Nationals Arm Race

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

Ask Collier & Happy Thanksgiving


Why do so many people think TRADING Harper is the way to win the 2018 World Series? Photo via

Why do so many people think TRADING Harper is the way to win the 2018 World Series? Photo via

A nice little surprise just before the Turkey day weekend: an ask Jamal Collier post on

Q: Would you consider trading Harper? I am one of his biggest fans, and I know the desire to win next year, but would the return be worth it in the long run?

A: Forensicane; don’t bother reading this next answer, because you’re not going to like it.

Teams attempting to WIN THE WORLD SERIES in the coming year do not trade their marquee players.  Not only that, but teams attempting to win don’t trade one of the best players in the league.  \

Not only that, but lets say for the sake of argument that the Nats WERE willing to trade Harper.  He’s got one  year of control left.  He’s set to make north of $20M in 2018.  He’s an injury risk.  And he’s absolutely going to Free Agency.  How much does anyone really think he’ll realistically fetch in trade right now?  If he were cost controlled or had multiple years of control left (like an Adam Eaton or a Jonathan Lucroy when he fetched a lot a couple years back) he’d get a kings ransom.  But he’s not; he’ll cost a significant portion of a team’s payroll in 2018 and gets just one year of service.

And then there’s this: why does anyone think this ownership group will trade him??  For many years, we’ve asked why the Angels hold on to Mike Trout and “waste” his talents on a sub-.500 team.  The answer is always the same: the owner in Los Angeles doesn’t want to move his marquee asset.  Why does anyone think that the Lerner group isn’t thinking the same thing?  Baseball is still relatively “new” in this town, still fighting it out for the casual sports fan.  What kind of message does it send to the casual fan base if you move your most marketable asset?  Who else on the Nats is getting goofy TV spots with national telecom companies?

So, no, the team isn’t trading Harper, nor should they.  Instead they should be doing *everything* they can to win in 2018 before he (and many others) walk out the door.  And (lets not forget), while I think its a certainty that Harper is in NY or LA in 2019 … we also were pretty sure Stephen Strasburg was heading out the door too, so you just never know.

Collier also expresses similar exasperation at the number of these questions he’s getting, then re-iterates many of the arguments above.

Q: You don’t list Adam Lind as a possible signee. Why not? Is it that Brian Goodwin can fill that role … but who is the backup first baseman?

A: I think Lind could resign … similarly to the way that Stephen Drew thought he could parlay his successful 2016 into a starting gig for 2017, Lind probably thinks the same.  Finding veteran bat-only beefy 1B/PH types on the open market is not tough; the Nats have specialized in this for years.  So they’ll do what they always have done; wait out the market, sign someone on the cheap later in the off-season if they get desperate, or otherwise have a cattle call in spring training for the backup bench bat.

Its worth noting that, much like one-year relievers, sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle with your pinch hitters and its worth cutting bat early, not later.  Consider some of the year over  year stat lines for our primary bench bats recently:

  • Adam Lind: great in 2017 (.303/.362/.513): can he repeat that in 2018?
  • Clint Robinson: awesome in 2015 (.272/.358/.424), then awful in 2016 (.235/.305/.332)
  • Chris Heisey: adequate in 2016 (.216/.290/.446), then fell off a cliff in 2017 (.162/.215/.270)
  • Tyler Moore: fantastic in 2012 (.263/.327/.513), then a combined .216/.264/.362 over PT roles the next three seasons before finally getting cut loose.
  • Chad Tracy: good in 2012 (.269/.343/.441), then not so good in 2013 (.202/.243/.326)

And some of these guys never even had a “good” season (ahem, Matt Stairs).

So, perhaps the smart thing to do is to let Lind go (as well as Albers for similar reasons) and try some one new.

Goodwin as a backup 1B??   No, that doesn’t make a ton of sense (he’s only 6’0″ and is an outfielder by trade), but he could feature as a backup outfielder easily enough.  Honestly, the “backup 1B” if Ryan Zimmerman goes down for any length of time probably is Daniel Murphy, with his position getting covered by Wilmer Difo.

