Nationals Arm Race

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

Merry Xmas! The Nats got a Bell


Bell joins his former Pittsburgh teammate Harrison with the Nationals. Photo via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Not unlike the little boy in The Polar Express, the Nats got a Bell for Christmas.

Let me just start out by saying, I love this move. Might as well get it on record.

The Nats made their first trade in nearly a year, and their first one with Pittsburgh in four years, by acquiring Josh Bell in exchange for two pitching prospects in Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean.

Bell is a middle-of-the-order stud, crushing the NL in 2019 to the tune of a 142 OPS+ and 135 wRC+. He crushed 37 homers playing in Pittsburgh’s pitcher’s park and despite missing a few weeks with injury. He struggled in 2020, so Pittsburgh is selling a bit low, but its also a typical move from the often-tanking franchise. Bell is arb-eligible, a Scott Boras client and probably is only a 2-year player here, but he fits an immediate and urgent need on this team.

Now for a bit on the players heading the other way. Crowe has been one of our top pitching prospects for several seasons, grinding his way up the chain and debuting in 2020. However (and yes this is small sample size and what not but it is still warranted), his MLB time did not inspire confidence. His fastball was just 92mph, his off-speed stuff in the low to mid 80s, and he got tattooed in his 8 innings pitched (14 hits, 5 homers, 8 walks). It was enough to cause Baseball America to drop him from 4th in their pre-2020 handbook to 10th in the post-season wake of his performance. The scouting reports say he sits 91-93 and touches 95; well, if there was ever a time for him to touch it, it would have been in his MLB debut. I hate to throw shine on a guy, but a life-time starter who can’t cut it in the low 90s and who projected as a 5th starter at best is not exactly a guarantee to be successful in relief either, not in an era where everybody throws mid 90s out of the pen. I think this was an indication that Crowe dropped so far down our starting pitcher depth chart that he became completely expendable.

Meanwhile, the marquee name heading the other way likely is Yean, a 2017 IFA who never appeared on a single prospect list until the post 2019 season, when he started getting top 10 buzz. was the high man on him after 2020, having him all the way up to #6 in the system. He’ll be a solid starter prospect for Pittsburgh’s low-A team this year and might turn into a star for them. But, in terms of near-term needs, Yean is at least 3 years away and the team has 4 or 5 college aged studs who rank higher than him and who are closer to the majors, so he’s a years-away lottery ticket. Unlike other times when we’ve traded away young pitchers (Jesus Luzardo) I’m a-ok with this move.

Great move; we got a player we really wanted, didn’t break the bank in terms of FA signing, and the prospects we sent the other way were prospects we could afford to part with.

Written by Todd Boss

December 24th, 2020 at 3:22 pm

45 Responses to 'Merry Xmas! The Nats got a Bell'

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  1. This trade is in line with what I was proposing on the last thread. Trade from starting pitcher depth, not a top prospect, and do not overtrade, but get an affordable player with high ceiling and pop pop. Still 34 on the roster and it has clearly been upgraded. Approve!


    24 Dec 20 at 3:35 pm

  2. I like the trade. My only reservation is getting rid of Yean before we can really see what he is. I heard he has really good stuff. He could end being another Luzardo, or Dunning. Traded before you truly know what you have. In that case you may regret it in the future. Unless you win another World Series of course. Crowe on the otherhand I was always thought was overrated and was strictly just a workhorse type but nothing that jumps off the page. At least I wasn’t high on him. I wonder if a package of Crowe and Joan Adon could have gotten it done. But Nationals have plenty of starting pitching prospects so maybe they decided we will have plenty young studs coming up soon so we can afford to give up one.


    24 Dec 20 at 5:03 pm

  3. Some good upside here if Bell can return to what he did in 2019. His defense worries me, but we’ve lived with terrible defense at first base pretty much since Adam LaRoche went to Chicago. Add Ozuna, a decent #3/4 starter, and a reliever or two and this is a great offseason. Rosario would be a good addition too if Ozuna is too rich for the Nats’ blood.


    24 Dec 20 at 5:20 pm

  4. It bears repeating that a lot of folks here, because of the pundits, devalue our prospects. Well, other baseball teams value our minor leaguers. So here we are with Josh Bell plugging one hole, still retaining the highest prospect value, and not doing so with dreck like Santana.

