Nationals Arm Race

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Trade Deadline impact on Farm system depth

55 comments

Kiebert Ruiz is our new #1 prospect post trade deadline. Photo WP

The 2021 season may be lost, but the impact to the farm system will be seen (or is currently being seen) pretty quickly. And the first such indicator is the pundit’s farm system ranks. We’re already seeing solid movement northwards from our basement ranking since July 31st.

Just to be clear, every single major ranking bureau had the Nat’s farm system ranked 30th out of 30 last off season. Bleacher Report, Keith Law/The Athletic, Prospects 1500, Baseball America, Kiley McDaniel/ESPN, Baseball Prospectus, and MLBPipeline (if Eric Longenhagen/Fangraphs did an pre-season ranking, I can’t find it). No arguments; across the board suckitude.

However, the trade deadline brought us a great bounty of players. As did the 2021 draft. And so will the 2022 draft, which we’re currently projecting to pick 5th in. Here’s a list of our newly acquired players and their rough ranking in our system upon arrival (rough rankings based on combined input from MLBpipeline, Fangraphs and Baseball America’s updated prospect rankings):

  • Kiebert Ruiz: new #1 or #2 prospect
  • Josiah Grey: new #2-#3 prospect, with Cavalli being in the mix depending on the service
  • Brady House: new #4 prospect
  • Gerardo Carrillo: new #7-#10 prospect
  • Daylen Lile: new #10-12 prospect
  • Aldo Ramirez: new #12-#15 prospect
  • Riley Adams; new #14-15 prospect
  • Mason Thompson: new #16-20 prospect
  • Patrick Murphy: new #20ish prospect
  • Brandon Boissere: new #22-25th prospect
  • Donovan Casey: new mid-20s prospect
  • Drew Millas: new mid-20s prospect
  • Jordy Barly: new late 20s prospect
  • T.J. White: new late 20s prospect

And that leaves out non-rookie status Lane Thomas, who suddenly is outplaying Victor Robles for starts. It also leaves out two additional org-arms we got in High-A starters Seth Shuman and Richard Guasch.

Anyway, the point is, this is a LOT of infused talent, especially in the top 10.

And we’re seeing it in the org rankings. Two shops have done updated system rankings post Trade/draft and the Nats have made great progress:

Baseball America jumped us from #30 to #23, saying “The Skinny: Normally a team with four Top 100 Prospects would rank significantly higher than this, but the gulf between the top prospects in the Nats system and the rest is massive.”

MLBPipeline jumped us from #30 to #20, saying, “A notable jump for the Nats, though this should have been expected. Washington went into sell mode at this year’s Trade Deadline, and nine of the current Top 30 came over in July deals alone, headlined by Ruiz and Gray in a blockbuster with the Dodgers. House — an infielder with plus power potential — was a promising addition as well at No. 11 overall, and Cavalli has looked like a potential 2020 first-round steal as a pitcher who has stayed at or near the top of the Minor League leaderboard in strikeouts all summer. There is still work to be done to make this a system worthy of a rebuild — impact hitting is a particular area of need beyond Ruiz and House — but the arrow is pointing in the right direction.

So, progress.

Written by Todd Boss

August 26th, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Nats in General

55 Responses to 'Trade Deadline impact on Farm system depth'

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  1. Also, the 2019 and 2020 drafts may have been underrated because there was either no development in 2020 or none for analysts to see.

    keivn r

    26 Aug 21 at 2:00 pm

  2. The one thats going to change the most next is Donovan Casey.
    He was stuck,buried, and going nowhere in the Dodgers system. Knowing he now has a chance has been rejuvinating for him. He blew through AA and is now playing well in Rochester.He may well be the Nats new centerfielder, he has all the tools.

    Mark L

    26 Aug 21 at 3:43 pm

  3. Gray currently is the Nats’ best starter. He’s the real deal. He may not be an “ace,” but he’s very solid.

    Ruiz has homered twice in his last two games. He has a collective 21 homers and 24 doubles at the AAA level in his age-22 season, slashing a monster .313/.377/.632. I have no idea what they’re waiting on with him at AAA. He’s ready to be the big-league starter now, unless there are serious defensive concerns.

    Casey has a history of high K numbers, so I’m not going to get too excited about him yet, but as Mark said, he’s certainly seizing the opportunity.

    Frankly, I didn’t think Lane Thomas would be much because I didn’t think the carcass of Jon Lester would be worth more than a couple of broken bats. (Lester sports a 6.04 ERA with the Cards.) This is a guy who had 27 homers and 23 doubles in the minors in 2018, though. Very interesting that they’re giving him an extended look in place of Robles. (I don’t understand why Robles hasn’t been sent to AAA. He still has three options, and he’s really messed up.) Robles is arb-eligible this offseason, and therefore also non-tender-eligible. Will they really think about moving on from him?

    Riley Adams is off to a blazing start with the Nats as well, giving Barrera real competition for the backup catcher role in 2022.

