Nationals Baseball: Trade dreadline

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trade dreadline

See what I did there?

Let's break down where the Nats stand right now. At the plate, Ryan Zimmerman is out, likely for the remainder of the year. Zimmerman is a .285 bat with 25 HR power and ok patience. Unsurprisingly, the Nats don't have a replacement for that. Currently Ryan's injury would likely force Danny Espinosa (.217 / .283 / .347 - but with a .295 / .375 / .474 line against lefties and plays great defense) to play everyday, or perhaps platoon in some manner with Zack Walters (he of 16 Ks in 43 PAs, but lots of pop).   That's not a terrible fix but it is likely a weak spot in the lineup, in comparison to what they did have.

One weak spot in the lineup the Nats can cover.  There isn't a bad bat in the bunch, (yes - even Span. I'd expect him to slump but he's on average a mediocre bat, not bad) and there are several guys who can carry a team when hot.  However, there isn't a true superstar guy who can carry a team when not hot, and that puts the Nats in a position where one more injury would likely put a serious hurt on this lineup. The weak spot would become a weak inning. Werth, an injury risk coming in, has been balky recently. Span, Ramos, Bryce, and LaRoche have all missed significant time this year. (Did you know Espy was 5th on the team for games played?). It seems prudent to get another bat in here now, even if there isn't a need to solve problem staring them in the face. A 2B would be the obvious solution, but just a good bench bat would do.

In the pen, the Nats don't really need anything but there is a strong desire to add a lefty who can also get righties out to the relief core. As we discussed yesterday Blevins has devolved into a LOOGY this year and that really limits his usefulness.  When used as he should be now, he's a 1-2 batter pitcher, and forces the team into more 2 pitcher innings than they'd like.  

There you go - that's where the Nats stand right now. Of course they could use a great bat or arm in any place, but since they don't NEED them, I don't see them making a move for them.

Now will they make a move? As we discussed earlier, Rizzo is apparently never all-in. He's not planning on making deals he feels he might lose big-time in the long term. (not that it can't happen - like if Alex Meyer ends up being Steve Carlton, just that it isn't a very likely scenario). He's looking for value in the deal meaning he's not giving up more than he thinks he's getting back. Also the Lerners have said they are "beyond topped out" which means adding big salary is unlikely.  Those two things combined make trading a lot harder.

We've heard some names bandied about (Murphy, Cabrera) but honestly I think it makes a deal for a 2B nigh-impossible as good ones of those will likely be costly in either prospects or salary (or both).  If the Nats are kicking the tires on these guys it's likely to see if they can get that deal. No harm in asking really if say the Rangers would trade Beltre for Sammy Solis and Tony Renda.

I'd expect a deal for a relief arm. I'd expect Andrew Miller to end up on the Nats. Probably for an outfielder. That's my guess.

55 comments:

MASNCommenter said...

TRAYDE FOUR SESPUDIS!!1!!!!111

Bjd1207 said...

Murphy would be a perfect fit, now that I'm looking at it. Do the mets have a decent lefty in their pen?

JWLumley said...

I expect the Nats to do nothing. They'll convince themselves Blevins isn't a LOOGY and that they can't get an impact bat. Prospects are overvalued right now, Beane is showing the market inefficiency is just that. Nats could use Beltre or Murphy, but it won't happen. They also need bench help. McLouth has turned into the guy who was playing in Norfolk a couple years ago and Matt Williams doesn't seem to understand how to use Hairston or keep him off a missing persons report. Frandsen is completely redundant as long as they have Espi and Walters. Besides, he's better at running his mouth than playing baseball, something I can relate to, but doesn't help the ballclub. I wonder if Baker is available?

Anonymous said...

Souza Jr. for Miller makes a lot of sense on both sides. Souza doesn't have a place to play here and won't for the foreseeable future. He's already 25 so his time is now or never. And it means Miller won't go to the Braves or another NL contender where we'd have to watch him K LaRoche and Harper again and again in a series.

JWLumley said...