    I am not so sure that the Nationals would have been happy trading Adon instead of Yean. They have been waiting for him to break out and, having added him to the 40 man, must think that is more likely than not.


    24 Dec 20 at 7:06 pm

  5. Score one for Ghost at Nats Talk, who has been advocating for a Bell trade.

    First off, the price is great. I thought such a deal would require at least one additional arm. Yean is the real wild card, but it’s going to be a few years before anyone knows anything. Despite his upside, the Nats’ track record with actually developing fire-balling Latinos has been poor. Only Lopez and J-Rod have really made the majors, and neither has really done anything great. With Crowe, “grinding” is very apt. When he was succeeding a A+ and AA, there were always caveats, and then he got clobbered at AAA and the majors. The FanGraphs comparison of Crowe with Roark seemed like wishful thinking.

    Also, Crowe was one Boras client who they swapped for another one in Bell.

    The Pirates definitely were selling low on Bell. As for what’s to like about him, in addition to being tantalized by what he did in 2019 (37 HRs, 37 doubles, 12% walk rate, 135 wRC+), he’s cheap. His expected arb price is between 5.1 to 7.2M. It will be interesting to see if the Nats just pay the arb price or go on and buy out his two years. They’d probably at least ask about tacking on a couple of more, but Boras usually doesn’t go for such things.

    Anyway, that’s a great price for a (potential) middle-of-the-order bat and leaves them the with the money to pursue another one. And if they just pay him the arb price, they would have the option of non-tendering him next year if he tanks again.

    Bell is a MUCH better LH hitter than RH, so there still may be a thought of platooning him, perhaps with Zim. There are still five slots on the 40-man, with Bell exchanged for Crowe. Do they really want/need two 1B-only guys, though? Harrison could also be the 1B platoon guy.


    24 Dec 20 at 9:44 pm

  6. So what’s next? Do they still look for a Bryant or Suarez trade at 3B? Go for a more expensive LF option (Ozuna or Brantley) or shoot for cheaper (Rosario) and spend the extra elsewhere?

    Do they have any interest in going big on the reliever market for Brad Hand? Or are they interested in spending a little more on the starter market for someone like Odorizzi or Paxton?

    I wonder whether they could afford a package of Kluber, Hand, and Rosario. That would be a real gamble on Kluber, but if going a little cheaper on him and Rosario would leave them with enough left over to go after Hand, that could be a heck of a combo if Kluber can stay healthy. Wouldn’t solve things at 3B, though . . . unless they think Garcia is ready at 2B and Castro can fill 3B until Kieboom clicks (if he does).


    24 Dec 20 at 10:12 pm

  7. Rizzo likes his stars. And at 7m he got one without breaking the bank or the farm. So there are many directions the team can now go in. They still have depth to trade from and to the right sellers, unless the free agent prices fit. This trade was excellent for meeting team needs with lesser risk. And Rizzo has finally figured out that two prospects are enough!


    24 Dec 20 at 11:04 pm

  8. The transition out of Yean and Crowe now introduces Evan Lee into the top 30 as a guy we’ve been reading about on the back fields who has the goods to make a leap forward. The replacements are there…


    24 Dec 20 at 11:18 pm

  9. I’m looking at Yean’s stats. Frankly, there isn’t much to go on, other than “reports.” He’ll turn 20 next June and already be Rule 5-eligible next December — and likely far from being ready to add to anyone’s 40-man. He hasn’t pitched above short-season low A (Auburn), and that was a brief cameo where he had difficulty striking out the college draftees, although he had just turned 18 at the time. His walk rates have been fairly high at every stop, so he’s yet to “harness” that heater.

    At least on paper, Yean doesn’t look nearly as polished as Luzardo, and I seriously doubt he’ll rise as quickly. I’m not wishing him ill, just thinking that he’s a hard-throwing but not-yet-refined guy who has yet to play full-season ball, so it’s way too early to “project” much about him one way or another. Bell’s two years with the Nats may be up before the Pirates really even know if Yean is going to make it.


    24 Dec 20 at 11:34 pm

  10. Here’s a question about Evan Lee. Perhaps the same thing applies to Alex Troop. Lee will turn 24 next summer, and Troop will turn 25, so the clock is really ticking on them. Both were excellent hitters in college, and the Nats are desperate for hitting prospects. At what point do you give them looks in the batting cage, just to make sure you’re not missing a faster route to development? Not saying it’s going to happen with either of them, and both still have upsides as LH pitchers, but it’s a thought.