    Several others are doing well as well. All in all, an encouraging start to the regeneration. Can you imagine how bummed we would be after the trades if they were mostly sucking?

    KW

    26 Aug 21 at 5:04 pm

  4. Internal prospect rankings: Gray is on his way to losing rookie status, so I don’t think he’ll be in the mix. FWIW, Longenhagen had Gray ranked as the top prospect traded at the deadline, ahead of Madrigal and then Ruiz.

    I would probably say 1. Ruiz, 2. Cavalli, 3. House. I think House has the highest ceiling, but the other two are on the cusp of the majors and looking very good, and House is years away.

    I have absolutely no idea who the #4 prospect is now, particularly with Rutledge and Henry losing most of their seasons, Denaburg all of his (again), Romero looking very pedestrian, and Antuna showing hands of stone (but finally hitting). Mendoza got demoted and hasn’t been good, and Infante has been bad in rookie ball. There will be a lot of reshuffling from last year.

    KW

    26 Aug 21 at 5:10 pm

  5. Todd, I forgot to ask; are your hands tired from all the changes to the big board? That was a lot of work needed.
    Speaking of Lane Thomas, what a trade!

    Mark L

    27 Aug 21 at 9:46 am

  6. Good start for Carrillo at AA last night, and two more hits for Casey at AAA.

    How can the Dodgers, who have drafted as low or lower than the Nats over the last decade, have so many players of this caliber available for discard? I mean, they’re the throw-in pieces of the trade, and they’re already in the Nats’ top 10, easily surpassing most of the draftees from the last few years. Clearly, the Dodgers are light years ahead of the Nats in scouting/drafting/developing.

    KW

    27 Aug 21 at 11:24 am

  7. The dodgers have been killing it in terms of player development for decades. They always seem to draft well, constantly are matriculating top rookies, always have a top farm system ranking … and have $250m payrolls.

    Todd Boss

    27 Aug 21 at 3:30 pm

  8. Also, the Dodgers are consistently able to turn straw into gold at the MLB level – J. Turner, Muncey, C. Taylor, K. Hernandez. The FO has real advantages compared to other clubs, but they do an amazing job anyway. The gold standard of FOs, IMO.

    Derek

    28 Aug 21 at 6:59 am

  9. Just saw that Alex Avila was playing a rehab game down in Palm Beach. Can someone tell me why? It’s nuts.

    Mark L

    28 Aug 21 at 10:40 am

  10. The point I was trying to make about Cavilli in the last post was that he needs seasoning and rather see him have games last night in the minors where the coaching staff can work with him. His strike numbers are fantastic but what I was trying illustrate was as he moved up the levels of the minor leagues that the better batters will layoff those pitches out of the zone. Also what is the hurry when 2021 is a loss and 2022 will be rebuilding year . Let Cavilli learn his craft in the minors and build up his arm and innings so he can be the stud we are all waiting for. I believe this would also be the Dodger way of developing him.

    rdexposfan

    29 Aug 21 at 11:47 am

  11. I didn’t particularly understand the rush to get Cavalli to AAA. It’s AA that is thought of as more the learning level, and everyone agrees that Cavalli is still learning.

    Whether or not patience is warranted, unless Cavalli really struggles, I’ll stand by my prediction that the Nats will be bringing him up no later than the Super 2 date next June. I mean, they’re pretty desperate for starters as it is, as Espino and Nolin show. That’s a AAAA rotation, with the caveat that Espino is better than Fedde and Corbin right now (and may have won himself an opportunity to open 2022 in the rotation . . . until Cavalli is ready).

    Speaking of ready, the Nats have posted the announcement that Keibert Ruiz is being called up for Monday’s game. Very curious to see that even before Sunday’s game has been played! Anyway, I’ve been jumping up and down that he needs the MLB reps, so let’s starting getting them. He’s a cornerstone for the (hopefully near) future.

    KW

    29 Aug 21 at 2:01 pm

  12. Cavalli to AAA: I think i get it. He throws 100. He’s just blowing it by hitters in AA. He needs to learn how to pitch, not just throw it by people. And he will get that challenge in AAA, where you have veteran professionals who have seen major league pitching and will challenge him. He’ll see people who will lay off his pitches unless they’re actually in the zone.

    Its hard to predict when he’ll come up in 2022 b/c … i suspect we’re about to see a wholesale change to service time. I’m wondering if the days of service and super2 just go away.

    Todd Boss

    30 Aug 21 at 9:16 pm

  13. Considering how so many had questioned Ruiz’s defense (most without actually seeing him play), I was surprised at how solid he looked behind the plate last night. He very competently blocked a lot of breaking balls in the dirt and framed nicely, very subtly. I saw nothing to make me worry that he’s Raudy Read back there. And goodness knows that Ramos was never God’s gift to catching. Away, sure looks like Ruiz can stay behind the plate just fine. And I have no doubts that he’s going to hit. He makes phenomenal contact, hardly ever strikes out, and has excellent average and power numbers. I sure think he’s going to be something special.