Collier notes that it was the Nats who declined their part of the $5M mutual option, which somewhat surprised me honestly.  I would have thought it would have been the player to decline that and shoot for something more.  Nonetheless, it makes the odds of a reunion a bit lower. 

Q: Can you do a bit of an explainer about the new luxury tax rules, where Nats are with respect to threshold right now, and how that’ll inform Rizzo’s offseason (speculating anyway)?

A: Without going into it in great detail (I have a post about Nats payroll coming soon), right now as we stand I have the Nats 2018 payroll at about $170M in “real dollars” (counting arb estimates and deferred payments), but about $10M  higher in the eyes of MLB’s luxury tax calculators thanks to the Strasburg and Scherzer deals.  The team broached $190m with last season’s mid-season transactions and thus became a luxury tax spender for the first time (which will cost them significantly if they were to go after a QO-attached free agent, not that I think they will).

The luxury tax threshold for 2018 is $197M (see this wikipedia page for the link and figures).  So, I suppose the team has about $17M or so of “wiggle room” for transactions this off-season plus next mid-season.  That isn’t a lot, and all the high-priced players on our payroll are either key pieces or immovable (thanks Matt Wieters).   So unless they swing a huge salary, or trade some young assets in payroll-offsetting moves, I think the team will do very little this off-season.

Collier notes similar sentiments.


Q: Last year, the four top outfielders were out due to injuries for extensive periods of time. Shouldn’t they have six top-notch outfielders to draw from next year?

A: Easy to say in theory, harder in practice.   You generally only care 4 or perhaps 5 outfielders on a 25-man roster … so how do you make an argument to your 5th and 6th “top-notch” outfielders that they have to hang out in Syracuse for half the season until they’re needed?  Not to mention options statuses, 5-year veteran limitations and other things that get in the way of stuff like this.  This isn’t the 1950s when you could just stash players all over without regard to service time issues.

No, the better way to go is to have your named starters, then depend on your prospect depth to cover things.  And honestly, that’s kinda where the Nats are.  Going into 2018 without any moves, you’re looking at:

  • Starting OF of Eaton, Taylor and Harper.
  • 4th and 5th outfielders Goodwin and Stevenson, both prospects that we developed and being paid the MLB min.
  • 6th outfielder in the name of Victor Robles, who is just one of the best prospects in the game.
  • 7th and further depth still with the likes of Bautista or perhaps the Cuban Yadiel Hernandez who is 30 and could be closer than we think.  We have Jose Marmolejos on the roster still; couldn’t he fill in at LF even if he’s primarily a 1B?  And then there’s further-away prospects like Daniel Johnson, who hit pretty well between Low-A and High-A, seems like he’ll start in AA in 2018 and might push his way up.

That’s not too bad.  Btw, how good defensively is our OF projected to be in 2018?  Eaton at a corner in 2016 was one of the best in the majors, Harper has consistently been a positive-metric fielding RF with one of the best arms in the game, and Taylor just showed how statistically he rivaled the best defensive center fielders in the game.  You can’t discount this fact, and it will show itself next year as more fly balls are turned into outs.

Collier likes where our OF depth is.

Q: Why should we believe in Dave Martinez? What makes him different ?

A: I have not weighed in on the manager selection yet.  I thought firing Dusty Baker was a mistake, and that the team did not need to break in a new manager in the critical transition year of 2018.

Nonetheless, Martinez does click some boxes for me; he was a successful player with a long career and can command respect from even the veterans on this team.  He may not have direct managerial experience, but 10 years as Joe Maddon‘s bench coach is nothing to shake a stick at.  He had interviewed for vacancies for years, and deserved a shot.  Details of his contract show that he’s severely under-paid and this probably factored into the team’s decision to hire him (for whatever reason, this team remains “cheap” at the manager’s position), but I think he can do the job.

