Nationals Baseball: And so we enter... endgame

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And so we enter... endgame

Yu's been signed. Not only is this great for baseball and Texas headline writers, it means Scott Boras can stop holding "maybe the Rangers will sign him" over Prince's head... well maybe not.  For a quick rundown of where we stand right now, the suitors appear to be narrowed down to the Rangers, Cubs, and Nats.  Despite what you have heard you can't discount either of these other two teams.

The Rangers just signed Yu and don't necessarily NEED Fielder. They scored the 3rd most runs in the AL last year and don't expect to have major roster changes.  However, a big chunk of that came from the over 30 crowd and early speculation has them letting both Josh Hamilton (after 2012) and Ian Kinsler (after 2013) walk. They could use the bat. They have the money. And they were/are THIS close.  They may see the window as closing, as opposed to the Nats who see it as opening.  That's a pretty good impetus.

The Cubs are looking at a rough season.  That's nothing new, of course, but what's worse, the Cubs don't have anyone who the fans can rally behind and could be in for a big power drop next season.  They already were 10th in the league in homers, Aramis Ramirez is gone and they are likely to let Carlos Pena walk (which also opens up first base). Given the age of Aramis Ramirez (34) and Alfonso Soriano (36) and the fact that their young star is a slappy hitter and you can see a 100 homer season on the horizon.  Fielder provides automatic 40 homer power, fills a gap at first, and provides a personality to draw in the fans and sell jerseys. You know the Cubs have the money to do it.  The question is whether the new management, headed by Theo Epstein, see Fielder as someone that can still be a cog with the team after they finish their rebuild.

The Nats aren't bidding against themselves.  The competition is out there.  However, it's looking more and more that with the questions these teams have that the 8 year megadeal won't happen. Can the Nats pull off 6 years, 120 million? Or will Boras try to play a dangerous waiting game with a short term deal, with the hopes over a bigger pay day down the road?* If he does, does that play into the Rangers hands given their new position as playoff regulars?

Time to earn the paycheck, Rizzo. 

*Seriously - Boras has a big issue if Prince wants to play first right now, The Angels are good until 2021, Red Sox are good until 2018, Phillies 2017, Yankees 2016.   There's some shifting the Sox or Angels can do but you wouldn't move Pujols or AGonz for Prince. Other usual big spenders, the White Sox, Mets, Cubs, aren't in any position to make a big move this year. The Giants are concerned with their upcoming free agent pitchers.  The Twins are concerned with their payroll, I'm sure.  The best best may be a 4 year deal.  Perhaps after 2015  Prince would agree to play DH.  At that point the Tigers may have an opening (but Cabrera hits the FA market), the Yankees might be willing to eat the last year of Teixeira's deal, and maybe the Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Mets, or someone else would need Prince as that last piece.


glyons said...

Just a quick fact check: Aramis Ramirez signed with the Brewers in the offseason. And Theo is shopping Soriano. So...the Cubs' dearth in the power department is more like an abyss (even with Prince, really).

Wally said...

Can't see the Cubs as a realistic contender. I would say that Texas is the leading contender, us and I think SF and SEA are wild cards.

Texas is the most aggressive organization of those 4 teams, and I think that they see themselves as the best fit for Prince, and vice versa. Somehow, it also feels like if we sign him, it is going to be a 7 year deal. If TEX, than it is 4-5 years.

Harper said...

glyons - thanks. You know that was nagging me in the back of my head. I know Theo is shopping Soriano but I can't see any way he gets dealt because they aren't going to eat THAT much of the contract (are they?). So...50 homers? Last year's Padres have the post strike record (91 last year).

Wally - while SF would make sense I can't find any legit rumor linking them to Prince anytime recently. As for the Mariners, I don't see them making that financial commitment or him being that interested but maybe I'm reading it wrong.

I think I see the same thing. Worst case - Texas comes out with an aggressive 5 year deal. (5-115?) The Nats are forced to come back with a 6+ year deal in the neighborhood of 140 at least, probably need that 7 year deal to get him. Best case (where Texas offers) - Texas says something like "join a winner, be free for one big contract" and offers a fair but weak four year deal - 4-75? Nats can counter with overpaying for 5 (see 5-115) or maybe a more reasonable ave year deal for 6 years.

Wally said...

Harper - Here is my rationale for SEA & SF as maybes:
SF - (i) badly need him, maybe more than any upper tier team. (ii) They have made crazy deals before (or bold, depending on your side of things): Zito, Rowand contracts; Beltran for Wheeler trade. Plus it is the same guy for all of that. Definitely have a declining window, per your TEX comment. They can't really think that they'll get Lincecum to avoid free agency, can they?

SEA - I think it is about attendance. That's the only reason that I can see that they traded Pineda instead of King Felix (for a much bigger prospect haul). Because I can't believe they think that they'll be competitive until Felix has 1 or at most 2 years left on his deal, unless they do something like up the payroll by $40m/yr. This is the weaker of the two.

Anonymous said...

The Cubs have spent over 100 years waiting for next year and I don't see Fielder changing that, but either this year or next, the Cubs will need to sign someone that at least gives them the appearance of trying so they can keep filling the seats at Wrigley.