    The other good news is that Kieboom is really starting to look good at the plate. He homered and doubled off Wheeler, both of them really ripped. That’s against one of the best pitchers in the NL. Kieboom still worries me defensively, and I do wonder whether he’ll end up at 2B or in LF, but his bat finally seems to be delivering on its promise. That makes him a significant piece of the puzzle going forward.

    He’s also a prime example of why the kids just need to play, at this level, if they’re not contending. It took him a while to work things out. Garcia is still working on it although also had a well-struck double last night. Let Ruiz play and make the same adjustments. They’re doing the same with Thomas.

    As for Robles, goodness, what to do with him? He’s gotten his opportunities but seems to have gotten worse.

    KW

    31 Aug 21 at 8:04 am

  14. @KW Carter Kieboom is hitting .095 / .240 / .143 the last week…..226 / .333 / .368 on the year….

    You consider this “starting to look really good at the plate”…..?

    Sheldon

    31 Aug 21 at 9:13 am

  15. https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/baseball-america-prospect-report-august-31-2021/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email

    Brady House, FCL Nationals — House, Washington’s first-round pick, has gotten off to quick start in his pro career. He homered on Monday, giving him three longballs in his first five games. Of his first eight hits, five have gone for extra bases. So far, Brady has started like a House afire.

    Todd Boss

    31 Aug 21 at 9:25 am

  16. Sheldon, where do those numbers come from?

    Fangraphs has him at .233/.338/.400 for a 101 WRC+. So, roughly league average. I think you want a little better than that out of 3B, but he’s hitting like someone who should be in the lineup every day going forward, even during long slumps. I agree that his defense remains concerning (the sample is still way too small to use stats, but my eye test suggests he’s not very good), but the bat is on the way.

    And there’s reason to think 101 WRC+ is underselling him. His babip is .288, which is not obscenely low, but about 40 points lower than what he did in the minors. His xwOBA (which uses statcast batted-ball data to calculate an “expected” weighted on base average) is 40 points higher than his actual wOBA, which suggests his contact quality is better than his results.

    I think a 110 WRC+ for CKboom in 2020 is an optimistic forecast, but absolutely plausible.

    Robles on the other hand…is a disaster. I’m not sure what you do – the bat is so bad that some time in AAA could probably help.

    Derek

    31 Aug 21 at 11:07 am

  17. I would love to have a chance to see House in Fredericksburg this summer. We’ll see whether he gets the push.

    I said at draft time that I thought House was the highest-ceiling hitter in the draft. As a high schooler, he also has a very low floor, and perhaps a longer lead time. Kieboom had better contact skills coming out of HS than HS, and we see how long it has taken him. Sure have to love how House has started, though.

    KW

    31 Aug 21 at 11:50 am

  18. Kieboom also has a 106 OPS+, which usually roughly correlates with wRC+. I’ll freely admit that I haven’t been watching that many games fully and closely recently. I was watching last night because of Ruiz. With Kieboom, I seem to be watching every time he homers and then missing the rest of the week when he can’t connect. So I freely admit to cherry-picked recent scouting. Considering what a disaster he was last year, though, he sure looks to be making overall progress.

    KW

    31 Aug 21 at 11:55 am

  19. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2021/08/blue-jays-designate-brad-hand-for-assignment.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MlbTradeRumors+%28MLB+Trade+Rumors%29

    Brad Hand just DFA’d. After a month. The guy we got for him (Adams) has been awesome. We should just pick him back up and say “thanks for the prospect!” and let him pitch for us the rest of the way and spell the bullpen.

    Todd Boss

    31 Aug 21 at 5:03 pm

  20. Robles (finally) demoted. 1200 mlb at bats now and two straight years of crummy performance. I wonder if he’ll ever get back in any thing but a 4th OF role.

    by my count the 26 man roster now is comprised of 20 players who did not start the year with this team, or were in teh minors, or both. the holdouts: Bell, Zimmerman, Soto, Fedde, Corbin, Voth.

    that’s a roster re-do.

    Todd Boss

    31 Aug 21 at 7:26 pm

  21. I certainly would take Hand back, with Clay a very dubious LH option.

    Robles option: much needed, but still the culmination of a stunning fall. The former top-5 overall prospect really hasn’t been good for two whole seasons now.

    A quick reminder, though: Robles is only four months older than Kieboom, who we think of as a youngster still figuring things out. The new “kid,” Lane Thomas, is two years older than Robles. So Robles still has time on his side. A LOT came at him fast, including both success and struggles. I had really hoped that Soto’s work ethic and plate refinement would wear off on him, but they haven’t yet.

