run in low or high-A in 2019. Not a candidate to get drafted Rule-5, but is quickly becoming the best 30th or higher round pick we’ve ever had.
  • K.J. Harrison: a 2017 3rd round pick by Milwaukee flipped to us in the Gio Gonzalez trade. Decent hitting 1B, never above High-A, not on the 60-man, not a candidate.
  • Pearson McMahan, a 2014 4th round pick by Colorado that we picked up as a MLFA in mid 2019. I’m not clear on the rules here; is now a FA? does he fall under Rule-5 guidelines? Either way, not a candidate.
  • Jacob Condra-Bogan, a 32nd rounder in 2017 by Toronto who, I guess, didn’t sign, went to Indy ball, then signed as a FA in Jan 2018 with Kansas City, then got flipped to Washington in the Brian Goodwin trade. Pitched well in a middle-relief role in AA in 2019, perhaps the best profile of any guy in this section, but not on the 60-man roster. Barely a candidate, but could push his way into the conversation for bullpen arm going forward.

Group 1 Rule-5 Protection Candidates: Condra-Bogan, barely.


Group 2: Newly Eligible 2016 High School-age drafted players under consideration for protection

We have none. We picked two HS players in this draft who signed. One of them is Carter Kieboom, the other is Jesus Luzardo. Both 40-man active. Therefore there are no Group 2 candidates.


Group 3: Newly Eligible 2016 signed IFAs under consideration for protection:

  • Israel Pineda; 2016 IFA. On the 60-man roster for 2020, one of our best young Catching prospects. His stock faded a ton in 2019 when he hit a paltry .217 in Hagerstown. But he still got put on the 2020 extended roster, which means he got a ton of ABs against major league talent. A solid candidate to consider protecting, especially if other scouts got a look at him and he performed well.
  • Jose Sanchez, 2016 IFA SS who hit .182 between short- and Low-A in 2019. not a candidate.
  • Yasiel Antuna; 2016 IFA. one of the more polarizing prospects we have. He was a huge money bonus guy in 2016, getting a whopping $3.9M as a 16-yr old switch-hitting true SS. His state-side debut in 2017 was solid, he struggled in 2018 then missed half the season with injury when he had to have Tommy John surgery. This caused him to basically miss the entire 2019 season. The team added him to the 60-man roster for 2020, so he got reps with the MLB-quality players in Fredericksburg there. So what do you do? $3.9M is a sunk cost, but baseball team’s struggle to accept that sometimes, instead thinking that its an “investment” that needs to be protected. On the other hand, what are the odds that a 21-yr old (just turned a few weeks ago) who has basically not played since Aug of 2018 and has never played above low-A could possibly stick on a MLB roster for a full season? A candidate to protect.
  • Caldioli Sanfler: 2016 IFA as an older 18yr old. Not exactly a household name amongst Nats prospect watchers; he played CF in Auburn in 2019 and had decent numbers. Not a candidate.
  • Niomar Gomez: 2016IFA who struggled as a starter in short-A in 2019. but had great K/9 rates. Could be a future reliever candidate based on his swing-and-miss capabilities. But not a candidate for R5 protection now.
  • Joan Adon, 2016IFA who was pretty solid in 2019 as a starter for Hagerstown, enough so to get put on to the 60-man extended roster for 2020, which means the top brass got a long look at him as he threw to 4-A guys all summer. He’s one of a handful of decently-ranked prospects in our system (in the 10-20 range) that is eligible this year. Candidate to be protected.
  • Alfonso Hernandez, a 2016IFA now serving as a loogy in low/short A. Not a candidate.
  • Wilmer Perez 16IFA Catcher, played in Short-A in 2019 and hit .221. not a candidate.

Group 3 Rule-5 protection candidates: Pineda, Antuna, Adon


Group 4: Nats Drafted Rule-5 Eligible hold-overs of note: 2016 or prior college draftees still hanging out in the system, or 2015 and prior HS draftees. Unless there’s been an appreciable update worth noting, none of these guys are anything more than org guys at this point.

