I was intrigued by ckstevenson’s comment/suggestion to do a piece on Former Nats. We certainly talk about them a lot, especially the traded pieces. So I’ll start a new series tracking down significant players who departed ways from the team. I figure year by year is the way to go, so we’ll look at guys who were with the franchise in 2016 who left either during the 2016 season or who were traded in the off-season prior to the beginning of the 2017 season.
I’ll leverage previously written material from my Nats to Oblivion Posts to start, then fill in the holes. I’ll focus on players no longer with the organization, not guys like Clint Robinson who got DFA’d off the 40-man but who are still with the org in some capacity.
I’ll organize this by roughly by the level of the player; major league players who left via FA or trade, then DFAd/declined players, then minor leaguers of note.
- Mark Melancon: signed a 4 years/$62M with the San Francisco Giants, through his age 36 year, which was a record for a relief pitcher that lasted a few more weeks until Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen signed in last off-season’s closer bonanza. So far in 2017 he’s been solid, as expected. The Nats were pursuers, but didn’t want to go as high on total value.
- Wilson Ramos: signed a 2yr/$12.5M deal with Tampa, with incentives to possibly take that to around $18.5M. A far cry from his value prior to the knee injury.
- Matt Belisle: signed a 1 year/$2.05M deal with Minnesota. He only made $1.25M on a minor/major league deal with Washington in 2016, who didn’t want to guarantee him this kind of money for 2017 in his age 38 year season. So far in 2017 he’s been very solid, picking up where he left off last year. We could probably have used him … but that’s “hindsight is 20/20” argument right now; you could also look at his 2016 and say “one-off” season and fully expect him to regress this year.
- Marc Rzepczynski: signed a 2 years/$11M deal with Seattle, clearly more than the Nats were willing to pay, despite the fact that we traded future hall-of-famer Max Schrock to acquire him. As of this writing he had yet to give up a run for Seattle’s bullpen in 2017.
- Danny Espinosa: traded to the Angels for two AAA arms after the team made him obsolete (and destroyed his trade value) by acquiring Adam Eaton and making it clear that Trea Turner was going to be the 2017 shortstop. Espinosa returns to his home town and is doing about what we’d expect from him; hitting .186 and leading the league in strikeouts through April 2017.
- Yusmeiro Petit, who made the 2017 Angels as an NRI and has been very effective thus far in 2017, pitching to a 1.59 ERA through most of April.
- Ben Revere was non-tendered and signed a 1yr/$4M deal with the Angels (with some incentives). Revere joins former Nats Petit, Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Alex Meyer in Los Angeles; that’s 20% of their current active roster with Washington ties.
- Jonathan Papelbon: Released mid-2016, not only did he not sign on for the rest of the season … he has yet to sign on with anyone for 2017. He was reportedly “dealing with a family matter” over the off-season that prevented him from signing with a team. I think that’s code for “I’m no longer good enough to convince a team to deal with my baggage so I’m probably retired.” Either that or he’s somehow self convinced that his 89mph fastball still plays as a closer in the modern game and refused to consider middle relief options.
- Derek Norris became the second ex-Washington catcher to join Tampa Bay this off-season, signing a 1yr/$1.2M deal with another $800k in roster bonuses after getting cut loose from his $4.2M arbitration-avoiding contract this spring. The transaction cost Washington a cool $688k. Norris has struggled badly at the plate thus far.
- Sean Burnett: Signed MLFA deal with Philadelphia for 2017, but was cut on 3/26/17. Not even assigned to AAA. As of this writing is un-signed. I’m slightly surprised someone hasn’t taken a flier on him as a AAA loogy, unless the scouting reports from his time last fall indicate that his 2nd elbow isn’t as good as his first.
- Mat Latos got his rehab assignment paid for by the team last year but couldn’t parlay it into anything but a MLFA deal for 2017 with Toronto. However, a slate of injuries to Toronto’s rotation resulted in his getting called up in April 2017, shocking me; I figured Latos was done. His first start wasn’t great: 4 runs in 5 innings; we’ll see how long he lasts in the hitter-friendly Skydome.