    I’ve always wondered how the “five-tool” anchor would weigh on Robles. Did he expect himself to become a big power guy, or try to live up to the expectations of others? He had 17 homers (and 33 doubles) in 2019, but only five homers since across ’20-’21. His K% actually has come down in ’21 to his ’19 level, and his hard contact is about the same as ’19 — but significantly down from his brief MLB sample in ’18. In fact, while we generally thought his numbers in ’19 were decent, the advanced stats were down almost across the board from the ’18 sample. That leads me to suspect a couple of things: the league was already starting to figure him out in ’19, and he was starting to pick up bad habits.

    So good luck to Brian Daubach (Rochester hitting coach) in trying to fix what Kevin Long could not. Attitude and work ethic will be everything for Robles. He definitely has talent, and age is still on his side. (Daubach can tell him that since he didn’t stick in the majors until he was 27.) “Can’t miss” Byron Buxton had some similar struggles. Let’s just hope that Robles isn’t Lewis Brinson.

    KW

    31 Aug 21 at 7:56 pm

  22. I agree with demoting Robles, but he has not hit like garbage for two *whole* seasons. Between ‘20 and ‘21, we’re talking about 159 MLB games. If the over-under for him is 4th OF, I take the over. But he was supposed to be much much more. It takes some guys a while to figure it out, and Robles is still young as KW points out.

    Derek

    31 Aug 21 at 8:59 pm

  23. The most damning part of Robles is how low his baseball IQ is. He’s just stupid out there most of the time, whether he’s hitting or not.

    Speaking of stupid, what part of Wander Suero’s performance in Rochester warranted a call to Washington? His ERA was 10.57! Moronic.

    Mark L

    1 Sep 21 at 1:15 am

  24. It will be a significant setback for the organization if Robles becomes no more than a 4th outfielder. His struggles now have already been a setback. Their expectations of Robles becoming a star-level player were a direct part of the decisions not to bid more to keep Harper and Rendon. And of course they famously didn’t trade Robles for Realmuto, and probably a couple of other big deals that I’ve forgotten.

    Mark, when we were told that Robles was working out with Soto in the offseasons, I REALLY hoped that would improve his baseball IQ, and commitment to refining his play. I mean, how do you work out with the most laser-focused hitter in baseball and not gain any focus in the process?

    In any sport, you’ve got to keep working even after you’ve “made it.” There are plenty of players across all the leagues who ended up with mediocre careers because they coasted once they got to a certain level. All the enduring stars have had to keep working hard to keep evolving. It took Bryce several years to learn that. Soto is usually mature to already be putting in that work at his age. They’ve got to come up with more protection for him in the lineup, though, or risk him playing out his years like Trout has.

    I’m not giving up on Robles. But neither have I seen any indication yet that he’s learning and growing, despite two years of real struggles.

    KW

    1 Sep 21 at 8:19 am

  25. Pitching, pitching, pitching — The Nats are scoring 4-6 runs every game now, even with their patchwork lineup. That should be enough to be winning games, but right now, it’s not even putting them close. The pitching has been terrible. I’m not sure how they’re going to fix that for 2022, either. As they keep proving night after night, they don’t have a lot of reliable options right now.

    KW

    1 Sep 21 at 8:33 am

  26. Congrats to Alberto Baldonado on getting the surprise call to the bigs. He’s had a great season.

    SaoMagnifico

    1 Sep 21 at 6:11 pm

  27. Interesting take from Svrluga on what the Nats must do to rebuild the whole system, including Robles:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/09/01/victor-robles-demoted-minor-leagues/

    KW

    2 Sep 21 at 6:24 am

  28. Robles may be young … but he’s now got more than 1200 MLB plate appearances across four seasons. 1200. how long of a leash does the guy need?

    https://www.fangraphs.com/players/victor-robles/18363/stats#fielding

    The bigger disappointment is the regression of his defensive value. In 2019 he played gold-glove calibre CF, with 23 DRS and a 6.1 UZR/150. (By way of Comparison, the GG winner in 2019 in the NL was Lorenzo Cain; he posted a 19 DRS and an 8.7 UZR/150 figure). Across the last two seasons, Robles is now showing negative figures accumulated across both. What the hell happened?

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 21 at 9:03 am

  29. I have no insider info from the team whatsoever, so this is just an educated guess: Robles has rested on his laurels and not worked hard to continue to develop. If you don’t keep working on your defense, it can regress quite a bit, just like your hitting.

    Robles isn’t the only one, of course. There has been a lot of focus on Ben Simmons this summer after his poor performance in the NBA playoffs, most of it involving his lack of work in the offseason. That will catch up with you, no matter how much talent you have.

    KW

    2 Sep 21 at 10:17 am

  30. Yes, yes, PLEASE:

    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2021/09/mlb-proposal-to-players-association-included-changes-to-service-time-structure.html

    It would be an insane gift for the Nats if Soto can’t be a free agent until after age 29.5. That would be after the 2030 or 2031 season, depending on how they figure the .5.

    My hunch is that is an initial offer, and that they’ll end up doing something like this but landing somewhere between 28 and 29. That would still be a huge windfall for the Nats with Soto, who right now would become a free agent just after turning 26.

