Nationals Arm Race

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

Baseball America pre-season 2021 top-10 list reactions

60 comments

Cade Cavalli named #1 prospect in the system by BA. Photo via Lookout Landing blog

Baseball America dropped the first off-season ranking of prospects for the Nats on 11/20/20 and, well, it was interesting.

Click here for the top 10 and their list of “best tools” for the system. It might be behind a paywall. If not that, then a quick chat with BA’s Lucy Lusk provides some insight on the list as well.

The last time we got any appreciable updated rankings was MLBpipeline’s end-of-the-season look at the system with the slew of 2020 graduates/call-ups removed. Technically MLBPipeline’s list is a running dynamic update, not a static list as of that moment in time, but I capture them as major updates occur for tracking.

Nonetheless, the two orgs definitely have different viewpoints on the top of the Nat’s farm system. Lets talk about some of BA’s conclusions.

  • BA has Cade Cavalli ahead of Jackson Rutledge at the top. I find this kind of interesting, given that Rutledge is younger, had pro ball experience in 2019, was in the 60-man pool along with Cavalli, and was a 1st round pick just like Cade.
  • Furthermore, in BA’s “best tools” they list Rutledge as having the best fastball AND the best slider. So, unless Rutledge literally doesn’t have a 3rd pitch, and his first two are the system best … not sure how he’s not #1 over Cavalli.
  • Therefore, Cavalli must really, really be promising, or have some pretty amazing secondary stuff.
  • Tim Cate: best curve AND best control. All he’s done since they drafted him was win. I think he’s an excellent 3rd or 4th starter in the making for this team in a couple years.
  • BA is amazingly bullish on Yasel Antuna. They list him as having the best hitter for average AND the best power hitter?? For a SS currently listed as 6’0″ 170? Well, no wonder the Nats just protected him on the 40-man. This is also a big change in BA’s opinion of him just from July, when they ranked him 12th in the org. The BA staff think Antuna is nearly top 100 material. They like him more as a 2B/3B option versus SS, with the thinking that maybe the infield goes Carter Kieboom, Luis Garcia, Antuna and a FA bopper at 1st. Hey; if Kieboom can learn how to hit, i’m all for that.
  • They have soured fast on Wil Crowe, dumping him to 10th in the system. MLBpipeline has him 3rd right now just after the two big 1st round arms. He made three starts in 2020, got shelled in all three, gave up 5 homers in 8 1/3rd innings … does that mean the jury is now out on Crowe forever?
  • They’re quite bullish on Jeremy De La Rosa, having him ranked 6th when most shops have him in the teens. Only other pundit anywhere close on De La Rosa is Keith Law, who had him 8th last spring. I mean, he did get invited to the 60-man roster as an 18yr old … quite a statement. Maybe we have another Juan Soto on our hands.
  • Lastly, in their tools section they give “Best Athlete,” “Fastest Baserunner” and “Best Defensive Outfielder” all to the same guy: Cody Wilson. Looks like the next Andrew Stevenson.

60 Responses to 'Baseball America pre-season 2021 top-10 list reactions'

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  1. I’m sorry, but this is all just alternate-reality stuff. It’s like when Bowden was trying to pretend that Lastings and Elijah were potential all stars.

    If there’s that much helium for Cavalli, trade him NOW, before he actually has a chance to appear in a pro game. Cavalli had mediocre numbers in a second-tier college conference. Jake Irwin’s numbers were better across the board the same school . . . the same Jake Irwin who couldn’t get out of A-ball in his first full season. Crowe’s numbers in college, in a much better conference, were better than Cavalli’s. So were Henry’s.

    So our “best” average & power hitter is someone who hit .220 and slugged .331 in his last pro season. Yeah, OK. De la Rosa K’d 29% of the time in low rookie ball.

    Also, the bloom is completely off of Denaburg. He’s sure looking like a wasted pick.

    On a more positive note, I like Cate, although I see a low ceiling there, maybe a Milone comp. But I’d take a bet on Cate ending up as a more effective major-leaguer than Cavilli.

    I hope I’m wrong, but the only guy in the whole system who looks like a high-ceiling possibility thus far in his career is Rutledge. I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep if any of the others are traded.

    KW

    21 Nov 20 at 2:18 pm

  2. KW you made me laugh with “alternate reality” comment. I had this vision of Cade Cavalli pitching in like a 4th dimension with scouts floating in the ether, bedazzled by his magical fastballs.

    Denaburg; 1st round high school arm. Sometimes they work out fantastic (Clayton Kershaw); most often they do not. And even when they do turn out… this organization struggles to capitalize on them (Giolito, Ray).

    On the bright side… if our top arm prospects even come close to working out, then we’ll have a nice post-Scherzer transition to an affordable and capable rotation. Our 2022 rotation could look like: Strasburg, Corbin, Cavalli, Rutledge, Romero.

    Todd Boss

    23 Nov 20 at 10:12 am

  3. If you want more laughs, and alternate reality, look at my comments on Luke’s site, where I’ve suddenly become a Romero champion! I mean, in this terribly watered-down organization, how is he not in the top 10, if not the top 5? Yes, I’ve been one to hold off giving him much love until he did something (to put it mildly), but I’ve always acknowledged his potential/high ceiling. Well, he actually did something this year, got pushed all the way to the majors . . . and got dumped from the top 10. Say what? But a draftee who looks good in a uni but whose college stats couldn’t touch Romero’s with a 10-foot pole is BA’s #1?!?

    Denaburg still has the same potential/ceiling he had when he was drafted, but whatever alleged benefit they had from overpaying to buy him out of his college career has been lost to injury (and perhaps poor due diligence on his arm condition). But how does anyone know whether he’s better or worse than Cavalli, Henry, or Lara? I personally think Rutledge has more potential than all of them . . . but it’s also worth noting that the Nats have yet to develop a starting pitcher for themselves since, um, that Strasburg fella. I don’t think we can fully count Fedde or Voth yet. (Both of them had considerably better college stats than Cavalli, FWIW, as did Crowe.)

    KW

    23 Nov 20 at 2:53 pm

  4. I don’t disagree with these rankings. Whats not seen in these rankings is the work and reports that came back from 60 man player pool and Instructional league.

    1. Cade Cavalli is ranked as highly as he is because continually the reports that came out was that he was way better and improving from his college performance and that if there was a full college season he would have been drafted higher. Keep in mind this was his first season not being a two way player. So he never focused fully on pitching. Now he will. The Nationals think they have a steal in him. They say all his pitches had bite and he was better than advertised. They also love the makeup and work ethic. His velocity seems to be up as well as I heard he was bumping up to triple digits. The only reason Cavalli is ranked ahead of Rutledge is that in all the reports he was better than Rutledge during this off-season. Club officials raved about how good Cavalli was and openly said they expect him to be a frontline starter. Also the reason I think he was ranked over Rutledge whereas Rutledge fastball/slider combo ranks out just a bit better than Cavalli’s. According to BA Cavalli currently has an above average curve and change. While both of those right now are considered average for Rutledge. I still think Rutledge has the higher ceiling but Cavalli seems to have made an impression. Enough for him to jump Rutledge FOR NOW.

