Nationals Baseball

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Just two years ago, in 2014, something historic happened. The 88 win SF Giants beat the 89 win Kansas City Royals in the World Series. It was the first time in history two teams with under 90 wins met to decide who would be crowned baseball's champion. While that was a unique situation, finding one such team in the World Series is not. The Detroit Tigers in 2012, St Louis Cardinals in 2006, Houston Astros in 2005, and New York Yankees in 2000 all have made the World Series this century with under 90 wins.

Anything can happen in the playoffs.

Which is good because last night Wilson Ramos hurt himself and without Ramos and Strasburg and either Bryce or Murphy the Nats probably resemble a team that would struggle to win 90 games. Even if the injury isn't serious, it may not matter. It only has to be an injury that would take a couple weeks to heal in order to have a drastic effect on the Nationals playoff chances. Things are beginning to look very bleak.

Truth : The Nats could be losing their All-Star .307 / .354 / .496 22 HR catcher

Further Truth : That's overselling Ramos who had a first half unlike any other extended period in his career. Since the All-Star break, a time which featured at lot more rest to try to keep Ramos fresh, Wilson hit .279 / .317 / .447.  That's probably more indicative of the player the Nats are potentially losing for the playoffs. Not a fringy MVP candidate, but a guy who gets All-Star consideration if he has a hot half and it's a weak year.

Further further truth : But even if they are losing that it's a big deal because the gap between that and Ramos' replacements is very large. Lobaton is near end of life as a useful back up and has hit .220 / .317 / .363 while spelling Wilson. Severino has had success in the majors but in a week of plate appearances over two years, and he was hitting an empty .271 in AAA this year.

Losing Strasburg is a blow but given the performance of Scherzer and Roark this season, and the problem the Dodgers have with LHP, it merely created a problem for one game in the NLDS. Losing Ramos would be an issue but his likely performance level was something that could be covered for. Even together it's far from a death blow for the team.

However if you add a loss of Murphy, who hasn't played a full game since the 17th, or Bryce who apparently has special x-rays that can't be read right away, that takes it beyond something the Nats can reasonably adjust for. Murphy has been their best hitter all year long. Stephen Drew has done a fairly amazing job off the bench but he can't be expected to replace an MVP candidate. Bryce, for all his issues, has been the second or third most important offensive presence for the Nats this year and is by far the most likely National to work a walk. Heisey has done yeoman's work in the OF this year with timely home runs, but he can't replace that presence in the middle of the lineup.

After having pretty even, maybe even good, luck with injuries over the course of the season, things have come at this team fast and hard. The Nats post-season comes down to the health of these players. Losing one is fine - nearly every team has their one. Losing two can be worked around. But losing three or four? That makes the Nats a different team, a team that makes one point to the variability inherent in a short series to have any real hope.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday Quickie - Now we can get to it

The Nats won the NL East and fans and the team have had all weekend to celebrate. Great!

Got that out of your system?

Because it doesn't matter.

This Nats team, like every Nats team since 2012, won't be judged a success unless they win in the playoffs. It's as simple as that. I'm not talking by you or me in particular. I'm sure some of you would call them a success today. I'm sure some of the more generous fans might even call a winning season a success.  I'm sure the harshest of you (Sammy?) might not judge them a success unless they win it all. But for the sports world at large the Nats need to at least make the next step. They need to progress. They've had their misstep. They need to win the NLDS vs the Dodgers.

The Nats need it, because they've lost twice now in DSs when they were favored, blowing up in the late innings in key spots. Even if it's a pretty unfair characterization, they've been seen as a cocky team ("World Series or bust" "Where my ring?" "nothing harder in the galaxy") that can't back it up when it counts. In their last appearance Tim Hudson colorfully suggested the Nats didn't have the inner fortitude to win, then they got beat in 4 games.

Dusty also needs it. Despite being a very successful manager Dusty has not had much playoff success. His teams have made seven playoff appearances, and have won a combined 3 playoff series. In his last stop, Cincinnati, he couldn't make it out of the first round be it the NLDS (swept out by Phillies in 2010, collapsed after taking a 2-0 lead over the Giants in 2012) or the Wild Card (giving the Pirates their only playoff success in recent vintage in a non-competitve game).