    KW

    2 Sep 21 at 11:20 am

  31. I’m surprised they pushed it to 29.5. I think they should just ask for a set amount of years after drafting.
    – 9 years if a pre 18yr old IFA
    – 7 years if a post 18yr old IFA
    – 7 years if a HS prep or pre 21yr old
    – 6 years if > 21yr old

    that’s it. You draft a college junior and you have 6 years with that player. No more service time bullsh*t , no more service days, no more arbitration shenanigans. It benefits the players by not jerking them around and putting a fininte amount of time on their indentured servitude, and it incentivizes teams to get their best players to the majors as fast as they can.

    Todd Boss

    2 Sep 21 at 2:19 pm

  32. I saw the past and future Nats butchering defense. First there was Luis Garcia singlehandedly lose last night’s game to the Phillies when he botched not 1, but 2 double play grounder.

    Then I saw Wilmer Difo cost a game when he couldn’t catch a routine pop-up.

    Mark L

    3 Sep 21 at 10:41 am

  33. I definitely think the whole service time thing is going away. What remains to be seen is how. Todd, your suggestion seems to make more sense than just an age cutoff, but I suspect that would be too complicated to get negotiated. I also think that teams would balk at only six years for college drafts. Even with a more advanced start, it still takes most two to three years to make the majors, so you’re only going to have control for three or four MLB years. Can’t see that flying.

    I think they will settle on an age. The union will push back on 29.5, but I don’t see the owners going younger than 28. So I would guess 28, 28.5, or 29 as the final point of agreement. If it’s 28, that’s still only seven years with your typical college junior draftee, so not much longer than Todd is suggesting.

    How would you balance things for the ones who sign younger from international and high school? I don’t know. Maybe push minor league free agency up a year or two for them? That wouldn’t help the few young-to-majors stars like Soto, though. I don’t know.

    KW

    3 Sep 21 at 12:35 pm

  34. Mark — Yes, really sad that the Nats lit up both Nola and Wheeler and yet couldn’t get any wins out of the series. Espino certainly pitched well enough. Bullpen and defense aren’t what they need to be.

    Espino is about to convince me that he’s a piece for the ongoing transition season next year. I just can’t see them spending a lot on three starters, or more. Sure wish they would trade Fedde, though, . . . which I’ve been saying for three years or so. Corbin’s contract is untradeable. So Corbin and Gray will be in the rotation. They’ll be hoping to see Stras and Ross at some point, but it’s hard to count on any of them. They can’t start 2022 with the rotation they have now, though. They’ve got to add at least one or two.

    KW

    3 Sep 21 at 12:41 pm

  35. Got to give the Nats credit for continuing to compete, but man it’s getting ugly. They’ve currently passed the Marlins by percentage points to move up to the #5 draft pick. The four ahead of them really stink, so #5 is probably as high as they could go. Probably a 5/6 battle the rest of the way with the Fish. Nats are 2.5 games worse than the Twins, 4.5 worse than the Royals. Hard to see them ending up lower than about pick #7, barring a real (and unlikely) hot streak.

    Let’s see, Rocker is a Boras client with some mysterious arm issues. Is there anything that says “Nats pick” more than that? Rocker apparently isn’t going back to Vandy, but no word on what he is going to do.

    KW

    4 Sep 21 at 7:24 am

  36. Over the last 10 games the Nats have lost (over the last 12 total), the Nats have scored five runs or more five times, and four runs in two of the others. But man, the pitching has been awful, and the defense hasn’t been much better. I do give the team a lot of credit for continuing to try, though, to fight. In the first game on Saturday, they were down 7-0 after three innings, with 1l more to play that afternoon. They could have packed it in, but they fought back again and again.

    Also on Saturday, the Nats topped 58 players used in big-league games in a season, and new record. Yes, they’ve had more turnover this year than even in the darkest of 100+ loss dark ages. Strange and difficult times. They’re going to need some luck to get back to contending without a long wander in the wilderness.

    KW

    5 Sep 21 at 5:02 pm

  37. Also, Voth is hurt, overworked, or toast. I’m sure he has a strained neck from watching balls fly, so it’s IL time. Let’s try someone else.

    KW

    5 Sep 21 at 5:06 pm

  38. With the Nats, Lane Thomas is slashing .333/.402/.556. With the Cards, he was slashing .104/.259/.125. One is an all-star; the other will soon be seeking another line of work (or given away in return for a carcass of Jon Lester). So who knows what we have here. Is he a legit piece for the future, or is this a false fall like we’ve seen from Stevenson and den Dekker? Thomas did have a fine 2018 season across AA and AAA (27 homers, 23 doubles, but also 134 K’s), and an excellent call-up performance with the Cards in 2019, so maybe he’s not a fluke. But his highs have been so high and his lows so low that it’s hard to even guess what he actually is, or can be. But then the same could be said of Robles . . .

