Nationals Arm Race

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

Who is the Best HS player the Nats have ever drafted?


Would you believe that A.J. Cole is the best prep draft prospect ever for the Nats in the Rizzo era? Read on. Photo AP

A comment about Mason Denaburg in the last thread, with MarkL wondering/speculating on whether our 2018 1st overall pick may possibly pitch in 2021, made me think, yet again, about the folly of drafting high school arms (or HS players in general) and then made me wonder..

Who is the best HS player we’ve ever drafted?

By “best” I mean possible one of two things:
1. Most successful for our team or for someone else, since (as we’ll see) we’ve had a tendency to trade prospects before they matriculate.
2. Most successful for the Nationals themselves.

So, we’ll answer both.

I’ll also divide this into the “Rizzo” era and the pre-Rizzo era, since you can almost count on one hand the total number of HS players Mike Rizzo has drafted since taking over in mid 2009, whereas the Jim Bowden regime was quite heavily skewed towards HS players.

Using the Draft Tracker as a reference, here are your nominees for best ever HS draftee by the Washington Nationals, moving backwards in time (note; i’m omitting some HS draftees like 20th round signees who happened to sign and subsequently flame out; this mostly is a value play of top-5 round picks plus other notables we over-paid).

  • 2020: Samuel Infante, SS/3B from Florida: too early to tell obviously, but the reaction in the Natmosphere was mixed to begin with. We’ll see.
  • 2018: Mason Denaburg, RHP from Florida. $3M signing bonus for getting selected 27th overall in the 1st round. Has been plagued by injury since his arrival, and his limited stats have not been promising. What is even more indicting about this selection is the fact that the next three arms drafted who signed ( Shane McClanahan, Jackson Kowar and UVA’s Daniel Lynch) were all college arms (like what the Nats normally draft this high), are all now considered top-100 prospects, and had all reached AA by the end of 2019. Opportunities lost.
  • 2016: Carter Kieboom, SS from Georgia. Held the #1 Nats prospect label for years, but has struggled in two call-ups now that have the team looking at 3B candidates in free agency, a pretty severe indictment of what they think they have in Kieboom right now.
  • 2016: Jesus Luzardo, LHP from Florida. Traded as the centerpiece prospect of the Sean Doolittle/Ryan Madsen acquisition in 2017, then became a top-10 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2019 season. Pitched in Oakland’s rotation as a 22yr old in 2020 with league average results, projecting to be a #2 lefty starter. It was a lot to give up for relievers (at the time I was “ok” with the trade, but did note that it would look pretty lopsided if Luzardo turned into precisely what he’s projecting to become), but flags fly forever and Doolittle was an integral part of this team for a while.
  • 2015: Blake Perkins, OF from Arizona. Traded to Kansas City as part of a prospect group to acquire Kelvin Herrera, has a career .236 minor league BA as a glove-first CF.
  • 2015: Tyler Watson LHP from Arizona. 34th rounder paid like a 4th rounder that year. Traded to Minnesota to acquire Brandon Knitzler as part of the great mid-season bullpen construction job in 2017. Pitched all of 2019 in High-A’s rotation with decent results, likely in AA in 2021. Knitzler of course ran himself out of town in mid 2018, so the team didn’t get a ton to show for this trade.
  • 2014: Jakson Reetz, C from Nebraska. Has passed through three Rule-5 drafts now and was part of the 60-man extended roster in 2020. He stepped up his power and his offense in 2019 in High-A; is he turning a corner? Re-signed as a MLFA this off-season to do his 8th pro season in our farm system.
  • 2014: McKenzie Mills LHP from Georgia. This 18th rounder blew up in the spring of 2017, dominating Low-A and getting flipped to Philadelphia to acquire Howie Kendrick. His 2018 was solid in High-A, but he struggled with the jump to AA and got released in the minor league purge of June 2020. I wonder if he’s worth a MLFA flier in 2021 for someone.
  • 2013: Drew Ward, 3B from Oklahoma. 3rd rounder who was good enough to get promoted year after year, but not to escape “org player” role. Released in the 2020 player purge.
  • 2013: Travis Ott, LHP from Pennsylvania. showed some promise in his 2nd pro season in Short-A as a 19yr old, enough so to be the secondary piece in the huge 3-team trade that netted the team Trea Turner and Joe Ross. (more on that later when we talk about Souza). He continued to pitch well in Tampa’s org, but then curiously was moved to the bullpen in 2018 and then was stuck on the restricted list in apr 2019, where he presumably remains today. No idea what happened here.
  • 2012: Lucas Giolito RHP from California. Perhaps the most controversial candidate on this list. He had TJ surgery the year he was drafted, recovered, raced through the minors and debuted for the team as a 21yr old in June of 2016. His Minor league career looked too good to be true. But, in MLB 21 innings that year he pitched to an ugly 6.75 ERA, an even worse 8.21 FIP … and then got flipped in the off-season as the centerpiece to acquire Adam Eaton from the White Sox. I hated the move when it happened. There were rumors about how the Nats talent evaluators thought that Giolito had “plateaued” or that somehow he wasn’t someone they could work with. And, to be fair, it took a full year of awfulness in the majors for the White Sox before Giolito modified his mechanics and turned into a pretty good starter. His last two seasons have been ERA+ of 134 and 128 respectively, and he’s gotten down-ballot Cy Young voting. Did the Nats give up on him too early? Yes. Did we get equivalent value in return from Eaton? No …. but it wasn’t entirely Eaton’s fault. Who could have known that Eaton would blow out his knee, which would blow out his defensive value, which was a huge reason he was such a WAR darling prior to his trade? Does the 2019 WS title make every move between 2015 and Nov 2019 worth it regardless of the transaction? Most would argue yes. Flags fly forever.
  • 2012: Hayden Jennings, OF from Louisiana; a 6th rounder that year, he lasted just two years in the system and never got out of the GCL. Seemed like a quick release frankly; I wonder if there was some off-the-field issues.
  • 2010: A.J. Cole RHP from Florida. Just could never cut it as a starter for this team, with spot start appearances across 4 MLB seasons for the Nats. Finally flipped for cash after his DFA ahead of the 2018 season when he ran out of options and the team ran out of patience. He’s bounced around since, pitching for the Yankees bullpen in 2018, getting claimed off waivers by Cleveland for 2019, then signing on as a FA for Toronto in 2020, each time putting up decent numbers as an 8th/9th inning non-closer type. Why he could never do this for us is … a mystery. Certainly we could use a competent reliever right now.
  • 2010: Robbie Ray, LHP from Arizona. A 12th rounder given 2nd round money, Ray was the centerpiece prospect in the Doug Fister 2013 trade (which shocked the baseball world and made the Nats look like a genius), then was flipped again to Arizona ahead of the 2014 season. From there he turned into a solid starter, putting up huge K/9 numbers but featuring as a guy who struggled to get through 6 innings thanks to elevated pitch counts. He’s a FA this off-season and could be a decent 4th starter for someone.
  • 2010: Bryce Harper: you could technically count Harper here since he was a HS-aged player in Juco, but it isn’t like selecting him 1-1 was any great piece of decision making on the Nats part. He was destined to be a 1st overall pick from the moment he appeared on the cover of SI as a 16-yr old.

So, in the Rizzo Era, I’d say that the most successful HS drafted player for us or any other team is clearly Lucas Giolito (even though Ray has more career bWAR), with Luzardo projecting right now perhaps as having the capabilities of supplanting him in the future.

The most successful HS drafted player for the Nats? Only three have even played a game for the Nats: Cole, Giolito and Kieboom. Read that sentence again; in a decade of drafting, just three prep-players have ever suited up for this team. I guess you’d have to say Cole has the most impact for the Nationals themselves at this point, with high hopes for Kieboom going forward.

Rizzo was named the GM in August of 2009, so technically the 2009 and prior drafts were not on his resume (yes he was involved in the 2009 draft, but it was still Jim Bowden‘s show) You can see the effect that Rizzo had on draft strategy, because prior to 2010, the team was much more apt to draft prep players. We’ll run through them below.

  • 2009: Michael Taylor, SS from Florida. Quickly converted to OF, where he was a fantastic defender who hung around for years as 4th OF for the team. Finally non-tendered this past off-season, and he’s heading to Kansas City for the 2021 season. Some were sorry to see him go; if his arb salary hadn’t inflated so much, maybe he’d still be here.
  • 2009: Roberto Perez SS from Puerto Rico. Played three minor league seasons and (in my opinion) got a quick release after a stint in 2011 at Short-A.
  • 2008: Destin Hood, OF from Alabama. The 2nd round pick played out the string in our org, then bounced around for four more years as a MLFA. In his “make or break” year as a 23yr old in AA he slashed .224/.278/.327 and his fate was sealed. Eventually got some MLB time with Miami.
  • 2008: Graham Hicks, LHP from Florida; never got out of low-A, flipped in the Gorzelanny deal, out of baseball by age 22.
  • 2008: Adrien Neito, C from Florida. Had a great-looking season in High-A as a 23rd old, then the team left him unprotected in Rule-5 and he got plucked by the White Sox. I went back and looked at my analysis of the 2013 rule-5 draft and discovered that the team was sitting at 39/40 and really didn’t have the room to protect someone like Nieto, who was considered a long-shot to get taken despite going to the AFL that year. Nonetheless, after spending all of 2014 on the 25-man roster, he was went back down and never re-appeared. He has bounced around as a MLFA ever since and is still active today.
  • 2008: J.P. Ramirez, OF from Texas. Ramirez played out his 6-years with the Nats, then jumped to indy and eventually Mexican league ball.

In 2007 alone, Bowden drafted no less than 8 prep players in the top 10 rounds. Did any of them pan out?