Right now both the Nats and Dusty are looked at as having issues in the playoffs. A series win would go a long way to putting that to rest. A series loss and, well I'm afraid it becomes a "thing". That becomes how people see the Nats and Dusty going forward until they prove otherwise. Playoff chokers. I don't think they have to win it all. Usually just making the World Series gives you a measure of credibility. I don't even think they have to beat the Cubs*. That is a juggernaut team that everyone believes has mojo on it's side, excusing whoever they beat on the way. But they have to beat the Dodgers.

Other Notes

So Bryce keeps stupidly sliding head first into bases and yesterday it might have done serious injury. Mind you we already believe he is injured so this only adds to it. Some fans were screaming at Kang for deke-ing Bryce into sliding. I wasn't watching the game so I assumed that when several stated the Pirates "got no advantage" from the move that I would see a play where Kang saw the ball clearly in the hands of a Pirate player ready to fire home for an easy out if Bryce tried to keep going. Instead I saw a ball miss 3rd by 15 feet and roll slowly past the bag.

This is not only a situation where a deke may happen, it's a situation where a deke SHOULD happen. You try to trick the player into sliding so he doesn't advance further. It's an old trick usually lauded by players and fans alike. But Bryce got hurt so somehow this time it's wrong and bad. Seriously? This was a perfectly acceptable play and if you don't see that, I don't know what I can tell you. I guess be less of a crazy homer?

Offensively the Nats had a good weekend which is good. But like the bad games the preceded the Pirates series they don't really mean too much. I want to see them hit the Dbacks. I really want to see them hit the Marlins. I accept that none of that may matter for the NLDS, but I want them coming in hot rather than cold if I can have it.

Daniel Murphy hasn't played a full game in over a week (it was the Saturday before last), taking two PH at bats since then. He doesn't need to play today, not really, but it would be nice. Really if you want to go full "DOOOOOOOM" about it - wait to see if he's not ready for the Marlins series. Then I would worry. He's been active. He's played 145 games or whatever. It wouldn't even be a full two weeks out. It shouldn't take him more than a few games to get back into the swing of things.

*Now if it's the Mets or Cardinals or Giants? Yes, the Nats have to beat them too. In fact it's more imperative because those are three teams who are seen as gutsy winners. Lose to them and you not only damn the Nats but you push the other guy up. You make things worse overall for me by extending this stupid narrative. Lose to the Dodgers and well, that hurts the Nats but no one is going to be screaming about scrappiness and grit for LA.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bryce and Daniel.

Bryce Harper is hurt.

We've guessed about this before but it's almost certainly true.  If it isn't true here is what you believe :
The year after generational prospect Bryce Harper broke out and had one of the greatest offensive seasons of all time, he had the 3rd worst and worst months of his career so far. That after slugging 44 doubles and 51 homers in a season and a month he would regress to the point of having the worst isoSLG of his career*

But why would this be? All those walks (NOT STARTED BY JOE MADDON) got in his head? Maybe but he'd have a decent June and a good August after that. Adjustments by the pitcher or by him? Hard to believe that 5 years into a career. Natural variation? That's a little tough to believe but I won't rule it out if that makes you happy. I'd need to look more into it.

But power should be sort of stable right? Let's see what we see when we look at his isoSLG monthly after his last struggling rookie month

.213 .313 .376 .175

Wait! What happened there? Well that corresponds to May 2013. On April 29th he crashed into the wall and might have hurt his hip. On May 13th he crashed into the wall and did hurt his knee.

-- .178 .208 .091

Woah woah I thought he was getting better! If you are going to hang your hat on something I guess this month - September of 2013 looks to be one. (he didn't play in June if you are counting up months that's the "--") He seems to be getting better then he struggled. Accumulation of injuries? Perhaps but nothing immediate. We move on.

.133 -- -- .114

Hold it again - ok the .133 suggests lingering issues but the .114? Well that's the month after came back from breaking his hand.

.211 .133

At this point we're at the end of 2014 and Bryce is either (1) not that great or (2) pretty injured. Those last rookie months into his 2nd year and a smattering of back from injury months suggest (2) but a couple months in there suggest (1) might be the case. What does 2015 hold?