    KW

    7 Sep 21 at 7:55 am

  39. KW, you nailed it on Thomas. Let’s see if he keeps it up for the last 25 games of this season. It sure was a positive jolt for him to be traded. Same for Donovan Casey.

    BTW, Andrew Stevenson has proven as a starter to be about a .630 OPS guy. Meh.
    As a pinch hitter he’s one of the best of all time, a modern Gates Brown.
    I don’t get it.

    Mark L

    7 Sep 21 at 8:05 am

  40. We talk about how the organization should emulate the Dodgers. This is part of how to do it — take flyers on guys who are stalled (Casey) or failing (Thomas) in other organizations. The A’s had flat-out released Max Muncy. The O’s waived Justin Turner, then the Mets didn’t re-sign him (possibly non-tendered). Chris Taylor came in a trade of insignificant minor leaguers. Extreme examples, you say? Well, they all ended up on the same team at the same time, one that would have been to four straight World Series if not for Howie/Tony/Juan and the Chavez Ambush.

    Meanwhile, Max sure seems revitalized by the trade: 5-0 (Dodgers have won all seven of his starts), 1.05 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 13.2 K/9, and perhaps most significantly, only 2 HRs surrendered in 43 IP. He’s put himself squarely contention for his fourth CYA. (This is great for Max, but doesn’t it make you say “hmm” concerning Kershaw’s amazing stats?) It would be pretty wild if Max wins CYA and Trea takes MVP after the trade.

    KW

    7 Sep 21 at 11:20 am

  41. On Tuesday, again the Nats fight to rally, again they score at least five runs, and again the pitching isn’t nearly good enough.

    The guy with the game-tying blow for the Nats was Yadiel Hernandez. He’s slashing .279/.336/.447 with a 107 wRC+. He turns 34 in October. With all the holes the Nats have to fill, is he good enough to pencil in a the LF starter in 2022? That would be right on the borderline for me. He probably is “good enough,” but he’s not going to give them what Schwarber was. Of course Joc Pederson is making $10M for his .232/.308/.412, so Yaddy looks significantly better than that in comparison.

    KW

    8 Sep 21 at 6:20 am

  42. Yadiel Hernandez: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Why buy a veteran FA left fielder for millions/year when they’ve got a guy hitting for MLB min.

    I’d go into 2022 with Hernandez in Left, Thomas in Center, Soto in right, with Stevenson/Robles competing for 4th OF bench spot.

    Infield projection for 2022 looks a little more iffy. we know the team controls Bell, Garcia, Sanchez and Kieboom. Escobar, Mercer and Zim are FAs. Only other 40-man guys are Ford and Antuna. I think they’ll need some coverage in the middle infield for 2022; Antuna isn’t ready, Sanchez is a backup. the AAA middle infielder crop is thin; they’re entirely MLFAs with the exception of jake Noll.

    Todd Boss

    8 Sep 21 at 10:01 am

  43. It’s hard to believe at this point but in the National League this year the Nats are #4 in hitting and #12 in pitching.

    Mark L

    8 Sep 21 at 4:41 pm

  44. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2021/08/2021-22-mlb-free-agent-power-rankings-4.html

    The cream of the FA class is in the infield. Castellanos (Boras client) is the best in the OF, although he plays Schwarber-caliber defense.

    The Nats have to sign at least two starting pitchers. I have no idea which direction they’ll go there, although they drafted both Stroman and Ray, so they’re long familiar with them. As much as we’d like a reunion with Max, he’s likely going to want to go to a place that gives him a better shot at another ring than he would have here.

    I’ve found it interesting that the Nats have kept Escobar at SS instead of giving Garcia time there, almost like they’re keeping that position open . . . for Correa/Seager/Story/Semein/Baez (Cub secret handshake). Of course there’s also Bryant (Boras and Cub secret handshake), for either 3B or LF.

    Honestly, other than signing pitchers (both starters and relievers), I’m not sure what I would do. Will the glut at SS depress prices for some of those guys? I don’t have a lot of interest in Correa (injured every year), Story (Coors factor), or Baez (very inconsistent). Would the Braves be too cheap to give Freeman an admittedly risky contract in his 30s? Where is Bryant’s value level after roller-coaster seasons (plus turning 30 in January)? Will Arenado risk opting out of his insane contract? (I doubt it, and I sure have no interest in a guy wanting $35M based on an .811 OPS.)

    I would not hate the Nats standing pat in the OF, as Todd suggests. I do think they need to look at an impact bat in the INF, perhaps from among Semien, Seager, Bryant, or (gulp) Freeman, if he’d take a reasonably short contract (3-4 years).

    KW

    8 Sep 21 at 6:03 pm

  45. I didn’t mention a potential reunion with Schwarber, which is certainly possible, as long as the price isn’t too high. He’s definitely helped his value, but I wouldn’t want to do more than about 3/$45M or so for a guy who has ridden such a roller coaster. His 2022 status is a mutual option, and I assume he will opt out and try to take advantage of this season.

