Nationals Arm Race

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

Are the Nats going to be able to sign these guys?


Draft signing deadline day is 7/18/14.  Photo via

Draft signing deadline day is 7/18/14. Photo via

I smell whiffs from 2008’s Aaron Crow debacle.

(Which, just to head off hindsight is 20/20 arguments, did result in a comp pick that turned into Drew Storen … but Storen was a huge overdraft at the 10th overall pick in 2009, a college reliever who was a quick sign.  The Nats left a lot on the table in the Crow non-signing, as discussed in this space recently).

Right now, as of the morning of the 2014 Rule 4 signing deadline day, there exists just a small handful of players from the first 10 rounds of the draft who have not signed.  According to’s great draft bonus tracker, just NINE players out of the first 315 players drafted remain unsigned as of the moment of this posting.

Three of them are Washington Nationals draft picks.  And they include the two most important picks of the draft; i.e. our first two picks Erick Fedde and Andrew Suarez.

What is going on??   We havn’t seen these kinds of difficulties in signing guys since before the slot bonus system went into place.  What is Mike Rizzo doing?

According to reports (this Bill Ladson report quoting Jim Callis and Adam Kilgore), Fedde got a “$3M offer” from another team he he dropped to them in the 2nd round and (with notoriously difficult negotiator agent Scott Boras in charge) is holding out for more than the assigned slot bonus to his pick ($2,145,600).   The Nats can go a bit above the $2.1M figure without incurring penalties … but it depends on what happens with their other two marquee picks.  Media pundits (unnamed of course) are predicting a stalemate here.

Meanwhile, the general sense from reading the tea leaves is that Suarez will sign at or near slot (which makes you wonder what the heck is taking so long?), while unsigned 8th rounder Austin Byler seems to be unsignable at his slot figure ($145k) and will be returning to school.  Byler’s non-signing isn’t too much of a surprise; he was a 3rd round projected guy who slipped to the 8th round, and the Nats didn’t really free up that much cash in its other first-10-rounds of picks in order to get Byler the $600k it likely would have needed to sign him.

Aside: speaking of lack of signing bonus money for Byler; is overpaying its college senior signs?  They drafted four college seniors in the first 10 rounds (Carey, Gardner, Van Orden and Page) and gave them combined more than $200k.  Could that 200k have been better allocated?  Did those seniors need to be offered that much money?

It makes zero sense to me for Fedde not to sign frankly, even if he’s offered less money; by the time he rehabs his TJ surgery, it’ll be nearly the end of next year’s college season.  There’s just little chance of him going higher than he did this year, nor getting as much bonus money offered.  And if he has the slightest setback in his recovery, he’ll be lucky to be drafted in the first 5 rounds next year and will be looking at a tenth of the signing bonus offers.  And, if he doesn’t sign, he’s rehabbing under the care of his personal physician instead of an experienced professional major league team that has rehabbed probably a dozen TJ surgeries in the last few years, including some pretty significant and nationally renound names.  Why this is taking so long is just beyond me.

If the Nats fail to sign all three guys, they’ll have compensation picks in the form of the 19th overall pick in the 2015 draft for Fedde and the 58th pick for Suarez (if i’m reading the rules correctly that is; you’re supposed to get compensation for unsigned first, second and any supplemental round picks at your unsigned slot +1 in the following draft, irrespective of how many comp picks get stuffed inbetween rounds the next year).  I guess that’d make 2015’s draft pretty good.  But they’ll lose the Byler pick altogether.

Are you worried?

Written by Todd Boss

July 18th, 2014 at 7:52 am

40 Responses to 'Are the Nats going to be able to sign these guys?'

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  1. With the Nats’ habit of taking these things down to the very last minute, I won’t be worried unless the deadline passes and they aren’t in the fold. Frankly, I won’t be that upset is Fedde doesn’t sign since I wasn’t that thrilled with the pick in the first place. The Nats need BATS, not another injured pitcher who won’t be MLB realdy until the end of this current decade.