.259 .524 .321 .275 .122 .414

That should help rule out (1), but .122, there's your second hat hanger. Just a ill-timed slump. Started pretty much Day 1 of August. He still hit well - just no pop. He did hurt himself a little in August but was actually better after that. So even on his game Bryce can have some short periods of no power. Now 2016

.428 .163 .139 .143 .226 .087

So here we are. I think you could write off May as an affect of the walk strategy. It seemed to throw him off for a couple weeks. June or July could be a slump, maaaybe even both, but it would be his first extended slump like that. And then there's the .087? I suppose it could be another ill-timed slump (it did happen to start Day 2 of September) but now your saying Bryce just happened to have three slumps, including his worst ever, in the same season. A season where age and recent success suggest he should be in his prime. It just doesn't make a lot of sense. Coupled with the other low numbers, the general history of slugging issues when injured. I think injury is just the more reasonable guess.

Now if we were just guessing, like before, it's easier to rule out. Fans being fans. But now that we have a source and a credible reporter saying the same, it seems more foolish to not buy into it. They have no good reason to tell us that he's injured either, unless they plan for him to sit. So don't expect any news until the off-season but right now I think it's foolish to think he's working through anything other than an injury.

Daniel Murphy is injured.

They don't know what it is.  He has been able to pinch hit twice so there is that. But that first PH seems like he's grimacing, no? The 2nd one didn't inspire confidence either - weak reaching ground ball on an almost one-handed swing - but looking at other GBs he hit on pitches like that it's not different enough for me to point it out. 

This is a big deal. Bigger than Bryce, honestly. If Bryce is hurt - well then Bryce has been hurt most of the year and he's battled through it and the team's been ok because they've had other guys they can rely on. If Murphy's hurt - he's carried the team all year. Early with Bryce, mostly with Ramos, lately with Turner and Rendon, but he's been there all year. If he can't hit like he has that's the heart of the 2016 Nats line-up cut out.

Let's hope he plays today and this can be just unecessary concern. If he doesn't play I'd even accept a diagnosis because honestly all that matters is that he's healthy enough to get a few good swings in before the seasons end and how us that he'll be ok for the playoffs.

*if you recall this is SLG with batting average pulled out. It helps adjust for BA fueled SLG percentage highs and lows. For example when Bryce was getting walked all the time in May and only hit .200 his SLG of .363 looked hideous. However the isoSLG of .163 was merely bad. It wasn't that he wasn't hitting for power - he was just slumped.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Nats do as Nats do

Ramos was made an offer said Heyman.  How much? Let's go to our resident psychic and see what he said just a couple days ago!
I can see them offering Ramos something like 3/30+ to begin with to see if he would take it and then offering him the QO.
Yay me!  It WAS apparently something like 3 years slightly more than 30 million.  Why is that what the Nats offered?

1) It was the lowest reasonable comp available. When I listed all the recent decent catchers signed Francisco Cervelli had both the shortest contract (3 years) and smallest per (10.333 million).

Is Cervelli a good comp? Kind of. Much like Ramos he was coming off a career year in his late 20s. He wasn't seen as the same type of hitter or defender as Ramos. Cervelli is a high average hitter with ok patience. Ramos is a mid average hitter with good pop.  Cervelli is a decent plate blocker and run-gunner but a great framer. Ramos is a good plate blocker and run-gunner but only a fair framer. The end result though was a year going into a contract that was roughly as productive as Ramos' current season.

However Ramos was a good prospect who had previously hit well over 200 games in parts of 3 separate seasons before succumbing to multiple injuries. 2016 has been a career year, yes, but also a bounce back year of sorts. Cervelli was not a prospect and had never hit, in part possibly because of injuries, prior to his surge up to the year before his contract. That surge up only constituted 66 total games. Cervelli was much more of a gamble.

Also Cervelli's deal covered his 31-33 age seasons, while Ramos' deal would cover his 29-31 age seasons. At a position where wear and tear can play major issues with players, younger is better and worth more.

So you could argue Cervelli is a decent comp but there hardly is anything pointing to Cervelli being worth a bigger deal than Wilson making him more of a decent base than a direct comparison.

2) The Nats offer fair deals at around the lowest reasonable offer. The Nats don't go under market, at least in my mind. They look at a player. They look at the market. They figure out what is the lowest the market would give. Then they offer something around that.

Is it an opening offer? A best and final? Depends on the player, I'm sure. But that's how they roll. The worst that can happen I suppose is the player can be insulted but you know what? Feelings of insult go away pretty quickly if more money is involved.  So if the Nats really want a guy, they can up the offer. There's really very little harm done seeing if you can get a guy to accept the low-end of what he's worth. And in fact it can lead to a lower contract being accepted than if you came in with a more standard market offer.

