Nationals Arm Race

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

Changes are a-coming for 2023

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Today, the MLB competition committee voted in three rule changes to go into effect in 2023. One is minor, but two are significant, major changes that will alter the sport.

Here’s a couple other opinion pieces on them, from the Athletic and Baseball America, but below i’ll put in my two cents.

Larger Bases, Pitch Clocks, and Shift Bans are going in. Lets talk about them one by one.

  • Bigger Bases: a non-issue, i’m not sure why anyone would really care about a slightly larger base. They avoid injuries and slightly help the running game. Studies show base-related injuries are down 13.8% since the larger bases were installed. And not surprisingly both the executives and players on the committee voted for this unanimously.
  • Pitch Clocks. I know current major league pitchers are going to whine about them. But the results speak for themselves: The average time of games in the minors where the pitch clock was implemented went from 3:04 in 2021 to 2:38 in 2022. That’s 26 minutes … ALL of it dead time watching the pitcher and batter stand there, waiting for the next pitch. This is a fantastic move that will have serious, positive watchability impacts on the game.
  • Defensive Shift bans: two players must now stay between 2nd and 3rd base (meaning, no more roving third baseman into short RF against lefties), and all players must have their feet on the dirt. The evidence supporting this change is pretty clear: as documented by Jayson Stark in this Feb 2022 piece, 4,802 hits were taken away by the shift in 2021, which is countered by 3,946 outs given away by shifts that gave away a standard ground ball. That’s nearly 1,000 extra hits gone from the game, primarily against left-handed hitters. So, this change will absolutely return some offensive parity to the game.

I like all three changes. I look forward to them in 2023.

Written by Todd Boss

September 9th, 2022 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Its Cavalli Time!

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Cade Cavalli gets the call Photo via Lookout Landing blog

So, the big news of the week is the call-up of top pitching prospect Cade Cavalli. The timing (and change in service time rules) means he’ll still be 2023 Rookie eligible and doesn’t burn enough time to blow a year of service time.

Is this premature? Probably not. Cavalli started out a little slow this year in AAA, basically getting shelled in five of his first seven starts. In mid May he had a 7.62 ERA. However, as of this writing through his combined 20 starts he’s gotten that seasonal ERA all the way down to 3.71. His AAA FIP is a nifty 3.23, and across the board he’s improved upon his 2021 AAA numbers in every category (K/9, BB/9, ERA, fip, whip, HR/9, etc etc).

HIs MLB debut was about what you’d expect; 7 runs in 4+ innings, 97mph on his fastball, 6 Ks almost all on his offspeed stuff (which looks amazing: his curve was knee buckling and his circle change at 88 with a ton of reverse movement was fantastic).

I can’t remember the last time we had a prospect debut with this much fanfare; Strasburg or Harper probably. His call-up was non-nats blog worthy, something we havn’t seen in a while.

As others noted, his start coincided with a big chunk of our “up the spine” future in place: Ruiz catching, Cavalli pitching, Abrams at short and Garcia at 2nd. None of them older than 24, all of them with prospect buzz.

The next generation of our franchise has started.

Written by Todd Boss

August 27th, 2022 at 7:04 am

Posted in Nats in General

Fun Observations with Current Rosters

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So, when both Luis Garcia and Yadiel Hernandez went down with injuries … the Nats active 26-man roster sports exactly ONE originally drafted/signed player (that being Victor Robles).

That’s pretty amazing.

Check out the big board, where all of our rosters are tracked in one place.

Now, in all fairness the roster does contain several players acquired as prospects in trade, which is kind of the point of a rebuild, so I thought it’d be interesting to squint at our rosters right now and do quick arithmetic of the roster construction to show where we are.

This data is as of 8/23/22 and depends on my Big Board being accurate (which it may not be b/c transactions are sneaky sometimes). Only looking at active players, not DL/restricted.


MLB Roster: 26 man.

  • Home Grown: 1 (Robles)
  • Prospects Acquired in trade; 6 (Ruiz, Voit, Abrams, Adams, Thomas, Grey)
  • MLB FAs: 5 (Hernandez, Cruz, Corbin, Finnegan, Cishek)
  • MiLB FAs; 9 (Vargas, Meneses, Franco, Sanchez, Espino, Edwards, Ramirez, Arano, Clippard)
  • Waiver claims: 5 (Call, Palacios, Abbott, Harvey, McGee)

So … 14 of our 26 active players right now were MILB signings or Waiver claims. Wow.