    Troop in particular might be one who turns out to benefit from the year off to let his arm recover. He was the Friday starter at Michigan State and was very good there. Lee came out of Arkansas, one of the best college programs in the country, but he only pitched 33 innings there, leading one to believe he still has a fair amount to learn about toeing the rubber. As I recall, he was a highly regarded prospect out of high school but went undrafted because of a firm college commitment.


    24 Dec 20 at 11:51 pm

  11. Lee was no more than a dabbler at pitcher with a live arm. The Nationals scout Arkansas closely and liked his arm, and he went younger (sophomore) than people usually do. So Lee is like a very old HS player in the sense of low mileage on his arm and no injury history. They obviously diligenced that he was a baseball rat who did not need to do the college thing. He’s taken well to instruction and has the maturity of college time and big time SEC and CWS exposure. So he is really like an old HS graduate who is just discovering his pitching talent and showing arsenal because he is very coachable and has a live left handed arm. Remember that Jefry Rodriguez was a conversion also, and made it all the way to the majors but got injured last year.

    Troop is in a very different spot. He had a shoulder injury in 2018 and rehabbed slowly, but in 2019 posted wonderful stats as the year progressed, pitching as a multi-inning reliever. Once minor league life returns to normal, he can take his career forward as hard as he works. The Nationals have not had him at instructional league the past two years, so he must not be one of the fair haired folks in the organization. Perhaps he is a much more polished pitcher whom the organization does not challenge at higher levels as much as the stats suggest he should, like Istler. In that case, your suggestion about his bat may be on target…


    25 Dec 20 at 4:36 am

  12. Something interesting in the reshuffling of the MLBpipeline top 30 for us

    Two guys who weren’t there 3 months ago are now there; #19 Marte and #20 Pena. PLus the tacking on of #30 Lee. They replace traded Crowe, Yean and MLFA Bourque.

    Todd Boss

    25 Dec 20 at 9:10 am

  13. Interesting tidbit thrown out there about Crowe: might not be the best clubhouse guy.

    Todd Boss

    25 Dec 20 at 10:24 am

  14. Marte has been very much on the radar for tools, and showed up at the instrux to make himself relevant. Pena has posted those eye popping numbers but is tiny. The amusing thing is that no one ever took him seriously, like ever, because of how small he is.

    But he is growing up and playing beyond his years. That he would place at 20 says they obviously see his ceiling much higher than Cole Freeman, now, which says a lot for what Freeman has showed to date as a guy headed to full time play at Harrisburg and with a game that is steadily improving.

    Nobody is saying this, but the Nationals have turned international signing into their high school draft pool. Yean flipping for Bell is a big feather for DiPuglia and co. Apparently the Nationals have signed big numbers in the international pool to be announced in January, to include the biggest name Cruz. Looking forward to the next harvest with great interest.


    25 Dec 20 at 11:03 am

  15. I was kind of amazed that Viandel Peña didn’t immediately pop on prospect charts after he hit .359/.935 in the GCL as an 18-year-old. He was one of the best hitters not just on the Nats team, but in the entire league, right there with Junior Martina — but he’s three years younger than Martina and has a chance to actually stick at shortstop. Oh, and he’s a switch-hitter.


    25 Dec 20 at 2:08 pm

  16. Agreed on all, and in addition, Pena, as an 18 year old adjusting to playing in America for the first time. A few other things to love – he never went more than one start the whole year without getting on base, and only once went more than one game without getting a hit – the whole season. He ended strong despite his listed 148 lbs. And, with 2 outs and RISP, hit .462/.533/.692
    All aboard!

    Beyond the stats, he is thought of as a player the coaches love, a real special baseball personality. So it’s nice to see someone recognized who does not meet the classic measurables expectations.


    25 Dec 20 at 3:45 pm

  17. Interesting-if-true comments by Bowden about Crowe. To Crowe’s credit, though, he’s one of the few recent higher draft picks who has actually shown up, progressed through levels at appropriate speed, and made the majors before he would have been Rule 5-eligible. (Romero did, too, technically, although he skipped almost all the other steps.)