    Denaburg is a question mark for me. Injuries have held him back and my faith is wavering. Seems since he’s been drafted he has lost velocity. This will be ahuge year for him.

    I’m not high on Wil Crowe at all. Never have been. Average stuff across the board seems like a fringe big leaguer to me.

    In comparison I’m high on Tim Cate. Big time Curveball, fringe average velocity on his heater but guys like him can generally carve out long big league careers. It may not be the sexiest but he will probably have a low ERA and generate weak contact. Definitely a high floor back-end starter.

    Apparently Jeremy De La Rosa seems to get raves and he did finish GCL season stronger than he started it. More reps will tell the story.

    Now in regards to Yasel Antuna I’m surprised by the high ranking considering how bad he performed in Low-A two years ago. But maybe during all the time off he figured something out. Apparently he was the best hitter in camp and workouts. BA said he hit 11 home runs in a two week span at the training site. They put a plus grade on the power and say he has improved at making adjustments and recognizing breaking balls. If its all true he could be the breakout fast riser.

    Not having an actual minor league season and stats makes these rankings harder to do. Because some guys might have broke out this year and some guys may have fell off. But according to the reports from player pool and instructs it would seem BA significantly factored those into these rankings and how a player performed to make these rankings. So its hard for us as the fans to really grade it all out until we can see numbers or see it in person ourselves.

    BounceBeezy

    23 Nov 20 at 4:33 pm

  5. I’m getting ahead of myself (obviously), but imagine if Cavalli, Rutledge, and Lara all develop to their potential. They’re all tabbed as having frontline ace ceilings, and they’re all tall, physical pitchers with power stuff…

    Cheap back end of the bullpen controllable for years with more power arms in Rainey, Finnegan, and Suero, with Cronin, Powell, and Fuentes on the way…

    What I keep coming back to, though, is how thin we are on hitting. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but Trea Turner is only under team control for two more seasons, which might or might not be long enough to overlap with the Cavalli/Rutledge era (and almost certainly won’t be long enough to overlap with Lara at all). I liked what I saw from Garcia and Stevenson this past season, but there’s still plenty of question marks on those kids. Kieboom looks completely lost. Armando Cruz, Roismar Quintana, and Jeremy De La Rosa are exciting, but how far away are they (and bear in mind we’ve seen plenty of talented Dominican and Venezuelan teenagers bust midway through the pipeline)? And then there’s Antuna…

    Where this leads me is kind of a reversal of what the philosophy of the 2010s was. Last decade, the Nats graduated top positional prospects like Harper, Rendon, Ramos, Turner, Soto, etc., and built contenders around them by buying big-name starting pitchers and trading for premium relievers, spackling in the cracks with smart budget buys like Daniel Murphy, Adam Lind, and Kurt Suzuki with only the occasional big “splurge” bat like Jayson Werth or Adam Eaton. In the 2020s, because of how they’ve drafted, the Nats could (not necessarily will!) end up with a parade of young aces and need to buy a lineup to score them runs.

    SaoMagnifico

    23 Nov 20 at 4:55 pm

  6. Sao, I’ve been singing the song for years of not investing enough draft capital in positional players. Those chickens are coming home to roost, all the more if Kieboom and Robles don’t turn things around. I mean, you can’t have whole drafts where the only pick in the top 10 rounds is an overaged, undersized Cole Freeman. Folks scream “BPA” and we can always trade arms for hitters. Well, OK, let’s trade some. Except a lot of those arms haven’t panned out, either, or have been injured. I mean, Denaburg has very little trade value right now. But the only 1st-round hitter they’ve taken since Rendon (2011) was Kieboom. Stevenson was a 2d-rounder, as was the completely wasted pick that year on Blake Perkins. Stevenson finally looks like a very capable bench guy, but I’m very reluctant to believe more than that based on his den Dekker-like run at the end of the season.

    Maybe the light bulb has come on for Antuna. If so, great. Maybe Mendoza turns out to be a steal instead of another fallen college star like Banks and Wiseman who apparently fell for reasons. But goodness, behind Mendoza and Antuna, it takes a lot of imagination or long-time patience to see anyone else on the potential big-league horizon.

    Beezy, I would love for Cavalli to make it and miraculously turn into an ace. I would love it for all of them. But even in his short draft demi-season at OU, he had a 4.14 ERA, 1-2 record, and gave up a scary 9.5 hits per inning. Yes, his K’s were way up and his BB’s were way down. Maybe he works hard. Maybe he looks good in a uniform. So did Jake Johansen, who was beloved by the staff for work ethic and leadership. Let’s see what he can do on the field.

    KW

    23 Nov 20 at 5:29 pm

  7. Denaburg was a gamble that a physically mature high school pitcher with injury issues would turn into a physically mature professional pitcher without injury issues. So far, the results haven’t been very inspiring.

    As you’ll remember, I wasn’t exactly all in on Cavalli, but I never assume I’m smarter and more knowledgeable about a prospect than the pros who have actually watched them day in and day out. The Nats were very excited to get him and are feeling great about getting their two “dream” draft choices two years in a row. And the reports have been positive, including out of instructs where it was a less tightly controlled environment.

    SaoMagnifico

    23 Nov 20 at 5:40 pm

  8. Don’t get me wrong, considering what happened with Romero and Denaburg after they were drafted, I’m glad Cavalli showed up, worked hard, looked good, and didn’t hurt himself. Rutledge did the same in ’19 but actually played in real games, and dominated for the most part. I’m not rooting for Cavalli to fail at all. The Nats really need some guys to pan out, particularly after not much overall success in the ’17 and ’18 drafts. I hope he’s a stud. But until there are real games and he’s getting out guys more advanced than De La Rosa, we won’t know. All we have is his college record, which is mediocre, despite a lot of hard work there, too.

    Still, I would be very tempted to trade him while he’s floating high on this largely unseen cloud. I’d certainly trade him for one year of Bryant, although I know others wouldn’t. The needle to be threaded to become a high-end MLB starter is very narrow. Just ask Fedde, Crowe, Cole, Voth, and so many others.

    Cate sort of strikes me as the LH version of Voth. He’s progressing very well through the system and getting guys out, but he doesn’t have the high velocity or overwhelming physical presence that attracts a lot of attention. He’s a proven quality player, though. So is Fuentes. Can either stay as a starter? Who knows? Who knows if Cavalli or Rutledge can? I like Cate quite a bit, but I’d have Romero ranked ahead of him, as either starter or reliever, as I see Romero with a higher ceiling. But who knows, Romero might turn out to be the pedigreed Fedde to Cate’s grinder Voth, with ultimately not that much difference between them.