Of course all Nats fans care about is the two questions I just asked "Is it an opening offer? A best and final?" and history tells us it's probably closer to a best and final. It's hard to say though. The market dried up for ZNN and Desmond as teams pursued mid-range pitchers and Desmond killed his value with a career worst season. This made the Nats' offered deals look more reasonable then they were when initially put out there. They didn't have any reason to up their offer (and in fact as far as I know they took Desmond's deal off the table). So perhaps if Ramos explores free agency and the money is there the Nats might up their offer a little. It's new territory.

However, go back and read what I said a couple days ago. Assuming the Nats want to stick with a payroll of under 150 million, it'll be very hard to fit in a 10+ million dollar catcher into the team's ledger. The Nats have a enough holes to plug in the offeason that they are going to use up their funds before even getting to catcher.  The only way I see them keeping Ramos is if they raise the payroll. It's happened once but I'm not sure it's happening again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Rotation Question

Nats lose again, right? Yes. But Mets lose and Dodgers lose so there you go. Tick tick tick.

Buried inside of Verducci's "Bryce is hurt" article (read it if you haven't - we'll get to that another day soon) is a nugget of info that could drastically effect the Nats postseason plans. Turns out Max Scherzer does not think pitching on short rest is a good idea. Here's the quote
“That’s asking a lot,” he said. “You’re trained to give everything you have every fifth day. You might be able to get through it, but where it would really show up is your next start.”
Now I'll never go against a pitcher that says something like this. While I totally think pitchers CAN go on short rest, I also understand they've been trained their entire professional lives to go every 5th day. The body develops a rhythm and anything that throws that off is sub-optimal. Hell, getting an extra day probably isn't good for most pitchers. And remember I noted a week ago or so that Max has never started a game on short rest.

However, we can't deny that this presents the Nats with a problem. Conventional thinking likely had the rotation (at least for the NLDS) going like this

Max - Roark - [OFF] - Gio* - Max - [OFF] - Roark

This way you maximize the use of your healthy and best starting arms. There are days off between games 2 & 3 and games 4 & 5.  That means Max's second game would be on short rest, but Roark's would not. If Max really would prefer not to pitch on short rest though it begs the question what do the Nats do? A lot depends on what we see going down the stretch I imagine. Let's run through some potential plans.

Plan A - Keep rotation as expected, but defer to only use Max on short rest in emergency
Max - Roark - Gio - Max (if down), Ross/Cole/Latos (if up) - Max (if not used), Roark (otws)

While Max says he's not really for it, I'd bet he'd do it if asked. Plus you may not even need him. The Nats may sweep (or get swept).  You may balk at using a lesser option in game 4 but really you don't need Max to go since you can technically afford to lose. Plus you can really go with an all hands on deck (AHOD) rotation. So if someone isn't working you can immediately go to someone else. Would we rather see Max, no matter what? Probably. But this I think, is the most reasonable plan.

Plan B - 4 man rotation
Max - Roark - Gio - Ross/Cole/Latos - Max,  or
Max - Gio - Roark - Ross/Cole/Latos - Max 

This makes some sense if Ross seems fully healthy by the time the season ends. He's been a good pitcher during the year while healthy so giving him a shot (with the AHOD caveat) is reasonable. It would feel a little funny going with Ross if the Nats were down 1-2 at this point but if he looks fine I don't see how you don't consider this option. Now some will note Ross has had issues with lefties and LA hits righties well so it's a bad match-up. That's true, which is why this is my Plan B. I can see doing it but I'd rather do A. In this case it doesn't matter where Gio or Roark go as neither would be called on to pitch later in the series. If Ross doesn't seem ready to go though, this plan loses a lot of appeal and might not even be a recognizable letter grade. Latos or Cole potentially in a must win game? No thank you.

Plan C - Short rest Roark
Roark - Max - Gio -  Roark - Max 

While Max would rather not go on short rest, former reliever Roark might not care as much. Plus Roark, if you haven't noticed, has been real good this year. There's no reason why he couldn't succeed in the playoffs as he has all season long. This also has the added benefit of giving Max normal rest without any tricks. Max is pitching great now, why mess with that at all? The problem would be the idea that you are starting the series with your second best pitcher. Not starting with your best foot forward seems... wrong. Can you get over that?