    I’d offer Fedde a “take it of leave it” deal just low enough to leave the cash to bring both Suarez and Byler into the fold, and if he rejected it I’d be all like “good luck, kid, you’re gonna need it.”


    18 Jul 14 at 8:02 am

  2. Well, bdrube, I am not sure I agree. I don’t think teams should draft for need because you don’t know which guys will actually make it, and what your needs will be when they do. I think the Nats need good players, regardless of position, so I think it will be a blow to the org for these guys not to sign. Not a death blow certainly, but getting the comp pick should be worse than signing the guy you thought good enough to draft now.

    I assume that Fedde and Suarez sign. It’s puzzling to me too, why they haven’t. I would guess that they were trying to get these guys below slot, so they could sign others, like Byler or some of those HS kids they drafted late. But when Hoffman signed for slot, it screwed up those plans. Can’t blame Boras for wanting the best deal for his client.

    But when does the physical take place now, or has it already? With Fedde’s recent surgery and Suarez’ history of shoulder problems, I would have thought that the physicals would be more complicated and not something to jam in at the last minute.


    18 Jul 14 at 8:31 am

  3. I’ll add other stories/links to deadline day analysis. This from Baseball America:

    This story mostly talks about Aiken as you might imagine. I think the Astros are going to come out looking pretty bad on this.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 8:54 am

  4. At least they get comp picks if these top two guys don’t sign. It just doesn’t make any sense though with the new slotting system for these things to come down to the final day anymore. Keith Law frequently says (when asked about who will and won’t sign) that in the modern system its a shock if *anyone* in the top 10 rounds doesn’t sign, certainly anyone in the top 2-3. And you can see that by the fact that there remains just a handful of players in the first 10 rounds.

    Agree with Wally on the Hoffman-for-slot comp. What is Fedde’s camp thinking? I’m now guessing its just Boras trying to play chicken and that at the end of the day he’ll sign for whatever the Nats are offering, knowing that (for reasons I mentioned) it just makes so little sense for Fedde not to sign.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 8:57 am

  5. Wally – I might be willing to give the Nats more of a pass on how they draft if they were more active in the IFA market. Look at the current roster and you’ll see exactly one bit player (Eury Perez, who I think of as Bernadina-lite) that was an IFA signing.

    This past offseason, for example, they seemingly had a huge hole at 1B (before LaRoche revived his career yet again), yet were nowhere to be seen in the bidding for Jose Abreu. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but LaRoche’s comeback not withstanding how good would Abreu look batting cleanup for this team? The ChiSox got themselves a superstar slugger under team control for six years for about 1/3rd of what the ghost of Prince Fielder cost the Tigers in free agency.

    Also, if you look closely at the Nats’ farm system, they need a major infusion of talent right now. Currently they have one blue chip prospect (Giolito) one older prospect having an all world season (Souza), one number 3/4 type starter approaching MLB ready (Cole) one CF prospect (Taylor) whose plate discipline makes Ian Desmond look like Nick Johnson, and one 5th rounder who has so far been a huge surprise (Voth).

    Beyond those guys, the system is full of failed or on their way to being failed prospects (Goodwin, Solis, Purke, Hood, Mooneyham) and lots of guys who only do one thing well (Kobernus’s speed, Walters’s power, etc). They either need to be much more aggressive in restocking the talent pool or they need to bite the bullet and overpay on extensions for Desmond, Z-nn and Fister, or by decades end they’ll be back to being also-rans.


    18 Jul 14 at 9:17 am

  6. Hmm. this article seems to claim that Brady Aiken could become a free agent if he doesn’t sign and wins a grievance.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 9:18 am

  7. Fedde and Suarez will both sign. Fedde would be absolutely nuts to walk away from $2.2-2.5MM and hope to be able to get $3MM coming off of TJ rehab next year. Rizzo is correct to play hardball and he’ll come up a bit from whatever he’s offering to get it done. Suarez is just being held up while they figure out how much they’ll have left from the Fedde sign and if they can get Byler. I’d take the odds that they get all three signed once Fedde capitulates.

