Nationals Arm Race

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

Ask Collier; Pre-New Year’s Eve Mailbag


Is this what we're waking up to on 4/1/2019?  Photo via barstoolsports

Is this what we’re waking up to on 4/1/2019? Photo via barstoolsports


In this slow baseball off-season news cycle, anything is good.  We’ve signed a handful of MLFAs, some of which may even contribute, and we’ve fortified a couple of known roster spots.  But nothing major has happened really (at least not to us).

Lets check in with Nats beat reporter Jamal Collier, who posted a mailbag today on 12/28/17.


Q: What’s the impact of the Stanton to Yankees on Bryce’s next deal and potential for remaining with Nats?

A: I think its significant, and combined with a couple of other factors may actually help convince Bryce Harper to stay put.

First, the players union focused all its efforts on the Qualifying Offer  in the most recent CBA negotiations and gave up a huge concession in form of the luxury tax implementation.  Now, it isn’t a “salary cap” but it sure is acting like it.  When your biggest spenders (Yankees and Dodgers) are playing payroll games in order to get under neath the threshold … its serving as a defacto cap.  And it should be noted the Union did not get a corresponding “floor” … meaning that team after team will be punting on seasons ala Houston and Chicago and not spending money, thus bringing the FA spending down.  This situation will only continue into next off-season, which is setup to be the greatest Free Agency bonanza ever.  But are all these 2018 FAs fooling themselves into thinking they’re going to get the money they’re seeking?  You can already see the impacts; there’s been almost no movement in the 2017 FA market and I suspect that mid-level guys are going to get completely screwed.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have now committed $30M/year to an outfielder who basically plays the same position as Harper in Giancarlo Stanton.  And even the Yankees still need to find money to pay for pitching.  Can you field a competitive team with a thinned farm system and two players accounting for nearly half your payroll?  I don’t think you can.  Where would you even put Harper?  He’d have to commit to playing CF with Stanton and Aaron Judge in the corners … that’s a lot of power in the outfield yes .. but also not a ton of defense.

Lastly, there’s already rumors (a comment from a connected blogger recently) who is hearing that Harper may very well stay put.  And why not?  Thanks to a middling division filled with teams going in the wrong direction and a relatively young team with key players locked up … Washington isn’t the worst place to hang your hat for a while.  We offer him a deal with an opt out perhaps in 3-4 years, when he won’t even be 30 yet, and he’ll have another bite at the apple.

So, maybe Harper is going to be wearing the curly-W a while longer.

Collier thinks the Yankees are less obvious of a suitor … but that anything could happen.


Q: Should we read much into the lack of a Rizzo extension, or is it something that the Lerners would be more likely to do this summer (assuming everything is going well in-season)?

A: I wouldn’t read anything into the lack of movement; I continue to think the Lerner group treats its baseball employees no differently than its regular construction business employees, and have no issue letting employees go to the end of their deals before renewing.

Collier says the same.


Q: With news breaking of Realmuto wanting out of Miami, could you see the Nationals making a push for the young catcher?

A: Nope.  Nats are already overspending at the position and are going to be hoping for a Ryan Zimmerman-esque bounce back year from Matt Wieters.  And with them being so close to the luxury tax already (if not over it), I can’t see them spending even more money at a position where they’re already spending significant dollars.  I just don’t see this team throwing good money after bad at the catcher position.

Collier basically the same.


Q: I have to say that one of my biggest concerns with the new coaching staff is the absence of Davey Lopes. This is a team that should be using speed as a primary weapon, and Lopes’ coaching was essential to the younger speedsters on this team. Can you reassure me that both the coaching staff and Martinez will still buy into this approach and that they have the tools to make good on the potential headaches for opposing pitchers and defenders?

A; I dunno how anyone can make that claim honestly.  The only thing we have to go on is Joe Maddon‘s approach; will Dave Martinez use the same?  It will be a wait and see thing.

Collier thinks they’ll stay aggressive.


Man, that was kind of a lame mailbag.  No hot takes, nothing controversial.  We need some stuff to argue about.

Thankfully …. Hall of Fame voting is next week.  Can’t wait.

7 Responses to 'Ask Collier; Pre-New Year’s Eve Mailbag'

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  1. That photo is evil!

    I’ve posted my thoughts earlier on how I think the potential market for Bryce has really contracted. The Yankees are out. If they spend big, it will be on Machado. I’ve seen a fair amount of speculation about the Cubs, but they’re going to be entering the arb years with their young core and their payroll is going to rise quickly. They’re also stuck with the bad Heyward contract, and he’s mostly in RF. Phillies? Really? To play your prime with a rebuilding team and brutal fans? Sounds like a circle of Hell to me.