Lets take a look at the current AAA roster. Same analysis

  • Home Grown: 9 (Berrera, Sanchez, Alu, Stevenson, Johnson, Banks, Cavalli, Adon, Cronin)
  • Prospects Acquired in trade: 2 (Casey, Thompson)
  • MLB FAs: 0 of course.
  • MiLB FAs 14 (Johnson, JRodriguez, Nogoski, Flores, Gushue, Ponce de Leon, Kilome, Verrett, Weems, Sadzeck, Garrett, Machado, Baldonado, Avilan)
  • Waiver claims: 3 (Fox, Murphy, Perez)
  • Rule5: 2 (Brill, Taylor)

Yes, I realize that two of were originally our players (Johnson, Rodriguez). They left and came back, so they’re MLFAs. Also Gushue was initially acquired in trade, but left and came back. This is 2022 acquisition methodology.

So, 30 players in AAA, and 19 of them are basically ‘filler’ players b/c our system hasn’t generated enough depth to fill the AAA roster. At least we have 9 home grown players here, but of this group really only a couple are true prospects in jeopardy of pushing to the majors.


How about AA?

  • Home Grown: 17
  • Prospects Acquired in trade: 3 (Lara, Hassell,Harris)
  • MLB FAs: 0 of course.
  • MiLB FAs; 6 (Martin, Garcia, Herrera, Dopico, Gonzalez, Garcia)
  • Waiver claims:
  • Rule5: 1 (Young)

17 of the 27 on the Roster home grown as expected (and another 3 are trade acquisitions). But its a little suspect that we have 6 MLFAs in our AA. A couple of these MLFAs in Harrisburg are in their upper 20s and are clearly too old for the level. On the bright side, 6 of the 7 guys getting starts are home grown, which is a good sign.


High-A?

  • Home Grown: 26
  • Prospects Acquired in trade: 4 (Millas, Barley, Alston, Gausch)
  • MLB FAs: 0 of course.
  • MiLB FAs; 2 (Candelario, Merrill)
  • Waiver claims:
  • Rule5

So, 30 of 32 players on the roster home grown or acquired prospects.


Low-A:

31 players, 30 of which home grown and the one remaining is a trade acquisition in Wood.


Not much to look at below AA … this was more just a “holy cow look at the MLB roster” kind of post.

Written by Todd Boss

August 23rd, 2022 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Nats in General

MLB Pipeline new top 30 for Aug 2022

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Green’s pick may have been polarizing, but the MLBpipeline staff is not concerned, ranking him immediately #2 in the system. Photo via districtondeck.com

The MLB pipeline team (Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, etc) has just released an updated version of the top 30 for all teams, and instead of just plugging in trade acquisitions and 2022 draft picks, they’ve also taken the time to adjust players up/down based on their 2022 seasons. So this is a refreshing look at where we are right now as a system without having to make excuses for odd rankings that date to last off-season.

The Nats now have four players in the top 100 of all of baseball:

  • #23 Hassell
  • #29 Green
  • #35 Wood
  • #58 Cavalli

Abrams has just graduated. Cavalli was ranked #53 in July and has gotten bumped a bit (probably to make room for 2022 top-end draftees). However, House was ranked #53 in July by this squad and has now gotten knocked entirely out of the top 100 thanks to an injury filled 2022 and the influx of a ton of 2022 draftees. That’s a huge move down for House, who this same group had ranked as high as #44 in May of 2022.

Anyway, lets look at the Nats top 30. Here’s the full list, with some comments below:

mlbp rankLast NameFirst NamePosition
1Hassell IIIRobertOF (CF)
2GreenElijahOF (CF)
3WoodJamesOF (Corner)
4CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)
5HouseBradySS/3B
6HenryColeRHP (Starter)
7VaqueroCristianOF (CF)
8SusanaJarlinRHP (Starter)
9BennettJakeLHP (Starter)
10De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)
11CruzArmandoSS
12RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)
13LaraAndryRHP (Starter)
14CarrilloGerardoRHP (Starter)
15LileDaylenOF (CF)
16QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)
17LipscombTrey3B
18RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)
19AntunaYaselSS/OF (Corner)
20WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)
21CoxBrennerOF (CF)
22McKenzieJaredOF (CF)
23FerrerJoseLHP (Reliever)
24BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)
25CroninMattLHP (Reliever)
26PinedaIsraelC
27ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)
28InfanteSamuelSS
29LeeEvanLHP (Starter)
30MillasDrewC

Thoughts/comments on the guys who have moved up or down significantly, as well as general comments.