    Andrew R

    18 Jul 14 at 9:38 am

  8. A few quick points. FWIW, this is the first Nats’ draft in a long time without Roy Clark. Perhaps he was the grease that helped make all the slot-shifting work. Second, Boras clients never sign before the midnight hour. It’s not a big deal with Fedde since he wouldn’t be playing anyway.

    Last but not least, the Nats don’t really need Byler and therefore have no reason to overpay for him. First of all, they’ve already got his clone, Matt Skole. Second, there isn’t going to be an opening at 3B or 1B at Nats Park for the foreseeable future, assuming Rendon and Zimmerman end up in those spots.

    That said, I do agree with the sentiment that the organization needs a talent infusion, particularly of hitters, particularly in the infield. I made that point during Todd’s draft preview. Rizzo apparently didn’t read my comment, though.


    18 Jul 14 at 9:57 am

  9. Ken: we may not “need” Byler but it sure sounds like he’d be good to have. As we all know, we’re light on hitters and you don’t “draft for need” in Baseball (you just never know what’ll happen by the time someone like Byler is ready to matriculate to the majors in terms of what position he’ll play or will be available).

    Reading the tea leaves though; Byler’s playing college ball in the Cape, and seemingly is positioning himself for a big Sr season to get more money. Nats can’t scrape together the $400k it’ll need to sign him, even if we skip out on Fedde and Suarez.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 10:02 am

  10. Another thing on Byler: he’s in the Cape … but hasn’t played a whole lot. He’s got just29 ABs in 11 games while the rest of the league has played nearly 30. Wonder what’s going on.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 10:05 am

  11. Another draft comment: look at the Draft Tracker for 2014: Every pick for the Nats in Rounds 32-39 was basically an unsignable High School player. All with big-time college commitments. What is the point of these picks? Maybe the MLB draft is just too long right now, if the Nats are just wasting picks for most of the last quarter of it.

    Same as last year; they signed the two college seniors they drafted in the 30th round or higher; the rest were HSers who they had no shot at or big-name college guys who clearly were going to go back to school instead of signing for a pittance.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 10:21 am

  12. Well, bdrube, at least you note that hindsight is 20/20. Throwing money at IFAs isn’t a guarantee of success any more than throwing money at domestic FAs is (where have you gone, Yunesky Maya?). While Abreu would have helped a little this season, as you note it would not have been a lot because ALR has been the team’s most consistent bat this year. Where Abreu would have been nice would be for 2015-7. Internationally the products of their revamped Dominican academy are just starting to climb the ladder. That’s where the team has targeted resources rather than high risk signings. We’ll see how that works out, but won’t really know for another 2-3 years. The progress of the DSL and GCL teams the past couple of years is encouraging though.

    Overall your assessment of the farm system is definitely through gloom-colored glasses. Purke and Mooneyham have certainly played their way into neo-bust status, and Solis can’t stay healthy. It happens; most prospects don’t make it. On the other hand I would say that Taylor’s plate discipline is a mixed bag, not a disaster; he does whiff a lot, but he draws twice as many walks as Desmond did and his CF defense is elite. Sickels at minorleagueball ranked Taylor as the #43 prospect in all of baseball last week. I would have said that Cole looks like a 2/3 starter (certainly his ranking from Sickels as the #67 prospect in baseball supports that). One reason to be high on Cole is his age – AAA at 22 is moving very fast.

    In fact, Cole is the only guy who has played for Syracuse this year that is younger than Goodwin – which is why I think that you’re writing Goodwin off as a failed prospect too soon. It’s a bit odd that you write Goodwin off based on his disappointing 2014 (although his OBP is still quite good) but put Destin Hood in the “failed” category despite the fact that he’s been very good in AAA this season.

    And if you’re looking for more prospects, there are several players in the low minors that are quite promising. Keep an eye on Drew Ward, Tony Renda, Spencer Kieboom (great name!) and Jefry Rodriguez. While the Nats are not a top 10 farm system at the moment, that’s to be expected after the graduations and trades of the past couple of years. The system started the season in the 15-18 range by most estimates, and will probably move up into the 10-15 range after this season based on the development. Because the roster is fairly stable this year and next year, there’s no need to rush prospects.