    I also can’t help but wonder, since we’re basing all of this on buzz, whether Rutledge didn’t quite wow folks as much as expected, or struggled with that repeatable delivery, or whatever, prompting Cavalli to end up ahead of him. The Nats made the right call with the similarly sized Alex Meyer and got a quality everyday player in return. I’m not advising that at all with Rutledge, just hoping they’re being honest with themselves. Rutledge has a ridiculously high ceiling, but then so did Meyer. Gotta see progress toward that ceiling.

    KW

    23 Nov 20 at 10:50 pm

  9. From what I’ve read, Rutledge actually sharpened his command with the work he did this summer. But who knows? I didn’t see him pitch at all.

    My read at least on Lacy Lusk’s evaluation of Cavalli vs. Rutledge is that he thinks they’re both potential studs, he just likes the complete package better with Cavalli.

    SaoMagnifico

    23 Nov 20 at 10:56 pm

  10. There seems to be a curious trend about Rutledge that involves raving about his tools but then slightly downgrading him as a prospect overall. It’s happened here, where Lusk graded Rutledge with the top fastball and slider, yet placed him second behind the less-experienced Cavalli. Last December, the FanGraphs guys said Rutledge had “some of the best stuff on earth,” but then slotted him only #3 in the system. How do you have “some of the best stuff on earth” but then not rate in their top 100?

    Rutledge was good in his short stint at Arkansas: 3.45 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 7.5 H/9. He was off the charts at San Jac: 0.87 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 14.6 K/9, only 4.6 H/9. He continued to show similar dominance as a pro, particularly at Hagerstown: 2.30 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 4.6 H/9.

    So while Cavalli gave up 8.3 H/9 across his college career, including 9.5 in the spring of 2020, full-season pro players were getting half as many hits off Rutledge. The bottom line is that I see elite game numbers from one guy, but not the other.

    KW

    24 Nov 20 at 10:02 am

  11. I agree KW, Cavalli has yet to perform at any level. But the reports seem so glowing and promising that I’m hoping he’s just a better pitcher to what he has shown thus far in actual games. Or he made an adjustment, figured something out and just hasn’t had a chance to use it in actual games. But the brass saw it.

    Rutledge does seem underrated. I’ve heard no significant flaws. He’s not as good an athlete as Cavalli but I heard he’s not bad. I mean Rutledge fastball averages 96, touches 99-101. Big time slider to go with. Those two pitches alone even if he doesn’t stick as a starter could make him a dynamic reliever. I mean stuff wise he sounds like Noah Syndergaard. Straight power stuff. I think alot of guys in this system are underrated and if we actually get minor league games it will be telling. I don’t think this system is as bad as everyone thinks. Just haven’t had any games in over a year.

    The player that’s not talked about that I think we could here more from is Tyler Dyson. He was a potential first rounder coming out of Florida before his Junior year and then he tanked. But the stuff is still there. Fastball up to 97 mph. But better yet in actual games small sample and lower leagues he performs. Between the GCL and Short Season ball he has a 1.07 era in 9 starts. Now one thing of interest is he had very little swing and miss 17 ks in 33.2 IP.So theres big questions here. But at times he pitched well at Florida. He has good stuff. I’m holding out that he can be a better player and a breakout candidate.

    BounceBeezy

    24 Nov 20 at 12:42 pm

  12. Ha-Seong Kim will be posted tomorrow, per MLBTR. I feel like Charlie Brown with the football every time there’s a Japanese or Korean player I like who is posted, but man, this would be such a smart pickup for the Nats if the money is right.

    SaoMagnifico

    24 Nov 20 at 1:24 pm

  13. Sao, I’m with you. This would be a very smart pickup for the Nats, not to mention the marketing opportunities.

    Mark L

    24 Nov 20 at 1:58 pm

  14. Whether this list is genuine, or ginned up by hype that translates into trade value, we truly will never know. Minor league players matter only for 2 reasons — can they help the team now or during the 2021 season? Can they bring a piece that will help the 2021 team win in the playoffs?

    What is true is that the Nationals were heavily reliant upon free agent signings last winter to better fill their needs, just as they had been before the penultimate 2019 World Series win. I think the economics of the sport (MUCH greater inventory in free agency) means that the Nationals will continue to plumb the free agency market far more readily than trade this off season. There is fundamentally lower risk in a risk/reward ratio.

    Three trades are, on some level, haunting the Rizzo legacy – the Melancon, Eaton trade and Doolittle trades. In all, the Nationals gave up early major league talent and prospect packages to meet a perceived need. The Eaton and Doolittle trades may have been responsible for the Nationals WS win. But all were overpays in which Rizzo was out-negotiated for pitching talent with higher ceilings at a time of wanting to make a big move.

    Which brings me to where we are now. The Nationals have clear position player needs. How will those be filled? Need we panic or Rizzo make a power move – like those that were better regarded, like the Gio Gonzalez trade?

    I don’t buy for a second that the Nationals cannot make a prospect for position player trade. The question is, whom would they trade for? I can’t see a team with a payroll this big trading for a player for whom there is not years of control. So I think these rumors on Bryant and Arenado are untrue, and obscure real targets that are more along the lines of Nationals targets of talented players who are blocked or platooned elsewhere (Arozarena-type). Yan Gomes was such a trade – he has not been spectacular, but the deal was a successful one and the inventory the Nationals gave up was a ML arm and a player who may rise to a 4th OF career for three affordable years of a starting catcher, including a key performer on a WS team.

    Given the ouch of Giolito, Luzardo, and Dunning specifically, I can’t see the Nationals trading any of the first round picks or Henry or Lara away. If they do, it’s only because the instructionals have exposed to them that the players are overhyped.

    So I think we are going to see Rizzo waiting to see who shakes loose on the non-tender side. The roster has a number of spaces that can be filled from the swollen free agency ranks that include market pressure to force salaries down.

    The Braves have made big moves, with 26 million dollars of commitment to Morton and Smyly. They are not done. The Nationals were smart to hold their fire on Donaldson. But that also means the Braves are out on the pitching market otherwise. I’m remonded of the trading deadline, when the Braves acquired Shane Greene and Melancon and we all lamented that what we ended up with was Daniel Hudson.

    I think there is a lot of talent on the Nationals waiting to emerge. 2020 was a true year of underperformance (particularly at the top of the rotation) and injury (Strasburg! and Kendrick). But there are rising talents among the young players that have been dismissed but cannot be overlooked. Stevenson, Garcia, Robles, Romero (yes, I was RIGHT that he would prove he has something to offer), Finnegan, and McGowin. It’s also too early to give up on Kieboom not eventually breaking through. Javier Baez once looked like a bust.

    I’d rather believe in all of those players than trade them. I also believe in Reetz, and really hope he is not Rule 5’d.

    The team needs a replacement (upgrade) for Eaton, power to protect Soto, and bats. It needs a (potential) big time starter to complement Strasburg-Scherzer-Corbin in case of regression and in case Scherzer is gone after this year (lower payroll). But with all that starting pitcher potential, I would not trade what would be needed for a Snell. There would be more value in signing a starting pitcher for a short term deal.