Plan D - Split Attack
Max - Gio - Roark - Max - Gio

Like I said, the Dodgers don't hit lefties. I told you to look at the splits. Did you? No. Fine. Here. That's a big difference! They are literally worst in the league against lefties. That's a little over-stated - Kendrick is better vs lefties than this season shows and Puig is back and will start, but still worst is worst. If they are a little better than they've shown maybe they are what? 3rd worst? Attacking your opponents weakness is never a bad idea. If you start Gio in games 1 or 2, then you have the option of using him twice. In this scenario, with Gio getting game 2, you get your righty lefty righty mix going. You have to short rest Max, though, as I don't think anyone would be comfortable with the idea of going 5 games and using Max and Roark once each.  The downside is you are using Roark once, since if he pitches game 3 he won't be available game 5, even in relief**.

Plan E - Maximize Gio
Gio (AHOD) - Max - Roark - Gio (AHOD) - Max

If getting Gio twice is good, then getting him twice as soon as possible is better, right? With this plan they get Gio twice in the first four games with the caveat, that since he'd be looking at short rest, if he seems to not have it (1 in 3 chance, right?) that you shift over to someone else quickly. The downside is now you aren't even starting with your 2nd best option. You are on your 3rd and a severe step down from 1st and 2nd.  Plus you are going with your 3rd best option on short rest. That's a real gutsy call that would probably have to be amended if Game 1 didn't go exactly as planned, and your options on changes are limited. 

I fully expect the Nats to go with Plan A or B. It's defensible. It's traditional. However they aren't the only possible plans available. Plans C or D are interesting and feasible plans that create some favorable situations for the Nats. They may not be the way the Nats go - but they are certainly worth a look. With Strasburg out, it may pay to be creative.

*look at the splits, and how he's pitched in general since break. It's the right move barring complete late September meltdown

**well unless he's bombed. That's how ZNN came back to pitch an inning in relief against the Cards in 2012. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Nats Lose - Time marches on

The Nats put up another uninspired effort but I will say I was a bit more pleased yesterday than the previous couple nights. Last night was more about failure to get the big hit than it was a failure to get the guys on. That's progress right? I don't know. Like I said yesterday - season is too far gone to worry about East. HFA is still relatively secure (we'll revisit at series end) and all I really care about is that the Nats start hitting a week from now. And even then that's for impressions going into the playoffs more than anything dependable.

Let's talk about Ramos shall we? A big FA overview - not a look into his recent slump.

Wilson Ramos, gotten in a trade for Matt Capps so long ago, was supposed to be the Nats catcher of the future. In 2011, at age 23,  he was eased into the role playing 113 games. He had an OPS of 113 and finished 4th in ROY voting.* The Nats believed in Ramos so much they dealt away another potential starter, Derek Norris, in the deal to get back Gio. A solid receiver, it looked to be the beginning of a fruitful career, where the Nats could take advantage of having a plus player for cheap in one of the hardest positions to fill.

Then the injuries came. 

A torn ACL in 2012 limited him to 25 games in 2012. A pulled hamstring in 2013 kept Ramos out for much of the first half  and he played only 78 games. In 2014 he broke his hand on Opening Day and would be limited to 88 games. Finally in 2015 Ramos would be healthy enough to play a reasonable amount of games. The problem was he was terrible. He hit .229 / .258 / .358.  Given the last four seasons had been nothing but heartache it looked like 2016 would be the last time you'd see Wilson in a Nats uniform.

Then Wilson got LASIK and it all seemed to turn around. A .316 / .328 / .491 line in April was followed by an even better .333 / .400 / .522 line in May and an even BETTER .364 / .414 / .636 line in June. Wilson was an All-Star, the best hitting catcher in the league. But seasons are long and surprises usually find a way of stopping to be such. Wilson would have a solid July, .291 / .351 / .442, but August would be a slow down .261 / .293 / .446  and September would be a dead stop .229 / .288 / .354.

As Wilson prepares to enter free agency we have to ask ourselves 'Who is the real Wilson Ramos'? Was the first half just a fluke? Or is this just fatigue? Do the Nats re-sign him?