    John C.

    18 Jul 14 at 10:22 am

  13. Can we please stop with the Crow “debacle” take? It wasn’t a “debacle”, it was the correct decision both at the time and in hindsight.

    Crow was offered more than Matuez, the Oriole who was picked 5 slots above him and he turned it down. That in an of itself disproves the “cheap” allegation and shows the Crow people seriously overvalued their client.

    Crow got less than what the Nats offered from the Royals and he got it a year later. He also lost (potentially) a year of service time meaning if he gets another contract, it will also be a year later.

    Crow’s 27 now Storen’s 26
    B/R WAR Crow 3.1 Storen 3.4 (both have almost half of that in 2011 alone) Storen’s been paid $6.6m Crow $5.1m

    I’d say far from a debacle, it worked out pretty well for the Nats.


    18 Jul 14 at 10:23 am

  14. Bdrube – agree that Abreu would look awesome. But not really comparable to the draft, imo. He fell somewhere in between a draft/Jul 2 signing and a FA, but I lean more to FA. He was older and ready to contribute right away. Not sure what Rizzo and company thought of him, but I thought everyone was shocked at the contract when announced (and envious now when looking back)?

    I agree on the talent infusion, which is why I think not signing any of the three (or more) would be a hit. But in Rizzo’s defense, while it looks a little bare right now, there does seem to have been a lot of homegrown players coming up in recent years, and they are now mainstays or at least contributors for at least a few more years. So if there is a time for restocking, it is now.

    Lastly, on the Jul 2 Int’l signing guys, it feels like we are now spending our allotted pool, just spreading it out to a lot of kids, rather than a high profile guy or two. I have to say, I don’t think that is a crazy approach. It is hard enough to judge whether a 21 yr old college kid will make it to the bigs, let alone a 15-16 yr old. Giving those kids $2m? I dunno, doesn’t seem like it pays off often. When was the last big $$ signing of a 16 yr old DR or Venezuelan kid that turned into an all star, or a top rated prospect even? I haven’t looked into it at all, so maybe it is common, but I can’t recall anyone. Miguel Sano, maybe? I remember last year all the hype around Eloy Jimenez for the Cubs. North of $3m, I think. Never hear about the kid any more. Just saying that as long as we are now participating in that market (which we weren’t earlier), I am fine deferring to Rizzo how best to spend it.


    18 Jul 14 at 10:29 am

  15. Todd – why isn’t taking those HS kids with commitments late a good strategy? Teams can’t really expect to find a lot of contributors at that point. So I like taking flyers on several talented kids where, if they can free up $500k elsewhere, they can throw it at several and see if someone surprisingly bites? It is like money found on the street, in a way.

    Also gives the scouts a chance to get to know the kid and his family a bit, which could help when they renter the draft later. I dunno, just doesn’t seem like a bad gamble at that point.


    18 Jul 14 at 10:35 am

  16. Btw, does anyone know what is going on with Taylor Jordan? Hasn’t pitched in 6 weeks. I know he is on the DL, but don’t know what his injury was and how serious it is thought to be.


    18 Jul 14 at 10:39 am

  17. Futureme4: I maintain that situation was and remains a bad one for the team. Among other things;
    – you have no idea if Crow would have been a better or worse pitcher for the Nats. He lost a year of pro development thanks to the situation, and he pitches in the more difficult AL. This is the same argument I use when talking about the Michael Morse deal; you just don’t know if he would have hit .220 had he re-signed with us (as he hit in 2013), or if he would have been the beast he is in 2014.
    – Storen was an over draft. There were better prospects on the board inarguably, and because his draft spot was unguaranteed the Nats had to pick a guy who they knew wouldn’t hold out and cost them the spot.
    – Storen was a college reliever; you *never* want to commit that kind of money to a guy who you know is already heading to the bullpen. Your MLB relievers should be failed starters who converted to the pen when they couldn’t develop extra pitches.
    – The situation cost the Nats organization in terms of reputation in the industry thanks to the behavior of the GM and the front office during the dealings.