  • 2007 Michael Burgess OF from Florida. He was beginning to blossom in 2010 as a 21 yr old, making it to AA and playing in the AFL, so he was used as the centerpiece prospect to get Gorzelanny. He didn’t do much afterwards, bouncing around orgs and eventually going to indy ball.
  • 2007: Jake Smolinkski 3B from Illinois. Very quickly became a solid prospect, succeeding in Low-A as a 19yr old and became the centerpiece prospect sent that off-season to acquire Josh Willingham and Scott Olsen. Interestingly, he washed out of the Miami org as a MLFA, caught on with Texas and had several years as a MLB utility player with Texas and Oakland after that.
  • 2007: Steven Souza, OF from Washington State: a middling prospect for years, he started to show some serious pop as a 23yr old in High-A, culminating with a blow-up season in AAA as a 25 year old that allowed the Nats to pull off perhaps their greatest ever trade heist; packing Souza with Travis Ott and interjecting themselves into a trade between Tampa and San Diego to fleece San Diego out of two first round picks in Trea Turner and Joe Ross. Souza had his best season in 2017 for Tampa, a 3.5 win team, but has struggled with injuries
  • 2007: Derek Norris, C from Kansas. 5 seasons, 5 promotions for Norris in our system, before he was included as perhaps the 3rd piece of 4 in the Gio Gonzalez trade. Once he got to Oakland though, he blew up and had several solid seasons, even making the 2014 all star team. But he declined quickly, got moved to San Diego, then the nats re-acquired him back for Luis Avila … only to DFA him a few weeks later.
  • 2007: Josh Smoker, LHP from Georgia. Played out his string with the team without ever getting out of A-ball, then made it into the Mets’ bullpen in 2016 and 2017, where he put up below replacement level numbers.
  • 2007: Jack McGeary, LHP from Massachusetts. Paid like a mid-1st rounder in the days before bonus slots, McGeary seemed like a potential steal. Unfortunately, he just could not compete, suffering injuries multiple times. Mercifully taken in the minor league rule-5 draft by his hometown team Boston in 2013, he didn’t do much better there, eventually washing out of indy ball in 2014 as a 25-yr old.
  • 2007; PJ Dean, RHP from Texas. Looked awesome in Short-A as a 19yr old, throwing 10 starts with a 1.97 ERA. Was the lead prospect in the Willingham/Olsen trade that off-season… then, nothing. I have no idea what happened to the guy; he never played another game of baseball for the Marlins or anyone. Does anyone have any idea what happened to him?
  • 2007: Patrick McCoy LHP from Arizona; struggled as a starter early, moved to the pen, played out his string with the Nats as an org guy, signed on as a MLFA with Detroit and got a call-up where he put nearly 2.5 runners on base and was waived. Bounced around after that, never made the majors again.

It is notable that Jim Bowden nearly signed more HS players between these last two years than Rizzo has done in a decade in charge. Just a completely different mind-set of drafting.

In 2006 it was more of the same: the first 6 players he picked were all HS players.

  • 2006: Chris Marrero, OF from Florida. Made his way up to the big club in 2011 as a 22yr old, never really made it back. Was the quintessential 4-A guy for years, profiling as a corner guy w/o great defensive skills but missing the big bat.
  • 2006: Stephen Englund, OF from Washington State. Seems like a huge scouting miss; he just could not hit pro pitching. Career minor league slash line of .188/.308/.252. Cut from Low-A in 2009 after starting the season 11-101 with 48 Ks.
  • 2006: Stephen King, 3B from Florida. Played for years in the low-minors as a light-hitting infielder, eventually leaving as a 6-yr FA. Got to AA twice, was never able to even hit .200 there.
  • 2006: Colten Willems, RHP from Florida. The 1st rounder was ok his first couple of years in pro ball, never could really compete above low-A, then abruptly retired at age 21 when he struggled upon getting demoted back to Hagerstown. A huge draft bust.
  • 2006: Sean Black, RHP from New Jersey. Drafted in the 2nd round, refused to sign. Went to Seton Hall, 7th round pick by the Yankees three years later. Was a solid starter up to AA, got flipped to Cincinnati and his career fizzled.
  • 2006: Glenn Gibson LHP from New York. Had a great pro debut in Short-A as a 19yrold, then was traded to the Rays to obtain Elijah Dukes. Tampa dumped him two seasons later, and the Nats picked him back up because they liked him enough to draft him in the first place.  He didn’t go much further and was released from affiliated ball in 2011 as a 23yr old.
  • 2006: Sam Brown, RHP from North Carolina. Did not sign, went to NC State, signed with Texas, then signed as a MLFA with the Nats in 2011 after his release. Pitched one year in the Hagerstown bullpen and was done.
  • 2006: Brad Peacock, RHP from Florida. A 41st round pick selected under the previous rules of “Draft and Follow.” He was drafted in June of 2006, but not signed until May 30th of 2007. It took him a while to get going professionally, but he blew up in 2011, rising from High-A to the majors with a sterling debut. This led to him being included in the player package to acquire Gonzalez from Oakland. After a year there, he was moved again to Houston in the Jed Lowrie move, and from there he flourished in a swingman role, winning a World Series there in 2017.

In 2005, just one top-10 round HS player drafted, but a few more signed on in the later rounds.

  • 2005: Ryan DeLaughter; OF from Texas. he never really succeeeded outside of complex ball, giving Short-A a try multiple times. Hooked on briefly with Milwaukee and indy league baseball as a 22yr old.
  • 2005: Deryck Johnson, CF from Florida; this 14th rounder played just one season in rookie ball, hit .185 and was cut.
  • 2005: Michael Watkins, RHP from Rhode Island. Pitched parts of two rookie league seasons and got cut.
  • 2005: Eduardo Pichardo, RHP from Florida. This 17th rounder threw 13.2 innings across two rookie league seasons and posted a stellar 20.41 ERA and was released.
  • 2005: Brad Clark, RHP from Florida. This 19th rounder got hurt, didn’t pitch until 2007, threw 5 1/3 total innings and got cut.
  • 2005: Ryan Butchter RHP from New Jersey: signed as a 33rd rounder, somehow survived two seasons with ERAs north of 7.00, then got traded after his third pro year for Matt Avery. Avery pitched one year of relief for our AA team and got cut. Meanwhile, Butchter hung on for years, finally debuting as a 27 yr old, and then as a 29yr old rookie excelled in the San Diego bullpen.

So, in the pre-Rizzo era, who’s the most accomplished HS drafted player for any team? Best candidates are Peacock, Norris, Souza, and Taylor. I’ll go out on a limb and say its Peacock.

For just the Nats? Has to be Taylor.

98 Responses to 'Who is the Best HS player the Nats have ever drafted?'

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  1. One relatively recent addition to the list: Justin Connell, OF, 2017 11th round, $125K bonus. They pushed him to Hagerstown at age 20 in 2019, where he posted an underwhelming .249/.337/.321, with decent plate discipline but no power. He will turn 22 before the 2021 season starts.


    16 Dec 20 at 10:38 am

  2. Overall take here: JUST SAY NO. I hate drafting high schoolers. There’s a ton of evidence against it right here, and also in the collective history of draftdom. I mean, on this whole post, there is no everyday player who has made it as a five-year regular, although Souza probably would have if not for a series of injuries. (And of course we still have hope for Kieboom . . . or at least a few of us do.)

    Another common theme: a LONG developmental time, which pretty much defeats the purpose of taking a player before he has been to college. So many of these have also become will-he/won’t-he Hamlet acts over whether they’ll achieve anything — Cole, Taylor, et al., not to mention Giolito long after he was traded. (His old high school coach finally straightened him out, after the collective pitching brain trusts of the Nats and Chisox failed.)


    16 Dec 20 at 10:55 am

  3. Through recent years:

    2020: I didn’t like the Infante pick, as there were quite a number of good college hitters still on the board, plus they squeezed funds from the 4th round pick to pay for him, making that one a throw-away. Infante was already on the “old” side at the time of the draft, and not very highly ranked on most draft boards.

    2018: I wanted Seth Beer, who went the pick after Denaburg, or Kowar if they felt they had to have a pitcher. Denaburg is looking like a big mistake, as there was a lot of talent available at that pick.

    2016: I was begrudgingly OK with Kieboom and Luzardo, as that was supposed to be a high-school-rich draft, plus the Nats got Dunning with the additional 1st-round pick. Considering that Will Smith went only four picks after Kieboom, though, and Dakota Hudson six picks later, there were definitely still some good college players they passed on. They also passed on Bryan Reynolds again in the 2d round, who went one pick after Neuse. He was one who really interested me at the time.

    2015: I cursed the Blake Perkins pick and bonus. Made no sense to me, all the more since they had just taken a very similar, and more advanced, player in Stevenson. The Braves took A. J. Minter six picks after Perkins and paid him only $14K more. (Interestingly, the next college player taken after Perkins, two picks later, was Tanner Rainey.) Local hitter Brandon Lowe went a few picks later. He just finished 8th in MVP voting. To be honest, though, at the time, the college hitter I wanted them to take instead of Perkins was Rhett Wiseman, who the Nats eventually got in the 3d round. So I was a wrong as Rizzo was.

    2012: Marcus Stroman, who the Nats had drafted out of high school and presumably followed, went six picks after Giolito and signed for $1.125M less. Michael Wacha, a college pitcher who went three picks after Giolito, was terrific early in his career (to the majors in 2013) and really made the Giolito pick look bad at that time. Corey Seager went two picks after Giolito and signed for almost $600K less, although I wouldn’t have excited at the time about a HS SS.

    I mention the signing money because it was significant here. The Nats basically punted the entire 2012 draft to be able to sign Giolito. That’s another not-so-hidden cost with drafting high schoolers. They cost more to sign, affect the rest of your draft, and then take additional years of development.

    I should also note here that the Nats haven’t done that much better drafting and developing college talent. Stras is the last college starter to make it (Fedde is still trying), and Rendon was the last everyday player they drafted to make it, with no college player really on the horizon, unless you hold out hope for Mendoza.