  • Nick Banks, 2016 4th rounder. No new news here; didn’t play in the 60-man roster, so the same decision holds based on his 2019 results. not a candidate.
  • Armond Upshaw, 2016 11th round.
  • Sterling Sharp: 2016 22nd rounder. As we now now, he was Rule-5 selected last year after I and many other pundits thought he should be protected, trashed the org on his way out, got returned, immediately put on the 60-man extended roster, and … well now what? Do you bother protecting him again? I don’t think you bother, and I don’t think he’s long for the organization. post-publishing update: pointed out by the astute Luke Erickson, thanks to Sharp’s outright, he’s no longer really eligible for rule-5 in that he can refuse the next DFA, so there’s no real point in mentioning him here.
  • Rhett Wiseman, 2015 3rd rounder
  • Ian Sagdal, 2015 16th rounder
  • Andrew Lee: 2015 11th rounder
  • Ryan Brinley, 2015 27th rounder
  • Andrew Istler, 2015 23rd rounder, trade bounty for Ryan Madsen. Still hanging around at the age of 28.
  • Jakson Reetz, 3rd round C from 2014. This will be his third time facing rule-5 draft, only now he’s coming from the 60-man roster. He’s entering his age 25 season, his 8th professionally with the Nats after signing out of HS. Has he progressed enough in the extended roster with MLB quality looks to merit protection? Maybe.
  • Nick Wells, a 2014 3rd rounder and our trade bounty for Austin Adams at the beginning of 2019. After barely pitching in 2019, he somehow found his way to the 2020 60-man roster. He’s never been above A-ball. I wonder if he made that Fredericksburg roster because … well because he lives in Haymarket. Anyway; doesn’t seem like a protection candidate.
  • Ronald Pena: 2012 16th round pick: the long-time Nats farmhand that has now re-signed twice on MLFA deals. He’s now 29, clearly is an org arm, has passed through Rule-5 drafts now multiple times. Not a candidate.

Group 4 Rule 5 Protection candidates: Reetz maybe, Wells maybe, Sharp possibly?

Group 5: IFAs: 2015 and older. Sometimes players in this group, because they often are signed at age 16, make fast progress even after their first year R5 eligible. Will this be the case in 2020?

  • Luis Reyes: 2013 IFA
  • Joan Baez 2014 IFA; pitched in both AA and AAA in 2019, really struggled in Fresno. Not put on the 60-man roster for 2020, so nothing has changed from an evaluation perspective. Not a candidate.
  • Telmito Agustin 2014 IFA
  • Gilbert Lara, 2014 IFA, received from Milwaukee in the Gio Gonzalez trade. 
  • Malvin Pena 2014 IFA
  • Aldrem Corredor, 2013 IFA who just turned 25. Undersized 1B in high-A with little power; not a candidate.
  • Omar Meregildo: 2015 IFA; yet to really impress at any level, hit .228 in High-A in 2019. not a candidate.
  • Gilberto Chu, 2015 IFA
  • Jhonathan German, 2015 IFA RHP closer who ascended 3 levels in 2019, ending the year in AA, then got a 2020 NRI. The team likes him, but not quite enough to put him on their extended 60-man roster. He doesn’t get a ton of prospect buzz, but could be a useful bullpen arm. I think he could get protected because he’s the kind of middle-bullpen arm that could be stashed away on some 2nd-tier team’s roster.
  • Felix Taveras, 2015 IFA
  • Tomas Alastre: 2015 IFA
  • Jhon Romero: 2015 IFA signing, trade bounty for Brandon Knitzler.
  • Manuel Geraldo, 2013 IFA we rule-5 drafted last off-season from San Francisco, Rule-5 eligible again. He’s yet to take the field for our franchise; hard to believe we’d protect him as a non-prospect. not a candidate.
  • Mario Sanchez, 2012IFA and subject to the interesting MLFA re-signing/Rule-5 eligibility issue last offseason. He’s still on the roster, still projected as a AAA pitcher. He just turned 26, was really excellent as a starter in AA in 2019, and as we speak he’s still listed as active with the Nats, so I suspect he’s R-5 eligible. But, curiously, he was NOT put on the 60-man for 2020. So, does the team view him as an org-guy? He’s a candidate to consider, but a lower-probability one for all the above reasons.