    I’m glad they went on and traded Crowe now, and got very good value for him. Despite the way Bowden put it, Crowe is the only semi-guaranteed piece of this deal. Early in his Nats’ tenure, Rizzo was willing to trade these near-majors back-of-rotation types: Milone, Peacock, Karns, etc. Since then, he’s gotten to where he sat on Taylor Jordan, Taylor Hill, Cole, Fedde, Voth, et al., until they had little value and/or got hurt and/or had to be DFA’d for absolutely nothing (Cole).

    Based on what Crowe has shown thus far, he may be no better than Taylor Hill or so. I think Cole was better than Crowe, and he’s had a hard time sticking in the majors on a regular basis. Of course Cole may be better than Fedde, but Rizzo still refuses to admit that.

    Crowe doesn’t have to fail for this trade to be a success for the Nats, though. Bell just needs to succeed. For all the grousing we’re going to hear forever about the Eaton and Doolittle trades, that damn flag is going to fly forever, and those two players and their large personalities were a huge part of keeping that team on track.


    25 Dec 20 at 9:42 pm

  18. I will be honest: i had never heard of either prospect before seeing them on MLBpipeline’s list. That’s probably because I don’t pay any attention to DSL and GCL leagues. But i’m glad you guys seem to think highly of them.

    Bowden on Crowe; yeah interesting little tidbit. Rizzo continues to work his method; draft nothing but pitchers, then use them as currency to acquire bats and major league talent. I’m doing a quick scroll past his past few trades and literally every time he’s flipping a minor league pitcher. I know there’s lots of criticism here of his over-drafting of arms … but man he works them well.

    Todd Boss

    26 Dec 20 at 7:46 am

  19. Now that we have Josh Bell, I am all about getting George Springer. I think the two way potential outpaces the one dimension of Ozuna, and he is a proven champion. Sign Springer and add him to the lineup, for no prospect capital, and trade for Snell or some other top grade controllable starter.

    If the Nationals sign Realmuto, they can package Gomes in a trade for a top piece without displacing top prospects. I could see Tampa Bay loving Gomes in a Snell deal.


    27 Dec 20 at 10:54 am

  20. Todd Boss

    27 Dec 20 at 4:34 pm

  21. Quite a haul for Blake Snell. Well, the Rays got catching and prospects – Cole Wilcox sighting!

    I suppose the equivalent for the Nats would have been a deal for Cavalli, Romero, Kieboom, and Gomes. Or some approximation that I would not imagine the Nationals doing. I suppose this is what one can do with that degree of organizational depth, including at the ML level. Preller set this up by stocking his catching last year. He sure is an interesting GM.


    27 Dec 20 at 11:37 pm

  22. Thanks for the link, Todd. I agree on the win-win aspect of the trade.

    Sao and I have been beating the drum about Ha Seong Kim for awhile now. Now its expected he will be getting around a 5 year $40 million contract this week, which is the deadline.
    Are you telling me the front office can’t afford that?

    There still is lot of need for his skills and someone with a high school level of marketing would be able to see that Northern Virginia is the 2nd largest Korean community in the states.

    Mark L

    28 Dec 20 at 7:50 am

  23. Too bad Rizzo couldn’t find a way to insert himself into another big Pads-Rays deal…


    28 Dec 20 at 8:22 am

  24. Derek — I know!

    I would have loved to have gotten Snell, and I probably would have been willing to back up the truck on our four or five top prospects to get him. We have NO prospects in the top 100, though, so I don’t know that we have the capital for such a mega-deal, even with Rutledge and Cavalli included. But I probably would have done Rutledge/Cavalli/Kieboom/Antuna for Snell, and thrown in Denaburg, Romero, or Henry if asked.


    28 Dec 20 at 10:36 am

  25. Fore — Springer would be a good fit on the field for the Nats, but they just don’t have room for the $23-25M AAV over six or seven years that he’s wanting. Now, whether he’ll actually get it is another question. I’ve said all offseason that there isn’t that much of an obvious market for him, particularly with several other OF bat available for far less. Hard to know what his price will be in February. The Nats might be able to do $18M per year for four or five years, if he falls that far.

    FWIW, I’ve seen hints that Rizzo was so pissed about the Astro cheating that he might be a hard pass on one of the chief offenders. He might not be quite so negative about Brantley, but who knows?