@Anon Since Werth hasn't made his annual trip to the DL this year, Nats could use Souza in that situation. Also, could play LF next year with Harper moving to CF. Still, would be nice if they dealt for Miller. The Red Sox traded for a manager once, maybe the Nats could send Matt Williams to the Red Sox in exchange for Miller?

blovy8 said...

I expect Rizzo to have a stealth deal in place, but it will be something ultimately disappointing like a smaller deal in August when the prices come down. As much as they like Cole, they did trade him before, a big splash with him going in a Beltre deal would be great for this year, but we'd hate who has to go next year to make up the cost. The only real untouchable is Giolito in my mind. Michael Taylor may never have as much value again as he does now, that might be the guy to squeeze a big piece out of a club needing OF help.

Weren't we expecting Harper to carry the team for a week at a time by now? Weren't we expecting to have Strasburg put together a Cueto-like stretch of dominance? They haven't done it, but that's the supposed talent level. I agree with Lumley that Frandsen is maybe around to be a bench jockey, who the hell knows? I do know that somehow Williams is now afraid to use his bullpen to win games instead of keeping them all healthy. That doesn't seem like a great plan to me - there are guys in the minors who can pitch if he wears somebody out. Maybe I should give Blevins the benefit of the doubt and think that he actually is worn out.

You can call me the jinx from now on - I just paid for the postseason package for my season plan seats.

WiredHK said...

It's impressive to see how the Nats so easily have ascended to the rightful spot of all DC sports teams - where we need to have constant gallows-humor just to survive rooting for them. :(

Jay said...

Is Asdrubal Cabrera a step up at 2b? I don't think Mets will trade Daniel Murphy - plus he's a pretty bad glove.

I think maybe they bet bullpen help. I fully anticipate they will do nothing as far as any type of bat. Rizzo is a former scout - he loves prospects, so I don't think they'll do anything remotely big.

Remind me again why Ross Detwiler is on the team?? They hardly ever use him.

JWLumley said...

@Jay Yeah, not sure why they don't deal Detwiler to a team that needs a starter. One of the most obvious signs that Matt Williams doesn't know what he's doing is that he can't seem to find a way to work guys like Hairston and Detwiler into games. I don't think you can put much stock in either of their numbers because he's used them so sporadically. Not to mention, he keeps bringing Blevins in to pitch to a lefty followed by a righty despite the fact Blevins can't get righty's out, perhaps he should try to use Detwiler in the next situation like that.

Bjd1207 said...

@Jay - Remember what we're replacing, seriously almost anything (MLB ready) is an upgrade at 2b.

For asdrubal, glove is comparable and he's got almost 100 points of OPS on Danny.

For Murphy, the bat obviously crushes Espinosa and Cabrera.

Murphy would be wayyy more of an upgrade. Unless you play PERFECT defense (not just very good defense) then it matters very little compared to offensive contributions. And in Danny's case he's had a couple fluke errors/miscues that keep him out of PERFECT territory, so at that point his bat is unjustifiable.

Anonymous said...

If Werth went down, would they even go to Souza? They may just watch McLouth fly out to left.

JWLumley said...

@Anon You make a good point. Of course, I was saying this is what the Nats should do not necessarily what they will do. I keep hoping that the only reason Souza is still in AAA is because the Nats want to get him consistent AB's and would bring him up if they could get those for him at the big league level. Of course when your manager plays Kevin Frandsen against left handed pitcher despite the way Espi and Walters have hit lefties, and sits Harper against lefties despite him being hot, the game being at Coors Field and hitting lefties well all year, you know that logic and sound rational thought aren't a big part of the decision making process of who plays.

JWLumley said...

Even though Rizzo never does anything substantial this time of year. I still love this day. Almost as good as Opening Day.

JWLumley said...

Also, firmly believe the Nats should trade Span while he's hitting. Reasonable deal next year and would open room for Souza. They could also do a deal for Rios or Willingham. This will of course never happen, but if I were king [read: GM] it's what I'd do.

Bjd1207 said...

" firmly believe the Nats should trade Span while he's hitting."

no, no No!

We're contending! You don't trade away your starters when you're contending.