Group 5 Protection Candidates: German, Sanchez


Group 6: MLFAs for 2020: I think technically guys we’ve already talked about may qualify for this category. Mario Sanchez, Ronald Pena, technically a few others like Jakson Reetz who were briefly MLFAs then re-signed. So, no candidates for this group this year.

Post-2019 publishing, i’m adding a new section because  it seems like we’re going to see the following situation occur for the second time in recent memory.   Long time farmhand Mario Sanchez achieved minor league free agency at the end of the 2019 season, but apparently has been re-signed (his milb.com page lists the Nationals resigning him to a contract … but its dated in the future, 12/18/19, something i’ve never seen before).   But, if he’s re-signed as a MLFA with the team, then he has to be protected else he’d be subject to the draft.


So, who would I protect?

Summary of above:

Group 1: Condra-Bogan, barely.
Group 2: none
Group 3: Pineda, Antuna, Adon
Group 4: Reetz maybe, Wells maybe, Sharp possibly
Group 5: German, Sanchez
Group 6: none

I would protect:

  • Israel Pineda
  • Joan Adon

I would consider protecting, in order of likelihood:

  • Antuna
  • German
  • Sanchez
  • Reetz
  • all the others: Condra-Bogan, Wells, Sharp.

Here’s some other opinions in the Natmosphere on the same topic (i’ll add them as I see them):

  • Federal Baseball
  • TalkNats/SaoMagnifico: predicts Antuna, Pineda, probably not Adon
  • BaseballAmerica.com
  • mlb.com’s list of Rule-5 top30 prospects; None of our current top prospects is eligible; the highest MLB-ranked candidate for Rule-5 is #14 Pineda.

For a fun trip down memory lane, here’s the same Rule 5 Protection analysis post for 2019, 20182017201620152014201320122011, and 2010. This is one of the only recurring posts I have managed to do every year since I started writing.

By year, here’s who I predicted we’d add and who we did add.

Written by Todd Boss

November 18th, 2020 at 11:31 am

42 Responses to 'Rule-5 Analysis & Prediction for 2020'

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  1. Great work Todd!
    After reading this the person the Nats can least afford to lose is Pineda. Like a lot of teams the Nats are thin at the catching position.

    You have to think it’s going to be a slow Rule V as there was no ability to scout anyone this year. Who knows!

    Mark Luksch

    18 Nov 20 at 12:13 pm

  2. I will say up front that they almost always surprise me every year with a 40-man addition I didn’t think was likely. So I’ll probably miss something here. Also, they have an unusual amount of open space on the 40-man this year so actually could add four or five guys . . . but they probably won’t. Part of the reason is that their minor-league talent right now really sucks. I mean, there’s NO ONE listed above I would lose sleep over losing.

    Of the ones mentioned as possibilities, they let Reetz and Mario Sanchez go into minor-league free agency last month before re-signing them, but they added Fuentes to the 40-man instead of exposing him. So that doesn’t bode well for them adding Reetz and Sanchez to the 40-man now. Frankly, I was surprised that Sanchez wasn’t at the Fredericksburg camp, as on paper, he seems a lot closer to MLB-ready than a lot of the kids they had there.

    I would “save” Reetz WELL before I would save Pineda, and I don’t think they’re going to save either one. I’m not even sure Pineda is still a real major-league prospect. I would be really surprised if another team thought enough of him to try to carry him all season.

    We know the front office loves Adon, as there was a lot of buzz about him coming out the spring in 2019, and from the F’burg camp in 2020 as well. But he hasn’t pitched above Hagerstown. I wouldn’t add him, but it wouldn’t surprise me too much if they do.

    The guys with the most chance of sticking are ones who might be stashed in a bullpen somewhere: Condra-Bogan, Andrew Lee, German, Istler.

    Then there’s Sterling the Great. Who knows? Frankly, his attitude at F’burg after being returned was probably as important as his stuff. I would not be surprised if they add him . . . or if they decide not to add him.

    I agree that they’ve got a lot of investment in Antuna, and I was surprised when he was called to F’burg, but I don’t think there would be much risk of losing him, nor much need to have him cluttering the 40-man.