  • 8 of our top 30 are newly acquired: 3 from the big SDP trade, 5 from the draft.
  • A comment here; if MLBpipeline has ranked our top 5 draft picks from 2022 … why would Baseball America have only ranked one of them? MLBpipeline has our 2nd rounder Jake Bennett ranked as the 9th best guy in the system; BA didn’t even have him in their top 30. I could understand not quibbling/splitting hairs on guys in the 20s, but Bennett is a significant prospect.
  • Green comes in at #2 from the start. By way of comparison, Fangraphs has him #8 in the system.
  • They’ve jumped up Jeremey De La Rosa 6 slots from just two weeks ago, despite his slow start in High-A. But this is recognition of his dominance of low-A as a 20yr old. We don’t talk about De La Rosa a lot, but the guy could be a sneaky good prospect for us, combining power (10 homers in 63 games in Low-A this year) with speed (26 SBs in that same period) and defense (a true CF, though with a ton of errors and few assists).
  • Cristian Vaquero has stayed at #7 despite getting “layered” by a few prospects above him entering, meaning they’ve increased his rank. I’m not entirely sure why; he’s got kind of middling DSL stats this year, has hit just one homer in 50 games, and his slugging is lower than his OBP. The guy is 6’3″ … where’s the power? He has almost no XBHs all year.
  • They’ve dropped Rutledge a few spots, from #6 to #12. Finally recognizing that this guy may just not have it to be a starter. He’s just too inconsistent. One night he’s giving up 4 hits through 8, the next he’s giving up 8 runs through 4.
  • They’ve jumped up Roismar Quintana a bunch of slots; he’s had a very solid FCL season slashing .315/.367/.481 as a 19yr old. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere for him to go, because the low-A outfield consists of White, De La Cruz, and Wood, with McKenzie trying to find ABs. This is a prime example of why teams really could use those short-season A squads. Not to mention the fact that there’s now (if the Big Board is accurate) 48 players on the FCL roster.
  • Yasel Antuna now down to #19. Thank gosh the team has all sorts of 4-A/veteran MLFA types on the 40-man, because Antuna’s spot should have long ago gotten cleared. This didn’t stop the team from promoting him to AA this week, which seems to be kind of “social promotion” to cover for a cascading set of moves freeing up LF spots at AA and AAA.
  • T.J. White moving up; now #20 from #27.
  • Our 3rd, 4th and 5th rounders (who BA couldn’t find room for) are ranked 17th, 21st and 22nd in the system as they start to slot in.
  • Matt Cronin and Mitchell Parker both take dives in the rankings, due to layering and performance.

The following guys were bumped entirely off the top 30:

  • Brandon Boissiere: was #19, that’s a big drop. He’s just not doing anything special in AA while playing primarily 1B.
  • Donovan Casey: was #21, then got DFA’d, unclaimed and was outrighted. That’s … not good for your career.
  • Jackson Cluff: was #24, and we’ve had discussions questioning why he’s ranked in the first place. He’s the backup SS in Harrisburg and is hitting .191 this season.
  • Dustin Saenz: was #25, hasn’t done anything wrong; he earned a promotion to High-A but has struggled since.
  • Jordan Barley: was #28. You can’t hit .203 and be a prospect.
  • Mason Denaburg: was #29. Hey, at least he’s pitching. he’s made 10 starts for low-A with decent numbers so far.
  • Jake Irvin: was #30. I’m happy with his numbers in AA this year; again nothing earth shattering but after not pitching an inning since 2019 this is solid.

Written by Todd Boss

August 17th, 2022 at 9:39 am

Posted in Prospects

Post-Draft/Post-Trade Prospect Ranking Impacts

6 comments

Three of the main scouting bureaus (MLBPipeline, Baseball America, Fangraphs) have plugged in d the haul from the Soto/Bell deal (and two of them have also added in our draft class), so lets take a quick peek at where our newly acquired players rank.

Note: C.J. Abrams has not technically exhausted his rookie status (he has 139PAs but only 125 official At Bats, which is what the guidelines are based on). As a result, he’s on some lists but not others.


Fangraphs adds our top 5 drafted players in 2022, plus 4 newly acquired prospects via trade.