What makes him different?  Well, he’s clearly learned the “ropes” of managing underneath the game’s best, and in that position he would have had many opportunities to evaluate Maddon’s decisions, privately decide what he would have done, and then seen how things play out.  So he should be able to take the best of what the Cubs are doing and augment those experiences with those opinions he had that were not necessarily taken but which he believed were right.   I’m hopeful that his regime will go well.

Collier notes the points above, but also very fairly says that in reality we have no idea how he’ll manage here since he’s never done so before.  


28 Responses to 'Ask Collier & Happy Thanksgiving'

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  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Todd!
    Thanks for making my days more enjoyable.

    Mark L

    22 Nov 17 at 1:39 pm

  2. Happy Thanksgiving.

    No, my reaction was that insofar as WaPo fish wrap writers routinely take material from others and present it as their own, I immediately figured Collier lurks here and gave the erudite response expected of him, likely grafted from Todd Boss.



    22 Nov 17 at 9:00 pm

  3. Yes, Happy Thanksgiving to my Internet compadres. This is a great place for smart and respectful debate.

    — Bryce isn’t going anywhere. Not a discussion I want to revisit. I’m hoping for a contract year for the ages.

    — I think the Nats are blowing past the luxury tax line. This is too big of a go-for-it year to skimp on filling out the roster.

    — Stevenson won’t start the year on the MLB roster. The Nats will add a bench bat who can play LF. I’d be happy to have back Kendrick or Lind. Kendrick might make more sense if they believe Murph might not be ready to start the season.

    — Any OF injury after April will put Robles in the majors and the starting lineup. Actually, it may be after April. His clock make-up time will probably take about as long as Turner’s did, so maybe not until July.

    — Don’t sleep on Marmolejos on having a shot to make the roster. I was surprised he didn’t get a Sept. look. His stats profile is similar to that of a former major-leaguer named Dave Martinez.

    — As I read the FA rank lists, Albers isn’t on any of them. Let’s see, 0.852 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 1.62 ERA. I’m fine if everyone wants to ignore him and lets him come back cheap!


    22 Nov 17 at 9:17 pm

  4. I should note that Martinez had considerably more speed than Marmolejos. But their gap-power profile at the plate is pretty similar.


    23 Nov 17 at 8:51 am

  5. Thinking about some of the same questions a different way while the turkey cooks . . . and cooks . . . and cooks . . .

    — The Nats will pass the luxury tax because they have so many slots to fill. By my count, they have three bench holes, one in the rotation, and perhaps a couple in the bullpen. That’s six slots. One or two will be internal, but four or five will be external. You’re not going to fill that many spots with $17M.

    — Bench: Only Difo and Goodwin seem certain. Both made considerable strides last season, so you wonder if the success is repeatable. I’m more of a believer in Goodwin (105 wRC+) than Difo (76 wRC+). (I don’t get people who are already arguing that Difo can replace Murph as a starter in ’19.) The good news is that since Goodwin can cover CF and Difo can play SS, they’ve got a lot more flexibility in filling the other bench roles.

    Another catcher is a must-have. Severino might be a potential backup to a decent catcher, but Weiters isn’t decent. Sign Avila or Castillo, or trade for Realmuto, or something.

    Hendrick and Lind, if they don’t regress, would be very good at filling the now-vacant Hendrick and Lind slots. I agree with Todd that despite his great year, Lind is going to have a hard time getting paid because there’s a glut in the 1B/DH bopper market and not too many teams in need. But I also think the Nats will have a number of options to replace him, including Marmolejos internally.

    I’ve noted before that I’m intrigued with Cozart. The big questions with him are whether he’s a creation of the live baseball, and can he stay healthy? My thought would be to bring him in on a three-year contract as a super-utility guy this season and then Murph’s replacement thereafter. He may prefer to be a starter somewhere, but there’s almost no buyer’s market for shortstops. He posted an insane 141 wRC+ in ’17.