    28 Dec 20 at 10:41 am

  26. Todd — re Nats having good success drafting pitchers to trade: well, sorta, sometimes, maybe. As I noted though, he also has a tendency to overvalue some and hold onto them for too long while they lose value. But it would be a whole lot better if they would actually draft guys would would succeed for the Nats! It also would be good to spend a little draft capital on hitters. I mean, Kieboom is the only hitter they’ve taken with a 1st-round pick in nine years!

    All in all, though, the Rizzo draft landscape with the Nats is somewhat of a wasteland, even with guys who have been traded.

    Successful starting pitchers Rizzo has drafted: Strasburg, Giolito (after six years), and Ray (who has been very up and down). Pivetta has spent some time in the Phils rotation and wasn’t bad for the 4th round pick. Luzardo and Dunning still could turn into something, as could all the pitchers the Nats have drafted in the last three-four years, but overall, the track record hasn’t been good, particularly considering all the high-level capital spent on those picks.

    Successful relievers drafted by Rizzo: Storen, for a little while. Glover was a good instinct if not felled by injury, but he also had an injury history when drafted.

    Successful hitters drafted by Rizzo not named Harper or Rendon:

    OK, he does get a little credit for taking the “risk” on Rendon, but he was also the best college hitter of that time, so there was tremendous promise of upside. And some still have their fingers crossed that Kieboom makes it. Otherwise, Billy Burns briefly flashed with the A’s. Stevenson may become a useful reserve. Reetz still has an outside chance to become an MLB backup. But otherwise . . . Renda, Hague, Kobernus, Perkins, Wiseman, Banks, Freeman, and many others, still with little to show.


    28 Dec 20 at 10:57 am

  27. Also, I never understood why Rizzo spent the 10th overall pick on a reliever. I know they needed someone who would sign for a little less for slot savings for Stras. If they had taken a hitter instead . . . no, I’m not throwing Trout out there, as most of baseball passed on him . . . but the next college hitter drafted was A. J. Pollock, who has had a solid if injury-marred carrier. The next college pitchers taken after Storen were Aaron Crow (who the Nats wouldn’t have touched) and Alex White (who they couldn’t have afforded to sign). Paxton was well down the list at pick 37, so he wouldn’t have been a candidate at #10.

    However, Trout did sign for $400K less than Storen did. The Nats had enough money for him. Sigh. But even the Angels took the great Randal Grichuk ahead of Trout, and paid him a larger bonus.


    28 Dec 20 at 12:12 pm

  28. The big reason they picked Storen at #10 in was because, at the time, that #10 overall pick was not recoupable. Meaning, if they picked someone there who didn’t sign, they’d lose the pick. So they went with a guy in Storen who they knew would sign, and would sign for an undervalue amount at that slot.

    Storen signed for $1.6M. The guy before him got $3.9M and the guy after him got $2.7M.

    There’s now plenty of literature that explains why Trout fell in 2008 draft. Short version: he was a northern kid, the showcase circuit wasn’t as big/trusted yet, and it was a bad weather year for Jersey so he had very little in the way of opportunities to impress scouting wise. They knew who he was, but he fell to a team that was willing to put its neck out on the line to sign a HS kid from New Jersey insetad of a big college kid from California/Florida/Texas.

    Todd Boss

    28 Dec 20 at 12:59 pm

  29. The guys before and after Storen were also high schoolers. One suspects that Trout would have wanted that kind of money if taken at #10. That’s why I pointed to other college players. They probably could have gotten a deal with Pollock to sign for what Storen took.

    Of course Storen didn’t fail, and was in fact immediately successful. But four years later, he cost the Nats another 1st-round pick when they trusted him so little that they signed Soriano.