    16 Dec 20 at 11:39 am

  4. After doing all this analysis, yes the general lesson is that the Nats really aren’t that good at drafting HS players.

    And, yes, they’ve really struggled at the top end of the draft lately. I’ve gone on this rant multiple times, but our track record on 1st rounders lately is abhorrent.

    Todd Boss

    16 Dec 20 at 11:44 am

  5. Speaking of squeezing bonus money, the Nats didn’t sign their 2d rounder in 2014 while overpaying Fedde (1st) and Reetz (3d). That 2d rounder was this guy, who looked promising a couple of years ago, but now not so much:


    16 Dec 20 at 12:05 pm

  6. Yeah, I don’t love drafting out of high school. There’s always exceptions, say if a really talented player slides due to signability concerns, but Rizzo is confident he can make a deal and there’s no other comparable talent at that slot. But historically, it hasn’t worked out very well for us, and that isn’t all that surprising. There’s a lot more projection involved, and a lot more development time in which the unexpected can happen.


    16 Dec 20 at 5:04 pm

  7. Turning to Hot Stove, the Nats need that big bat. While I still think the Nats ultimately sign Realmuto, my preference would be an offseason something like this:

    – Sign Marcell Ozuna @ 5/90M ($18M AAV)
    – Sign Jake Odorizzi @ 3/33M ($11M AAV)
    – Sign Jason Castro @ 2/6M ($3M AAV)
    – Sign Mark Melancon @ 2/6M ($3M AAV)
    – Sign Sean Doolittle @ 1/2.5M ($2.5M AAV)

    Ozuna gives the Nats that big bat to put behind Soto. Castro gives the Nats a backup catcher at worse and a lefty platoon partner who could get the majority of starts by late in the season if Gomes reverts back to 2019 form. If Odorizzi, Strasburg, Corbin, and Scherzer all bounce back to their 2019 forms, on the other hand, the Nats should once again have the best rotation in baseball. Melancon and Doolittle are old fan favorites who could again add some veteran presence and stability to the bullpen without breaking the bank.

    With these additions, the Nats add about $37.5M to the payroll, keeping them well below the CBT, and they could get lower than that with some deferrals. That still seems on the high side of what the Nats could spend (it would put them right up close to $200M), but I don’t see how we can count this offseason as a win without getting both a big bat and a #3/4 starter.

    Aside from these guys: I’d love to land Ha-Seong Kim, but I just don’t see it happening. Tomma La Stella would be another good fit and could be a fallback position if the Ozuna market is too rich for Mike Rizzo’s blood. Brad Hand would be awesome but seems too expensive. I’ve always liked Masahiro Tanaka, but Odorizzi makes more sense with his familiarity with Nats’ personnel and his profile. I’m not convinced Tomoyuki Sugano is a frontline MLB starter, but he could be interesting as a #4/5 if his market doesn’t ever really blow up; as with Kim, though, hard to see the Nats deviating from their characteristic disinterest in posted players.


    17 Dec 20 at 1:04 am

  8. KW, thanks for the bit on Suarez. I always wondered.

    Sao, LaStella would be a good pickup. He’s versatile around the infield and he’s a very consistant .800 OPS throughout his career.

    The Nats desperately need 2 lefthanders in the bullpen. Rizzo better hurry up.

    Mark L

    17 Dec 20 at 7:47 am

  9. I’d love to see Ozuna here, but something tells me he’ll be in hot pursuit since he’s got no QO stigma and can mash.

    I think we’re going to see Doolittle, Kendrick and Zimmerman all re-upped for $2-$3M/per.

    Todd Boss

    17 Dec 20 at 9:36 am

  10. Before we leave the high schoolers, I looked back through the list and thought about the risk/reward in drafting them. Was it really worth it, particularly with the high picks and/or the ones they paid like high picks? Maybe Kieboom was, since he signed for close to slot and progressed through the minors at a good pace, but only if he pans out to be a solid everyday player, which is still far from given.

    Luzardo is panning out well, but they paid him basically triple slot money, in part by going for a cheaper 2d rounder when they could have had Bryan Reynolds instead if they’d been willing to pay slot money. Zac Gallen is a college arm who went after Luzardo, signed for a third of what he did, and is already being productive in the majors. Unless Luzardo turns into a true ace, the combo of Reynolds and Gallen will probably have better careers than Luzardo and Neuse.

    Then there’s Giolito. I do understand the logic of gambling on him perhaps more so than on any of the others. He truly was thought to be a top-of-the-draft talent without injury concerns. But there WERE injury concerns, and repeatable delivery concerns for anyone that big. Both hit him hard. It took seven years after he was drafted to finally pan out. So, Giolito was a HUGE gamble, one for whom they basically sacrificed the entire 2012 draft to be able to pay him.

    When you look at it that way, it becomes a lot harder to see how it was worth it. If they hadn’t had to have such a low-ball 2d rounder like Tony Renda, they could have had Alex Wood or Paco Rodriguez for just a couple hundred K more. Would you rather have had Marcus Stroman and Alex Wood, or Giolito and Renda?

    BTW, Giolito led the majors in earned runs allowed in 2018, and led the AL in walks, so six years after being drafted, he still looked like a bust. All the second guessing about whether the Nats should have traded him is a very, very recent phenomenon.


    17 Dec 20 at 10:10 am

  11. I was surprised to hear Rizzo mention that he thought Zim still wants to play. If so, it would be with the Nats, and in the $2-3M range. Frankly, I think Howie probably still has more left in the tank than Zim, but I sure don’t see how the Nats could have both of them. Howie is pretty much 1B/DH-only now, as is Zim. They re-signed Harrison to do what Howie used to do at 2B/3B/1B/LF.

    Signing either Zim or Howie would require a platoon partner, be it Moreland at around $5-6M, or someone a little cheaper. Howie actually hits RHP quite well (.303 in 2020, .327 in 2019), though, and Zim doesn’t (.213 in 2019). It’s theoretically possible that they could platoon Zim and Howie, I guess.


    17 Dec 20 at 10:19 am

  12. I can’t see giving Odorizzi three years with recent injury history and ineffectiveness, but he is one of the reclamation projects who interests me, along with Kluber (who has an upcoming showcase) and Paxton. But yes, Odorizzi does have Rays history with Hickey and Davey.

    Jason Castro is turning 34, hit .188, and K’d 36% of the time. Even against RHP, he hit .194, so he has no platoon value. I have no interest in him. My catcher list is something along the lines of Casali, Suzuki, and Ramos, although I think Buffalo will want more than the $2-3M the Nats will want to pay a backup.


    17 Dec 20 at 10:45 am

  13. The only way I would give Ozuna five years would be if he would take a lower AAV and a buyout option. So, maybe 4/$72M (18 AAV) or 5/$80M (16 AAV) with a fifth-year buyout.

    I do think that’s a fair price range for the risk/reward of Ozuna. I mean, if he had a track record to support what he did in 2020, he’d been looking for Rendon-like numbers. But he doesn’t. He was pretty average in ’18-’19, and a .391 BABIP supercharged his 2020 numbers. His walk and hard-hit rates sure are trending in the right directions to support continued production, though. He’s also younger than most of the other FA hitters, other than Pederson. And unlike Pederson, or Brantley, he wouldn’t need a platoon partner.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:00 am

  14. We will deserve another sub-.500 season if we re-sign Zim and Howie and pretend they are actually going to help us.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:03 am

  15. Just remember that after the beginning of the year last year, Rizzo moved very quickly in a matter of days. If Boras is meeting Lerner about his players in January, I am sure that agents know whom we are interested in and will circle around to Rizzo if the bidding escalates at a faster pace and Rizzo needs to pull the trigger on a higher priority.

    The money the team saves now on patience will allow for more flexibility with whatever budget Rizzo is working with. It does have that feeling – with Doolittle, Zimm, Kendrick and even Cabrera (and Suzuki) that the Nationals are telling them to wait until late January and that there may be a number of quiet handshake arrangements like they had last year. Don’t forget, COVID decision-making looms for at least two of those players, so there’s that.

    Rizzo will do what he wants in free agency and if the answers aren’t there, will pivot to the trade market. There just isn’t anyone he is targeting like Corbin this year, unless he is playing Bauer the way he did Scherzer, who signed in mid-January though the Nats wanted him all along.

    Just enjoy the ride and patience. We have preserved the farm, added a few peripheral pieces, sloughed some heavy contracts, and healed people like Stras. I always feel like Rizzo is best off when he is not acting like an impatient buyer (Papelbon, Melancon, Doolittle, Eaton, Brandon Phillips) in the trade market but knows whom he wants to get by FA, and knows whom he can spare from the system if a trade is going to happen.

    The fact that the top players are not yet moving and that teams like the Mets, Dodgers and Braves have loaded up a bit is only good for us.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:26 am

  16. Sao, I would be thrilled if Kendrick came back. Never bet against a guy who has the will to rehab a torn achilles that fast in his mid-30s, was as clutch an RBI bat as the Nationals have had, and absolutely has big power. If he’s healthy, he would definitely help. If he gets away, it will be a loss.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:30 am

  17. Of the above names, I think Melancon is another guy who is a good buy.

    I have to say that with the true stockpile of starting pitching prospects at the mid-upper minors and Stras and Corbin commitments, and the possibility of extending Max and having him in the rotation beyond next year, I can’t see the Nationals going three years on any of the starting pitchers except Bauer if the price came down (which it wouldn’t, because LA would grab him).


