Nationals Arm Race

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

Nats Player Option status for 2013-2014


I took a moment to update my own little internal spreadsheet that tracks Player Options for the Nationals, now that Cots’ site has updated service time numbers for 2013.

This spreadsheet is in Google Docs at this link, as well as being in the “NatsArm Creations list along the right hand side of the blog.

Springfieldfan also maintains an options page on the Big Board with a bit more detail for other players in our system outside of the 40-man players that i’ve focused on.

Interesting Options developments for 2014:

  • First and foremost, 40-man member Corey Brown exhaused his 3rd and last option in 2013.  Does anyone think he’s going to be on next year’s 25-man roster as a bench player?   Ironically the team needs lefty power off the bench, and Brown is a lefty with two straight power-filled seasons in AAA.  But somehow me-thinks he’s going to lose out on this competition and faces a DFA sometime between now and April 1st 2014.  He’s cleared waivers before and stayed in the organization, but with more teams purposely tanking right now I wonder if he’ll survive another exposure to waivers.
  • A reminder that Ross Detwiler remains out of options, though the Nats have shown that limitation is easily worked around by virtue of “soft tissue” D/L trips as needed.  Nonetheless, if Detwiler is healthy in spring training, he’s either your 5th starter, a lefty in the pen, or facing a transaction.  It seems like we have this conversation every spring.
  • Denard Span has achieved 5 years of cumulative service time, meaning he can refuse an option to the minors.  Not that he’s in grave jeopardy of such a thing.

The bulk of the team remains very options-flexible, with 30 of the 39 guys on the current 40-man roster capable of being sent down if needed.  This proved to be very handy last year when a number of guys under-performed, and may prove to be handy this year.

Frankly, Spring Training 2015 is going to be a big options showdown for a lot of guys on this team; I count at least four guys and perhaps more who are almost guaranteed to use their last options in 2014.  But this is a topic for a post a  year from now.

Written by Todd Boss

December 5th, 2013 at 9:42 am

10 Responses to 'Nats Player Option status for 2013-2014'

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  1. Corey Brown cleared waivers last time because he was coming off a knee injury; it’s hard to see him getting past a team with OF issues (Mets/Astros/Twins, etc) if he gets DFA’d again.

    Right now I think he is the tenuous holder of the 25th roster slot (nominal current bench: Solano; Espinosa; Moore; Hairston; Brown). Very tenuous, because if the Nats sign a better LH bat who can play IF (Chavez makes a lot of sense), then Brown is gone. Heck, Kobernus may beat him out of a spot straight up in Viera.

    John C.

    5 Dec 13 at 11:18 am

  2. Todd–I think you are right that Moore was very briefly sent out again in 2012. I’m looking at the MLB game logs, and Moore DNP between May 26 and June 8, 2012, and Brown was up May 28-29-30.

    It’s probably time to flip Brown, and also give him a chance to play elsewhere. After his decline last season, I can’t see him truly in the running for a bench spot. He still strikes out way too much.

    The bench is still quite problematic, and I would love to see Souza given a legit shot to unseat Moore or Hairston. A bench with Souza and Kobernus would have a lot more flexibility and speed. I don’t think Walters has shown enough plate discipline to make the big club, as John C. pointed out yesterday. I also don’t see him at SS in the majors. And with the 29 HRs, his trade value may never be higher.


    5 Dec 13 at 12:55 pm

  3. Moore’s option status; if he was only down 5/26 to 6/8 then that option didn’t count … could be something worth looking into, especially if he burns an option this year.

    Rizzo has traded before with Minnesota; maybe Brown to Minnesota for a lower prospect makes sense.

    Walters in trade; great idea. you’re absolutely right a 29-homer hitting SS capable guy would look good indeed in trade.

    Todd Boss

    5 Dec 13 at 1:01 pm

  4. I said this in the last post before I saw this one up, so I’ll repeat the gist.

    I can’t see Moore and Hairston on the same bench: too redundant, in my mind. I also do not think that the FA market has a great fit for a LF OF type, and I really think that we need to think 4th OF who may need to play every day for stretches. So I am hoping for a trade of an under the radar guy, like maybe Ryan Sweeney, Corey Dickerson, Kole Calhoun, Jarrod Dyson or David Lough. Maybe a Eury Perez swap makes sense.


    5 Dec 13 at 2:05 pm

  5. Its funny, i see the comments directly next to each other by virtue of reading them in teh wordpress engine as opposed to through a browser.