    28 Dec 20 at 1:13 pm

  30. KW: you don’t seem to think Rizzo has leveraged his pitchers into assets. Here’s a review of every one of his trades over the past few years:
    x 2020: Josh Bell for Wil Crowe, Eddy Yean
    x 2020: Ryne Harper for Hunter McMahon

    x 2019: Daniel Hudson for Kyle Johnston
    x 2019: Hunter Strickland for Aaron Fletcher
    x 2019: Roenis Elias for Taylor Guilbeau, Elvis Alvarado
    x 2019: Nick Wells (Battlefield HS!) for Austin Adams (who had been DFA’d)
    x 2019: Cash for Trevor Gott

    2018 non-trade deadline deals
    x 2018: Matt Reynolds for cash
    x 2018: Cash for A.J. Cole post DFA
    x 2018: Kelvin Herrera for Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins, Yohanse Morel.
    x 2018: Kyle Barraclough for Int’l bonus money
    x 2018: Tanner Rainey for Tanner Roark
    x 2018: Yan Gomes for Jefry Rodriguez, Daniel Johnson, PTBNL that turns into Andruw Monasterio

    2018 trade deadline and post-waiver wire cleaning house
    x 2018: Jacob Condra-Bogan for Brian Goodwin
    x 2018: Andruw Monasterio, PTBNL/Cash for Daniel Murphy
    x 2018: Jhon Romero for Brandon Knitzler (a “get rid of the squeaky wheel” move)
    x 2018: KJ Harrison, Gilbert Lara for Gio Gonzalez and IFA slot money
    x 2018: Cash considerations for Matt Adams
    x 2018: Andrew Istler for Ryan Madson
    x 2018: IFA bonus space/cash for Shawn Kelley

    x 2017: Howie Kendrick, Intl bonus $ for McKenzie Mills (high-A) and cash
    x 2017: ptbnl/cash for C Nick Rickles (AA Harrisburg)
    x 2017: Enny Romero for Jeffrey Rosa
    x 2017: Brandon Knitzler for Tyler Watson and Intl bonus money
    x 2017: Ryan Raburn for Mick VanVossen (low-A)
    x 2017: Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle for Blake Treinen/Jesus Luzardo/Sheldon Neuse

    x 2016: Nate Freiman for Tyler Moore
    x 2016: Jimmy Cordero for ptbnl, eventually Mario Sanchez
    x 2016: Taylor Gushue for Chris Bostick
    x 2016: Mark Melancon for Felipe Rivero, Taylor Hearn
    x 2016: Derek Norris for Luis Avila (now Pedro Avila) (low-A)
    x 2016: Sean Burnett for cash
    x 2016: Adam Eaton for Giolito, Lopez, Dunning (wow)
    x 2016: Marc Rzepczynski for Max Schrock
    x 2016: Austin Adams, Kyle McGowin for Danny Espinosa
    x 2016: Ptbnl/cash for Brendan Ryan (AAA deal)

    So, not counting the 2018 waiver wire/trade deadline firesale, i see a ton of minor league arms heading out to acquire assets coming back. Just over and over. Like just in the last 5 years I count 24 arms heading out of the system.

    Todd Boss

    28 Dec 20 at 1:13 pm

  31. And wow, everything is coming up Padres, rumored to be close to adding Darvish and Kim.


    28 Dec 20 at 1:17 pm

  32. I didn’t disagree with Rizzo leveraging pitching assets. My big pushback is that he hasn’t shown that he can draft and develop his own players for his own team, and reap the benefit of the cheap years of control. With all the pitching the Nats have drafted, they never should have had to sign Corbin. They shouldn’t have had to spend as much as they did on Sanchez. They shouldn’t be in the market for yet another $8-10M starter now. But they are. And even if they sign one, we’re still not going to trust whoever is left as the #5 starter. And this after a decade of heavily drafting pitching.

    That’s not to turn back time and say they should have kept Giolito. They never could have waited and waited like a developing, second-tier team could. But I wrote at the time of that trade that Rizzo just bet big that Fedde would succeed. He hasn’t. Neither has anyone else.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great getting Bell for Crowe . . . particularly since we had pretty much already decided that Crowe was yet another in a long line of AAAA starters we’ve “developed.” And Yean wasn’t even a draftee. The Latin players, particularly hitters, have been saving the college scouting department from utter embarrassment for years now.


    28 Dec 20 at 1:32 pm

  33. There are also cascading ramifications. The Nats have had around $30M AAV tied up with Corbin and Sanchez over the last two offseasons as they bid unsuccessfully to keep Harper and Rendon. Now, whether those deals would have been the best idea over the long run is debatable, but the point is that they had so much extra tied up in starting pitching they had to add because of failed internal development that they really didn’t have a chance. Plus they now have gaping holes for an OF corner bat and at 3B. So maybe they can trade some of that drafted pitching for Kris Bryant . . .