    17 Dec 20 at 11:35 am

  18. Boras doesn’t really have clients the Nats need this year, unless he’s arranging the Bryant trade or will make us a good price on Paxton. Of his other clients, I’m not interested in overpaying JBJ for his reasonably good walk year. He’s not the bigger bat the Nats need. I would be a little more interested in another Boras client, Profar, if the Nats don’t spend big and instead try to piece things together with a bunch of versatile guys. La Stella (not a Boras client) would fit that mold as well, although he doesn’t hit LHP very well, or at least didn’t in 2020.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:47 am

  19. The Nationals upper minors and major league pitching and is trade fodder. We don’t value them, but enough teams need starting pitching depth and need to keep payroll low. That’s the tell to me of the Armenteros pickup.

    Fedde, Voth, McGowin, Ross, Cate, Will Crowe, Sterling Sharp, Stephen Fuentes, Seth Romero. They won’t trade Romero now, and I don’t think they’ll trade Voth now. But all of those guys are close enough that a team can think of them potentially helping in 2021 or 2022.

    The last time I felt this way was before the Gio Gonzalez trade. Rizzo moves surplus inventory very well. If the team needs to bundle talent (Arenado or a cheaper controllable star), they can. But if they can get the players they need from free agency, they’ll trade the surplus of out of options talent for the future, as they did Roark, Morse, Espinosa.

    The elephant in the room of planning is the signings of Soto and Turner. I really hope the Lerners can get that done. Soto needs to get signed now, especially with the market seemingly down. People laughed at the Dodgers, but they locked in Mookie Betts and look shrewd. You bet on Soto the way they bet on Max.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:51 am

  20. Ben Braymer also belongs on that list.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:53 am

  21. I think Rizzo knows the team needs a star power player. It feels the loss of Harper and Rendon. I know, I know (Harper), but the team underachieved and Harper’s star power had its negatives. Rizzo likes his mega players and should. If we cannot get that through FA, I can see a trade happening with that in mind.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:59 am

  22. I’m conflicted on whether, and how much, the Nats should spend on the bullpen, if anything. Hudson and Harris are probably apt to do about as well as Melancon, although with aging relievers, who knows with any of them. They also have Rainey, Finnegan, and Suero emerging from the right side, all of whom have sort of the closer mentality.

    On the port side, does Doolittle have anything left? Maybe he’s worth $2M for mentoring and inspiration, but I sure don’t know that you can actually count on him to be the guy for Bryce and Freddie now. Are Romero or Cronin anywhere close to being MLB-ready? Who knows? Romero would be a lot more promising if he can find a couple of more MPH on his heater now that he’s had more time back from TJ. Maybe they start looking at Cate and Teel as bullpen options as well.

    So far, they’ve signed two AAAA type lefty relievers, sort of spit-balling the issue. Are they insurance for Doo, or for Romero?


    17 Dec 20 at 12:06 pm

  23. And Braymer, yes, as another lefty reliever option in-house.


    17 Dec 20 at 12:07 pm

  24. Current 40-man Arm depth chart

    SP: Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin*, JRoss, Voth, Armenteres, Fedde, Crowe, McGowin, Braymer*, Romero*, Fuentes, Adon
    RP: Hudson, Harris, Suero, Harper, Bacus, Rainey, Finnegan, Clay*

    So, 13 starters and another 8 relievers. Lots of room to make a bullpen here out of these arms.

    Todd Boss

    17 Dec 20 at 12:13 pm

  25. Todd, don’t forget the NRI who are realistic – German, Avilan, Cronin, and some might say Barrett. Right behind them are Bartow and Condra-Bogan.

    KW – I think Cate, Teel, and Evan Lee (and Mario Sanchez) are starters until they prove otherwise. Relievers are all too ften failed starters. I also think they believe in Romero as a starter still.

    The Doo issue is a tough one. If he is a part of a bullpen that is not overly reliant upon him, he can keep enough in the tank. As for Melancon, he has always done the best with what he has. He was fantastic with the Nats when he was here, and he looks to be inexpensive.

    I haven’t gotten to the place where I can yet watch Suero in a late inning.

    So long as we are talking about cheap vets, and I know he was a bit crass after the Nats traded him, but Tyler Clippard is always good value and has a track record here. I’d love a return, just don’t see it happening.


    17 Dec 20 at 12:47 pm

  26. They’ve got a lot more invested in trying to keep Cate as a starter than they do Teel, even though the two of them had remarkably similar stats in 2019 at the same levels. Teel, who turns 25 today, is two years older, and more likely to be someone they start thinking of as a reliever. Braymer, who will turn 27 in April, is even more at a point where it’s time to see what he can do in relief. He does have high K/9 totals at some levels.

    I have no idea about Romero. They certainly didn’t take him in the 1st round with the intent of him being a reliever. But they’re also now very much in need of a high-leverage lefty reliever, and Hand probably doesn’t fit into their tight budget. (I still don’t understand why no team claimed Hand off of waivers. He’s going to end up with around the same AAV, and probably more than two years.) Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if Romero stays in the ‘pen, unless they think Cronin is really close to the majors.


    17 Dec 20 at 1:28 pm

  27. You keep people as starters until they prove they can’t or should not. Because they are the most tradeable commodity one can stockpile. Especially if they are lefty starters.

    Cronin showed very well in the minor camp last year ad at the instrux. He has experience in hi lev. Can’t say that about Romero, though long relief is an option to break him in, Cardinals style.


    17 Dec 20 at 1:45 pm

  28. Well, maybe . . . The Rizzo-era Nats mostly have a tradition of insisting for too long that guys are starters, long past the time Cole and many others seemed to have jumped that shark. (Fedde?)

    At the same time, the Nats have rarely been willing to have younger arms work out of the ‘pen and instead have traded for an endless stream of relievers, often having to include some promising young arms to do it. Sure would like to have Aaron Fletcher back, considering how poorly Strickland and Elias turned out. At the same time, I don’t blame Rizzo for going all in for some relief help in the 2019 push, which worked out when Hudson turned out to be the guy.

    Anyway, I wish the Nats would more intentionally develop some guys as relievers. They actually have the curious habit of going in the other direction, as they’ve been working to make guys like Fuentes and Andrew Lee starters. Maybe that equation has changed with a year off, particularly for guys like Lee who are getting older.


    17 Dec 20 at 1:55 pm

  29. Tough to get a sense of how the Nats actually value pitchers, given the lack of a minor league season. Protecting Adon was probably the most obvious tip we’ve seen since late in the season, when the Nats twisted their roster into a pretzel to avoid calling up Matt Cronin or Tim Cate. (That told me they didn’t think Cronin or Cate were ready yet.)

    I’m not comfortable calling the Nats’ slew of young starting pitchers “surplus” because I don’t think any of them are sure things. How much value are we really going to get for, say, Carson Teel or Andrew Lee? Not much, I wouldn’t think. These are guys we like based on their stats and maybe occasionally catching their minor league starts, but they haven’t sniffed the organizational top 30 in a weak farm system. Right now, they’re more valuable to the Nats just hanging onto them for as long as they have roster space in the high minors, seeing if one of them turns into a guy who could be useful at the major league level, because they have little to no prospect cachet.


    17 Dec 20 at 3:50 pm

  30. Sao, I think you’re right for the most part. One could argue that Fletcher, Guilbeau, and Johnston (the pitchers traded at the 2019 deadline) didn’t have much prospect cachet, either, though, although Fletcher was having a multi-level start to his pro career.

    Some of that may depend, too, on who has seen these guys, or worked with them. A. Lee and Condra-Bogan were in the AFL so have had some exposure to personnel in other organizations, and Condra-Bogan came from another organization.

    But yes, in general, for a bigger piece in return, it would likely take guys who are appearing in the top 10-15 in these prospect rankings, regardless of what we think of therankings. (By all means, please trade Agustin now if he still has any alleged “prospect” value!)

    That doesn’t mean that these types of players don’t have potential value to the Nats. They thought enough of Fuentes to add him to the 40-man to keep him from becoming a minor-league free agent, but he’s never been on prospect lists. Braymer and Bourque were on the tail fringes of such lists, maybe, and they’ve at least gotten MLB looks. Suero was never a “prospect” type but probably is headed for a long MLB career.


    17 Dec 20 at 4:16 pm

  31. Actually, Guilbeau was well thought of on the Nats system as a developing LOOGY after his 2018 fall season. Kyle Johnson was not well thought of, but started fast as a starting pitcher and the Nationals sold high.

    Fletcher was a real riser over the course of 2019, but was still at a low level for his being a college product.

    Prospect lists do not tell enough of the story, and that is why actual results vary. They tell ceiling rather than actuality, and ceiling for a prospect list does not account for players unlocking their talent. Andrew Stevenson’s rating, for example, does not track the progress of his career over the past few years.

    Braymer and Crowe are not sexy to us because they struggle when going up a level. But they have consistently shown the ability to grow into that next level. Both have struggled in the majors but have out pitches, and Braymer is a lefty who is not cowed by the stage.

    We can tell what the nationals think by a few metrics. One, yes, they added Fuentes and Adon – and no other draft eligible pitcher. They also left Istler and Sanchez at AA, where they could have been drafted in the minor league draft and weren’t. There were talents from lower levels who were stached at AAA to protect. People like Francys Peguero don’t show up on a pundit list, but seeing him on the AAA roster tells you they see him differently.


    17 Dec 20 at 4:41 pm

  32. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these guys are useless. I’m just saying that unless/until they turn into pieces that could really get another team’s attention, the Nats are better served developing them and seeing what comes.

    Not to be a pedant, also, but Fuentes has been hanging around top-30 lists for a little while now. Not top-10, obviously, but he’s in the picture.


    17 Dec 20 at 4:42 pm

  33. Other 3 pitchers traded to Seattle in 2019, Fletcher was the one that got away, as he was traded for nothing.
    Guilbeau was a high floor/low ceiling lefty. He now has shoulder problems that made his velocity disappear. We may not hear from him again.
    Johnston for Hudson was great and great.
    Fletcher was rocketing through the system and may have a long career.