    My ranking of the possibilities to be saved: 1) No one else (Fuentes already added); 2) Sharp; 3) Adon; 4) Reetz; 5) Antuna.

    KW

    18 Nov 20 at 1:53 pm

  3. Even though not save candidates, there are several pitchers on the list who still have a decent chance to make the majors (whether or not they’re thought of as “prospects”). I’ll start with the relievers I mentioned above: Condra-Bogan, Andrew Lee, German, Istler. The curious case of how the Nats have treated Istler is impossible to explain, so I won’t try. Lee and Condra-Bogan had very good AFL runs in the fall of 2019. German was an NRI to the initial spring training in 2020. The age clock is ticking on all of them, though.

    Farther down the ranks, I’ve always thought well of Alex Troop, who lost most of 2018 to injury and was working his way back in 2019. He’s now had an extra year to recover. Despite being drafted out of college in 2017, next year will only be his “age 24″ season (even though he’ll turn 25 in July). He has more of a starter’s build than Cate does, among the few LHP in the organization.

    Yes, Alfonso Hernandez may have been working mostly out of the ‘pen, but his profile reminds me a lot of Fuentes. He strikes out a lot of guys, and it’s possible that they think about moving him back to starter as he gets older and fills out more.

    Tetreault would have started 2020 at AA. Curious that he didn’t get an F’burg invite. He will turn 25 next June. He has not been able to strike out a lot of guys as a pro, but he’s one who may have benefited from a year off to get more meat on his 6’5” frame.

    KW

    18 Nov 20 at 2:13 pm

  4. From the 2017 draft, does anyone know whether Brigham Hill, the 5th round pick, is still with the organization? He’s actually still listed on the Fredericksburg Nationals roster. He was a Friday starter in the SEC in college but missed half of 2018 and all of 2019 due to injury.

    KW

    18 Nov 20 at 2:17 pm

  5. Brigham Hill; retired Mar 2020. suddenly i can’t find his milb.com profile but i re-checked it earlier today.

    Todd Boss

    18 Nov 20 at 4:08 pm

  6. Todd Boss

    18 Nov 20 at 4:09 pm

  7. I guess technically there’s a whole slew of MLFAs they resigned (similar to Reetz) that technically are Rule5 as well

    baseballamerica.com/stories/minor-league-transactions-oct-14-nov-2-2020/

    Todd Boss

    18 Nov 20 at 4:09 pm

  8. I don’t blame a lot of guys for retiring now. It may be a while before we find out about some of them.

    KW

    18 Nov 20 at 4:37 pm

  9. Expect I’ll do my usual R5 preview tonight or tomorrow at TalkNats, but before really delving into the numbers, my surface-level impression is the Nats probably protect Antuna and Pineda and let the rest float on.

    Adon’s numbers are pretty good, but he’s not even close to as MLB-ready as Braymer (or Sharp) last winter. I have no idea what the Nats are doing with Condra-Bogan or Istler or Sanchez, but at this point, I’d be surprised if they suddenly decided to give any of them a roster spot even though the numbers say they’re deserving.

    I might change my mind on this when I do a deeper dive, but that’s where I’m at right now, and it’s based more on their prospect cachet than their actual stats.

    SaoMagnifico

    18 Nov 20 at 5:38 pm

  10. You can take off Sharp — he’s been outrighted once without his consent. Thus if a team takes him and DFA’s him, he can become a free agent (i.e. no deal to keep him in the minors).

    Luke Erickson

    19 Nov 20 at 6:45 am

  11. Looks like Rochester for AAA. It seemed somewhat far-fetched for the planets to align for it to be Richmond.

    KW

    19 Nov 20 at 8:41 am

  12. Luke — Good point about Sharp. Reminds me of another question that has come up in the past, I think about Mario Sanchez, and now about Sanchez and Reetz in particular: if a player has been exposed to minor-league free agency and then re-signed, is he still vulnerable to Rule 5? Technically, he has already been made available to every other team.

    KW

    19 Nov 20 at 8:51 am

  13. Sao — Really good write-up on NatsTalks. It’s good to see a deep dive into some of these guys. However, . . . neither you nor Todd has come close to convincing me on Pineda. I can’t see any team, even a tanking one, picking and carrying a .217 hitter from low-A for a whole season.