    — Starting pitcher is a topic for a whole separate post. I’m not thrilled by any of the FA options. If forced to pick, I’d probably say 4/$60M for Cobb. Is Cobb going to be any better than Fedde over that four-year stretch, though? We don’t know. But I also have a hard time seeing them bank on Fedde this season.

    — Bullpen: Doolittle, Madson, Romero, Solis, Glover (if healthy), and Kelley (if healthy) seem to be givens. That’s six of seven slots. Grace and Cole are lurking, and both are out of options. Adams, Suero, and maybe Gott might get into the conversation. Gott has to be close to being out of options as well. Still, you wonder if they might be better with at least bringing back Albers, or going after one of the other myriad of RH middle men on the market. There are quite a number of good ones this year. Huge questions here with Kelley and Glover health.


    23 Nov 17 at 10:02 am

  6. If you squint at this roster, there’s really only two “major” issues to deal with:
    – catcher
    – 5th starter.

    Catcher is a $10M sunk cost boondoggle filled by a Boras client and I’m guessing the owners are not going to admit defeat and will tell Rizzo to focus elsewhere. I just do not see the team throwing more money after a Lucroy or Castillo. I think they’ll stand completely pat on Catcher and just deal with it as a potential hole in the #8 spot.

    5th starter: I see a trade in the works, not a purchase on the open market. The Nats are probably NOT an option for Otani thanks to their blowing past limits last off-season … but maybe not; what’s the difference between the Yankees $3.5M bonus slot and our $300k slot if Otani comes over as an unencumbered FA and can sign for whatever? Is that how the new deal is strucured? I cannot tell. Anyway; a quick glance at Oakland’s roster shows a couple of interesting options: would they part with Manaea to be our 5th starter? Would give us another lefty with some years of control …he didn’t have the best numbers, but he should also be improving. I’ll bet Beane would part with him for a slightly smaller package than we sent him for Gio Gonzalez. Something like Fedde, Voth, Daniel Johnson and perhaps someone else of value to us (Carter KIeboom, Antuna, or perhaps one of our spare catchers).

    I’m not sweating bench depth; it can all be had easily enough. Difo’s value I think is as a SS, not as a 2B; he’d be a potential starter in the majors even given his weaker bat right now at SS, not so much at 2B which now expects more power.

    Todd Boss

    23 Nov 17 at 10:47 am

  7. Alex Avila made only $2M last season. The Nats can afford that level of investment to improve at catcher. Would they push it to actually platooning Weiters with Avila? I don’t know, but Weiters is better as a RHB. Yes, Weiters is “sunk costs,” but at some point they’ve got to say “screw sunk costs.”

    I haven’t spent much time thinking about Ohtani because that Nats don’t have much of a background of chasing such players. They’ve also done almost nothing in the Asian market.

    I agree that the #5 (or #3) starter is more likely to come via trade than FA signing. I really don’t trust anyone on the FA list. I had thought about Manaea or Graveman from OAK, but I have a hard time convincing myself that either is that good. Manaea seemed to take a big step back in ’17. I would be willing to part with Fedde in a trade, but only for someone I was pretty sure is going to be better than Fedde.

    My trade ideal has long been Bumgarner, but the Giants sure talk (unrealistically) like they’re looking to add this season, not rebuild. That said, Samardzija and his significant contract might be available regardless. Shark has always been curious in that his peripheral stats are consistently better than his actual results.

    If you want to go big in a trade for a young starter, Michael Fulmer might be the guy. The asking price might be higher than what the Nats would want to pay, though. Same goes for guys like Archer or Gerrit Cole.

    I don’t know. I just can’t see them going into such a big season depending on Fedde/Cole/Ross-by-August.


    23 Nov 17 at 11:32 am

  8. Shark is owed essentially 3/$60M. He turns 33 in January. MadBum is owed 2/$24, which is fantastic for one of the best starters in baseball. The latter would cost at least one of the big three of Robles/Soto/Kieboom, though. I don’t think Shark would, considering the salary dump.