    Mark L

    17 Dec 20 at 4:52 pm

  34. I think we’re splitting hairs here. Yes, the Nats have several under-the-radar arms who still have a chance to pan out. No, most of them don’t have the profile to amount to anything in trade. No one wants the #30 guy from the #30 system. That’s why all the trade conversations seem to start with Cavalli and Rutledge, neither of whom are even on national top 100 lists yet.

    The Nats are WOEFULLY short on position prospects, though. That said, if Kieboom and Garcia make it, they will have covered half the lineup from within the organization within three or four seasons. (Three of the four from Latin signees, only one from the draft.) On the flip side, not sure what happens if Kieboom, Garcia, and/or Robles don’t make it.


    17 Dec 20 at 9:47 pm

  35. Big bat:

    The big lefty bat guys are all basically platoon guys: Brantley, Pederson, Schwarber, Moreland. Maybe Moreland is in play at 1B because he’s cheaper, but it’s hard to see the Nats signing a platoon guy for LF, unless they’re planning on Harrison as the RH side of the platoon. Rosario is the only lefty bat with good splits over his career from both sides of the plate, making him an interesting and affordable possibility.

    That gets us to the RH hitters: Springer*, Realmuto*, Ozuna, LeMahieu*, Cruz, J. Turner. (* = QO) Curiously, Turner has bad splits against LHP, so he’s not much use as “protection” for Soto. I don’t think he’s leaving SoCal anyway.

    I’m made my case against Realmuto, who is overpriced if he doesn’t catch, and who only will play around 120 games if he does, so I just don’t see the bang for buck there, particularly for a catcher over 30.

    Springer also is likely to be overpriced, but there’s also not an obvious big market for him, so who knows. He wasn’t good against LHP in 2020 without the trash can, although his splits are very balanced over his career. He would be a good addition for the Nats, but I don’t really see how the price works . . . unless it drops in February into the $18-20M AAV range.

    So we’re down to Ozuna, LeMahieu, and Cruz. Cruz destroys LHP (1.456 OPS in 2020), but of course he doesn’t really have a position and is 800 years old. Ozuna is a decade younger, and we’ve discussed him already. The Yanks sure sound like they want LeMahieu back, and as Mark has pointed out, nearly all his recent HR surge has been in Yankee Stadium. He’s a career .699 OPS guy away from Coors/Bronx.

    By process of elimination, I think I’m ending up at Ozuna or Rosario. I don’t know that much about Rosario and am still scratching my head over why the Twins non-tendered him. One suspects that he could be had for something like 3/$24M, though, which would really free a lot of budget space for other pieces. He likely wouldn’t have as high an impact as Ozuna, however. But you might be able to sign Rosario and Schwarber (for 1B) for the price of Ozuna, although that would make them very LH-heavy. Harrison would be a platoon option at both positions.

    Or they could trade for Bryant. For the right trade price, I’d still be interested in that option. His AAV would be about the same as Ozuna’s, and the commitment wouldn’t be long if he still sucks. I think Davey and KLong would straighten him out, though, and with Turner and Soto ahead of him, he’d see a lot of pitches to hit. I do think Bryant will be traded, but it may be a while before the Cubs find a deal they like. There’s no way they’re keeping him for the long haul.

    I’m not on the Arenado bandwagon. Way too high AAV, the Rox would want too much in trade, and he’s only a .793 OPS guy, and 79 OPS+, when lower than a mile high. Good luck with that if he ends up in Queens.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:14 pm

  36. I don’t understand the fascination some have for trading for Josh Bell. Beyond everything else, he doesn’t hit LH pitching well at all.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:22 pm

  37. One interesting “why sign one when you could sign two for twice the price?” option would be to add both La Stella and Rosario. Neither has as big a bat as Ozuna, but you could probably sign both for less than the AAV of Ozuna and a shorter commitment. Imagine something like this:

    La Stella – 1B
    Turner – SS
    Castro – 3B
    Soto – RF
    Rosario – LF
    Gomes – C
    Garcia – 2B
    Robles – CF

    That’s still not as deep as I’d like, but it starts looking a little more interesting when you factor in the presence of guys like Harrison and Stevenson who might be able to slide in as platoon options, allowing Davey Martinez to effectively stack the lineup against pitchers with big L/R splits.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:45 pm

  38. I’m still not enamored with Schwarber unless the Nats pick him up for really dirt-cheap, but a big righty bopper like him or Cron whom the Nats could have stand around at first base or in left field would add some sock against the Max Frieds and Steven Matzes of the league.

    Really, though, there are not that many good lefty pitchers in the NL East. The Nats should prioritize left-handed hitting if it’s a binary choice.


    17 Dec 20 at 11:52 pm

  39. I do think the Nats’ way ahead is more likely to be with these platoon-type players for less than $10M than it will be for one or two big-splash guys. With budget limits and a lot of holes to fill, that approach seems logical. It does for a whole bunch of teams, though, which is why I scratch my head wondering why these types of players aren’t flying off the board.

    Cron isn’t good against LHP, so I don’t have much use for him. La Stella is very good against RHP, but so is Moreland. La Stella has more flexibility, but Moreland has more bop. Profar is also a flexible guy and switch hitter with balanced splits. He’s had some awful years, but also some decent ones.

    Speaking of switch-hitters, I know we all grew tired of watching Cabrera’s futility as a LH hitter, but he still clobbers LH pitching: .686 SLG, 162 OPS+. Someone would just have to beat Davey over the head with the stats and make sure he knows that Cabs is only to be used as a platoon guy.


    18 Dec 20 at 9:42 am

  40. Sao, you’re right — there aren’t great LH starters in the NL East, or in the NL in general, so maybe we’ve all gotten too distracted with this whole thing about needing a big RH bat behind Soto. Of course Magic Juan hit lefties in 2020 even better than he hit righties, so there’s nothing to fear with him either way.

    Anyway, if you’re only going to facing a LH starter 20-25% of the time, it might not be so bad to invest in a platoon guy. Brantley sure makes a lot more contact than Schwarber or Pederson.


    18 Dec 20 at 9:53 am

  41. I can’t overstate my lack of interest in bats like Santana and Schwarber. At this point, you know what you are getting, floor and ceiling.

    The solution, if the quality bat inventory is too outsized in price (except Kendrick, who can hit anyone), is a deal like the Yankees made with St. Louis for Luke Voit. There are players who are blocked but the scouts know have ceiling. It worked for the Nationals with Wilson Ramos. Texas just traded for such an overstock player at TB.

    There have to be players out there who are blocked at the major league level and for whom the Nationals can deal from their surplus of young starting pitching and lower grade prospects. Teams like Nationals pitching and they pick up people like Austin Adams and now, James Bourque. Why not get something for these players who are “sell by” instead of dumping them for low level developmental projects. That Voit trade was good for both teams but it really did show why Cashman is an ace at what he does.


    18 Dec 20 at 11:55 am

  42. Several of the types of guys you advocate trading for have actually ended up on the free agent market as non-tenders in this cost-cutting year. There are still some out there, and I don’t discount Rizzo trading for one or two, but neither do I think he can get anyone who would really change the trajectory of the team.

    Generally I share your disdain for guys who strike out a lot. Guys over 25% K rate are a real red flag for me. Schwarber actually had several years of improvement and got down to 25.6 in 2019, only to balloon to 29.5 in 2020. Pederson jumped from 21.6 to 24.6, not as bad as I thought, as I remember him from his early years when he was flirting with 30%. They both had crushing BABIP issues in 2020 when they did make contact, presumably problems with shifts.

    I don’t know. Those are guys who have legit upper-30s HR power to temp me, and they’re young enough so they’re probably not over the hill. Schwarber takes significantly more walks than Pederson. But then there’s Rosairo, who hit 32 homers in 2019 and strikes out less than 15% of the time.


    18 Dec 20 at 1:14 pm

  43. Rosario seems like the kind of player Rizzo keys in on: under the radar, good plate discipline, sneaky power, fits a positional need. I don’t think he can be the singular “big bat” the Nats want, but he’s close enough that they could say mission accomplished while using the savings (vs. Ozuna or Realmuto, say) to improve the rotation and fill some gaps elsewhere. I mentioned La Stella, but Profar is another intriguing option out there — and it’s not my money, but it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to sign both and give Garcia and Kieboom both a little more time to develop in the minors.

    Steve Mears at TalkNats has the Nats looking at defense-oriented backstops like Jason Castro and Tyler Flowers. Neither of those guys have been very good over the past few seasons, but for cheap, they could be fits. (With the way catchers are trending offensively, one wonders how long it will be before the league starts talking about a DH for the catcher’s spot in the lineup too.)


    18 Dec 20 at 2:04 pm

  44. There isn’t much to like about the age of Zoom, but one thing is the ability to see a reporters’ chat wit Mike Rizzo recorded. I had very low expectations because of how coy Rizzo is, but I found him actually quite revealing to the ongoing discussions we have here. My takeaways of Rizzo comprehension:

    1) They are planning as if there will be no DH. It feels like he expects Howie to go to an AL team where he can be a 1B/DH. I hope that’s not the case, and he certainly sounded open, but he was talking “the right role” and that sounded very much like Rizzo is looking at a different plan A for offense and everyday players.

    2) Budget – I get a sense that they have the money to spend. They are thinking differently about how they spend it, but I did not hear a lower budget. I also perceived that Rizzo’s priority is exploiting the FA and non-tender market.

    3) They want to be able to manage options on the major league roster of starting pitchers. Clearly there are folks who are out of options, and I see a trade coming here.

    4) He seems very committed to younger starters (as opposed to adding a free agent replacement for Sanchez. Based on his answer, I would be surprised if the Nats added anyone as a free agent starter for more than a one year deal – maybe two years as a bridge for Max, if its a great find. I could still see them bundling

    5) They are looking to get a catcher. I didn’t read a great interest in Realmuto, but if a deal for an important piece comes in which Gomes is a key ask, Realmuto could work.