    28 Dec 20 at 1:52 pm

  34. It’s not valid to consider trades across a span of years anymore. The economics of the game have changed so much – from the international draft changes (regulated since 2016) to changed free agency compensation rules, to the move to release rather than arbitrate over the last two years, to the luxury tax rule, to the spectacular failure of certain long term contracts like Chris Davis, to greater injuries of pitchers and more.

    Teams don’t trade now the way they did a few years ago. They don;t roster build the way they did a few years ago.

    It follows that someone who is not going to be a starter for the team should be traded at the height of their value to get someone who will – no matter what happens to that player. The problem with Luzardo and Gioltio, if that is one, is that it’s not that they are starring elsewhere, it’s that they WOULD have made it with the Nats eventually. Other players were expendable for what the Nationals needed and indeed acquired. Even as Rivero was traded for Melancon, who starred, and the team likely felt they had a good shot to sign him and did not. The trade was regrettable and Rizzo no longer does rental deals for major pieces.

    I think that generally, Rizzo does a good job trading pieces that are outdated while they have value. He missed on Severino and Taylor Jordan, but Jordan had an injury. Rey Lopez had value when he was traded. So did Tanner Roark – I think most of us are happily surprised in retrospect that we got Rainey for a year of Roark. It’s the same for Yunel Escobar and Tyler Clippard. Escobar lasted a year, but he really helped the team, especially in certain stretches.

    I do believe that in a league of metrics, there has to be a metric for scouts whose players ultimately play in the major leagues, start, or star. DiPuglia runs the international program and he was a proven talent eye before he got here.

    Considering the millions thrown around on players, I think the Nationals should be outbidding and lining up the best scouting department anywhere. But they should also be paying for the best teachers for the young players.


    28 Dec 20 at 2:09 pm

  35. All in all, Rizzo is a terrific trader. There have been some genius trades (Turner and Ramos) as well as a number of smaller ones to fill holes.

    It becomes chicken-and-egg at some point with some things, though. He’s had to make an awful lot of trades for bullpen arms because they haven’t been able to develop their own. It’s not all development of course; injury felled three promising relievers in the same class in Glover, Brinley, and A. Lee. (Glover and Lee had injury histories when drafted, though.)


    28 Dec 20 at 2:48 pm

  36. Well, unlike the football team, at least the Nats haven’t released a 1st-round pick just a year later, mostly for being a selfish bonehead, . . . although they might have come close with Romero.


    28 Dec 20 at 7:45 pm

  37. Padres: Wow. You’ve got to love how they’re out there going for it. I mean, why isn’t every other team in baseball operating like this? (Admittedly, not every other team has so many prospects to trade after years of being bad.) It may not work. Darvish may hit the age wall; Kim may not hit in the U.S.; Snell may have trouble staying healthy. But this isn’t Preller trading for the overhyped Wil Myers and the carcass of Matt Kemp. These are legit “where’s my ring?” moves. It’s fun for baseball. It’s also fun to have the Dodgers sweating.

    These moves do affect the Nats, though. Right now, it’s hard to see them competing with the Braves to win the division. It sure looks like Dodgers/Padres will have one of the wild cards spoken for. So the Nat chances seem to have narrowed to a single wild card slot, probably one that would leave them facing Snell or Buehler/Kershaw on the road in the wild card game.


    29 Dec 20 at 7:13 am

  38. Ha Seong Kim was just signed by San Diego for 4 years $25 million. Not very much money. Rizzo’s allergy to Asian players continues.

    Mark L

    29 Dec 20 at 7:14 am

  39. So, clearly the Cubs are now tanking. lets look at the Darvish trade.
    – Padres get: Darvish, Victor Caratini.
    – Cubs get: Zach Davies, prospects SS Reginald Preciado, outfielder Owen Caissie, outfielder Ismael Mena, and shortstop Yeison Santana.

    Darvish owed 21:$22M, 22:$19M, 23:$18M. He’s at worst a #2 starter and pitched like a #1 in 2020. Basically the Cubs dumped salary and acquired a bunch of low-level prospects. None of these guys was a top prospect: Preciado was #11, Caissie was #13, Mena #15 and Santana #16 in the Mlbpipeline ranking of the Padres system. All teenagers, years away. That’d be the equivalent of the Nats basically trading De la Rosa, Quintana, tyler Dyson and Reid Schaller to acquire a #1 starter.