  • C.J. Abrams, our new #1 overall prospect, who was in the majors and will soon graduate off this list, but he reported to AAA to work on some stuff before likely returning in September when rosters expand.
  • Robert Hassell III, our new #3 prospect per fangraphs (though other shops have him higher, see below). He’ll report to our High-A.
  • James Woods, our new #4 prospect per Fangraphs; he should head to Fredericksburg to join the monster roster there (which now includes our 2018 1st rounder Denaburg, our 2019 1st Rounder Rutledge, our 2021 1st rounder in House, our 2020 2nd rounder Infante and our 2021 3rd rounder Boissiere. That’s a lot of top drafted talent.
  • Elijah Green: new #8 prospect. Upon his drafting he slotted in at #5 initially, just behind the “big 3” and also just behind Cuban IFA monster Vaquero (who, I might add, is not exactly tearing up the DSL right now in his first pro season). However he’s now pushed down by the above 3 players.
  • Jarlin Susana now slots in at #10, and should head to our FCL with an idea of moving to Low-A soon.
  • Jake Bennett slots in at #12. Upon his drafting he slotted in at #8, in-between Rutledge (who still cannot get people out in Low-A) and Carrillo (who i’m beginning to worry about from a progression stand point).
  • Trey Lipscomb slots in at #21, pushed down 4 spots from his initia #17 spot, right after Lile (who is out for the entirety of 2022), and right before fellow infielders Infante and Alu interestingly. Infante is showing some power this year in Low-A but otherwise hitting .220, while Alu has a .800 OPS in AAA as a 25-yr old but falls into the “utility infielder” category of prospects, with a high floor to make the majors but a limited ceiling.
  • Brenner Cox slots in at #30, pushed down from #26 a few weeks ago, right behind former 1st rounder Denaburg but ahead of fellow OF prospect Quintana. Cox got paid like a 3rd rounder but was not really ranked by any of the pundits, which gives me some pause.
  • Jared McKenzie slots in at #36 (initially #32), right after Quintana and just ahead of org guys/barely prospects like Fox and Baker. I suppose this is right; if McKenzie turns into anything other than an org guy as a 5th rounder it’ll be found gold.

So, per Fangraphs we’ve acquired our new #1, #3, #4, #8, and #10 system prospects.


How about per MLBpipeline.com? They lagged updating the prospect ranks for 2022 draftees for a bit, but did rank the trade acquisitions immediately. Here’s where our trade acquisitions now slot in:

  • C.J. Abrams: Not ranked; perhaps MLBpipeline is assuming he’s exhausted his eligibility.
  • Robert Hassell III: new #1 prospect
  • James Woods: new #4 prospect
  • Jarlin Susana: new #8 prospect

Odds are that when they add in our draftees, Green would slot in probably between #6 and #7, and Bennett would slot into the teens. Its doubtful they’d rate Lipscomb, Cox, or McKenzie for our top 30 right now.


How about BaseballAmerica? They posted updated rankings on 8/10/22. Per BA:

  • C.J. Abrams: new #1 prospect
  • Robert Hassell III: new #2 prospect
  • James Woods: new #3 prospect
  • Elijah Green: new #4 prospect
  • Jarlin Susana: new #8 prospect

Unlike Fangraphs, BA chose not to rank any of the rest of our 2022 drafting class:

  • Jake Bennett: this one is pretty amazing to me. Fangraphs had him top 10! And he’s not good enough for our top 30 per BA?
  • Trey Lipscomb: BA has Infante ranked 20th right now. I’m pretty sure Infante just lost his starting 3B job in High-A to … Lipscomb. So, maybe Lipscomb should be ranked and Infante not.
  • Brenner Cox: Probably not going to quibble about a prep kid just drafted not being ranked in the top 30.
  • Jared McKenzie: Upper 30s for Fangraphs, which means he’s nowhere near the BA top 30 right now.

So, per BA we’ve acquired our new top 4 system prospects, plus the 8th in Susana.

Interestingly, BA also took the opportunity to shake up some of their ranks a bit from their last ranking on 7/13/22.

  • They’ve bumped up Jeremey De la Rosa 5 spots
  • They’ve dropped Andry Lara 6 spots
  • They dropped Rutledge a grand total of 1 spot.
  • … Which makes no sense: Lara and Rutledge have almost identical stats this year in Low-A; Eras of 5.48 and 5.54, WHIPs of 1.46 and 1.47. Lara has more Ks but also more Walks, while Rutledge has a much worse BAA of .290 to Lara’s .252. Lara is 19, while Rutledge is 23. So, the 23yr old gets dropped one spot for having WORSE numbers in Low-A than the 19yr old?? Really?
  • They’ve bumped up Henry a couple spots
  • They’ve dropped Carrillo a couple slots
  • they’ve dropped $3.9M bonus baby Armando Cruz two spots.
  • They’ve dropped Antuna a couple spots; he’s now ranked #14 in the system. Still. So we’re on the same page, Antuna is 22, in High-A, hitting .234 while repeating the level and is still somehow ranked 14th in the system. At least he’s not top 5 any more.
  • they’ve got Donovan Casey 25th; whoops. He got DFA’d this week.