    23 Nov 17 at 11:42 am

  9. I think Bumgarner costs two of our big three, honestly, given his talent level (one of the best 10-12 starters int he league), his cheapness ($12M a year is Gio pay and less than half his open market value right now) and his control (two full seasons?).

    Robles and Kieboom for Bumgarner; who says no?

    (I’m not advocating for this necessarily … just throwing it out there).

    Todd Boss

    23 Nov 17 at 12:22 pm

  10. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

    I’d say no to that trade for Bumgarner. Are we sure he’s even over the shoulder injury?

    Give me Howie K and trade Goodwin for a few AAA SPs with options that are good enough for a few spot starts.

    have Lilliquist teach Doolittle a cutter.

    Then fill in the blanks with anyone else, and bring on the season.


    23 Nov 17 at 3:59 pm

  11. I’d make the Bumgarner trade in a heartbeat (if his shoulder is healthy), all the more so if I’m 92-year-old Ted Lerner. That’s a flags-fly-forever trade. That’s the Braves adding Maddux to Smoltz and Glavine. Of course I’m also on the record with uncertainty about how high Robles’s ceiling is going to be. I’m not saying that he’s not going to be good, but if he could bring back an established star right now, the Nats have to listen.

    It’s not going to happen, but it’s certainly fun to ponder!

    I’d trade Taylor over Goodwin. While they ended up with an equal 105 wRC+, nearly all the offensive peripheral stats favored Goodwin. Goodwin struck out less, walked more, had a higher ISO, and benefited from less BABIP “luck.” Taylor does play elite defense, but the Nats also have a quality defender in Eaton who can play CF. The bottom line, though, would be that Taylor would have more trade value right now.


    23 Nov 17 at 7:01 pm

  12. If I had to make a more realistic guess of where the Nats might look for a FA starter, I wouldn’t be surprised by Jaime Garcia, who has a long track record with Lilliquist. He wouldn’t be exciting, but exciting will cost more.


    23 Nov 17 at 7:36 pm

  13. Umm . . .

    According to this rambling piece, the Nats have some interest in bringing back JZim if the Tigers would subsidize some of the remaining 3/$74M. Unless “some” means about $50M+, I just don’t see this making a lot of sense.


    25 Nov 17 at 10:14 pm

  14. Agree!
    He is, at best, a #5 starter at this point. How much do you pay for a #5 starter? The Nays need one regardless.

    Mark L

    26 Nov 17 at 6:39 pm

  15. JZim had some excellent seasons with the Nats, but he’s been one of the worst starters in baseball over the last two years. The only way this would make sense would be if someone in the organization like Spin Williams is absolutely, positively convinced that he has the fix for what is wrong AND if the Tigers would eat at least 2/3 of what he’s owed (very unlikely). Otherwise, there are plenty of guys out there for a lot less who are better right now, even including EJax and Fister. At that level, though, maybe you’re just as well off to roll with Fedde and Cole.


    26 Nov 17 at 7:37 pm

  16. Fister has already signed, thankfully, with the Rangers.
    He’s like EJax in that you wonder how they always find someone to sign them.

    Mark L

    26 Nov 17 at 9:00 pm

  17. Steamer hats J-Zimm, projecting him to have ~1 WAR and a 5.13 ERA in ~170 innings. Going strictly by the projections, that’s a 1 yr/$10 mil deal if you like him and something less than that if you don’t. Putting his contract to the side, do you like J-Zimm better than John Lackey, Jaime Garcia, Andrew Cashner, and the other 5th starter types out there? On the one hand, going from AL to NL could make Zimmermann improve. Plus, he’s been better more recently than a lot of those guys. On the other hand, Zimmermann’s big problem is that his Ks have absolutely plummeted since he went to Detroit. It would be different if you could count on him to give you a lot of mediocre innings like Lackey does, but Zimmermann’s missed time each of the last two years.

    Even if you get Detroit to pay down $50 million, would you sign J-Zimm for 3 years at $24 million? I wouldn’t, even though I think there’s a decent chance he’ll be better this year.