    Also, I think the Nats now have good “protection” behind Pineda with Ray Torres, the free agent from San Jac they signed after the draft. If he’s overcome some of his immaturity issues, he may already be the highest-ceiling catcher in the organization.

    Same with Antuna. I mean, let’s get real folks: the position-player pool for the Nats REALLY sucks. I think we’re grasping at straws if we’re fearing that guys who hit .217 and .220 at low-A while also letting every other ball get past them are real threats to get taken and kept on MLB rosters, or to be a real potential loss to the organization. Antuna is already being “replaced” by Sammy Infante and (presumably) Armando Cruz, who can at least play defense better than Antuna.

    This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on Pineda and Antuna. In fact, I think I voted Antuna #4 or 5 on Luke’s “Top Bats” list last fall, simply based on “potential” plus everyone else being so awful. But let’s start by letting them go to high-A and actually do something before we start fretting about losing the next Nieto.

    KW

    19 Nov 20 at 9:22 am

  14. You can make pretty salient arguments that there’s little chance any player we’ve discussed for Rule-5 would actually stick on some other team’s 25-man roster for an entire season. Team’s don’t carry 3 catchers; Pineda would have to play once a week; can you imagine how he’d do at the plate once a week? Antuna? who would risk a roster spot on a guy like Antuna? Arms are easier to “hide” in that they can go a week without pitching … but who of our arms really projects as MLB ready and who is valued to teh point that its worth hamstringing your modern bullpen management with him?

    Todd Boss

    19 Nov 20 at 10:03 am

  15. The other thing we tend to forget in all of this is that this system exists for a positive reason. If another team wants to take a chance on one of these players, good for that player getting an opportunity. The system “worked” for Sharp last year: he got an opportunity, and he actually got MLB time out of it, with what (surprisingly) turned out to be a playoff team.

    Todd, I agree that the easiest place to “stash” players is in the bullpen. I could see other teams having some interest in Condra-Bogan or Andrew Lee, two big, hard-throwing reliever types. Reps from other organizations got to work with them in the AFL in 2019 . . . but none of those organizations picked them last year. The Nats also didn’t invite either of them to the Fredericksburg camp this year, not exactly ringing endorsements for how the team sees their ceilings.

    Players with more potential value would be starters like Adon (or Sharp last year), but you really risk stunting their development if they spend a whole season in the back of a bullpen and only get 20 IP, or if you put them in the rotation and they get clobbered.

    KW

    19 Nov 20 at 11:11 am

  16. Crappy relievers are less easy to stash than you might think, especially with the three-batter minimum and the hard cap on how many pitchers a team can carry. Think about all the times the Nats have exhausted their setup men and they’ve needed to get through the last four innings with the Sammy Solises, Trevor Gotts, Casey Janssens, Matt Belisles, and Enny Romeros of the world as their only available arms. On paper, you’d think it never happens, but in reality, you have to shoot the moon to avoid ever using your worst reliever in a close game.

    I think it’s actually easier to live with an awful backup catcher…one, because the Nats have actually done it a bunch of times, and two, because on most teams, the backup catcher hardly ever plays. You’ve got a guy who hits .260 with good blocking and defense catching five or six games per week, and then you’ve got a guy who hits .170 with some defensive question marks catching one or two games per week. Yeah, that *sounds* bad, but Matt Wieters actually hit .225 as the everyday guy with not-so-great defense, with Jose Lobaton (.170) and Pedro Severino (.172) spelling him once or twice per week, and the 2017 Nationals still won 97 games.

    SaoMagnifico

    19 Nov 20 at 11:50 am

  17. Agree with Sao here. The new bullpen rules and the way modern teams burrow through bullpen arms means that even the 8th guy needs to be throwing innings.

    Todd Boss

    19 Nov 20 at 1:19 pm

  18. Todd Boss

    19 Nov 20 at 1:19 pm

  19. Eh, yeah, the Nats have tried for years to hide out-of-option guys in the bullpen, usually shooting themselves in the foot while doing so. (Belisle, however, had his career year as a Nat, at age 36, so he wasn’t one of them.) Still doesn’t mean that a team can’t take a guy in Rule 5 and see in the spring whether he has enough stuff not to embarrass them. The other issue, though, is that most organizations usually have their own hard-throwing guys who haven’t make it for one reason or another. You’re much more likely to end up with a Ryne Harper than a Finnegan when you take on guys from other organizations.