Written by Todd Boss

August 11th, 2022 at 5:58 pm

Posted in Prospects

What if they’d kept the Band together?

2 comments

It occurred to me, now that the Nats have sold off all their pieces and continued the dismantling of their 2019 championship team … wow, we’ve parted ways with a lot of very expensive players.

What would our team look like (in terms of payroll and lineup) had we kept all our big-time FAs over the past few years? Here’s a fun exercise, using 2022’s salaries.

  • C: Yan Gomes: $6M, flipped with Harrison for Millas/Shuman/Gausch in the 2021 purge
  • 1B: Josh Bell: $10M. Traded to SD with Soto in the 2022 purge for 6 player.
  • 2B: Josh Harrison: $5.5M. Traded away to Oakland with Gomes for Millas/Shuman/Gausch in the 2021 purge
  • SS: Trea Turner: $21M. Traded to LAD with Scherzer in 2021’s big trade to get Grey/Ruiz and assets
  • 3B: Anthony Rendon: $36M. Let walk as a FA, received a 2nd round supplementary pick that turned into Samuel Infante.
  • LF: Juan Soto, $17.1M. Traded to SD with Bell
  • CF: Victor Robles: $1.65M. He has remained our starting CF for four straight seasons now despite a carrer OPS+ figure of just 83.
  • RF: Bryce Harper: $26M. Let walk as a FA, received a 4th round supplementary pick that was lost to the Corbin signing.
  • DH: Kyle Schwarber; $19M. Traded to Boston in 2021 for Aldo Ramirez.

Rotation?

  • SP: Max Scherzer: $43M. Traded to LAD with Turner in 2021
  • SP: Patrick Corbin: $23M. Still here, posting a 7 ERA this season.
  • SP: Stephen Strasburg, $35M. Still here, might have a career-ending injury.
  • SP: Sanchez, Fedde, Ross all still here, a combined $6M or so.

The Bullpen is fungible, so we’ll just skip it from a salary and focus on the above.

Total payroll for this set of players and starters? $251M. For 14 players, no backups, no bullpen and no 40-man. Probably estimate $8M for your backups, $15M for your bullpen, $3M for the rest of your 40-man, and $16M for benefits and that’s a payroll figure of $293M. $60M more than the salary cap threshold, and still not as much as the Los Angeles Dodgers are spending this year.

Would we be a winning team with this lineup? Well, we’d certainly still have a starting pitching problem, since $58M is going to two players who are actively hurting the club (Corbin has a -3.4 WAR this season!). But the lineup would be a monster. How’s this for a lineup: Turner, Soto, Harper, Schwarber, Rendon, Bell, Harrison, Gomes and Robles. Phew. Good luck getting through that lineup 4 times a night without giving up some runs. Of course, some of these guys are hurt in 2022, so this wouldn’t actually be our lineup .. but hey, this is a fantasy post.

Just a fun thought exercise.

Written by Todd Boss

August 8th, 2022 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Nats Trade Deadline Summary

4 comments

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

Juan (and Josh) are gone

24 comments

hate to see him go, but you can’t argue with teh return. Photo via NYpost

Well, it had to happen. This is the required “hot take” post on the trade return the Nats got in exchange for sending two months of Josh Bell plus 2 full years of Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres.

Per mlbtraderumors, which is doing a good job following everyone’s tweeting and reporting:

  • Padres get Bell, Soto
  • Nats get the following package (ranks per MLBpipeline)
  1. C.J. Abrams SS: Recently graduated from prospect status, but was San Diego’s #1 overall prospect heading into this season, and routinely considered a top 3-5 prospect in all of the majors. 1st Round pick in 2019 (6th overall), he’s in the majors at age 21 and somewhat struggling right now (.232/.285/.320). But, the potential is clearly there.
  2. McKenzie Gore LHP (Starter): Graduated from prospect status in 2021. Before graduating was San Diego’s #1 prospect and was rated as high as the #2 prospect in the entire sport. 1st rounder (3rd overall) in 2017, he’s 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in his first year starting for San Diego.
  3. Robert Hassell, OF (CF): San Diego’s new #1 prospect with Abrams graduation, #21 overall. A 2020 first rounder (8th overall), he’s in High-A and slashing .299/.379/.467. This is a significant prospect, a true CF with power.
  4. James Wood, OF (corner): San Diego’s #3 prospect, #88 overall. 2021 2nd rounder, hails from Olney/Rockville before moving to IMG to play his senior year. He destroyed complex ball upon drafting last year and is similarly destroying Low-A ball this year (though, to be fair, its the California league, with a lot of parks at altitude). He’s got an OPS north of 1.000 this year as a 19yr old in low-A, with 10 homers in 50 games. wow.
  5. Jarlin Susana, a RHP starter: San Diego’s #14 prospect. A 2022 IFA, listed by MLB as the top ranked pitcher in the class. Signed for $1.7M. He’s 18, and instead of going to DSL he’s in the Arizona complex league and is holding his own: 8 starts, 2.45 ERA.
  6. Luke Voit, a Hosmer-replacement 1B/DH type who slots into Bell’s old position and off-sets some salary (he makes $5.4M this year). Interestingly, despite being 31 now, he’s still got two arb years left. So its not a throw-away player.

Conclusion?

I think this is a *fantastic* haul. As I put in the comments before, they got two “as good as they get prospects” in Gore, Abrams, two top 100 prospects in Hassel, Wood, and a top IFA.

Yes, there’s risk in prospects. You can go through each of these guys and hem and haw. Abrams is struggling in the majors, Gore might need TJ, Wood is a project, Hassell might flame out, Susana is years away. Yes, that’s the floor-centric viewpoint of all of these prospects.

I look more at what they were: three 1st rounders, a second rounder and their top IFA pick this year. That’s called “gutting the system.” I laugh at the hot takers who think this isn’t a big haul. This is a huge portion of San Diego’s player development system for the last 5 years. And now its ours.

Welcome to the new world. Imagine a rotation with Gore, Grey, Cavalli, Henry, and (hey we’re dreaming right) a healthy Strasburg? Imagine an infield that goes House, Abrams, Garcia, and a veteran basher 1B/DH type. Imagine an outfield of Hassell and Woods in the corners and Vaquero in Center. Or Green thrown in there.


post publishing observation … the Nats may have to do some 40-man shuffling. Bell/Soto out so 38/40 on the 40-man, but coming back are Gore and Abrams (on the 40-man) AND Voit. The rest are non 40-man players … so they’ll have to make a move.

Written by Todd Boss

August 2nd, 2022 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Nats in General

Nats 2022 Draft class Signing Bonus Analysis

28 comments

In my 2022 draft class review, I went through a rough guess as to how I thought the bonus calculations would go, and how many of our 20 picks would sign.

Lets see how my predictions went, now that we’ve gotten all the bonus figures publicized for our 19 draftees.

For a complete list of the 2022 draft classes, see the Draft Tracker and specifically the “2022 Draft Class” tab. For “proof” of bonus amounts see the MLBpipeline draft tracker or the BaseballAmerica draft tracker, which as of this publishing have all 19 of our signed players’ bonus amounts.

Overall Bonus Machinations

The Nationals had a total bonus pool of $11,013,900 (which was oddly raised by a few thousand dollars just days before the draft, so all my initial numbers were off in the draft tracker). Add 5% overage of $550,695 and their real working bonus pool was exactly $11,564,595.

  • Their top 10 picks totaled exactly 11,388,200 in bonus money
  • Which left them exactly $176,395 in “extra” dollars they could throw at picks in the 11-20 range, over and above the $125k standard bonus.
  • They gave $125k extra to Young, then $50k extra to Peoples.
  • So, at the end of the day, they left exactly $1,395 of bonus dollars on the table. At least per my xls. Its possible someone got an “extra” $1,395 but probably not.

That’s using your bonus pool to its max effect!


Overall Draft Class Signing success

Prediction: I predicted 17 or 18 of the top 20 signing, thinking we’d struggle to sign #11 Young and would not sign two of the prep players in the 11-20 range.

Actuals: we did sign Young, and prep player Cooper, and thus got 19 of our 20 picks to sign. Only our 20th pick, a great fielding Prep SS in Ortiz from IMG Academy who the scouting reports all said would benefit from going to college anyway. So, my prediction was a bit more pessimistic than what occurred.