    KW

    8 Sep 21 at 6:08 pm

  46. Don’t tug on Superman’s cape!

    I actually want the Braves to win the division, as they have fewer punks than the Phillies do, and Giradi is an even worse old-school stick in the mud than Sniker is. But the Wednesday night Soto game-winning, 432-foot payback was beautiful. What Will Smith did on Tuesday night was 100% a punk move. His own teammates should have policed that (which Freeman apparently realizes). But if you mess with a real superstar, you had better be prepared to pay the consequences.

    Also, I’ve recently been critical of Voth, but he pitched well on Wed. night. Rosario’s homer on a ball that Ruiz was ready to scoop out of the dirt defied the laws of physics.

    I still haven’t seen these alleged deficiencies in Ruiz’s defense. He has excellent subtle framing skills, better than any Nats’ catcher in recent memory.

    KW

    9 Sep 21 at 7:24 am

  47. But I would welcome Freddie Freeman on the Nats, if the price is right and the contract isn’t too long. Then perhaps they could flip Josh Bell for a little pitching. Of course we may finally be ushering in DH in the NL with the new CBA.

    KW

    9 Sep 21 at 10:52 am

  48. Another day, another resilient effort, another good offensive performance . . . and another loss (in ATL on Thursday in 10 innings). As of today (9/10), the Nats lead the NL in BA and OBP (and BABIP “luck”) and are 5th in SLG, behind four playoff teams. Even with the loss of Turner, Harrison, and Castro, the offense has remained reasonably solid. The hits haven’t resulted in great numbers of runs, though, as the Nats are 9th out of 15 teams in runs scored.

    The pitching has fallen apart, though. The Nats are 12th of 15 in ERA, 14th in FIP, and dead last in HR/9. They’re going to have to invest in A LOT of pitching to have hopes of a quick turnaround.

    Nice defensive play by Ruiz on the 3-2-4 double play last night. He also stole a strikeout on Swanson with his framing. That said, he’s not consist with framing. Sometimes he holds the borderline pitches, but at others, he yanks it down and is already throwing the ball back to the pitcher when the ump makes the call. When he does concentrate on framing, he’s good at it, very subtle with the respositioning.

    KW

    10 Sep 21 at 10:36 am

  49. Bravo for Max reaching 3,000 strikeouts. Sorry it couldn’t have happened here, but I certainly understand the circumstances. Max has been insanely good in Dodger Blue and has a good shot at his fourth Cy Young Award, and his second ring.

    His teammate Trea is bidding to win a batting crown, but that object in his rear view mirror that is getting larger by the mile is Mr. Soto, now just five points behind him after a monster weekend in Steel Town. It would be nice for Soto to get something out of this lost season.

    Good to see Corbin looking better in his last couple of starts. Not so good to see Gray taking a step back. Really, those are the only two I’ll concede to seeing in the rotation next season, although with so many holes to fill, I fear that they won’t move on from Fedde.

    Draft order race: Nats currently in 5th, although just one game worse than the Marlins. It’s looking like those two will be picking 5th and 6th, in whatever order. Those teams still have six games remaining against each other, starting with three this week.

    KW

    13 Sep 21 at 8:28 am

  50. Hey folks! Time to check in on the guys described on this page. After a slow start at the MLB level, Ruiz is 11 for his last 19 and is starting to look as advertised as an elite hitter. Adams seems capable as a backup and has even gotten a little prep at 1B. Seems crazy to say, but catcher looks set for the next half-decade.

    Lane Thomas hasn’t slowed down and is looking like a miraculous acquisition. Robles seems to have found himself at Rochester, at least enough to stay in the picture, and Yadiel has hit pretty well with extensive MLB playing time. It looks like two of the OF spots could be covered pretty decently in 2022 by a combination of Thomas, Hernandez, and Robles, with Bell also available for some LF duty. Stevenson is looking like the odd man out.

    The INF is still a muddle for 2022. Bell has been fine for what he is (and for the price), and Escobar has done enough to warrant re-signing, whether or not he’s envisioned as a starter. Kieboom and Garcia still haven’t proven much of anything, although both are still young. If the Nats sign a bat, one would think it would be one of the SS/3B crop. It might make sense to go for more of the second tier there with someone like Corey Seager, who shouldn’t cost the same level as the bigger boppers.

    All in all, though, the Nat offense is clicking along just fine. They’ve scored at least five runs in 13 of the 21 games in Sept. They’ve also lost 9(!) of those 13, as the pitching really sucks. That’s where they’re going to have to spend the money.

    Good to see Josiah Gray bounce back last night. They should be committed to having him in the 2022 rotation, and they have no choice but to roll with Corbin. Beyond them, they need some major upgrades. Espino and Rogers have presented them with some interesting internal options. I’m ready to move on from Fedde, or try him in the ‘pen, or something.