Whoa_Now said...

I don't think SF is in the running. 1)Belt is supposed to be good. 2)Posey won't be playing behind the plate for much longer. They have two viable options there. Both are young.

If we sign Prince do you think a Morse/LaRoche(We assume most of his contract) for Adam Jones A)is fair B) Smart?

I look at a potential lineup of Desi/Werth/Zim/Prince/Jones/Harper/Ramos/Espi as really really good. move them around how ever you see fit.

Morse is cheaper than Jones. Morse is better than what they currently have at 1B/DH or LF. They both become FA in 2014.

I'd honestly hate to see Morse go, because I love him. But I think Nats nation needs to realize that he is the odd man out if/when we sign Prince. Morse will be used to either A) aquire young arms to refill our coffers B)aquire a centerfielder.

whoa_now said...

Did everyone see what Aoki signed for? 2 yrs for 2.25 mil. That was a steal and a massive mistake by Rizzo. I think Aoki may be a mini Ichiro. No big power numbers but I bet his OBP is outstanding and his basepath skill are above avg. Even as a 4th outfielder. He is the same age as Bernadina (28)-granted Bernadina probably makes around league min...

whoa_now said...

Seattle trading for Montero I think puts them out...Montero will eventually be their DH, some say now. I don't see Seattle signing Prince to a long term deal if the DH spot is now held by a 22 yr old...and a long term deal what it would take Prince is not going to sign a short term deal with a team that A)has no chance of winning. B)Has no lineup protection (even if you don't believe in anything) his RBI numbers will be way down in Seattle C)Half their games in a pitchers park..all of this points to a long term deal..not a short one because he won't put up the same numbers he could in Texas (or DC for that matter). DC is sort of in the middle.

Texas could offer a short term deal and suggest his numbers would be outrageous in the 3-4 yrs he played there, still young enough to grab a massive contract at that time. But it would bruise Boras ego/rep.

DC is sort of stuck in the middle. They will have to beat Texas offer on money, but not necessarily years (but probably). Look at it this way. Do you take the really long contract 8/190 for less money , the short contract for 4/106, or the middle road at 6/14.

If I we're Prince the middle option is probably the worst. If you want safe, you take the long term deal. If you want the money and the chance at a championship and another payday you take the 4 yr. Therefore we just up the 4 yr deal to 4/115 and convince him we can win a championship. No?

Wally said...

Whoa Now - my two cents on a couple of your points:
Morse/Laroche for Jones? I think BAL says no, although Morse makes them think hard. I wonder if MNorse has as much value on the trade market as he does in most of our minds. Good hit/poor field guys don't usually bring back big returns (see Willingham, Josh).

Aoki - so the deal for the Brewers is 2 yr/$5m. If he is no better than Bernie, that is an awfully big premium. It seems pretty clear that Rizzo, Clark, et al don't see him as more than a 4th OF guy.

I agree that SEA is the weakest of my wild card teams, but I don't think SF is sold on Belt, at least not to the point of passing on Fielder.

Whoa_now said...

The Aoki deal is 1 yr at 1 mil, 1 yr at 1.25. Sorry if I wasn't clear.(you may be talking about the 2 mil posting fee-which makes his 2 yr salary 4.25) Yes, i agree that is still a good amount to spend on a 4th outfielder. I just don't think he is a 4th OF. I think he could have played a better than avg center for us for the next two years until Hood, et al were ready. I think his numbers would outperform the shark. However it is still a risk-but a pretty cheap risk IMO to solve our CF problems. We could spend 4x that to aquire Bourn next year.

anyhow after thinking about it last night if the contract goes down to four years for Prince it brings a lot of teams to the table. Not necessarily good for the Nats. I think the years are still the problem.

You're probably right about Morse/A.Jones..that we would probably have to sweeten the pot with one of our minor league players.

On the otherend I hope Rizzo isn't going to flip Morse for Upton (or Span) and 1 yr control. Jones is a much much better player. Who are the centerfielders that Morse could bring back? Upton/Span/Bourn?/Fowler?...definitely not Ellsbury/Kemp/MuCutchen...I think I'd rather have Adam Jones than the four above.

DezoPenguin said...

So...any opinion on the Gio and Morse re-signings?

Harper said...

whoa now & Wally - I'm with whoa now. SF looks out to me and Sea an BIG long shot. I'm not even considering SF until I see anything that says they are interested, even remotely. Then again you might be Wally Sabean.

Morse/LaRoche for Jones? I agree with Wally, I do think that's a non-starter and the Nats would need to toss in a minor leaguer. Still the very fair contract Morse signed makes him more appealing.

Morse isn't going to bring back any CF worth anything right now, teams just aren't into trading them right now. Fowler's been terrible with the bat and the Rockies are taking him off the table.

Aoki - I think the Brewers do see him as a 4th OF, but have the Braun suspension to test him as something more. That's worth a gamble that's less than one year of Mike Morse.

Anon - I agree. The Cubs need someone, they just do. Though I think if Theo is going to get away with doing nothing this is his only year to do it.

Dezo - see post!