Pick by Pick Slot analysis, top 10

Here’s my predictions for the first 10 spots:

  1. Green: Over slot ($200k)
  2. Bennett: Under slot (-$100k)
  3. Lipscomb: Under slot (-$200k)
  4. Cox: Over slot? (+$100k)
  5. McKenzie: Slot
  6. Ochoa: Over slot (+$200k)
  7. Cornelio: Under slot (-$50k)
  8. Huff: Under slot (-$75k)
  9. Romero: Slot
  10. Stehly: Under slot (-$75k)

Actuals:

  1. Green: Basically Slot ($2,300 over slot for an even $6.5M figure). This was a shock to most of us, who were convinced that the Nats (who have a history of overpaying top draft picks even in the face of conventional leverage wisdom) would over-pay here. Nope: they basically got Green at slot value, a big achievement for a prep player in the modern game.
  2. Bennett: Exactly Slot. I thought he’d get a take a bit of a haircut, but did not.
  3. Lipscomb: Exactly Slot. Again, a surprise here. This is a senior with no leverage, and I read somewhere (can’t find the source) that this represented the largest bonus ever given to a college senior. I’m not sure that’s right; Mark Appel was the #1 overall pick as a senior and signed for more than $6M. So, I’d need a fact check on the claim here.
  4. Cox: Definitely over slot; an even $1M to represent more than $450k over slot.
  5. McKenzie: Predicted slot, went for slot.
  6. Ochoa: went over slot, but not by as much as I thought it would take. He signs for just $66k over the slot value.
  7. Cornelio: Slot: for some reason I thought he’d go slightly under slot, perhaps due to performance.
  8. Huff: Slot; same reasoning as Cornelio.
  9. Romero: Predicted slot, went slot.
  10. Stehly: Predicted under-slot … and signed for the bare minimum of $10k, saving $144k in the bonus pool.

So, I went 5 and 5 for slot predictions in the top 10. And at the end of the 10 rounds, the team had right around $175K “extra” to throw at their round 11-20 guys.


Pick by Pick Slot analysis, rounds 11-20

Here’s what I thought would happen from a bonus perspective for the 11-20th rounders

  • 11. Young: tough sign, needs over slot money
  • 12. Peoples; signs, but needs over slot money
  • 13. Grissom: signs for slot
  • 14. Lawson: signs, may not even need full slot
  • 15. Luckham: signs, probably for a nominal amount below slot
  • 16. Cooper: would not sign, would need over slot
  • 17. Klassen: signs, might not need full $125k slot
  • 18. Lord: signs, might not need full $125k slot
  • 19. Thomas: signs, probably not full $125 slot
  • 20. Ortiz: no way he signs; we don’t have enough money

Actuals:

11. Young signs, for $250 or $125k over slot and in line with a 6th-7th rounder. I thought perhaps the team would net themselves around $500k extra from their top 10 machinations and be able to throw bigger money at Young. In the end, it didn’t take nearly as much money to buy him out of an Oklahoma State commitment.

12. Peoples: signs for $175k, or $50k over the slot. We thought he’d sign since he wasn’t really rated highly as a prep player and wasn’t committed to a big-time baseball school, and in the end it only took $50k to entice him to go pro. $175k pays him like an 8th-9th rounder.

13. Grissom signs for $125k, which slightly surprised me given that he had eligibility left.

14. Lawson signs and gets full $125k slot as a fourth year junior. Good for him; he did have a bit of leverage so he could demand more than a token dollar amount typically given to true seniors.

15. Luckham signs for $125k. Not bad for a senior.

16. Cooper signs for $125k, as a prep kid with a college commitment, and it doesn’t take any overages to get him. Which is odds, and makes me wonder if the videos we saw of him bely his true talent level. This is a tools-first pick, and he may be in the FCL for quite some time.

17. Klassen signs for $125k. College Junior bat, could have gone back to school, but takes the cash.

18. Lord signs for $125k. Nothing to note here; as with Luckham, Klassen, Thomas … all these guys got offered the max non-bonus pool affecting amount and took it.

19. Thomas signs for $125k, as with Luckham not bad for a senior from a small school.

20. Ortiz does not sign. No surprise here, he was heavily scouted due to his presence at IMG, has the defensive side down pat but needs time to develop a hit tool, and going to FIU gives him three years to develop and try to raise his draft stock.


So, that’s how the bonus figures worked. Its time to get these players to Florida and get them playing!