    With no experience above low-A, I’d take a bet that Pineda couldn’t hit .170 right now in the majors. He’s not even anywhere close to where Nieto was when the Chisox made their interesting pick of him. If there’s a catcher from the Nats who might be able to stick — might — it’s Reetz, not Pineda. Reetz is actually a pretty good comp for where Nieto was career-wise and success-wise when he was picked.

    But as I said, if any of our guys were to get picked, good for them, and good luck with the opportunity. This is an interesting opportunity every year to take stock of what we’ve got, and right now, what we’ve got ain’t much, particularly among guys who have been in the organization for several years. Reetz was a flippin’ 3d-round pick, and of course they paid Antuna a fortune.

    KW

    19 Nov 20 at 1:42 pm

  20. Was laughing at the Mets for having Cano zapped for 162 for PEDs until I saw that they don’t have to count his salary toward their tax obligation. Sorry, but there’s no way things should work that way. Yeah, he loses his salary, but the team should still have to have it count against them. Oh well. Yet another gift from the BVW years.

    I mean, the way the rule stands almost encourages teams to rat out guys they don’t want to pay, doesn’t it?

    KW

    19 Nov 20 at 2:32 pm

  21. Belisle is sort of the example that proves the rule, a seventh/eighth reliever who ended up being able to hack it after all, at least when he was healthy.

    I protect Pineda over Reetz because Pineda is 20, and having a 20-year-old catcher who is a real prospect plucked out of a weak farm system would be a crushing blow. Would he stick all season? I dunno. But I wouldn’t want to chance it. The Pirates or someone could live with Pineda barely being able to hit, and then at the end of what will be a losing season anyway, they’ll have a 21-year-old catcher with a little major league experience and a prospect pedigree. Reetz is going to be 25 by Opening Day and he still hasn’t played above High-A. I think he’s closer to being able to really contribute to MLB, but I also think 1) he has a lower ceiling and 2) teams are less likely to see him as enticing.

    If Pineda is left unprotected, he’ll be one of the best available prospects in the Rule 5 draft, period.

    SaoMagnifico

    19 Nov 20 at 7:59 pm

  22. I was very encouraged by what Pineda did in the GCL and at Auburn, particularly at a young age. But he’s coming off an ugly season at Hagerstown. He didn’t hit, and he picked up a lot of balls rolling at the backstop. I haven’t given up on him by any means, but I’m also not fully convinced that he’s much of a “prospect.” Is he the next Michael Taylor, who will eventually turn things around, or the next Anderson Franco, who won’t?

    So we’ll have to agree to disagree, as I see very little reason to protect Pineda. And as with Sharp, I won’t lose a lot of sleep if he gets picked. The one I was worried about last year was Fuentes, not Sharp. Fuentes is now protected, and I’m satisfied with that outcome. I’m not too worried about the rest.

    Frankly, with the maneuvering that the Nats likely are going to have to do in 2021, it would be wise for them to maintain some 40-man flexibility. And as I like to remind folks, it’s a much bigger risk of losing them if they’re added to the 40-man and then DFA’d vs. losing them in Rule 5.

    KW

    19 Nov 20 at 9:26 pm

  23. Every year in this Rule5 analysis post I have to counterbalance two competing and strong thoughts:
    #1: These are OUR prospects and they’re good! and i want to keep them!
    #2: Do you REALLY think a 20yr old who sucked in A-ball two years ago really can hang on a 25-man roster for an entire year in this age of the sport??

    Its basically the argument you have with yourself about basically all our rule5 eligible guys that we’re talking about. Pineda, Antuna, Adon, German. The only ones i would not put in this category are the guys who made it to AA and did decnetly (Sanchez and Condra-bogan).

    Todd Boss

    20 Nov 20 at 11:09 am

  24. “the way the rule stands almost encourages teams to rat out guys they don’t want to pay, doesn’t it?”