    Age; a wash. WAR? A wash as well; the difference between 3.1 and 3.4 is a rounding error in that stat, and WAR is an accumulator stat so Storen’s additional service time gives him the advantage anyway. Service time? Wash as well; Crow spent time in the minors trying to develop as a starter while Storen was nearly MLB ready thanks to the lesser demands expected of a closer. Salary? Who cares; not when your MLB payroll is in the 9 figures and you’re trying to win a title.

    Yes, the Nats have gotten lucky and this has “turned out well” for us thanks to Crow going to the bullpen and Storen re-gaining his mojo and looking like a closer-quality guy again. Go look at the list of players picked just after Crow in 2008, and just after Storen in 2009 that the Nats could/should have drafted instead. There’s an awful lot of notable names on there that I’d rather have right now, not the least of which is Mike Trout. If we’re really playing the hindsight is 20/20 game I’ll throw that out there as my lead.

    The bottom line is this: if you don’t sign your first round pick, your draft is a failure, plain and simple.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 10:58 am

  18. Wally/John – the point I’m really trying to emphasize is the Nats’ utter lack of being involved in the IFA market other than sensibly having a DSL club (two of whose players, Franco and Pimentel, do look fantastic this year as 16 and 17 year olds, respectively).

    When it comes to talent, you’ve got to pay to play, and right now the Nats are mostly drafting college guys with limited ceilings and not going after any big name IFA guys. Seems like a recipe for future mediocrity to me.

    As for Ward, word is he’s can’t play defense and will have to shift over to 1B at a very young age (ala Chris Marrero), the spies over at Nats Prospects indicate that despite his great batting average Kieboom moves quite slowly even for a catcher, Renda has no power to speak of and is already 23, and Rodriguez is too young yet to really get a handle on. Personally, I’m more intrigued by Wilmer Difo as a middle infield prospect than Renda. Dude has played both 2B and SS, doesn’t strike out much and has a little pop in his bat (8 HRs this year).

    Lastly, on Taylor, I saw him play in the Carolina Legue playoffs last year and watched as he waved meekly at breaking ball after breaking ball outside the strike zone. I think the best case scenario is that he becomes the CF version of Desmond (great range and arm, good power and speed, but lousy OBP and too many Ks). Of course, that WOULD be an improvement over Span, at least.


    18 Jul 14 at 11:01 am

  19. Wally: I think these picks are useless in the new system for the following reason: it’s nearly impossible to “free up” enough money to offer one of these kids anything close to what they stand to make later on. Lets be honest; a HS kid with a scholarship to Stanford has dreams of being a future first rounder, of earning millions in the draft. They’re just not going to be buyable for a few hundred thousand in the 35th round. IN order to free up that much cash, you’d have to draft nothing but college seniors in the upper rounds and offer them a pittance, AND not go over-slot with anyone else, AND not get any players like a Byers (a 3rd round projection who falls to the 8th), AND you have to sign all the rest of your guys to slot or lower. That means you’d have to punt the entire frigging draft in order to take a flier on a 35th rounder. Just isn’t happening.

    Yes I see the value of picking a kid to show interest and impress the family, to curry favor 3 years down the line. But come on; this is a business. If in 3 years Tommy Doyle (who the Nats picked in the 35th round) is a 2nd or 3rd round talent he’s going to get picked where he will get picked and his agent will maximize his bonus. Maybe you can argue he would give a “home town discount” because teh Nats took him 3 years prior but I doubt it.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 11:03 am

  20. Is it any surprise that the Nats aren’t big Int’l players? Rizzo is a huge proponent of drafting college players, probably because of the known quantity and available stats. If he’s hesitant to take HSers for this reason, imagine how little he’d want to commit dollars on 16-yr old skinny latino kids with nothing but “old school” scouting methods to judge them by?