Written by Todd Boss

July 28th, 2022 at 1:38 pm

Posted in Draft

Evaluating Nats Trade Candidates

23 comments

Is he getting traded? Source NYPost

Now that we’re past the draft, the next big date on the MLB calendar is the Trade Deadline. August 2nd is only a week away, but we’ve heard almost no trade news so far thanks to teams wrapping up draft signings.

So, soon we’ll start to hear about trades. The Nats, of course, are now dead last in the majors, 3 games worse than the next worst team, projecting to a top lottery pick (now’s an excellent time to remind everyone that the lottery is open to every non-playoff team … and the top 6 picks are used, so there’s a significant chance the Nats could finish with the 30th worst record and pick 7th… anyway, not the point here).

Here’s a look at the roster, identifying who’s heading out the door and what they may fetch.

Incredibly Likely to be traded for decent value

  1. Josh Bell: FA to be, hitting the crap out of the ball this year, nearly a 3/4/5 slash line. He’s going to be popular as a rent-a-bat. Teams looking for offense are going to come calling. Likely return: Nats probably net a team’s top-10 prospect and a secondary lower level/younger prospect in the 10-15 range.
  2. Nelson Cruz: has a $3M buyout but is also a FA since he signed a 1 year deal with the express intent of being right where he is now; available as a rent-a-DH. Unfortunately he’s not really hit as well as expected, so his return will be limited. Likely Return: 15-20th ranked prospect.

We’ll Take what we can get:

  • Cesar Hernandez: FA to be, he’s really been weak at the plate but can play 2B and SS and could give some veteran utility cover. Likely Return: a 20+ ranked prospect from the low minors.
  • Steve Cishek, FA to be, has been healthy and relatively serviceable this year, with a 101 ERA+. But its not like he’s a lights-out 9th inning guy anymore; he’s a mid-level 36-yr old reliever. Likely Return: a 20+ prospect from the low minors.
  • Carl Edwards has actually been good: a 3.00 era, good K rates. Not bad for a MLFA signing. Still, he’s not going to fetch much more than Cishek would get. Likely Return: a non prospect.
  • Erasmo Ramirez: Basically the same story as Cishek and Edwards: mid30s RH reliever with decent numbers this year. I’m sure a team with some bullpen injuries or issues would give up a lower-level prospect for a guy like this. Likely Return: a non prospect.

Not Likely to be Traded despite being FAs to be:

  • Wil Harris, FA to be but currently on the 60-day DL with TOS-related scar tissue issues. No value here, and his 3yr/$24M contract works out to nearly $1M per INNING!
  • Joe Ross, FA to be and out with his second TJ.
  • Anibel Sanchez, who is back in the rotation after missing the first half, but hasn’t exactly shown that he’s of any value, getting more or less shelled in his first two starts. Can’t imagine getting anything of value for him.
  • Ehire Adrianza, who signed on as another backup utility guy, has a 43 OPS+ this year. No trade value.
  • Sean Doolittle: on 60-day DL with an elbow sprain and isn’t getting off that list anytime soon. No trade value.
  • Maikel Franco: taking a flier on the former top prospect has somewhat paid off, but he’s still only hitting .238 and never walks. Its hard to see anyone really giving up anything in return.
  • Alcides Escobar: how is it possible that we bought up so many veteran utility guys and none of them can hit? Oh yeah, because that’s why there’s so many of them on the FA market.
  • Tyler Clippard: finally got his shot, and he’s on the DL right at the trade deadline.

Pre-FA players thinking outside the box

  • Kyle Finnegan? With Rainey’s injury he’s the new closer, and if there’s one thing bad teams don’t need, its a closer. He’s one of the only viable arms in the bullpen and could be moved for prospects. Likely Return: a 10-15th ranked system prospect.

Juan Soto

And then we get to Soto. I’m not a national correspondent with industry sources out the wazoo, so I have no idea what teams are interested or who’s willing to give up what. Pundits are saying there’s 6 or 7 teams available. I’ve read “4-5 players” as an expected return. I really hope they don’t force teams to take Corbin‘s salary, b/c i’d rather have the prospects, but Bowden says that’s what the team is asking.. We’ll see what happens. Likely Return: 3 top 10 prospects plus two pre-arb Major Leaguers.


Total return if all this actually happens?

  • Two pre-arb Major leaguers
  • Four top10 prospects
  • Two 10-15th ranked prospects
  • A couple 20+ ranked prospects
  • a couple non-prospects

Thoughts? did I forget anyone?

Written by Todd Boss

July 25th, 2022 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Nats in General