    27 Nov 17 at 10:58 am

  18. No, I wouldn’t take JZim at 3/$24M, sad to say. I don’t know where that story came from. I can’t see ANYONE taking that contract off Detroit’s hands.

    Man, things are quiet on the news front, though. I feel certain the Nats will add a starting pitcher at some point, though. Honestly, if you’re going to pay for mediocre innings, why pay more than a small minor-league deal for EJax? Don’t get me wrong, I hope they shoot bigger than that, but if we’re in Lackey/Cashner territory, I think EJax could do just as well for a lot less. But then probably so could a Fedde/Cole/Ross-back-in-August tag team.

    I don’t think there’s any rush, though, particularly with very few pitchers signing thus far. The longer the wait, the more nervous the agents will get.

    In the meantime, maybe Rizzo is quietly working on that Stanton deal . . .


    27 Nov 17 at 3:24 pm

  19. I’ve tried to mostly ignore the Ohtani stuff, mainly because the Nats have done very little with the Asian market, but I got to thinking. Ohtani can choose his team, so you would think he’ll be looking for a contending team in a cosmopolitan market. At the risk of declaring much of the USA flyover country, the only non-coastal places that strike me as having the combo of contending team and big city are the Cubs and Astros.

    Moving to the (more likely) West Coast, the Giants desperately need both pitchers and OFs and have a great city with a large Asian population, but they suck. Seattle has the city/Asian population combo, but the Mariners are mediocre, as are the Angels down the coast. Can’t see the Padres getting much consideration at all. So, horror of horrors, that leaves the Dodgers as the leading contender in the West.

    On our coast, throw out Philly and Balto for sucking (and Balto for having an awful ownership situation). Throw out the Mets for sucking and ruining arms. That leaves the Bosox, the Damn Yankees, . . . and the Nats.

    So . . . Cubs, Astros, Dodgers, Bosox, Yanks, and Nats. The Astros don’t play at the same salary level as the others named, and their city sucks, so I’m going to toss them as well. Suddenly I have the Nats as a top-5 contender for Ohtani. I’m not holding my breath, and I have this fear that the Dodgers will ruin my holidays by signing Ohtani AND trading for Stanton, but you never know. Rizzo is the master of surprise.


    28 Nov 17 at 11:15 am

  20. I think its unlikely but here are the selling points that I would use:
    (1) get to play with Bryce Harper on a contender for the WS
    (2) 2018 all star game
    (3) demonstrated rep to take player’s health into account. I’d particularly compare themselves to NYM and ATL
    (4) batting: 300 PAs due to opportunity to spell Zim at 1B against righties, bat when pitching and DH for 18 interleague games.
    (5) consistent contender
    (6) international city with large Japanese pop and embassy

    I still think some of the rhetoric in the media is compelling: linked to Darvish; appeal of NYY and past Japanese players, etc, so this is unlikely, but I don’t think that’s a bad case


    28 Nov 17 at 1:01 pm

  21. It is fun to contemplate, isn’t it? And the Nats sure could use that #3 starter. Arm health should be a selling point, plus he’d not only get to play with Bryce, but with two of the best RHP in baseball.

    I have no idea what Ohtani’s hitting/field desire is. I’m looking at the stats, and he hasn’t played regularly in the field in three seasons. I guess he’s the DH? I don’t know. I haven’t followed the story that closely. He strikes out quite a bit but still has a good OBP.

    Too bad Ohtani didn’t end up represented by Boras . . .

    I have no idea how good he will be in MLB. No one does. But at the price, he’s going to be an amazing bargain.


    28 Nov 17 at 6:59 pm

  22. My understanding is that in Japan he pitches on Sunday, Would DH Tuesday-Thursday, then take two days to prep for his next start. One start a week is normal in the NPB, but obviously hasn’t been tried in MLB

    John C.