    Throw in the whole Bowden/Rojo bonus debacle and the shuttering of one of their teams and the general pullback from the market for a few years.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 11:05 am

  21. Taylor Jordan injury. placed on 7 day D/L on 6/12/14. Last pitched on June 5th, where he had a pretty good outing (6ip, 2ER 9K). Baseball Prospectus “knows” about the injury and D/L trip but lists the injury as “not disclosed.”

    From Nationals Prospects at the time, Jordan’s 6/11/14 start was “…reportedly skipped due to a “little dead arm,” per Doug Harris via’s Lindsay Kramer.” I can’t find this original link but trust Luke’s reporting at the time. Clearly his “dead arm” has turned into something else.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 11:22 am

  22. @Todd – You are totally right about the HS kids. Let’s be real, the bonus money that comes with being a top pick may well turn out to be the ONLY big money many of these guys ever see. Just for the heck of it, I went back and looked at the 2005 first round on BR, including supplemental picks. All bonus babies, presumably, and that draft was one of the best in recent memory.

    The best careers of the group include our own Ryan, Tulowitski, McCutcheon, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Ellsbury and Jay Bruce. But of the 48 guys selected, 11 never made the bigs and 12 more have negative career WARs. That’s nearly half of the stud-filled class that never made any significant salary in the bigs. Their signing bonuses WERE their big payday. And other years would presumably show an even lower success rate.


    18 Jul 14 at 11:59 am

  23. Todd/bdrube – on the int’l FA market, haven’t the Nats been bigger players lately? I agree that they abandoned the market for years after Smiley-gate and it hurt the talent in the organization, but it seems like they are spending money the last couple of years. Do you guys not agree?

    If you assume that they’ll spend their pool allotments each year, which way would you do it: mostly on 1 or 2 big prospects, or pick up 10-15 kids and start training them. I think that an argument can be made either way, but it is not crazy to go for the volume approach.

    I would still love to see a list of the top signings (by $) in this group over the last 7 or 8 years, and how they have turned out. I did a quick Google search but couldn’t find anything. BA has current year signings, but I couldn’t find any historical data.


    18 Jul 14 at 1:02 pm

  24. Todd, I get your points about the Aaron Crow “debacle” debate, but futureme4’s points are well taken. Crow reached a bad assessment of his value, refused to budge off of that figure and ultimately cost himself a bunch of money AND a year of service time. Personally I think that Fedde refusing to sign, at his age, college status and just having had TJ surgery, would cost him a lot more than Crow lost. If Fedde’s negotiating stance, for example, is “$3M or wait ’til next year” then the Nats’ choices are essentially between competing debacles: (1) sign Fedde even though the $3M busts the allotment cap so that it costs the Nats next year’s #1 pick as well as the pick it took to draft Fedde; or (2) Don’t sign Fedde, deal with the bad publicity and content themselves with two first round picks next year.

    All other things being equal, I go for (2).

    The question is whether Fedde comes down enough to permit the Nats to sign Suarez at something near slot value without punting next year’s #1 pick. And they have to hedge their bet on Fedde’s signing because if they can’t also sign Suarez their draft allotment pool is reduced by the amount for the #2 pick – which could suddenly push them back into the “punt next year’s #1 pick” penalty.

    Bottom line for me is that I think Fedde signs for what he can get at 4:59:59 EDT. If he doesn’t it’s unfortunate, but to the extent that it’s a debacle it may be taking an embarrassing PR hit while avoiding an even bigger cost to the organization. I don’t think that Fedde is worth TWO first round picks.

    John C.

    18 Jul 14 at 1:15 pm

  25. Well for one, I don’t equate Fedde and Crow situations. As you say, Crow vs Bowden turned into an ego-driven pising contest, while Fedde’s decision tree (to me anyway) seems binary; he either takes the money or he likely never sees it again.