    6) Nothing specifically said, but I can see Andrew Stevenson staying on this team as a key 4th OF piece (and Robles insurance – defensive replacement for big bat), and Garcia being groomed to be a long term fit because both fit the culture of what they want.

    7) Kris Bryant ain’t coming here (good!) No rentals for prospect capital.

    8) I think the Nationals know who they want and we should expect a big bat for the middle of the order.

    9) Because of limited minor league exposure, they will have difficulty trading for other team’s prospects. Likely they will be more impressed with younger players who are recent draftees that the scouted in 2019-2020

    10) I would be shocked if Max does not get extended at some point. Rizzo sees him as having a lot left in the tank. I don’t think he ever wants to let him get away at this point.

    11) Zimmerman is an afterthought. Let’s see where we are in February.

    12) Didn’t get any love from him for Reetz 🙁 (or Barrera for that matter).

    13) No offers out yet for FA! How interesting. Must be waiting on the market.

    It’s like CSPAN – when you watch it all with your own eyes, see body language, hear questions and how they are posed, it’s so much more illustrative. And you are less likely to want to have reporters think for you….


    18 Dec 20 at 2:43 pm

  45. Sorry, 4) bundling younger pitchers to get a great controllable talent that they really like. I feel like they match up well with Tampa Bay for Snell, if that were an option. Rizzo likes his affordable stars, and he targeted Sale and targeted Gio and targeted Fister.


    18 Dec 20 at 3:13 pm

  46. The other point to me is that if they have not put formal free agent offers out there for anyone yet, they feel there is more value to be gained from affordable trade targets and Rizzo is circling a few to see where they can line up right on the return. There is too much

    1) Initiative
    2) Acknowledged multiple needs
    3) Payroll flexibility
    4) Remaining inventory with a slow market

    to conclude that we will not see a lot of interesting stuff for the Nats to come. Maybe he is waiting for other GMs to panic, or for newer GMs to settle in and get to know their talent that the Nats want. In any case, it’s coming…


    18 Dec 20 at 3:18 pm

  47. If Mike Rizzo had anything important to say, he wouldn’t say it on a Zoom call with the media. I know we are all hungry for Hot Stove news, but Rizzo is as stealthy an operator as there is in MLB. I don’t think anything is news until it’s a transaction.

    If we don’t add a quality veteran starting pitcher, probably on a multiyear deal, this winter, I will be floored. Joe Ross has pitched all of 153 2/3 innings over the past four years (none this year at all) with an ERA over 5 every season. Erick Fedde didn’t get his K/BB ratio on the right side of 1 until his second-to-last start and didn’t go more than six innings until his last start, in which he took the loss. I don’t even want to think about how bad Austin Voth and Wil Crowe looked this year. Relying on two of those guys to fill out the rotation would be goofy. This isn’t Pittsburgh.


    18 Dec 20 at 3:53 pm

  48. I could see a better, controllable starting pitcher coming in a trade for the inventory above, yes. I don’t see us handing out three year contracts to the existing starting FA market. One or one with an option.

    We’ll see.


    18 Dec 20 at 4:35 pm

  49. I would LOVE to trade for Snell . . . but I have no idea what the Nats would trade. The Rays just came within a hair of winning the World Series, so if they’re going to trade their most valuable asset, they want guys who can keep them competitive right now, plus major prospects. I don’t know whether they would think Kieboom would keep them competitive right now.

    Hmm, Kieboom, Fedde, Rutledge, and Cavalli for Snell. I’m still not sure that would be a enough. Throw in Romero as well, to make it five 1st round picks? (Gulp.)


    18 Dec 20 at 4:59 pm

  50. Meanwhile, Zim is starting to make real noises about returning. So who gets to break the news to him that the party’s over?


    18 Dec 20 at 5:00 pm

  51. It’s not a bad market for starting pitchers — a lot of #3/4 types available. Odorizzi, Tanaka, Sugano we’ve discussed…also Garrett Richards, Jose Quintana, James Paxton, Chris Archer, Mike Leake, Julio Teheran, J.A. Happ, and others. There’s also a few higher-upside (how much higher is an open question) guys like Cole Hamels, Taijuan Walker, and Corey Kluber if they’re healthy enough to pitch.


    18 Dec 20 at 5:48 pm

  52. For those who love K’s, now we’re talking about Eugenio Suarez, the MLB leader in 2019 . . . when he also hit 49 homers. Great AAV at $9.4M, about half of what Bryant or Ozuna would be. Signed for four years plus an option. That would mean 3B would be tied of up for a long time, so I assume Kieboom would be part of the trade bounty, along with a couple of pitchers.

    Suarez had his K’s at a semi-reasonable rate for most of his career, 23-24%, but then started really swinging for the fences and went up to 28.5% in 2019 and 29% in 2020.

    I thought I would find that he’s a creation of the Great American Bandbox, but that’s really not the case. His homers are 85 home vs. 77 road, with doubles equal at 65-65. He has more hits overall on the road (402) than at home (385).

    The K’s worry me, but I’m intrigued. That’s a lot of years of control at a great price, if KLong can straighten him out. I would think the price would be something like Kieboom, Fedde, and Crowe, as the Reds would want help-now players. Maybe we could expand the deal a little and add Sonny Gray as well.


    18 Dec 20 at 10:18 pm

  53. Sao — Yes, quite a number of good FA pitching options . . . if you can pick the right one. I think Hamels is used up, and Lester too. There’s some buzz about reuniting Archer with Hickey, but at this point, Archer is pretty much about the same as Ross/Fedde/Voth. The real high risk/high reward guys would be Kluber and Paxton. Kluber really intrigues me, for some reason. Maybe I’m just doing the Dan Snyder thing and wishing on past success. Walker is the youngster of the bunch, also with an injury history. He’s one who never quite lived up to the hype even before the injury.

    I think there are real questions here about how much the Nats have to spend overall, and what percentage of that number can they put toward a fourth starter. I think they would be a lot more comfortable in the $7-8M range than $10-12 (or probably more for Paxton or Tanaka). Maybe Archer could be had at around $7M? Odorizzi would be looking for more like $13M and maybe three years.


    18 Dec 20 at 10:43 pm

  54. One other pitching thought that isn’t being discussed — NO ONE is fully “stretched out” season-wise after the less-than-half season. What will happen when guys who went 60-70 innings in 2020 try to stretch out to 185-200? Physiologically, that wouldn’t be advisable at all. But maybe the extra rest will help the older arms. Who knows? Anyway, I predict some real arm issues across baseball in 2021, particularly later in the season.


    18 Dec 20 at 10:50 pm

  55. I think Odorizzi has just a ton of upside and he’d be another candidate to reunite with DMart and Hickey. And I’ve always liked Tanaka, but Rizzo hates pitchers with a relatively low K rate (which begs the question of why the hell he ever drafted Erick freaking Fedde, who couldn’t strike out my grandmother).

    Archer is interesting, but I feel like the guy is the human embodiment of Charlie Brown and Lucy and the football.


    19 Dec 20 at 12:50 am

  56. C’mon Sao, don’t you know that Fedde was a steal, a “top-10 talent,” just like Romero and Denaburg? Good grief, at some point can we stop looking for a “steal” and just draft a solid baseball player? FWIW, Fedde’s college stats were miles ahead of those of Cavalli, who to me smacks of yet another attempt to pretend like a guy is actually going to be better than his stats argue he will be.

    Man, there were a lot of misses in the 2014 draft, though:

    #1 didn’t sign (and still hasn’t made the majors); 2 & 5 haven’t made the majors, either. 3 & 4 just got non-tendered. 6 & 9 have done nothing. Only three picks in the top 10 have topped 10 WAR, and only four of the top 24, only five out of all 41.


    19 Dec 20 at 8:34 am

  57. Trea may end up being the best player from the 2014 draft, although Nola is also on his way to a high-level career. Chapman has gotten a lot of mileage from defensive value, but I’d likely take Trea over him going forward if given the choice, as Trea seems to have moved up to a new level. Flaherty may also figure in this conversation before all is said and done.


    19 Dec 20 at 9:08 am

  58. Fedde vs Cavalli college stats: Big 12 a heck of a lot better than the Mountain West. So i’ll give Cavalli that. Fedde’s friday night slate his jr season was a set of powerhouses like Air Force and San Jose State. Cavalli was facing top 25 talented teams like TCU, Texas Tech and Baylor. That being said, we know that Cavalli’s pick is a scouting pick, so we’ll just have to see what happens when he takes the mound in anger.

    Todd Boss

    19 Dec 20 at 2:22 pm

  59. Suarez and Gray.

    There is a lot to be said of acquiring Suarez and Gray in to same deal. KW’s idea is intriguing. The Nationals have young pitchers ready for ML tag are the kind of players Cincy trades for. They’ve also lost folks from the bullpen, and might like a guy like Finnegan whom the Nats can sell high on.. But it’s not like Suarez is coming off a superstar season. And Gray had had his ups and downs and Reds would be selling high to dump payroll.

    I like Suarez better than Kris Bryant, but he has his own injury concerns. The question remains whether Kieboom (who would appear to be the guy out, as the Reds could put him at SS) is at a stage to give up on. I’m glad the Nationals held onto other position prospects and would rather they spend the additional coin to get Springer or Lemahieu.

    That said, remember that the Nationals suffered a bad shoulder with Ryan Zimmerman. I would think they keep that in mind with both Suarez and Bryant. Also keep in mind that the Nats don’t leak their trade discussions. So my guess here is that the Reds leaked it to stir the market in a damaged guy they want to move because his contract is friendly but friendly as Adam Eaton’s contract when injuries wore him down as well.

    Verdict – pass unless a very good package.