    Also, Soto is amazing. He won’t turn 23 until after the season. He’s putting up his second straight MVP-caliber year, at 22. The Nats owe it to him, and to the fortunes of the franchise, to put a better team around him sooner rather than later. Let’s not turn this into another version of the Mike Trout tale.

    KW

    23 Sep 21 at 9:37 am

  51. KW good thoughts, only area I disagree is Garcia. He shows flashes of an above average player that Kieboom never has. I don’t know if I have ever been more underwhelmed with a player than Kieboom. His body language is poor, his fielding is bad, and outside of those couple homers he hit weeks ago his plus-bat skill is nowhere to be seen. He seems like he is looking to get walked rather than hit each bat. Completely unimpressive. I don’t know if Rizzo is the type of GM to do a challenge trade with another team that has a disappointing top prospect (Senzel, Whitley, etc.), but I would do that type of trade in a heartbeat. Even if he Giolito’s us, I wouldn’t regret it. He is just difficult to watch/cheer for.

    I would keep Garcia at 2nd and look to upgrade SS/3b. Probably can pick one, not both to improve because of $$ and timeline.
    For free agents options: A RH bat to slot before/after Soto would be ideal. Not sure we will pay up or should pay up to get a Correa, Bryant, Story, or Semien , but all of those would fit well. How much do you think Chris Taylor would cost? Not quite a 3/4 hitter, but he could fill SS/3b hole. Escobar from the Brewers may fit too, but I would be hesitant to give him much money for more than two years.

    NatsMatt

    23 Sep 21 at 5:32 pm

  52. Oh, I agree on not giving up on Garcia, who only turned 21 in May. I have no idea what to do with Kieboom. Does he still have much trade value? It can’t hurt to check the market, particularly if they do sign a SS/3B. To that end, I also agree that RH would be desirable, but I sort of drifted toward Seager by process of elimination. He doesn’t have the huge power of some of the others, so his price tag should be a little less. He’s also a bit younger than some of the others, which would be a plus. And of course the Dodgers already have his replacement, albeit only for one more season. Seager also is a high-contact/low-K guy who might be very interesting to pair with Kevin Long.

    Speaking of the Dodgers, who can’t keep re-signing everyone, Chris Taylor is an interesting thought, particularly since he’s a Virginia Beach/UVA guy who would be coming home. He does strike out quite a bit, and he doesn’t have big HR power. But of course he has great positional flexibility. Would something like 4/$48M lure him back to his native land?

    I’m guessing that Bryant will be at least discussed, with the Davey/Cub connection and as a Boras client. I really don’t think he’s worth what he’s going to think he’s worth, though. Both he and Semien have been up and down and could be boom or bust, as could Baez. Correa has had difficulty staying healthy. Story on the road (career) is .242/.311/.444, a total Coors product. No thanks. He’s not having a great season now anyway, only a wRC+ of 99 for 2021.

    It’s going to be interesting with so many “name” guys on the market, though. There aren’t a lot of big-money teams that need a SS or 3B.

    KW

    23 Sep 21 at 6:53 pm

  53. Yeah Taylor just seems flying under the radar compared to the big name SS/3B names in the free agent crop. Nats best case scenario is to do what the Jays did this year and wait them out and take the guy who is left at the altar and willing to take a shorter term prove it deal like Semein did. Then prioritize taking shot at a pitcher. Jon Gray gives off a lot of intrigue as someone moving away from Coors with a big pedigree. He might end up being too expensive but between him, Desciafani, and Matz it would be nice to grab one of them on a two year deal. Doubt Greinke would want to come here but wouldn’t mind him in a Nats uni for a year too.

    NatsMatt

    23 Sep 21 at 10:26 pm

  54. It’s going to be a wild offseason. There’s going to be a ton of pitching — HOF pitching, even — on the open market. I do wonder if Rizzo still holds a grudge against Greinke from a decade ago, though, LOL. Would Max come back? Would Kershaw leave the Dodgers? Do Greinke, Verlander, or Wainright (probably not leaving Cards) have anything left? Or Kluber? Would it be worth taking a flyer on a Thor recovery?

    The more prime targets would seem to be guys like Gausman, Ray, Stroman, and Rodon. That’s an interesting group, as there is no one in it worthy of a Cole/Stras contract, but all could be looking for a Corbin-level AAV. Doesn’t mean they’ll get it, but they could be looking for it.

    KW

    24 Sep 21 at 7:22 am

  55. In other news, Soto seems to be treating the end of the season like he did the hit-off at the end of the first round of the Home Run Derby. He’s on an insane run, on base the last 10 plate appearances in a row, 16 times over the last four games, with three homers and two doubles in that span. Trea has been on a nice run, with his BA up to .321, but Juan has hit the turbo. Sure would be lovely for Juan to lift the MVP from Bryce. (I also keep hoping that the Braves will keep Bryce & Co. out of the playoffs, but the Phils have a ridiculously easy end-of-season schedule.)

    KW

    24 Sep 21 at 7:30 am

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