    But would a trade that includes Joan Adon, Tyler Dyson, Tim Cate, Erik Fedde bring value back. Yes, I believe it would, just as Tanner Roark with one year of control netted us Tanner Rainey, and just as the three player package netted us Gomes.

    forensicane

    24 Nov 20 at 2:05 pm

  15. Breezy — Yes, Thor is the comp who also comes to my mind for the Rutledge ceiling, although hopefully without the bizarre ego and propensity for injury. That’s why I wonder what’s holding back the hype train on him. I mean, are the Nats intentionally tamping down the hype on Rutledge while amping it up on some others? (Quite possible.)

    Also good to raise Dyson’s name. He literally was in 1/1 conversation before struggles his junior (draft) year. During the sports-absent time in the spring, a CWS game from when Dyson was a frosh popped up on ESPN, and he was just dominating LSU. (A quick check reveals that he only allowed one earned run in 14.1 postseason IP in 2017, including starting the CWS-clinching game.) Maybe he pushed through some arm stuff in college that he shouldn’t have. It will be very interesting to see which arms show renewed life after a year away from game action. Also yes, it was perplexing that Dyson had very low K numbers at Auburn, although that was after a long college season in which he struggled somewhat (physically, mentally, or both).

    KW

    24 Nov 20 at 2:18 pm

  16. Sao — I don’t know whether you’re Charlie Brown and the football, or just Linus in the pumpkin patch, waiting for something that never comes. I started to write that I would be “pleasantly surprised” if the Nats got Kim, but let’s be honest: I would shocked. But pleasantly so.

    I still think Bryant is in play. The Cubs won’t non-tender him, although they could still trade him after the tender. I just read the good, long point-counterpoint on Bryant at NatsTalk. (I enjoy NatsTalk, just don’t have to time to follow it closely, particularly the long-running comments, so I’ve never been active there.) Anyway, I thought Don had good insight pointing to lack of motivation as potentially part of Bryant’s issue in 2020. Both guys missed an obvious reason, though: maybe Bryant is still pissed at the Cubs screwing him out of a year of free agency. (Of course he’s now screwing himself out of potentially tens of millions in free agency, but that’s another issue.) I also wonder if Bryant is just frustrated in general that the Cubs didn’t become the super team everyone expected them to be for at least half a decade. Yes, they made the playoffs, but it was pretty clear that it was just going to be a cameo appearance.

    Another important point is that the Nats already have someone intimately in tune with the psyche of Bryant from when he was a dominant player: his former bench coach. They also have a hitting coach who truly is a cut above. They have the Boras connection. There are a number of things that would make the fit work.

    We’ll see. I might be the only one, but I wouldn’t want to trade Kieboom for Bryant, as I share Fore’s optimism that Kieboom will bounce back and turn into a solid player. I think we’re in the minority with that opinion right now, though.

    KW

    24 Nov 20 at 2:52 pm

  17. I’d feel a lot better about Kieboom if he literally ever hit the ball with authority. No barrels in 2020 and his average exit velocity was 85 mph. This after his power completely vanished in the second half of the 2019 minor league season, to the point where the Nats didn’t even bother calling him up after rosters expanded. There’s no way he can be *this* bad, but I have trouble seeing how we go from here to him being a solid everyday player on a contending team.

    I’ll say again the guy I really want is Arenado, but obviously, he would cost more in terms of prospects at a time our farm system can’t really take a hit. Hence my preference to just spend the money to sign Kim, who would be a long-term part of the future without burning down what’s left of the farm.

    SaoMagnifico

    24 Nov 20 at 3:37 pm

  18. As for Seth Romero, the jury is still out for me. He pitched in all of three games before getting hurt AGAIN, and he walked more than a batter per inning in that small sample size. Obviously he has strikeout stuff, but major league hitters will learn very, very quickly to lay off and let you beat yourself if you can’t consistently find the zone.

    Finnegan and Rainey both ran out of steam and clearly tried to push through some physical issues down the stretch, but I’m really high on them as a potential back-end duo after what we saw of them when they were healthy. I’ve always liked Suero too, and I liked the grit he showed in a couple outings when he didn’t have his best stuff; I’d gotten used to seeing him just fall apart when something wasn’t working, but he found a way. Suero was one of the most effective relievers in MLB in September, actually.

    SaoMagnifico

    24 Nov 20 at 3:45 pm

  19. For anyone who wanted LeMahieu here is an incredible stat. Of his 27 homers at home as a Yankee, only 6 would have been a home run in any other ballpark.

    In case anyone forgot the high school dimensions of Yankee Stadium.

    Mark L

    24 Nov 20 at 4:15 pm

  20. Mark — That’s pretty telling for LeMahieu. He also had a .370 BABIP in 2020 and .349 in 2019, so he’s been pretty “lucky” as well.

    KW

    24 Nov 20 at 6:38 pm

  21. Sao — Kieboom was still going along pretty well at the plate until mid-2019. So what happened? Did someone at Fresno get the bright idea to make some “adjustments,” a la what (allegedly) happened to Giolito? Or did Kieboom just breath too deeply in the PCL air, decide he needed to keep up with Yadiel’s HR pace, and start spinning himself into the ground? For whatever reasons, his extra-base hits vanished. The season wasn’t split evenly, but he had 14 HRs before the all-star break and only 2 afterward, 18 doubles before, 6 after. It seems too easy just to say that the league “figured him out,” particularly since he still hit .280 second half (down from a scintillating .320 in the first half). So he still got hits, just not hard hits.

    Anyway, he still had those “before” numbers when he was hitting the ball hard and had a pre-break slash of .320/.431/.590, with 14 homers and 18 doubles in 67 games. That’s a considerable run of success, longer than the whole 2020 MLB “season.” Admittedly, those are PCL numbers, but he was solid through earlier seasons, with 16 HRs and 31 doubles across two levels in 2018.

    So that’s my “hope” with Kieboom — his past success plus his current plate discipline. Really, it’s a difficult position for the team. The Nats need Kieboom, Robles, and Garcia all to be cost-controlled quality players in order for them to be able to allocate resources to other areas, like an extension for Turner. It’s not too “risky” to “plan on” Kieboom and/or Garcia being decent in 2021 with Castro and Harrison around who can play both positions, but it does make it tough to think beyond 2021.

    KW

    24 Nov 20 at 7:05 pm

  22. Romero continued to throw through the end of the season and in the fall. He just couldn’t catch. The injury was on his non-throwing hand.

    They absolutely threw him into the deep in the majors. He got tagged from a grannie in Citi Field but then got Freeman out in ATL.

    What concerned me is that in the SSS eye test, he didn’t look that dominant. FB average was only 92. He was said to be an easy 95+ when drafted. Yes, he’s coming back from injury, so maybe some velo returns. Maybe some swagger does as well. He had a top-10-pick-talent reputation coming out of college, and he did strike out a lot of guys in his brief pro stints in ’17 and ’18.