    Crow situation and my opinion. Lets put it this way; if the Nats had taken (say) some HSer who blew out prior to making the majors instead of Storen, we’d all be singing a completely different tune about what happened in 2008. There’s no way anyone could honestly say to themselves after the 2008 signing deadline passed that the “Nationals made a great move there.” But what is absolutely true is this: the Nats should have had two upper first round talents, and instead they turned that into a first round talent, a 2nd round talent, and a lost year of service time on its most important year-over-year drafting asset. Even now, with the nats completely getting lucky and getting a player who signed quickly and matriculated quickly, they’re still just middle releivers. Sorry; that’s a waste of a first round pick. Just like Detwiler as a mop-up guy is also a waste of a first round pick.

    I’m not saying Crow was faultless here either; i remember hearing an interview with him where I was just aghast at how he handled questions about the situation. Clearly to me the player didn’t want to come to Washington; if he made that clear to Bowden and Jim-bo still picked him, then the organization is even more at fault.

    Whatever; I personally throw that whole debacle on Bowden and a Lerner ownership group that was in a different place then than they are now in terms of maturity and understanding of what it means to own and operate a baseball franchise.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 1:34 pm

  26. Int’l market/Dominican prospects: I’ll be honest with you; I don’t bother to follow the signing of 16yr olds. Its so unbelievably pie-in-the-sky projection based scouting that it just isn’t worth the time. When i track minor league rotations, I start with the GCL and don’t go lower … and frankly may stop tracking that rotation too because they don’t really use “starters” down there anyway. Everyone just pitches a couple innings every few days.

    I think it is telling that the Yankees signed like 13 of the BA top 30 int’l prospects, and that the Nationals got zero of them.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 1:35 pm

  27. Wally – no doubt they will spend their pool money–they’d be silly not to do so–but that’s a different process than going after established foreign pro players like Darvish, Abreu, Iwakuma or Tanaka, and requires a much bigger financial commitment. Since the Maya debacle (which was pretty minor considering the sums thrown about for these other guys), the Nats have been invisible in that higher profile competition for IFA pros. Yeah, those signings can be risky, but the reward is also very high as we have seen.

    Todd is right though, much as I disliked the pick of Fedde, not signing him and/or Suarez would be a disaster, ESPECIALLY given that the Nats are not competing for the IFA pros. As I said before, the system is already way too thin in blue chip talent for comfort.


    18 Jul 14 at 2:07 pm

  28. FWIW, Kilgore is now reporting that Fedde and Suarez are now both expected to sign:

    John C.

    18 Jul 14 at 2:57 pm

  29. Wally; assume that’s your question in the Keith Law chat :-)

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 2:58 pm

  30. Great thread. While I disagree with futureme4 on the contention that the Crow non-signing was not a fiasco at the time (it absolutely was), I agree wholeheartedly that it isn’t a fiasco in hindsight. The problem I have with your position, Todd, is that you’re rebutting empirical data with purely hypothetical speculation, which renders your argument pointless. This isn’t real world apples versus fantasy world oranges. You can’t measure actual Drew Storen against the parallel universe Aaron Crow who signed with the Nats and is now a successful starter for them in 2014. It’s pointless because the latter isn’t real. It’s equally ineffective with your Morse argument. The Nats traded him with one year left on his contract, and it was a good call because 2013 Morse sucked and got hurt like he always does. If you’re going to argue that 2013 Morse might have been great if Washington had kept him, then you might as well argue that the Nats were stupid to let All-Star Kurt Suzuki leave. But even that argument fails, because alternate universe Kurt Suzuki who stayed with Washington might have sucked.

    No, Futureme4 is right: the argument is real Storen versus real Crow, which thus far is either a wash or a slight edge for Storen. No debacle. Let’s save the hypothetical fantasy discussions for political debates.


    18 Jul 14 at 3:22 pm

  31. Todd – yes, that was mine. I haven’t read the chat yet, but put it in earlier.

    Btw, here is a different take from John C’s about Suarez

    @ChrisCotillo: #Nationals close with Fedde, won’t sign Suarez…and hearing they’re still talking with 9th-rdr Austin Byler.


    18 Jul 14 at 3:29 pm

  32. Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 4:15 pm

  33. Clark; its hard to quantify “the loss of a year of having your #1 overall pick playing for you” and “the establishment thinks your organization is a joke” too.