    30 Nov 17 at 11:15 am

  23. One of the great mysteries in the Ohtani courtship is that no MLB team really knows what Ohtani wants to do. It’s been said that he wants to hit, perhaps more than he’s getting to in Japan, but with no read on his defensive capabilities, how do teams — particularly NL ones, with no DH — even judge where and how they would deploy him? One would suspect/hope that he’s more mobile than, say, Adam Lind, and you would think that he would have a great arm, although if he hasn’t made throws from the OF in three years, a little recalibration will be in order.

    It’s all a curious question, one directly related to the age-old question of how good does an everyday player have to be to be worth more than an above-average starting pitcher? The various versions of WAR try to put a number on such things, but the correlation between WAR for hitters and pitchers has always been suspect. By bWAR, Max, Stras, and Gio were all more valuable than any Nat hitter in 2017. Four of those hitters had an OPS+ of 135 or greater. By fWAR, Rendon outranks Max and Stras, primarily thanks to his defense.

    Or look at it another way: what if Bryce was also a fantastic pitcher. (And for all we know, he might be.) Would you have him start every fifth day? I doubt it. The top of the draft every year includes a number of two-way players. NONE of them stay two-way. I guess what I’m getting at is that it seems curious that all these teams are bending over backwards to accommodate Ohtani’s desires in a way that they’ve done with no other player in modern history.

    My suspicion: with Ohtani’s Japanese league K rate at 27%, I think he’s going to struggle with MLB pitching and end up primarily as a starting pitcher who pinch hits. I know that’s not nearly as exciting as a true two-way player, but to me, his pitching numbers are more impressive than his hitting ones.


    30 Nov 17 at 2:44 pm

  24. The reason team’s are bending over backwards to accommodate Ohtani – and the reason it may makes sense to promise him ABs (even if such a promise is effectively unenforceable) – is that (1) his value as a pitcher is so much higher than the bonus/salary teams are permitted to pay him under the CBA and (2) he gets to choose the team he plays for. (1) is also true of many draft picks under the current slotting system. But because Ohtani gets to choose – and players that qualify for the draft do not – he can force teams to make commitments they would prefer to avoid.

    My suspicion: most teams would prefer to have Ohtani be a full-time pitcher and not hit at all outside of batting as a pitcher. Given the (enormous) delta between the price they are permitted to pay and Ohtani’s value, however, it makes sense for teams to commit to do something they would prefer not to do if it makes a difference to Ohtani (and I agree we have no idea what actually matters to Ohtani). In some ways, the competition for Ohtani resembles recruitment for college basketball/football players, where schools have agreed not to compete on price (salary) terms and instead compete on other factors – e.g., quality of facilities, playing time, etc.


    30 Nov 17 at 4:25 pm


    A little feedback from Ankiel and Werth, among others. Ankiel might actually be a pretty good comp, an outstanding pitcher (until he wasn’t) and a hitter with good power who struggled in part because of a high K rate.

    And yeah, once he’s signed, a lot of promises may go out the window . . . just like they do for college recruits!


    30 Nov 17 at 6:23 pm

  26. I would be very happy if Stanton ends up in SF and not LA. Heck, the Giants might even be able to pass the Padres for 4th place in the division! Goodness, they’re delusional. Giving up a chunk of their resources to get one guy — and one guy who doesn’t pitch, particularly in relief — is just the wrong, wrong direction for a bad team. I don’t know why Stanton would approve a trade to a team that won only 64 games, either, but maybe he’s desperate to get back to Cali.

    Anyway, I’m fine with a Stanton deal that isn’t to the Dodgers or the Cubs. Same for wherever else Ohtani wants to sign.

    I’ve noted several times my curiosity about Stanton for the Nats. I think they could come up with a competitive package without too deep a cut. I think it would have to start with Taylor and Fedde but probably include at least four or five guys . . . unless one of them is Robles.


    1 Dec 17 at 8:20 am

  27. Luke Erickson has posted his call for votes for “Favorite Bats” at Nationals Prospects. Vote early and often!


    1 Dec 17 at 8:34 am

  28. New posted about non-tenders, Ohtani, free agents, Stanton, etc.

    Todd Boss

    1 Dec 17 at 1:28 pm

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