    The other caveat with him is that he skipped THREE levels. So he went from pitching in Hagerstown to pitching against the top of the Braves’ order.

    Anyway, we’ve had it jammed down our throats for three years that he has a high ceiling, so I feel really weird being the one having to sorta stand up for him! We’ll see. At least his pitching arm stayed healthy, and we’ve been fed a lot of stories about how his head is screwed on straight now.

    KW

    24 Nov 20 at 7:24 pm

  23. That’s the part that concerns me most re: Kieboom…the only sample size we have of him having any success at a high level is 1) more than a year old and 2) in the superball league. So who knows how much of that is even real? I believe that he’s a better contact hitter than he showed in 2020, and obviously he has a good eye, but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to believe he has any power.

    The velo issue you cite with Romero is troubling. You can be effectively wild when you throw mid- to high 90s. At the major league level, if you’ve got a 92 mph fastball you can’t spot, they don’t have to honor your breaking ball. That will be worth watching. But I’d really like to see Romero stay on the field for longer than five minutes before getting hurt/suspended for the rest of the season. At this point, when was the last time he played anywhere close to a complete season of play?

    SaoMagnifico

    24 Nov 20 at 8:40 pm

  24. Of course the jury is out on Romero. His performance was altogether statistically bad, but he showed he can strike major leaguers out. He jumped three levels, and in his first year back from TJ surgery (velo will be back more next year). And then he knocked himself out. And then he impressed in instructional league play. A mixed bag.

    In these pages last year, people were downright irate at the idea that he would be considered anything but a bust.

    I think the most compelling aspect of Romero’s 202 is that the nationals brought him up while they were still trying to make the playoffs and over a number of other well thought of pitchers, including the lefthander Cronin.

    I would hardly think of him as hyped any more than the next first round pick who is a lefty starter in an organization low in lefty stock. His stock in the prospect lists has dipped, understandably. And then, suddenly, the Nationals were calling him up.

    Why NOT root for the guy? He’s on our team! There is so much antipathy for him, it’s like he was shtupping someone’s girlfriend or something. Mystifying.

    forensicane

    24 Nov 20 at 8:41 pm

  25. I was surprised that the Nats brought up Romero over Cronin, for two reasons. (Although it should be noted up front that it was still sort of a desperation move with either of them, skipping three levels.) The first is that Cronin is healthy and had pitched in competition more recently. The second is the reliever mentality. For all the talk about Romero pitching out of the ‘pen, he hadn’t really done it until he was, um, standing in the middle Citi Field. Cronin had done it in the College World Series.

    So did the Nats truly like what Romero was doing better than Cronin? Did they just need to add Romero to the 40-man this offseason anyway and figure what the hey? I think the real reason they brought him up was to try to find out, in very accelerated fashion, what they had, but he got injured right away and they didn’t find out. I’m not sure they did with Crowe, either, but that’s another story.

    I don’t know. They really need these guys to succeed. Lara may be a total stud, but he’s five years down the road. Right now, we mostly just got a lot of question marks, with reputations built a lot more on expectations than actual accomplishments.

    KW

    24 Nov 20 at 10:57 pm

  26. They brought him up in mid-August. They were only 15 games into the season. That is hardly a time to “see what they have.” This is a team that scans the waiver wire, and fairly well. They chose to bring him up — and having had him on the 60 man (which was no given).

    I’m not annointing Romero legitimate. I don’t know. But allow that he gave up a grand slam in his first outing, then followed with two scoreless outings to follow, throwing 18 of 23 pitches for strikes. That’ll do just fine.

    forensicane

    24 Nov 20 at 11:35 pm

  27. A lot of new info from Baseball America, but the highlight is that instead of the four-league configuration for High-A that had been previously mooted, it now appears MLB has settled on having three: Northwest, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic. The Mid-Atlantic League will effectively be an amalgam of teams from the New York-Penn, Carolina, and South Atlantic leagues. And it’s clear that the reformatted Low-A league (which I assume will keep the name of the South Atlantic League, but who knows?) will be “largely” made up of current Carolina and Sally league teams.

    The upshot here is that Fredericksburg now seems highly likely to stay at the High-A level. But there could also be some weird knock-on effects forced by geography. Most notably, I’m looking now at a twelve-team Low-A league that includes Chattanooga (currently Double-A) and Norfolk (currently Triple-A). That would be a tough pill for those communities to swallow.

    SaoMagnifico

    25 Nov 20 at 4:16 pm

  28. OK Sao, here’s more grist for your push for the Nats to open up the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/11/mlb-rumors-japan-pitcher-tomoyuki-sugano-free-agent-npb.html

    Sugano as the #4 starter and Nishikawa to lead off and allow Trea to hit 3d behind Soto. Nishiskawa has great OBP and is a big SB threat. (FWIW, Stevenson may be capable of numbers similar to Nishiskawa’s, although he hasn’t run much at all after stealing 39 bases in 2016.)

    KW

    25 Nov 20 at 8:19 pm

  29. I’m not as enamored with Sugano as the general consensus. Mediocre K/9 and on the wrong side of 30, already showing some signs of regression.

    SaoMagnifico

    25 Nov 20 at 9:54 pm

  30. on the current slate of nats minor league affiliates … not even minorleaguesource.com has a guess right now as to our low-A team.

    http://minorleaguesource.com/blog/2020/11/26/update-on-2021-minor-league-baseball-revision-6/

    In this latest iteration, they guess Columbia as our low-A affilliate. but there’s more than a few teams in that section that are much closer and would make better fits. Fayetteville, Myrtle, West Virgina … and the obvious one: Lynchburg, just a 3.5 hour drive from DC. If the Nats goal is to get their four affiliates as close as possible why wouldn’t they lobby for Lyh?

    Todd Boss

    27 Nov 20 at 9:03 am

  31. Thanks for the link, Todd, that was a funny article. They’re trying but are as clueless as we are.

    Wlimington, Delaware is only 2 hours away. Delmarva and Frederick are even closer.

    Interesting stat about Lynchburg; it is the largest city in America not on an Interstate highway.

    Mark L

    27 Nov 20 at 10:17 am

  32. From what I’ve read, Chattanooga is likely to keep a place in affiliated baseball (although not necessarily in the Southern League, I surmise), the West Virginia Black Bears are not, and there are a few other rumored changes to what’s been previously reported (Tri-City over Boise in the Northwest League, for instance).

    My mockup of the South Atlantic League is identical to this except with Chattanooga over Lynchburg, which instead stays at High-A. My mockup of the Mid-Atlantic League adds Lynchburg and subtracts West Virginia. So we’re awfully close to alignment on these.

    SaoMagnifico

    27 Nov 20 at 3:17 pm

  33. OK, I’m ready for something to happen this week! C’mon Rizzo, it’s Cyber Monday! Sorry, but the Josh Harrison re-signing and adding Sam Clay (who is probably just AAA insurance) don’t exactly make for an exciting offseason.