    20 Dec 20 at 8:24 am

  60. The college stats that worry me most about Cavalli are Jake Irvin’s, which were better across the board at the same school, same conference, same coaching, same everything. Irvin spent his first full pro season spinning his wheels not able to get out of low A, while guys like Cate and Teel started there and made two-level jumps.

    I know that there were several factors with Cavalli, including all the time he spent as a two-way player. The good news there is that it kept low mileage on his arm; the bad news is that he may be developmentally behind as a pitcher.

    We’ll see. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, which pretty much describes the Nats’ drafting “strategy.”


    20 Dec 20 at 9:15 am

  61. It’s an interesting thought that the Reds might be interested in Finnegan . . . or Rainey, who they gave the Nats for the remains of Tanner Roark. Finnegan is five years of cheap, controlled, high-quality bullpen talent with closer potential. But would that stand in the way of a Suarez/Gray deal? Probably not. Kieboom, Fedde, Crowe, and Finnegan for Suarez and Gray?


    20 Dec 20 at 9:33 am

  62. I agree with you on Finnegan and how he may be valued. There would be a lot of cost controlled talent in a deal like that. Crowe has options and so he would have value as well.

    I’m not thrilled with acquiring Suarez because of the shoulder, and wonder how his throwing was last year. But Crowe and Fedde are dispensible and maybe Kieboom is too, and Finnegan this cheap may be selling high.

    Rainey has quite a trajectory for team that has not developed a closer in too long. But they could add these salaries for a return that does not tap out the system clears Fedde, and allows for money for a major FA acquisition. All while adding a big power bat.

    That noted, bringing Gray in would also allow Joe Ross to be swapped. I would think he could be a big piece of a deal for another high value player. Then you add two big lineup pieces by trade and another by free agent, plus a Sonny Gray to be a #4 starter.

    That’s a remake of a team that works.


    20 Dec 20 at 10:12 am

  63. If you aren’t satisfied with Voth, McGowin, Braymer, Cate, Romero and Armenterios to compete for #5, the team can then sign one of the free agents out there who would be upgrades.

    But I do think the team will bring back Max after this year and I also think that in a year, at least one of the starters for the entire mix will be ready to be a fixture in the 2022 rotation. People break out and break away – Joe Ross did it. And there really is starting pitching talent in the Nats mid-minors for us to feel good about.

    The Pirates are a good trade partner, with new management. The Marlins are as well because of the teams knowing each other from the instructional league competition.


    20 Dec 20 at 10:24 am

  64. Welcome back Jefry Rodriguez. No risk, no cost. AAA bullpen arm with less miles, system knows him.


    20 Dec 20 at 2:24 pm

  65. Cleveland’s minor league pitching depth is second to no one so he’ll have more chances with the Nats.
    Plus, as fore says, the front office knows him. Let’s hope his shoulder injury was minor.

    Mark L

    20 Dec 20 at 4:19 pm

  66. J-Rod is an interesting re-addition. Had to be on a minor-league deal as he’s out of options, so he’s sort of a one-time call-up who probably won’t make it through a DFA. He averages 95 but doesn’t strike out a lot of folks with it so still has some things to learn about pitching. The temptation is to say that with him turning 28 next summer, it’s time to take that heat to the ‘pen full time . . . except his ERA/FIP/xFIP numbers in ’19 were (slightly) better than those of Fedde and Voth in ’20. So is he starter depth at AAA, or a new potential bullpen weapon?

    The other thought is that he is depth starter coverage if they trade from Fedde/Voth/Crowe.


    20 Dec 20 at 10:19 pm

  67. To be clear, I would still see J-Rod as the #7-8 starter option. I don’t think he’ll probably be in serious competition for #5 unless Ross/Fedde/Voth fall apart in the spring.


    20 Dec 20 at 10:34 pm

  68. With the Zim comeback buzz, it’s important to remember that, not withstanding a certain WS dinger against Gerrit Cole, Zim REALLY struggled against RHP in the 2019 regular season: .213/.285/.361. His days playing even semi-regularly against righties are over. So they’d be looking for a platoon partner.

    A novel idea for that role would be a certain RH hitter, one we know well. Even with all his struggles in 2020, Howie still hit .303 against RHP, while only .200 against LHP. He clobbered LHP in ’19 (.376/.421/.615), but to this point, he hit RHP at .327/.381/.548. He would probably cost about half of Moreland, and likely only for one year, while Moreland will want two or three, at about what Zim and Howie would cost combined.

    I would think they should be able to get Zim and Howie combined for $5-6M, leaving a lot of money to spend elsewhere. Risky? Yeah, probably. But they’ve got Harrison able to cover 1B if something goes wrong, and perhaps Yadiel could take some reps there in the spring.

    I’m not particularly advocating for this; it’s just a thought. Brad Miller would be another cheap platoon option with Zim. It’s hard to get excited about him taking the majority of ABs for that position, though. They may take a shot at Moreland, but they’d likely be overpaying based on somewhat of a career year. I know some have mentioned Schwarber at 1B, but all I can find is that he stood at 1B once in his MLB career, during which not even one out was recorded. (I assume that was some crazy Maddon switch with a loogy or something.) Pederson does have 149 MLB innings at 1B, FWIW.


    20 Dec 20 at 10:56 pm

  69. Listen, I love Ryan Zimmerman and Howie Kendrick. They’re always going to be really special players to me personally. Zim has been a Nat since practically the very beginning, and Howie has much a huge part of this team for years as well.

    But come on, the Nats just finished fourth in the division after bringing back practically everyone from the 2019 team except Anthony Rendon and Gerardo Parra for a curtain call. Zim didn’t even play — since the end of his last All-Star campaign in 2017, he’s appeared in a grand total of 137 games, with an about-as-average-as-it-gets 104 OPS+ — and he’ll turn 37 before the end of the 2021 season. Howie will turn 38 over the All-Star Break; he struggled to stay on the field this past season, making just 100 plate appearances and managing a paltry 87 OPS+ despite rarely being asked to actually put on a glove (just six games, all of them at first base).

    2020 was the “last hurrah”, the opportunity for los viejos to take a victory lap. Unfortunately, COVID-19 happened, and the season — while better than no season at all, to be sure — wasn’t a whole lot of fun for anybody except maybe Juan Soto. So it goes. Bringing back guys who can’t really contribute anymore as a “do-over” in 2021 is just throwing good money after bad. This is a business. Literally no other team in baseball would be contemplating signing Zim and Howie back yet again to share first base, let alone one trying to right the ship after a shockingly poor 2020 season; the only reason we’re having the conversation is because we love them.


    21 Dec 20 at 2:44 am

  70. Sao, I just cannot equate Howie and Zim. The reason I am touting Howie is because he has great power, hits great in the clutch, hits everyone, is physically resilient, and puts the ball in play.

    If e struggled last year, and was injured, but says he’s ready to go, that’s enough for me to sign a comparatively affordable contract. No sappiness in that. Lots of folks struggled to stay on the field last year.


    21 Dec 20 at 4:48 am

  71. I agree with fore, everybody was injured last year across the board. You can’t have both Zim and Howie and seems the much better gamble. Zim still has his 5 year contract as goodwill ambassador.

    Mark L

    21 Dec 20 at 7:57 am

  72. Sorry. Howie is the much better gamble.

    Mark L

    21 Dec 20 at 7:58 am

  73. I more or less agree with Sao, that Zim and Howie should have ridden off into the Houston sunset in 2019. The big problem here is that Zim seems to be forcing the issue by advertising a comeback. It will be interesting to see if someone with the organization has the guts to have the “it’s time” talk with him over the next two or three weeks, before we get to the cusp of spring training, with Zim still expecting to rejoin “his” team.

    I also agree with Fore and Mark, that if given the option between the two, my bet is that Howie has more left in the tank than Zim. How much more, I don’t know. The problem, though, is that if Zim is allowed to force a comeback, the Nats are obligated to sign Zim over Howie. Howie will always be in the pantheon of Nat legends because of the 2019 postseason, but he’ll never be the Face of the Franchise (TM).

    That 2019 championship really was fleshed out with fading stars and castoffs who found magic at just the right time, plus a truly miraculous career year from Kendrick in his mid-30s. But the Nats’ attempt to keep a few of those guys and add a few others failed miserably in 2020. The only one they’ve brought back thus far is Harrison, although I’d also include Castro in that group. He was underwhelming in his short stint before injury.

    There’s still A LOT of work to be done on the 2021 roster. They only have the money to add one or two “stars,” at most. So who are those other three or four Average Joes going to be? And why aren’t they going on and snatching up some of them now, while they’ve still got the pick of the litter?


    21 Dec 20 at 8:45 am


    I have NO interest in a guy with a career 37.6% K rate. None. We think Schwarber has a K problem, but his career rate is 28%. Danny Espinosa: 28.9%. MAT: 31.4%. The Gallo number is just staggering.


    21 Dec 20 at 9:41 am

  75. Don’t worry. Gallo is not a Rizzo player.

    One guy I have really warmed up to on a two year deal is Yadier Molina. Why not? He’s a coach on the field, a great team player, has played on consistent playoff teams and 2 World Series winners, pitchers will love him, and won his last gold glove only two years ago. When I consider his positives offset against the other backup options out there, he feels like the best developmental bridge to the next generation if the price is right.