    Law hated the deal.

    But, what it makes me wonder about is this. If the Cubs are willing to dump their top-end players to clear salary … what would it take to get Bryant and his projected $20-$22M salary? I mean, really. We might be able to give up a couple of young prospects ranked in the teens and twenties at this point. how about Joan Adon and Jake Irvin for Bryant and his salary straight up? I mean, if it took 4 middling prospects to get Darvish and his near $60M of salary, why would it take much more than a couple of our mid-ranked prospects to get Bryant?

    Todd Boss

    29 Dec 20 at 1:04 pm

  40. Todd — I completely agree. The Cubs have even less leverage with Bryant, with only one year of control and coming off a bad season. Also, he’s a Boras client, so you know Scott would love to have Bryant in DC and might do a little to grease those wheels.

    Irvin is out for the year so wouldn’t pass the physical for a trade, but that’s the right level of player. The Nats have a lot of second-tier guys from whom to pick. If the Cubs need folks who can pitch in the majors now, that would be like McGowin, J-Rod, Braymer, Sharp, Mario Sanchez. The Cubs might ask for Fedde or Voth, but who knows what the reply would be. I would probably do it for one of them straight up. Lots of others in the second/third tier to choose from, though: Fuentes, Condra-Bogan, Teel, Isler, Dyson, Schaller, et al.


    29 Dec 20 at 1:54 pm

  41. With the arms race in the West ramping up, I wonder whether the Dodgers will go after Bryant or Arenardo.

    I’m just looking to see what kind of fit Bryant might be. He struggled against RHP in 2020 but has a solid .860 OPS for his career, with 101 homers. He had bad BABIP “luck” in 2020 (.264), and even though his K% ballooned 4%, at 27%, it’s still less than that of a number of the big hitters on the FA market. His hard-hit% and exit velo are down, not that much over the last few years, but more so from his ’16-’17 peak.

    Could KLong and Davey straighten him out, particularly now that he’s been humbled and really needs good numbers before he become a free agent? If the price is only a couple of second-tier prospects, it certainly seems worth the gamble. Plus Bryant might benefit from actually not being expected to be “da man” here, with Soto already established as such (and relishing it).


    29 Dec 20 at 2:04 pm

  42. Also, Bryant isn’t that much of a creature of the friendly confines. He has a career .901 OBS at home but a healthy .876 on the road. Arenado is only .793 when not at altitude.


    29 Dec 20 at 2:08 pm

  43. Irwin; whoops forgot he was hurt. I was looking at prospets ranked 11-30 who weren’t too old…i mean Schaller or Dyson fits there too for my theory. So does the two new kids just added Pena or Marte.

    Todd Boss

    29 Dec 20 at 2:12 pm

  44. Imagine though what Bryant acquisition would do to the lineup.

    Turner, Soto, Bryant, Bell at the top of the order is one of the best in the game and splits everyone L/R/L/R. Then 5-9 you’d have what ever DH type we can buy, a left fielder on the open market, Gomes and Robles.

    Todd Boss

    29 Dec 20 at 2:14 pm

  45. The Darvish return seems light for sure, but keep in mind that the cubs traded away $60 mil of obligations in Darvish and would only be trading away $20 mil in Bryant. The larger number of total dollars owed to Darvish may have been a reason the Cubs would accept a lighter prospect load in return, compared to what they might accept for Bryant.

    Still, I think this is a decent signal that: (1) the cubs are likely to move Bryant; and (2) the cubs might take quantity over quality in a Bryant trade.

    Kieboom – whatever you think of him – is just more valuable on the trade market than Bryant, just like he was last year. If you trade for Bryant, you could move Kieboom for a different player who might be able to help the team for a longer period and/or is paid less money.

    One of the things I think makes Bryant really valuable is positional flexibility. The Nats could sign Joc Pederson to play LF and have Bryant serve as his RH platoon partner when a lefty pitches. Kieboom, if he stays, could play 3B against lefties (this wouldn’t work with Garcia, who hits lefty). Bryant provides a lot of options.


    29 Dec 20 at 4:21 pm

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