    The Dodgers? Yeah, they’re a Bryce threat. But they’ve also been trying to practice a lot more fiscal responsibility over the last couple of years. They’ve got an affordable young core. They’ll also have to pony up more than $300M next offseason to keep Kershaw. If they invest somewhere, their need is much more in pitching than it is in hitting.

    So we’ll see. Boras knows all this. And I think it’s still possible that Bryce goes on the market but still comes back to the Nats. Who knows? There’s no guarantee at all, but I think the odds of him sticking around have improved.

    On the flip side, the question then becomes whether a massive outlay to keep Bryce is in the best interest for the Nats.


    30 Dec 17 at 9:48 am

  2. Lopes: I’m not sure he actually helped enough. Guys like Trea and Difo kept making a lot of base-running mistakes. Perhaps he gave Trea some good tips on reading pitchers, but it’s hard to know.

    The new coaching staff is VERY savvy. Martinez is actually one of the least-experienced guys on the staff. I think they’ll be fine, and probably more in tune than guys like Speier were.

    Realmuto: he would likely cost Soto or Kieboom and just isn’t worth that much to the Nats right now. You don’t need to burn a top prospect to improve your #8 hitter. As I’ve mentioned, the only way I see Realmuto happening is if the Nats would also take Prado’s contract and not have to give up a top prospect in return. Or they just sign Avila, pay him what Realmuto would make, and give up no one. Avila actually makes more sense platoon-wise with Wieters.


    30 Dec 17 at 9:54 am

  3. I’m curious about reports that the Nats are still poking around with Holland. Might be just Boras trying to fan the interest. I’d rather see the Nats spend the ~$10-12M Holland would cost on a quality starter in the Lynn/Cobb range.


    30 Dec 17 at 9:58 am

  4. This piece says a lot of things that I’ve been thinking:

    I know that half of baseball can’t rebuild at once, but there are a lot of delusional clubs out there.


    31 Dec 17 at 2:29 pm

  5. Happy New Year, all.

    A most unusual offseason, to be sure. I’m inclined to believe the theory of herd like valuations by front offices causing the logjam, combined with no clear unblemished stars at the top of the market, as the reason. But should be a lot of movement the next 6 weeks.

    As for the Nats, my preferences haven’t changed. Still see Kendrick as the best use of remaining payroll. Think they can get by with in house options plus a few NRIs for the 5th starter spot.

    Realmuto getting a lot of attention in some quarters, but I can’t really see the point of losing a Soto and/or Fedde for him. The lineup is very strong as is and can afford a hole at C.

    The only big move I could get behind is a large one for an Archer type. Probably Archer specifically, since no one similar jumps out at me. I’d give up Robles plus for him. I just don’t think anyone else moves the needle for 2018, and there is too much flux beyond that to know which way to go right now.


    1 Jan 18 at 4:05 pm

  6. I think the Union made a huge miscalculation not fighting the luxury tax and instead focusing on an issue that affects just 2-3 players a year (the qualifying offer issue with not-quite-elite FAs like Ian Desmond). I also believe that agreeing to in essence a salary cap without a salary floor is destroying the FA market … and that the situation is going to come to a major head soon. I think there’s going to be a very ugly negotiation with the next CBA because the players need to get rid of the luxury tax.

    Todd Boss

    2 Jan 18 at 9:54 am

  7. Happy New Year everyone! Yes, the players are totally screwed, and for years to come. The caveat, of course, is that this is an outlier FA year. Every guy on the market has at least a yellow flag or two, if not some outright red ones. And agents aren’t helping matters by not budging much from asking prices that don’t take the red flags into account.

    I still think Rizzo is making a “big” move if the opportunity presents itself. The Nats have made at least on big move nearly every offseason. I don’t know how “big” a move it would be to sign a Lynn or Cobb, but it would be a significant one. Avila and/or Kendrick wouldn’t be “big,” but they would really improve the bench. They’re going to add a reserve INF at some point, as they’re not going to go into the season with just Difo, all the more with Murphy iffy for April.

    An Arrieta or Martinez bail-out contract with Boras would be “big,” but how wise is another matter. A trade for Archer certainly would be “big.” I can’t see a Gerrit Cole trade, not when the Bucs would want a top prospect in exchange for a guy coming off a couple of down seasons.

    So we’ll see. They’re going to add more than Kintzler and Adams.


    2 Jan 18 at 11:35 am

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