    If something is going to happen with Bryant, presumably it will happen before the tender deadline on Wed. afternoon, although it doesn’t have to. The Cubs could still tender him and trade him later. They’re not going to get much for him, certainly not top prospects or a “win-now” piece. Jed Hoyer just got a five-year contract, so he doesn’t have to worry too much about fan blow-back.

    (It is pretty amazing to think of how little the Cubs have gotten out of their supposedly massive “window.” They did win a championship at what was supposed to be just the opening of it, but they had all this young, controlled [cheap] talent and looked ready to dominate the NL for at least half a decade. The Braves look to be in a similar position now, but as the Cub story shows, there are no guarantees.)

    KW

    30 Nov 20 at 9:05 am

  34. I seriously doubt it would happen, but it is interesting to ponder what would be the result if the Nats went against conventional wisdom and committed to spending this year, going over the tax line. I do think the lack of spending by most teams is going to be a market inefficiency, although I haven’t seen indications yet that any team is really going to blow out the top and go for it. (Well, I guess the Mets are talking a lot, but talk is cheap.)

    Even if the Nats committed to something like that, though, in this day and age, you can’t commit to being over the cap for multiple years, so you’d really be looking for for where you could spend short term. In such a scenario, Bryant for just one year actually would be ideal (if you don’t have to give up much to acquire him). Sign Kluber and Paxton for the back end of the rotation on short-term deals with options. Perhaps sign Cruz to the same and hope he doesn’t embarrass himself in LF, and give a similar deal to Santana at 1B.

    I’m not really advocating this approach, just kicking around what it might look like. The Nats might be able to add one-longer term contract, particularly with Scherzer coming off the books after 2021, but I don’t think they would be more than one. I know Sao thinks they’re still infatuated with Realmuto, which I see as a bad contract waiting to happen. I’d be more willing to take a risk on Ozuna or LeMahieu, both of whom will get shorter, cheaper contracts. I have a hard time seeing the Nats getting into a 6/7-year deal with Springer under any circumstance. And of course thoughts of extensions for Trea and Juan are ever-present when you consider typing up long-term money with anyone else.

    Anyway, I would be pretty surprised in the Nats went into big-spending mode, but it’s interesting to think about. It’s also not out of the question that prices on several of these players will be dropping across the board after the New Year if other teams aren’t spending.

    KW

    30 Nov 20 at 10:25 am

  35. Hmm, a Korean player being represented by Boras:

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/11/kbo-slugger-sung-bum-na-posted-mlb.html

    Is that a connection that it would take to get Rizzo’s attention? At 31 years old, he isn’t going to get a huge or long contract. I mean, Pederson and even Profar are available for $10M or less to offer something very similar.

    KW

    30 Nov 20 at 11:00 am

  36. Great trivia on Lynchburg! I’ll have to remember that.

    Todd Boss

    30 Nov 20 at 12:25 pm

  37. So this is unexpected: I’m still not quite buying it, but there’s been a steady and growing drumbeat around the idea of the Daytona Tortugas (Reds affiliate) being spared the axe and getting a Low-A license, and the Tampa Bay Rays dropping out of the Florida State League and instead planting their Low-A flag in Charleston, S.C….which would obviously mean the Nats can’t go there.

    To some extent, these moves are being driven by where MLB clubs want their affiliates to be located, although MLB is making the ultimate decisions. So if the Chattanooga Lookouts are indeed spared (they were on the original “kill list”) but don’t have a place in the Double-A Southern League anymore, I had figured they’d drop down to Low-A and become the Reds’ affiliate at that level. It is still difficult to make the math work for a twelve-team South Atlantic League given what we know (well, sort of know) about the composition of the Mid-Atlantic League *unless* it includes Chattanooga, though — not impossible, but difficult.

    Anyway, yadda yadda, the ultimate outcome here might be that Washington and Chattanooga get back together again after a 60-year separation. The Senators and the Lookouts were affiliated for more than a quarter-century before the original franchise relocated to Minnesota. It would be poetic.

    SaoMagnifico

    30 Nov 20 at 4:12 pm

  38. Well, luckily the low A geographic need to be close to the parent is pretty meaningless, so of all the affiliates it matters the least. having it close (like Hagerstown) has meant that some area fans can drive to see the kids here and there. that’s about the best benefit.

    Todd Boss

    30 Nov 20 at 4:24 pm

  39. One gloriously stupid alternate configuration for the leagues would be to draw the Mid-Atlantic League like an upside-down L, with Asheville, Greenville, Hickory, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro in the south, then stretching up to capture Lexington, Dayton, and Lake County, then swinging over to take in Aberdeen, Delmarva, Wilmington, Jersey Shore, Brooklyn, and Hudson Valley.

    The South Atlantic League is then presumably Rome, Augusta, Columbia, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Kannapolis, Fayetteville, Down East, Carolina, Salem, Lynchburg, and Fredericksburg.

    It would be seriously goofy, and I don’t expect it to happen, but it’s not altogether unthinkable. Dayton to Hudson Valley is a ten-hour drive, and Lake County to Asheville is a nine-hour drive, but Hudson Valley to Asheville is already a twelve-hour drive. The Nats would probably get Delmarva or maybe Wilmington as their High-A affiliate, which would be fine, keeping Fredericksburg as their Low-A affiliate.

    SaoMagnifico

    30 Nov 20 at 4:28 pm

  40. If Fredericksburg drops from High A to Low A after building a new stadium we can chalk it up to Kharma, as they installed a plastic playing surface.

    Mark Luksch

    30 Nov 20 at 5:01 pm

  41. I was just looking through some of the Bryant rumor material, particularly on the Cub site side of things, and it’s about as delusional as you might expect. One flatly stated that the deal can’t happen without Rutledge. There’s been other speculation that Bryant should even bring back someone like Robles, Turner, or . . . wait for it . . . Soto. Um, what planet are you folks on? A more interesting proposition was Bryant straight up for Stalin Castro, although the writer didn’t think the Cubs would want to take on Castro’s $7M salary.

    As we’ve discussed here many times, you just don’t get back much in return for one year of team control. It wasn’t going to happen for Harper or Rendon, and it won’t happen for Bryant, all the more coming off a bad season.

    I’m on record as saying that I would give up Cavalli for Bryant, but a lot of folks seem to have bought the Cavalli hype and think that’s ridiculous. I see that Sao is suggesting Yean, although I don’t think Yean by himself gets it done. I know the Nats have NO positional prospects, but since there doesn’t seem to be much buzz about Mendoza, I wonder about his potential availability. The Cubs are about to need a replacement at 1B, but then so are the Nats (right now).

    Frankly, these deals usually involve a fairly high (but often disappointing) prospect (Crowe or Kieboom, although Kieboom would be a lot to give up in this) plus two or three other guys to help save face of the trading franchise. The Nats have a whole lot of arms they could include — Sharp, Teel, Condra-Bogan, A. Lee, E. Lee, German, Schaller, Tetreault, Istler, even Denaburg. I’m fond of Fuentes, but he could be considered. If a Bryant deal happened, I think that’s what we’d be looking at — probably four guys going in return, but Crowe probably the highest level they would consider sending in return . . . unless they’re ready to move on from Voth or Fedde.