Let's look at it dispassionately

Wilson Ramos just turned 29. He's had an excellent 2016 overall. He has a history of injury but recently has been able to stay healthy. His history suggests that both 2015 and the first half of 2016 were not representative of his actual offensive talent level. It is more likely that he is a .270 hitter with 20+ homer power but absolutely no patience and no speed.  As far as you can trust the stats, he is still a solid defender, and not a great framer but not a bad one either.

If you believe in the above then Wilson is an attractive target as he would remain a Top 10ish catcher in the league with that profile. With catcher production hard to come by, fully a third of the league would do very well to pick up Wilson. Given his age he's not necessarily limited to only contenders expecting 1-2 good years as he could reasonably give you 4 years or more of similar production. There is also a dearth of quality FAs on the market. Matt Weiters, the only real likely rival, has not done well after taking that qualifying offer. The second best available catcher may be one-time Nat Kurt Suzuki, who has managed replacement level offense at a reasonable value.  Some of the teams that may be in the market for Wilson include rivals such as the Mets, the Braves, and the Orioles, along with teams like the Tigers and Astros.

As far as contract goes, four recent comparisons include Brian McCann (5/85), Russell Martin (5/82), Sal Perez (5/52.5) and Francisco Cervelli (3/31).  Given his age and production and the scarcity of the position, I'd probably say he'd be closer to the 17 million than the 10 average salary so let's give an estimate of 4years, 56 million for what Ramos would get. However, the Nats could offer him a QO which could diminish his value because teams are stupid.

The next question is will the Nats go there. If you go by history it's unlikely. As far as re-signing players go, the Nats love to get a deal on the remaining arbitration years to off-set the over pays necessary for the free agent years. This is what they offered for ZNN and Desmond, and seemingly talked about with Strasburg. Thanks to injuries and performance the Nats didn't do this for Ramos. They also apparently haven't made any overtures to Ramos about re-signing him this year.

But if the Nats don't resign Ramos they don't have a good plan B. Jose Lobaton was a fine back-up when they got him but is close to end of life for MLB. Organizationally they like Pedro Severino but he hasn't been impressive in AAA. He is starting to hit for a bit of average and he doesn't strike out a ton, but has no patience or power to speak of. He is only 23 so there's time for him to improve but the best you could probably hope for in 2017 from him is an empty .260+ average. He is supposed to be a very good defender though. Beyond Severino there really isn't anything. Kieboom is older and hasn't clicked at AA.  There's a handful of young catchers in the low minors, Read, Cabello, Reetz; worth keeping an eye on but no one that looks to be imminent.

Payroll-wise the Nats will likely have little flexibility. With Strasburg and Ross injuries in the second half, the retention of Gio is necessary. That keeps the payroll up in the 145 million range which is where they seem to like it. They could save about 10 million by letting Petit walk and jettisoning Ben Revere but the Nats are going to need the re-fill the bench (Drew and Heisey are FA) and do a little bullpen work. Melancon, Rzepczynski, and Belisle are all FA this year. Even if you key in say Kelley as closer and Treinen as set-up, you still probably want a reliable veteran arm in there. All that together will be pretty close to 10 million.

Competition wise the Nats find themselves with a leg up on the NL East competitors going into 2017. They are more talented than the Marlins, who find themselves lacking starting pitching with a depleted minor league system; and healthier than the Mets, who also desperately need to keep Cespedes. With Trea Turner looking like an All-Star caliber player there is enough of a core - Byrce, Rendon, Murphy, Turner - to build an offense around without Ramos, while if healthy the pitching staff should remain one of the better ones in the National League.

My guess is the Nats don't re-sign Ramos. They probably don't want to given the payroll and they can convince themselves pretty easily that a "good enough" solution for 2017 will work, while they see if Severino can hack it. Ramos' injury history and 2nd half makes him a gamble and the Nats may be less willing to make such a move given the questions raised by the recent long term retention deals signed, Zimmerman and Strasburg. I can see them offering Ramos something like 3/30+ to begin with to see if he would take it and then offering him the QO. I don't see Ramos taking either of those however. To me the most telling sign is the lack of contact between the Nats and Ramos. They aren't shy about saying they want to sign guys even if they don't think it will work out. The fact Ramos hasn't heard anything to me tells me they don't have any plans.

*Because you are wondering Kimbrel won it. Freeman was 2nd. Third was Vance Worley.  Espy was 6th.