In the 4 players mentioned (or implied) in your post, Span has a higher WAR not just of any combination of the other 2, but higher than ALL 3 combined (fangraphs):

Span: 2.6
Rios: 1.1
Willinham: 1.0
Harper: 0.00

When Span wasn't hitting, I was amenable to moving him lower in the order. Now that he's hitting, I would personally murder any GM that would move him off our team right now.

Anonymous said...

Agree with above commenter: MW for Miller. Then promote ALR to manager/player status, full-time mngr once Zim can return and play 1B.

MAKE IT HAPPEN, RIZZO!

JWLumley said...

@Bjd Misleading post. First of all, WAR is a cumulative stat. Harper hasn't played so comparing his WAR to Span's is ridiculous. Second WAR is not a predictive stat, so just because someone's WAR has been higher doesn't mean that it will be higher over the course of the season. Finally, WAR, IMO, overvalues spurious defensive metrics and Harper would be close to as good of a defensive CFer as Span (less range--not by much--but better arm by a lot). Nats also don't currently employ any flyball pitchers on their starting staff. It's not like they have Tommy Milone out there every 5th day, so OF defense for the Nats as currently constructed isn't as important as offense. Span is hitting, but it won't continue. Mostly what it boils down to is that I believe in Souza. I think he's the next Jayson Werth and could be an impact bat. Willingham and Rios would be insurance on that.

JWLumley said...

Well, looks like the Nats won't get Miller. Perhaps they can get Ian Krol back from the Tigers now though.

Bjd1207 said...

So I just want to make sure I'm clear, WAR discussions aside.

You want to take out the established center fielder, ALWAYS above average defense (at one of the 3 positions where defense matters), ALWAYS right around avg offense (and by your admission above average right now), on a team thats in first place by ONE GAME with 50 games left.

And replace with a guy who has never even seen a major league pitch? For the stretch run and post season?

Seriously, no one in their right mind would consider this

Bjd1207 said...

Oh and you want to take the "returns" for your top-10 center fielder and use them for "insurance" for that AAA guy

JWLumley said...

@Bjd Yes, but get the facts straight. Souza has seen major league pitching, even got a hit. I would also deal for Willingham to bolster the bench and provide insurance. I'd deal Span to bolster the bullpen and bolster the farm system. It's selling high and league average offense isn't hard to replace. As I mentioned on a team with strikeout pitchers and an extreme groundball pitcher. Outfield defense isn't as important. Also, Span has a below average arm which for some reason people seem to negate as part of his defense. Yes he gets to lots of balls, but teams are free to run all over him. Most defensive metrics are unable to quantify this.

JWLumley said...

Also, Nats are a 1.5 games up and 3 up in the loss column. Their playoff odds are at right around 85% depending on where you look which I think is a better indicator than standings that don't take into account strength of remaining schedule and current team. Still, it boils down to you value Span's defense more than I do. To me he isn't ALWAYS above average, he's above average at catching the ball, he's below average throwing it.

Bjd1207 said...

I'm sorry man but its insane any way you slice it. I understand alot of people don't like Span around here but this is beyond the realm of reasonability.

Going from a top-10 CF'er (I don't know what you want to use to evaluate if you discount both WAR and defensive metrics, but by wRC alone he's still stop 10 CF-er) to a AAA prospect on a first place team is grounds for immediate firing.

Jay said...

It likely doesn't matter bc MW hates young guys. Walters has gotten 1 start since being called up. If someone forced them to trade Span they would probably stick with McLouth in center. I really think they could use a bat at either 3b or 2b.

Also, I think bullpen is a bigger need that we think. Detwiler is a waste of a spot right now (unless MW leaves it will continue to be), Barrett looks like he is wearing down. Blevins is somewhat iffy. Do you really want to watch Blevins come in and pitch to a lefty in a big spot in October?

But I do love deadline day - lots of fun to watch both the speculation and actual trades.

blovy8 said...

Offense is hard to get. Harper's numbers are propped up by his walk rate, he's not scaring anyone except the base coaches who have to be sure he's on a base instead of in between them.

I don't understand that Milone deal, that sounds like a dump because a guy like Fuld is the very definition of replacement level. I can't imagine a bunch of teams couldn't beat that offer.