    KW

    30 Nov 20 at 5:03 pm

  42. Gosh, I would love to package Denaburg for value returned, but I think he’s damaged goods right now. We’d definitely be selling low. Seems like a nice kid but man, he just can’t stay healthy, and if he has something to show us, he hasn’t yet.

    I can’t imagine the Nats giving up Rutledge or Cavalli this winter. Wouldn’t want to move Lara either. Antuna falls into that category where I think the Nats probably value him more than anyone else does, so he seems illogical as a trade piece.

    The thing about Kris Bryant is the hype doesn’t match the reality. He had a miserable 2020 season and an uneven second half in 2019, and he’s only got one year of team control left. So essentially you’re renting a guy who hasn’t been consistently good since the first half of 2019. (You see why this isn’t my favorite idea that’s been floated.) Sure, maybe you extend him, but that’s a decision that’d be between Bryant and the Nats.

    So how on Earth do the Cubs justify asking for Rutledge or Cavalli as a return for one year of a guy they obviously don’t want to pay in his walk year? I know they’re not top-100 prospects today, but they’re advanced pitching prospects with frontline ceilings. If we were talking about a potential deal for a guy with Bryant’s exact stats over the past three seasons, but he played for a small-market team and was a kinda gawky-looking guy from Venezuela or somewhere named Luis Bermudez, names like Rutledge and Cavalli wouldn’t be anywhere near the conversation. But because it’s 2015 NL RoY, 2016 NL MVP, 2016 World Series champion, Chicago Cub, media darling, sexiest man in baseball Kris Bryant, they think they can extract a blue-chip return for someone projected to hit .261/.820 while playing part-time next season. No.

    SaoMagnifico

    30 Nov 20 at 5:40 pm

  43. I don’t want Bryant for anything more than Will Crowe or less sexy. I’d rather even that they keep Castro, actually.

    Trading for a big name is like the Expos trading for Hideki Irabu because he was a once-big name. And soon enough we were calling him Upper-Decki….

    forensicane

    30 Nov 20 at 6:37 pm

  44. That’s how I feel. The Cubs want the Nats to trade for Bryant’s resume, not really Bryant himself, and all the Nats really need at the position is a third baseman under contract for 2021 who won’t embarrass himself every time he picks up a bat.

    SaoMagnifico

    30 Nov 20 at 7:15 pm

  45. Sign Howie Kendrick! Now!

    forensicane

    30 Nov 20 at 7:56 pm

  46. Sao – the third baseman you described is Castro, no?

    forensicane

    30 Nov 20 at 7:58 pm

  47. It could be, although I think the Nats’ starting lineup right now looks like this:

    C – Gomes/???
    1B – ???
    2B – Castro?
    3B – Castro?
    SS – Turner
    LF – Stevenson?
    CF – Robles
    RF – Soto
    DH? – ???

    In other words, the Nats need at least two starting-caliber infielders, and probably three or four, counting first base. The outfield could stand as it is, although the roster would be stronger with Stevenson coming off the bench. And the Nats need another catcher to pair with Gomes, although Gomes in 2020 played like a frontline catcher. (I still think the Nats will make a run at signing Realmuto.)

    SaoMagnifico

    30 Nov 20 at 8:15 pm

  48. I’m not in the tank for a Bryant deal, either, which is why I’m laughing at thoughts of giving up a big-time package for him. Frankly, I think Kieboom is off the table, too, at least for that deal. I think it would be something like Crowe, Sharp, Schaller, and Condra-Bogan. Cub fans would hate it, but two of those guys have already pitched in the majors, and the other two have high-velo arms (but not big-time enough to warrant a look in the 60-man camp).

    I’m really at a loss of how to get a big bat, though, and hoping on a Bryant rebound makes more sense than counting on getting four good/expensive years from Ozuna or LeMahieu . . . or six from Realmuto. I don’t see Realmuto as a “big-time bat” now, and as Mark has pointed out, most of LeMahieu’s power has been in the bandbox known as Yankee Stadium.

    If the DH were to materialize, Nelson Cruz might make some sense, although Sao does keep reminding us that he’s 800 years old. I’ll bet that he outhits Realmuto in 2021, though.

    I also see benefits in just the one-year commitment to Bryant. If he sucks, or if the Nats really are pretty much still the 2020 version and not going back to 2019 any time soon, then there’s no lingering contract there. If Bryant were to bounce back, he’s still got bad-performance baggage that will preclude a Rendon-level deal, plus that ain’t happening now with teams sweating cash, either.

    As for Sao’s Castro-cloning lineup, don’t forget a question mark after Robles, who hit just about as badly as Kieboom, and worse than Garcia. Right now, I have more confidence that Stevenson will hit than I do Robles.

    But jeez, looking at that lineup, I do have to wonder whether we’re deluding ourselves thinking that one or two more bats could make the Nats a playoff contender. I mean, they’ve got two of the best hitters in baseball . . . and six borderline position starters and/or question marks. That’s a lot of holes to fill. Plus we’re signing a starting pitcher, too, right? Interesting times.

    KW

    30 Nov 20 at 10:22 pm

  49. Also, are we thinking about the wrong Cub? Schwarber hit .188, is due $8-9M, and very likely will get non-tendered. His BABIP was an insanely low .219, due heavily to a 51% ground-ball rate, but he still hit the ball dang hard — 93 mph exit velocity, 41% hard-hit rate. Steamer projects him with 34 HRs and a 116 wRC+ in 2021. With Pederson’s price potentially over-inflated because of his playoff performance, Schwarber might cost half of Pederson, maybe $4-5M.

    Baez is probably getting non-tendered as well, and Steamer has him bouncing back to 30 HRs, but I don’t see him with as much bounceback upside as Schwarber. What’s the price point, though? At $3-4M, he might be worth the risk.

    Frankly, the Nats have so many needs that I think they’re going to have to make several of these risk/reward type signings and cross their fingers. They’ll be low risk, though, probably one year plus an option year/buyout.

    KW

    1 Dec 20 at 10:32 am

  50. Scrolling the prospective non-tenders. Tommy Pham might be an interesting platoon candidate with Stevo in LF, provided he would take a $2-3M platoon salary. Johan Camargo might be worth a look for >$2M. He looked like the real deal in 2018 until the Braves sidelined him with the Donaldson signing.

    KW

    1 Dec 20 at 10:44 am

  51. I’ve always loved Schwarber. I’d stick him in LF for one year absolutely. I think Stevenson is a 4th OF.

    Acquiring Bryant is a salary dump for Chicago; anyone who thinks they’re getting a top 5 prospect is nuts. our prospects in the 6-10 range could be in play: guys like Yean, Denaburg, Cate, Romero, Cronin, maybe Mendoza, Antuna, De La Rosa.