- Matt den Dekker: Signed MLFA/NRI deal with Miami for 2017. Did not make the 25-man roster and is currently in their AAA affilliate in New Orleans.
- Paolo Espino, who had a solid year starting in AAA, signed a MLFA deal with Milwaukee for 2017. Through his first 4 starts for their AAA team in Colorado Springs, he’s posted similar numbers to what he did for us last year, quite a feat for playing at such altitude). I thought Espino was a loss for a team that clearly doesn’t rate its remaining AAA starters that much and who had an open tryout for 4-A types like Jeremy Guthrie and Vance Worley all spring.
- Vance Worley; speaking of Worley, after not beating out Guthrie or anyone else to make our team, he opted out and joined den Dekker (and Tyler Moore, and Destin Hood, and Steve Lombardozzi) in Miami’s AAA team in New Orleans. That’s 5 players with Nats ties on a 25-man team. Worley through 4 starts: 1.66 ERA. Perhaps the Nats picked the wrong veteran hurler. Worley had solid numbers for Baltimore in 2016; still not sure why he wasn’t looked at more closely.
- Erik Davis: longtime Nats farmhand Davis took a MLFA deal to leave our system, signed with the AAA affiliate in Reno of Arizona and has been stellar thus far in 2017; zero ER and 12 k’s in 8 innings. If he turns into a serviceable RH reliever at a time that the Nats need some … i’ll be disappointed.
- Taylor Jordan: summarily cut after it became clear he would need a second Tommy John surgery. I thought the timing was a bit cruel and hope that Jordan at least got his medical bills paid for by the team.
- Abel De los Santos was claimed off waivers off our 40-man roster by Cincinnati, who eventually called him up for a 2-week stint last September. However, they waived him in October and he got claimed by … guess who … the Los Angeles Angels. The DFA’d him a month later during the pre-Rule5 period and snuck him off their 40-man roster. He’s struggling for their AA team in Mobile so far in 2017.
- Reynaldo Lopez (traded for Eaton): struggling with is control thus far in 4 starts for AAA Charlotte. 1-1 with a 4.87 ERA and a 22/13 K/BB ratio.
- Lucas Giolito (traded for Eaton): also struggling with his control thus far in 4 starts for Charlotte: he’s 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA and a 16/9 K/BB ratio.
- Dane Dunning (traded for Eaton): has posted a 0.45 ERA through his first three starts for low-A Kannapolis, with a 26-1 K/BB ratio, though as noted in the comments previously, Dunning is the sole 1st round college draftee from a 4-year school who is NOT already in High-A. He’s a man among boys in Low-A and needs to be moved up to get any useful reading off his stuff.
- Mario Sanchez (traded for Cordero): has given up 5 runs in 9 innings thus far for AA Reading in the Philadelphia system.
- Jeffrey Rosa (traded for Romero): sitting in Tampa’s XST, no 2017 appearances. He’ll likely repeat the GCL.
- Pedro Avila (traded for Norris): 3 starts and decent numbers for Lake Elsinore in High-A. He’ll give up hits in that hitter-friendly league, keep in mind. At the end of the day, trading Avila so that we’d have the honor of giving Norris a check for $688k and then releasing him was not the best business Mike Rizzo has ever done.
- Felipe Rivero (traded for Melancon); 0.77 ERA through 12 appearances for the Pirates in 2017. We’ve litigated this one to death; it was a tough return to give up for Melancon … but what choice did we have at that point last year?
- Taylor Hearn (traded for Melancon); iffy results through 3 starts for High-A Bradenton in the FSL. Big arm, lots of Ks, can he stay as a starter. That’ll be the scouting report on Hearn until he arrives in the majors by hook or by crook.
- Max Schrock (traded for Rzepczynski): Future hall of famer Schrock is slashing .231/.286/.288 through mid-April for AA Midland in the Oakland system. For as much as I mock Schrock, I will note that he was paid like a 3rd or 4th rounder out of college irrespective of where he got drafted, so his eventual success really should be measured more in that light than the specific round he was picked (13th).
That’s a lot of player churn, and a lot of prospects traded. Did I forget anyone?