    21 Dec 20 at 11:30 am

  76. Boz’s take from his chat today:

    So, assuming not Realmuto unless he “falls” to the Nats, here’s “the rest of the story.” The Nats HUGE need, a corner OF bat, MUST be Ozuna, Springer (doubtful) or Brantley. Don’t sell me Kyle Schwarber. He’s a butcher in LF and a K machine. That signing would say, “We give up.” I like Brantley for LF. His age will hold down his price. A Joc Pederson (LH hitter) platoon in the OF would not be awful. Hope you enjoy HRs, Ws and Ks. He can even play a little CF. But he is purely a fallback position. Next, go after LH reliever Brad Hand and go hard. He’s been excellent for many years. He can close. Last year, Hudson got whacked at times and Tanner Rainey is probably a year away as a closer. But I really like the potential power of Hand, Hudson, Harris, Rainey, Suero and maybe Doolittle in a deep pen. That really works in October. As for 4th SP, Nats seem sold on giving Joe Ross one more Big Chance. He has the stuff to be a 30 start, 4.00 ERA starter. Can he do it? Finally, they MUST get what they’ve always expected from Carter Kieboom and Victor Robles. And some Luis Garcia. You MUST let these three develop. That is the DNA of this organization.


    21 Dec 20 at 1:04 pm

  77. Enough people have a boner for Joe Ross as an “under-the-radar” guy that I would see if I could pull off a Shelby Miller like deal with him involved. Someone would overpay for him.


    21 Dec 20 at 1:25 pm

  78. Excellent to see Javy Guerra and Wellington Castillo back as minor league contracts and NRI. Especially in a post-Kurt world, Castillo is quite a nice bargain relative to the other fringy catchers out there. He simply opted out and is not far removed from excellent CS and major league production. A true major league player.

    Guerra is the same. A minor league deal in a guy who finds his way back onto the roster like an old reliable car. I’m very happy with the roster management.


    21 Dec 20 at 5:32 pm

  79. Well, it’s been fun debating the worth of Howie Kendrick to the 2021 roster, but it’s now a moot point as he just announced his retirement.

    Happy trails, Howard. Thanks for everything. You are, and will always be, the man.


    21 Dec 20 at 6:59 pm

  80. I’m saaad. 🙁

    But methinks we have not seen the end of Howie. Must be rehabbing.

    Howie is one of our great ones ever. Will tell me grandchildren about him in the postseason 2019 and show those videos over an over….


    21 Dec 20 at 7:43 pm

  81. Howie Kendrick was a 10th-round draft pick who never hit more than 18 home runs in a season. But he hit two of the biggest homers in baseball history, and probably THE two biggest in Nats history.

    Howie looked somewhat done when the Dodgers let him walk after 2016 when he hit .255, his worse BA ever. (His .275 in 2020 was his second-worst.) His wRC+ was 90. What followed were 120, 112, and a career-best 146 in his greatest season ever, from start to last swing. He won’t be a Hall of Famer, but he can go view that ball with a yellow scuff mark there.

    Now if we can just convince Zim to rest on similar laurels . . .


    21 Dec 20 at 10:24 pm

  82. There are several catchers the Nats have been said to be considering who are worse hitters than W. Castro. He isn’t great, of course, but I’d almost rather them go to camp and let him and Barrera battle for the backup role than sign one of these guys who K 35-40% of the time (35.5% for Avila, 35.9% for J. Castro, 42.5% for Flowers).


    21 Dec 20 at 10:31 pm

  83. I guess my catcher list is 1) Casali, 2) Suzuki, 3) Ramos. I don’t think Molina is leaving STL. Of course Zuk can’t frame or throw. And the next throw from the OF that the Buffalo catches will be the first.


    21 Dec 20 at 10:37 pm

  84. As much as Howie’s WS-winning homer made my heart leap, I may have enjoyed the one that emptied Chavez Ravine even more. That was the dagger of all daggers into the evil heart of Big Blue.


    21 Dec 20 at 11:00 pm

  85. Aside from Realmuto, the best fit for the Nats seems to be Casali. Catcher is so important a position Rizzo had better hurry up.
    Wilson Ramos is a DH at this point.

    Mark L

    22 Dec 20 at 7:34 am

  86. Not for nothing, but….how are we so convinced that Casali is a better 2nd option than Wellington? And on a minor league contract. These options on the market now look like week old vegetables. Millions of dollars for a meh who hits 210 with no power. WC has had a nice CS and had good years two years ago. He opted out last year, so it wasn’t injury, and he already knows the pitchers and the young pitchers.

    For me, if they aren’t going to make a big catching upgrade, they should stay with what they have.

    We should have our own Howie Kendrick appreciation thread. Man, I am sad that he is gone. Soooo many big hits and RBI. One of the only Nationals that when I would go to a game I could just know he was going to deliver, like Soto. Until 2019 WS I didn;t even feel that way about Rendon.

    And KW I agree with you. Big Blue is a monolith. We were not supposed to win. And he just blasted that to dead center. It really felt like a miracle.

    The Home Run off Harris was amazing, its unforgettable, but that game just felt like the Nats would win.


    22 Dec 20 at 8:04 am

  87. The absolute LAST thing I want to do is spend a ton of money on a frigging catcher on the wrong side of 30. The Red Sox won 108 games starting Sandy frigging Leon and his .177 batting average in 2018. I’d much, much rather buy a bigger bat who won’t age out of the damn position in 2-3 years and leave us right in the same spot we are now.

    Todd Boss

    22 Dec 20 at 9:12 am

  88. Hey, Todd has a new photo!

    Mark L

    22 Dec 20 at 11:02 am

  89. Oh yeah, i got tired of that circa 2010 photo from my health club in Arlington. At least this is closer to what I look like now.

    Todd Boss

    22 Dec 20 at 11:36 am

  90. Terrific Kendrick appreciation:

    Love him all the more with the incredible back story.


    22 Dec 20 at 12:21 pm

  91. Let’s start with a basic statement: Buster Posey is better than Realmuto — 128 vs. 109 career wRC+, 52.7 vs. 18.9 fWAR (with Posey three years older), etc. At age 30, which is what Realmuto will be next season, Posey posted an .861 OPS, higher than Realmuto has ever posted. Over the next two years, Posey has regressed to .741, then .688. His wRC+ has gone 128, 107, 85. Posey didn’t play in 2020. He’s still owed $22M a year for two years before the Giants can buy out his last season. He’s not a bad player, and still would be in line for a McCann-like contract were he on the market, but he sure wouldn’t be looking at the 6/$120 or so that’s supposedly Realmuto’s starting point.

    So, one should reasonably expect Realmuto to sorta follow Posey’s decline. Also, Realmuto has been playing in a bandbox. His home/away OPS this year was .925/.757. In 2019, it was .887/.754. In a neutral ballpark like Nats Park, he would be a .750 OPS guy right now. For frame of reference, Suzuki posted a .745 OPS for the Nats in 2020. Folks aren’t lining up to pay him $120 million.

    Realmuto probably will have one or two good seasons for whichever team signs him, but decline is inevitable, particularly if he’s playing 130-140 games a year behind the plate. Maybe you ease the load a bit by moving him to 1B some, but then he becomes way overpaid for that level of production at 1B, plus you have to sign a better grade of backup catcher to work more of those games.

    In short, it’s just hard to prove that a large, long deal for Realmuto makes sense. It won’t end well, and that money could be spent for more bang for the buck elsewhere in the lineup.


    22 Dec 20 at 1:43 pm

  92. Interesting that it’s sort of floating out there from more or less official sources that Kieboom is available:

    That’s a far cry from being actually traded, of course, but it also seems like a real public admission that they’re not ready to go to the mat with giving this guy another chance.

    I’ve defended Kieboom more than some, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in him, either. If he could be a key piece in bringing back Bryant or Suarez, I wouldn’t object.

    There was also some discussion of Joe Ross above. Ross in 2015-16 was a revelation, looked like at least a #3 starter moving forward, very solid rotation piece. But he hasn’t had an ERA under 5 since 2016, will turn 28 next season, and is out of options. If he has any trade value, I’d say “sold.” I scratch my head at why the brass still seems to point to him as the guy . . . until I remember that Fedde is their alternative. (Trade him, too.)


    22 Dec 20 at 11:48 pm

  93. If we manage to turn at least two of Kieboom, Fedde, and Crowe into an actual MLB-caliber player or two this offseason, I’ll be crying tears of joy. I’ve seen enough of Fedde to be ready not to see him anymore, and while I’ve seen comparatively little of Kieboom and Crowe, I’m struggling to figure how they go from the unwatchable disasters they were in 2020 to actual contributors on a playoff team in the future. And if another team is excited about trying to make that happen, and they have a good player they’re willing to trade for them, I say let them try.


    23 Dec 20 at 2:43 am

  94. Sao, on this I trust Rizzo. Armenterios and Espino are backfill, perhaps JRod too. Every time I think someone is deemed untradeable, I think of Danny Espinosa bringing back Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin. We used to chuckle here, and I was no different, that we’d trade Danny for a bag of balls — and we would have!

    We can;t make deals like that this off season because there was no scouting of others’ minor league systems, but I am convinced that the Nats can still target 2019 and 2020 draftees they really liked (which helped with Turner, and perhaps accounts for a few people in the system that they acquired to attempt career turnarounds, like Nick Wells).


    23 Dec 20 at 5:52 am

  95. So yes, I am hopeful that Rizzo moves flotsam to teams needing starting pitching options in packages that bring back championship pieces. I like the slow pace, because I think Rizzo is better playing that game of dominoes. And I think we are lucky that the Lerners are playing for a championship – they are just playing smart.


    23 Dec 20 at 5:54 am

  96. Josh Bell just got traded to the Nats for Wil Crowe and Eddie Yean.

    Wil Crowe needed to be traded to a team like Pittsburgh, where he can be bad for a long time and maybe learn his craft.
    Don’t know much about Yean.

    Mark L

    24 Dec 20 at 2:06 pm

  97. Just checked; Bell has 2 more years of team control. His agent is Boras so he’ll be gone after 2 years, so the idea seems to be he’ll be placeholder until Luis Garcia is ready.

    Yean is 19 years old, so he’s way off.

    Mark L

    24 Dec 20 at 2:17 pm

  98. new posting on the trade…

    Todd Boss

    24 Dec 20 at 3:01 pm

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