    Now, i agree with others on some of these players. Nats are higher on Antuna, De La Rosa than others. Yean got $100k as a bonus; they’d flip him in a heartbeat for Bryant. Denaburg would be a sell low. I think Cate and Cronin are good under the radar guys who could contribute on this team for years…. that’s valuable. Romero? Lots and lots invested in him and they’ve stuck by him, so hard to see him getting flippted at this point.

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 20 at 10:54 am

  52. My read is that the writing is on the wall with the Cubs, and Epstein’s departure is the scent the others have picked up.

    We are just spitballing until we see who is out there and available. But with creative needs, need to get creative.

    Ghost on TN suggested that Max Scherzer could be dangled for salary relief and a meaningful prospect return. I would do that, bank the money, and then invest younger and a mite cheaper, add Kendrick, and the team could then afford LeMahieu or Springer.

    To get three years of (if healthy) Snell I would include Lara or anyone other than Rutledge-Cavalli, though I would want to expand the deal.

    There are really so many ways Rizzo can go, and that’s what makes it fun. So long as he doesn’t panic, and knows who he really wants, we may be quite surprised with how this plays out.

    forensicane

    1 Dec 20 at 12:02 pm

  53. Schwarber for $5M for LF, Moreland for $5M for 1B, maybe Howie or another RH 1B for $3M, backup catcher for $3M. Cross your fingers with Castro/Garcia/Kieboom covering 2B and 3B, with Harrison also available to step in if necessary. Bring in another Brock Holt/Brad Miller utility type or two. If you do that, then they legitimately could think about adding Kluber or Paxton to the rotation. Would that be shorting the hitting side too much, though? It certainly would be a LH-heavy lineup.

    If they trade for Bryant or sign Ozuna/LeMahieu/Brantley/Realmuto, it would probably be a similar scenario to fill the other positions, only without money for a starter.

    I’ve been intrigued with the thought of Pederson for LF, but Schwarber is pretty much the same boom/bust player and probably for $3-5M less. Both have platoon-split and high K issues, though. Exit velo for both is exactly the same, Schwarber takes more walks, Pederson Ks a little less. It would be interesting to see what KLong could do with either of them.

    I suspect that Davey spent a lot of time with Schwarber in CHI teaching him how to (pretend to) play OF. Davey would have a good read on Schwarber and Baez personalities, and presumably, he’d give the Nats a leg up due to his connection with them. . . if the Nats would want them.

    KW

    1 Dec 20 at 12:09 pm

  54. I don’t see any way Scherzer gets traded. A more likely scenario would be to renegotiate/extend to save some AAV money. The problem with doing that, though, is that he’s actually owed $34.5M this season even though his AAV hit is only $28.7M. It’s REALLY hard to see any team taking on a $34.5M cap hit for 2021, particularly for a guy who wasn’t quite himself in 2020. Also, the Nats wouldn’t get much at all talent-wise in return for such a salary dump.

    I guess you could pitch Max a renegotiated extension of 30/18/18 so he’d get almost the expected amount this season but lower his cap hit by $6.7M. With a tight budget, that’s probably the price of Schwarber or Moreland right there. Or 30/18/18/18, with a $4M buyout on the last year, so he’s guaranteed his current $34M plus $36M more. AAV for that would be $21M.

    KW

    1 Dec 20 at 12:22 pm

  55. Renegotiation would be great, and keeping him excellent. He has Jon Smoltz written all over him. But he is certainly a huge chuck of salary obligation, but by no means a David Price hit.

    forensicane

    1 Dec 20 at 12:37 pm

  56. Nah, you’re not trading Scherzer. He’s going to be your first Curly-W in the hall of fame.

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 20 at 2:15 pm

  57. Remember, Rizzo really doesn’t like low-average hitters. Yeah, yeah, Matt Adams, but at the time the Nats first signed him, he was a career .271 hitter! So I’m not going to expend much energy at all thinking about Pederson or Schwarber. They’re just not Rizzo guys.

    Scherzer is my favorite player, but personally, I would consider trading him if he’s willing to waive his 10/5 rights. But again, I don’t see it happening and I don’t think it’s really worth debating. Trading Scherzer would be akin to the Nats saying their window is closed, and it would send a flare up to other teams that they’re rebuilding and players like Strasburg, Corbin, Turner, maybe even Soto could be on the block. Whether it’s time for the Nats to do that or not isn’t really at issue; they won’t.

    I continue to believe the Nats should be either looking for a better/more consistent player at Bryant’s price point or a less established player for a lower cost. A skeptic though I remain of Stevenson (I’m old enough to remember when we dreamed on Matt den Dekker all winter after a hot September), the Nats don’t have the luxury of being able to fill every crack in the roster, and they do have credible backup or platoon options for left field in Josh Harrison and Yadiel Hernandez. I would focus on the infield and the rotation this winter.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Dec 20 at 3:52 pm

  58. I didn’t suggest the Scherzer trade as a sell off for rebuild. I suggested it as akin to an Aroldis Chapman deal for a Gleyber Torres piece, intending to bring back Chapman as a FA.

    Then you have money to pay for high value big pieces. If we signed Bauer for less, and had prospects for Scherzer, wouldn’t that make sense?

    Just another strategy.

    I love Max, but it’s the kind of thing a bold GM does.

    Forensicane

    1 Dec 20 at 4:25 pm

  59. FWIW, Steamer and Depth Charts project Scherzer to be better than Bauer in 2021. ZiPs has Max with a 3.48 FIP and 3.9 fWAR in 2022. That may not turn out to be the case, but at least projection-wise, there’s not a lot of progress to trade Max to be able to sign Bauer.

    The other think people have to realize is that there would be no return for trading Max in a salary dump. We’d get a couple of third-tier prospects. That is, unless you sent him to the Cubs pretty much in a straight-up contract swap for Bryant and Schwarber.

    So . . . I just don’t see a benefit from a Scherzer trade. There’s no windfall to be had in prospect return, and then there’s a massive hole at the top of the rotation, not to mention in the soul of the club as a whole.

    Sao — I certainly hear what you’re saying about Rizzo staying away from high-K guys after finally ridding himself of Desi and Danny the K. (Although he clung to MAT far too long.) Thames was also a high-K risk who really tanked on him. I just don’t know what the other big-bat options are, though. Even Realmuto is up to dangerous K% territory now after a 4% rise this year. LeMahieu and Brantley are the real low-K guys on the FA market.

    KW

    1 Dec 20 at 8:03 pm

  60. It’s not K rate specifically, it’s batting average. Personally, batting average isn’t one of the stats I find most useful — more of an OBP man, myself — but it’s clearly important to Mike Rizzo. He just hasn’t shown much interest in free agents or trade targets who hit for a low average. I ran an analysis of major acquisitions dating back to 2010 or 2011 a few weeks ago and virtually all of them were at least .250 hitters, most more like .270-.280 hitters, at the time Rizzo picked them up.

    SaoMagnifico

    2 Dec 20 at 2:06 am

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