    I think the rule does more than encourage teams to rat guys out. You could imagine an organization with Astros-like scruples actually planting evidence to get a guy they don’t want to pay suspended. Do I think teams actually do this? No, I don’t. But the incentive is clearly there. And at the same time, I’ve learned over the years not to put anything past the Mets.

    Derek

    20 Nov 20 at 11:27 am

  25. Derek — I’m going to be really pissed if the Mets basically use the Cano salary savings to sign Realmuto. Cano was the former client of the former GM, who made a questionable deal to acquire him. New ownership, old GM out, and hey, when’s the last time has drug-tested this guy? Yeah, this one really smells.

    Todd — Well put . . . except that I actually think that most of our guys under consideration really stink! And Condra-Bogan and Sanchez didn’t excited local management enough to even get invited to the 60-man camp.

    FWIW, I noticed on MLBTR that the Pirates currently have no openings on their 40-man. I don’t know whether a team has to have an opening before Rule 5 to make a pick, but even if they can DFA someone later, their numbers are tight right now, so it’s hard to see them really going out on a limb in Rule 5. The Orioles (5 openings) could be, though, particularly since they don’t even seem to try to field an actual MLB roster.

    KW

    20 Nov 20 at 11:49 am

  26. Todd Boss

    20 Nov 20 at 1:04 pm

  27. Big surprise on Adon. Thinking the only one good enough for another team to take a chance on is Pineda.

    Mark L

    20 Nov 20 at 1:15 pm

  28. Not too surprising, but not particularly necessary, either. Hopefully, both of those guys made good strides in the summer camp. Both have always been said to be higher ceiling guys. We’ll see.

    KW

    20 Nov 20 at 1:15 pm

  29. The Nats have always talked up Adon, well beyond his actual accomplishments. He did go 11-3 at Hags, albeit with a 3.86 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. It will be interesting to see if they skip him to AA or just step up to A+.

    With Antuna, with reports of him pretty much outgrowing middle infield size, I wonder whether they will start giving him some looks in the OF . . . unless they don’t believe Kieboom is the man of the future at 3B.

    KW

    20 Nov 20 at 1:28 pm

  30. I compared Antuna’s defensive issues to Michael A. Taylor’s during his one-season trial run as an infielder. Taylor committed 23 errors in 39 games and the Nats never let him near the infield dirt again. In his first pro season, Antuna committed 26 errors in 36 games and, well…

    SaoMagnifico

    20 Nov 20 at 1:37 pm

  31. Which brings to mind the scary memory of Taylor charging a certain hard-hit grounder in the Dodger Stadium outfield . . .

    Yeah, Taylor was drafted as a SS and Souza as a 3B. Neither stayed on the dirt very long.

    KW

    20 Nov 20 at 2:03 pm

  32. Conflicting stories bouncing around about LeMahieu, one that he and the Yanks are both interested in a reunion, the other that the Nats are in pursuit. Although I’d like him for the Nats, the Yanks’ overpay QO offer seemed to indicate a lot of interest in keeping him. At any rate, he’s the first free agent of note about whom there seems to be any buzz.

    If not LeMahieu, then I’m praying for DH in NL so we can sign Cruz!

    KW

    20 Nov 20 at 2:12 pm

  33. Nelson Cruz is 55 years old. I know he just keeps hitting, and he’s a fan favorite everywhere he goes, but it seems like nearly every time we try to pluck an ancient veteran from the bargain bin, it backfires on us somehow.

    SaoMagnifico

    20 Nov 20 at 3:06 pm

  34. The other thing about Cruz is that he’s said to be a strong, positive clubhouse presence. With Sanchez and Cabrera probably not coming back, there’s a void in the Latino leadership, and really with the elder leadership in general if Howie, Zim, and Eaton are also gone.

    Sao, I know you’re not fond of LeMahieu for the Nats, either, so who DO you want?

    KW

    20 Nov 20 at 3:18 pm

  35. I’m not married to any of the names out there, but I’ve said before I want Ha-Seong Kim, and I still want Ha-Seong Kim. The Nats need to get younger and build the core that’s going to carry them through mid-decade.