    Do you see Hairston and Moore the same? I guess they are; for some reason I thought Hairston could play infield but he hasn’t in years. So, yeah, both are basically right handed corner outfielders.

    Todd Boss

    5 Dec 13 at 2:26 pm

  6. If Moore doesn’t make the team, we’d have to sign a RH first baseman to sit ALR against tough lefties. Unless, you want Hairston playing first a decent amount.


    5 Dec 13 at 10:49 pm

  7. I have a hard time believing that LaRoche will platoon. We’re talking about a seasoned vet, one of the highest paid players on the team, a guy that Rizzo went out and got and convinced to come here. Yes I know its supposed to be a performance-based business and yes I know he struggled in 2012. But i just don’t see it; if he comes out of the gate hitting like he did in 2013 they’ll stick with him for weeks and weeks. Maybe i’m wrong.

    Todd Boss

    6 Dec 13 at 7:42 am

  8. If LaRoche is still with the Nats, he will play every day, for the reasons Todd notes. I’ll add another: his splits against LHP in 2013, albeit feeble, were actually better than Moore’s. Hairston’s were a bit better than both, but I don’t know why he’s still in the majors after a .191 average and .237 OBP overall for the season (career .298 OBP). I know he’s “under contract,” but his numbers are terrible. Against RHP, he went .147/.129/.276. Presumably he had a bat with him during those plate appearances, but it’s hard to prove it by those numbers.

    To Moore’s credit, when he was sent out to Syracuse last year, he left no doubt that he was better than the league: .318/.395/.584. That’s for 200 plate appearances, so it isn’t a small sample. In contrast, for the season at Syracuse, Brown went .254/.326/.473. (We don’t even want to talk about what Espy did.) However, Moore’s problems are that he should never be let on a field anywhere but at first base, and his plate numbers at the MLB level severely declined in 2013.

    The issue here isn’t specifically Moore, Hairston, Brown, or Walters, whom I mentioned above. All of these guys likely would have been starters for the big club in 2009-10. But when a team gets to an elite level, the talent pool that can improve the squad, or even keep it at the expected level, contracts greatly. Players who were part of the equation during the rise, such as Moore, Lombo, and even Morse, suddenly don’t really have a place. The fair thing, as the Nats have done with Morse and Lombo, is to move them and give them a chance elsewhere. The bigger trick is back-filling with better players while not spending a fortune on reserves.

    Among the starting eight returnees, LaRoche had the most disappointing season last year, particularly for someone at a “power” position. If the Nats upgrade, it likely would be by either getting a new 1B, or by moving someone displaced by the new stud to 1B. Either of those scenarios would require trading LaRoche, as they aren’t going to have $12M sitting on the bench. I do think a trade would be wise if an upgrade can be found, as LaRoche appears to have started his career decline, plus the Nats would have to let him walk at the end of 2014 with nothing in return.

    Again, though, as just noted, the talent pool that could significantly improve the Nats is small and not cheap. Everyone needs to forget Cano; the ridiculousness with Seattle just confirms everything we suspected about how outrageous the demands would be. Any contract that takes him to 2022 or 2023 will hamstring the team for a decade.

    More likely for the Nats, Rizzo is looking for a Fister-type deal for an undervalued hitter, or for someone whose big contract doesn’t run into his dotage. It might be interesting to have a post about who some of those guys might be.


    6 Dec 13 at 10:25 am

  9. “Presumably he had a bat with him during those plate appearances.” . That made me laugh Ken; good work :-)

    It wasn’t that long ago that Hairston was a pretty durn produtive hitter in the major leagues (2012 slash line in New York: .263/.299/.504 with 20 homers in 400 PAs). Lets hope for one last hurrah I guess. Otherwise you file him under the “there are no bad one-year deals” and DFA him in June if he’s still hitting below the Mendoza line.

    Moore: I have no problem sticking a plus hitter in Left field and just eating the loss of defensive runs. Never have. Never liked the dumping of Willingham for this same reason (not to beat a dead horse here … yes I realize Willingham was never going to be healthy enough for Rizzo’s liking but you cannot argue with his production in the two years following his exit from Wash). But we just don’t know what Moore is.

    Todd Boss

    6 Dec 13 at 10:50 am

  10. In brief, I’d like to see them upgrade the OBP across the bench, which was epically bad last year. Hairston has never gotten on base very well, even when he has hit for some pop.

    Looking within the organization, I would really like to see what Souza can do. In addition to great AA stats at the plate, he has played all three OF slots, 3B, 1B, and even a number of games at SS early in his career.


    6 Dec 13 at 12:09 pm

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