    Its also hard to quantify “you drafted a guy at #10 who should have gone at #30 and thus you missed out on an awful lot of talent.” Ahem, Mike Trout.

    My point about “fantasy world” where Crow signed and developed with us may be hypothetical, but its still something to consider if you want to come at me with the argument that “well Crow was always bound to be a reliever so we ended up with a better reliever a year later ergo not signing Crow ‘worked out’ for the team.” I don’t think its that simple. No one can speculate what would have happened if Crow had signed with the Nats, developed in our system, not wasted a year drinking beer in the indy leagues, etc.

    Todd Boss

    18 Jul 14 at 4:19 pm

  34. @jimcallisMLB: 1st-rder Erick Fedde signs w/@Nationals for $2,511,100. @MLBDraft

    Looks like no Byler or Suarez. I imagine Rizzo is disappointed, and this will probably not be considered a good draft by whiffing on two of the top 10. Looks like Boras/Fedde took all the extra $$. Can’t blame them, it is the way the system is set up now. Although it is odd that teams would agree to limit themselves from signing players that they otherwise would be willing to spend money on.


    18 Jul 14 at 5:04 pm

  35. This is very disappointing, plain and simple. Somebody screwed up. Byler left Cape Cod early amidst reports he was to sign. He wanted way more than slot.

    There is a back story that leaves us guessing. My sense is that the Nats were left with three players who all wanted above slot and the team finally had to conclude that they could only get it done with one of them (or either Fedde vs. Suarez and/or Byler) without incurring the penalty, so they paid Fedde what they could. Meaning that even if they paid him 2.3, they still could not have gotten Byler or Suarez. Or meaning that they decided they would kick themselves if they lost Fedde to save their extra dough for the others.

    A lot was made of the team guaging signability before drafting last year. Something obviously did not go right with Suarez and Byler on that front. Thankfully they will have a second round pick next year, but it feels like an old Redskins draft with Reetz as the highest draft pick in the system this year.

    Lots of interesting comments here. I hope the Lerners take the money they saved and sign more international talent. Clearly they are very active international players now, and a large percentage of their good talent is coming from Latin America.

    As for the minors, I posted in “State of the Nats” below on a top-50 prospect list and hope we can inspire discussion from those who are seeing these kids play. I agree that the system (given injuries and underperformance) really feels like it has a dropoff of ceiling after #25.

    That can be corrected and fortunately, this is a young Nationals team with controllable players and a LOT of talent depth in AAA this year, unlike others. The ship will be righted.

    But today was like Rizzo’s Benghazi. Inexcusable mistakes or a cascade of them.


    18 Jul 14 at 7:58 pm

  36. Can anyone give me a list of the best MLB players taken 57th overall in the last 20 years? The odds that the Nats will get a comparable value out of the compensatory pick next year are probably pretty good, so don’t make a mountain out of this. Honestly, after the first round, the MLB draft is almost as much of a gamble as college football recruiting of high school players.


    18 Jul 14 at 8:53 pm

  37. Seriously? Rizzo’s Benghazi?

    I … sense a yawning digression that I’m going to ignore. Let’s keep this blog a baseball oasis from all that [garbage]

    John C.

    18 Jul 14 at 9:33 pm

  38. John, weren’t you aware that several people were killed today as a result of Rizzo’s failure to sign a couple of draft picks? Scandalous!

    Yes, let’s please keep this site blissfully free of political cheap shots.


    18 Jul 14 at 9:53 pm

  39. Nats 2014 draft == failure. I’ll new post.

    Todd Boss

    19 Jul 14 at 9:46 am

  40. clarck17: here’s a link to all #57 overall picks over the years:

    Some interesting successes here: Jon Lester, Brandon Phillips, Brandon Inge. Some interesting prospects drafted there in the last couple of years who havn’t come to fruition yet (Billy Hamilton, Robbie Ross, and the last four drafts worth of #57 picks). And of course lots of washouts.

    Todd Boss

    19 Jul 14 at 11:22 am

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