    Assuming the Nats are as active in the Asian market this winter as they usually are, my preference would be to trade for Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado and try to lock them up on a longer-term deal. Bryant is almost 29 and Arenado is almost 30, so they should still be quality contributors for several years to come.

    If the Nats can get Cruz for cheap, then great, but my concern is he’s going to be looking for something like a 1/15M or 2/25M. That’s too much money to throw at a middle-aged man who has been caught before with his hand in the medicine cabinet.

    SaoMagnifico

    20 Nov 20 at 6:10 pm

  36. Wow, Lacy Lusk *really* likes Yasel Antuna. Suggested in today’s prospects chat that if Antuna had a full, healthy season, he could have potentially been the Nats’ top overall prospect this winter.

    SaoMagnifico

    21 Nov 20 at 1:23 am

  37. I like the idea of Kim too. He’s 25 but started 6 years in Korea. Even if you figure his numbers dropping 20% when he gets here that’s still good enough.

    Mark L

    21 Nov 20 at 6:26 am

  38. Checking rosters across baseball there are 15 teams with full 40 rosters, including the woebegone Pirates and Orioles. And 4 teams only have 1 open spot.

    Don’t see room for a whole lot of activity December 10.

    Mark L

    21 Nov 20 at 7:55 am

  39. Mark, I think you’re right that tight 40-man rosters probably means little Rule 5 activity.

    Sao, I wonder whether Lusk has actually SEEN Antuna recently, or if this is all word of month. I find it difficult to believe he’s anywhere near the prospect level of Rutledge, though, . . . although Rutledge hasn’t pitched in a real game in a long time, either.

    KW

    21 Nov 20 at 8:53 am

  40. I like the idea of Kim, but there’s no way to know whether he can even contribute in 2020. My biggest concern is putting a legitimate threat, preferably RH hitting, behind Soto right now.

    So . . . Springer (too expensive), Realmuto (too expensive and not that big of a bat), Ozuna (borderline expensive, coming off career year), LeMahieu (Yanks probably want him back, plus QO hit), Cruz (800 years old, no position), J. Turner (probably not leaving SoCal), Arenado (insane contract), Bryant (expensive rental). I completely agree with Sao that price is going to determine a lot, as Cruz/LeMahieu/Turner in the $10-12M range would be a great fit, but probably not so much in the $15-17M range. Ozuna’s low end is probably $17M. We don’t know, though. That’s probably his low end NOW, but low ends might be different by February. However, can the Nats afford to wait that long and risk not getting the guy they need?

    I still see Arenado as a non-stater. I just can’t see the Rox picking up enough of his contract to make it fit where the Nats are right now, and to get them to pick up any amount of that contract would require another significant hit on the already-decimated farm system. Furthermore, taking on that contract going forward would make it more difficult to find the financial room to try to keep Trea and Juan, both of whom are significantly better hitters than non-Coors Arenado is.

    Bryant intrigues me, even if he just ends up being a rental. Maybe KLong can fix him, maybe he can’t, but it would be an interesting pairing. Bryant’s projected arb price of around $18.6M would be on the high end of what the Nats could absorb, but it could work. The Cubs are going to be desperate to make a deal before the tender deadline, and they realistically can’t expect to get much in return. I would give something like Cavalli and Sharp in a heartbeat for Bryant.

    We’ll see. There are some considerable risks involved with every one of the RH hitters in the $12M+ range. But adding any one of those guys behind Soto and Trea could significantly stabilize the lineup. If Castro is hitting in that spot again, we’re screwed.

    Of the cheaper options, I seriously doubt they would consider Puig because of his reputation. Then there’s Carlos Santana, a serious boom/bust candidate. Frankly, I think I’d probably be more willing to bet on Howie having something left than I would on Santana.

    KW

    21 Nov 20 at 9:26 am

  41. BA’s new top 10 and Lucy Lusk; i have a quick reaction post that i’ll put up; i’m as surprised as Sao.

    Todd Boss

    21 Nov 20 at 9:55 am

  42. […] Mr. Boss has the definitive list of eligible players (and he should because he maintains The Big Board and the Draft Tracker, natch), but some of the most likely guys to get taken next month (and returned next year): […]

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