Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats Trade Deadline Summary


We’re already talking about this in the comments … and I already had this written, assuming we’d make 4-5 trades like we did last summer. But we didn’t, so this is a whole lotta nothing of a post. But i’ll post it anyway.

I tried to predict what kind of return we’d get back for all our trade-eligible players a few weeks back. Here’s what we ended up getting back for all our trade candidates:

High Value Trade Candidates

  1. Juan Soto: Predicted Return: 3 top 10 prospects plus two pre-arb Major Leaguers. Actual Return: almost exactly this: the 3 top 10 prospects were Hassell, Abrams and Wood, the two pre-arb major leaguers were Gore and Voit.
  2. Josh Bell: Predicted return: One top10, one 10-15th ranked prospect. Actual Return: Well, we got the 10-15th ranked prospect in Susana, but I may have overvalued his individual/separate trade value.

We separately reviewed this deal so I won’t go back into it.

We’ll Take what we can get:

  • Nelson Cruz: Predicted Return: One 15-20th ranked prospect. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Cesar Hernandez: Predicted Return: a 20+ ranked prospect. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Steve Cishek, Predicted Return: a 20+ prospect. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Carl Edwards Predicted Return: a non prospect. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Erasmo Ramirez: Predicted Return: a non prospect. Actual Return: was not traded.

At the end of the day, not one of these players actually got traded. All of them are FAs at the end of 2022, and none of them got moved. Why? Well, the WP’s Jesse Dougherty has an article about exactly that. In summary: none of these guys were actually wanted by other teams. Cruz has struggled in 2022, Hernandez is hitting an empty .240, Cishek isn’t dominating enough, Edwards may not actually be a FA (Cots and Dougherty disagree on his eligibility for 2023, perhaps b/c he was a MLFA this past off-season). Ramirez is a workhorse but has a 4.75 FIP. Cruz is the really disappointing one; everyone thought that was a FA bought to flip. Now he’ll play out the string on the worst team in the league.

So … at the end of the day we got nothing for all these potential trade pieces.

Not Likely to be Traded despite being FAs to be:

  • Wil Harris, Predicted Return: wouldn’t be traded. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Joe Ross, Predicted Return: wouldn’t be traded. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Anibel Sanchez, Predicted Return: wouldn’t be traded. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Ehire Adrianza, Predicted Return: I didn’t think he’d be traded. Actual Return: Trey Harris, from Atlanta, a 32nd rounder repeating AA at age 26. So, a non-prospect.
  • Sean Doolittle: Predicted Return: wouldn’t be traded. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Maikel Franco: Predicted Return: wouldn’t be traded. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Alcides Escobar: Predicted Return: wouldn’t be traded. Actual Return: was not traded.
  • Tyler Clippard: Predicted Return: wouldn’t be traded. Actual Return: was not traded.

Somehow, out of this list, we got something back for Adrianza. Not surprisingly, most of the rest of these guys are hurt (or have really underperformed) in their walk years and thus netted us nothing. Certainly at the beginning of the year, we looked at a bunch of these guys (especially Harris, Ross, Sanchez, Doolittle) and thought they’d be excellent walk-year trade pieces. In the end though, we got nothing.

Pre-FA players thinking outside the box

  • Kyle Finnegan Predicted Return: a 10-15th ranked system prospect. Actual Return: was not traded.

Dougherty notes that they had some conversations, but not a good enough return to off-set the fact that Finnegan is under team control for 3 more years.

So, at the end of the day, just two trades, a far cry from the 5 separate trade deals negotiated at this time last year. I’m pretty sure this is now how Rizzo thought the 2022 trade deadline would go down. So many of our trade assets have gotten hurt or underperformed this year.

Written by Todd Boss

August 5th, 2022 at 9:47 am

Posted in Nats in General

4 Responses to 'Nats Trade Deadline Summary'

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  1. I don’t know where the info on Edwards being controlled for another year is coming from, but Dougherty has it, and it’s repeated in a NatsTalk article posted today. FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference join Cots in having him as a free agent after this season, which is generally the case when you sign a guy as a free agent, unless you specifically give him a two-year contract. Maybe it works differently since he was signed to a minor-league contract? I have no idea. Edwards has been a reasonably good piece so far and likely would be offered a contract for next season regardless.

    I suspect with Finnegan, the level of return the Nats wanted in return for three years of control didn’t match up with the guy with a 4.10 FIP in the minds of proposed trade partners. Finnegan has been fairly consistently good, but never great, and wouldn’t be a closer for a contender. If Rizzo for looking for another Capps-for-Ramos heist, he wasn’t going to get it for Finnegan.


    5 Aug 22 at 12:20 pm

  2. Lets see if we can play forward Edwards’ eligibility.
    – Added to 40-man Nov 2014
    – burns three pre-arb years on 40-man in 2015,2016,2017
    – Must have had a 4th option, because he also gets assigned a salary in 2018. Makes sense since he was a HS draftee in 2011 and added to the MLB roster in 2014. That’s super early to get called up. however, Cots does not list him has having a 4th option. So that’s a discrepancy.
    – he looks like he did half a season of service in 2016, then full seasons in 2017,2018,2019. So that should be something like 3.134 in service time (actually we know exactly how much per the super-2 article below)
    – He became arb-eligible in 2019 but was outrighted; no options, elected FA. So that’s one arb year gone.
    – Signs a 1yr major league deal for 2020. Gets outrighted again at the end of the season, no options, elects FA. that’s 2nd arb year gone and he should now be at 4.134 in service time.

    here’s where it gets difficult to track…
    – In 2021, signs MLFA deal, earns a day, released, signs again, earns around 3months of service time, then released. So it looks like he earned around 90 days of service time, added to 4.134 and that kind of seems to work out, because he enters 2022 with 5.020 service years. Well, it doesn’t EXACTLY match but its close.

    So … here I think is the answer. He was a super 2.

    He made super 2 on the nose. So he has a 4th arb year. What’s odd is … how do you tell which year counts as an arb year? Did 2021 count as an Arb year? I don’t think it does; he never went through arbitration, since he agreed to a Minor league contract. And 2022 doesn’t either, since he did the same. But somewhere in here he’ll pass 6 years of service time. Neither fangraphs or rosterresource thinks he has eligiblity remaining.

    so….who knows.

    Todd Boss

    5 Aug 22 at 2:14 pm

  3. Well Todd, you proved that a) a front office should hire you, and b) that the rule is pretty dang convoluted. I do think it’s all relevant to this discussion, though, as they probably would have tried a little harder to move Edwards if his contract was expiring.

    Another real possibility here is that the front office made the decision to focus all the deal-making, scouting, and analysis efforts on the one trade that really would reshape the franchise. And I’m OK with that.

    Another issue, which we discussed in the context of the draft, is that the system is full. They’re releasing guys to make room for the Soto/Bell acquisitions. I don’t know whether they will have to release even more whenever the draft picks are actually activated. But it wouldn’t have made a lot of sense to release third-tier prospects to add nearly acquired third-tier prospects, which is what they would have gotten for most of the guys other than Finnegan.


    6 Aug 22 at 1:53 pm

  4. Between trade acquisitions, draftees, NDFAs they’ve added dozens of players. I count 34 in the XST right now, which presumably means 34 guys need to make way across the system.

    They’ve released 8 guys in the last week .. so more probably coming.

    Todd Boss

    8 Aug 22 at 12:35 pm

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