Bjd1207 said...

@Jay - Agree with you on detwiler and the need for an infield bat (pref lefty, which is why i'm so high on murphy). For Blevins I'd be OK if he came in against a big lefty, I'm terrified MW will use him for one out against Matt Holliday.

@blovy - The speculation is that they wanted Fuld back to platoon with Gomes. But you're right if Lester walks they've got 1 more year of Samardzija and Kazmir, seems like Milone could help that situation a lot. Strange they'd give up a mlb-ready starter

Jay said...

Why no interest in Martin Prado by anyone? Salary is high but he plays 2b, 3b, and LF. He'd be motivated to stick it to Atlanta as well bc of the Upton trade.

I agree Daniel Murphy would be great but it sounds like Mets think they have a chance for a play off run.

JWLumley said...

@Bjd I understand it would be bold and if I hadn't seen Souza on multiple occasions spaced out over a couple of months with my own eyes, sitting next to two scouts on one occasion, maybe I don't make it. It's not a dislike of Span, it's market inefficiency. Outfield defense's value has a strong correlation, IMO, to a team's pitching staff. A bunch of groundball and strikeout pitchers means outfield defense isn't terribly important to a team's success. The fact that Span is a "Top 10 CFer" I think speaks to the lack of quality CFers in the big leagues than it does toward his actual skill level and WAR's over-dependence on defensive metrics that most readily admit are far from perfect. I also think the Nats are depleting Harper's value by having him in a corner OF spot and if I were GM I would seek to re-coup some of that value by moving him to CF.

Jay said...

I would second the thought that Harper is more valuable as a CF. It is not likely to happen until the offseason, but I'd move Harper to CF and get a bat for LF (whether that is Zim or someone else). Harper's upside, bat, and arm will outweigh any defensive short comings in comparison to Span. It wasn't like he was bad in CF.

Matt said...

Apparently the Nats just got Cabrera?

Jay said...

I guess MW must have gotten a vote on trades today. They traded Zach Walters for 2 months of Asdrubel Cabrera. Wow. Not sure I agree with that one. I guess they figure Walters strikes out too much to ever amount to anything. Cabrera did win a silver slugger in 2011 and is a career .270 guy but wow.

Anonymous said...

I love the trade. It's a rental and Walters is amounting the second coming of Espinosa

DezoPenguin said...

Losing Walters doesn't bug me; he's a maybe guy at that. Indians moving Cabrera to make room for Lindor, basically, so kicking in cash as well is nice.

Cabrera would be an upgrade on Espinosa against righties, not a big one considering he hadn't played 2B in an age and so his glovework's a question mark, but improvement and he didn't cost anything substantial. And the fact he's a rental means that we don't need to worry about what to do with him next year when Zim comes back.

What bugs me most about this is that it doesn't do what it needs to do, which is "replace Ryan Zimmerman." Unless Cabrera has a flashback to 2011-12 with the bat, he's not going to be what we need, and it's a pretty strong indication that nothing else is coming in that area.

Matt said...

Dezo -- I think the problem is that there's no way to replace Zim. Realistically, who would you get?

John C. said...

The one guarantee for any move Rizzo makes today is that he will get roasted for it, regarded as an incompetent buffoon, etc. Heck, it's already started here with the Walters-for-Cabrera trade.

Which I like, btw. Is there risk? Sure - Walters could become a switch hitting Jeff Kent, I suppose. But this is clearly a valuing the present over the future trade that Harper has said Rizzo would never make.

Cabrera, like Espinosa, is a switch hitter. Unlike Espinosa, Cabrera does not have dramatic R/L splits. But he does (both this season and for his career) hit RHP slightly better than LHP. I expect a platoon, with Espinosa starting against LHP and Cabrera against RHP. The effect should be to raise the OPS produced from 2b against RHP by 150+ points.

To get that the Nats trade in their 2011 Jason Marquis rental trade into a 2014 rental trade. Hopefully that works better for the Nats than it did for the Diamondbacks - Marquis started three games, got lit up to the tune of a 9.53 ERA, and got injured.

Jay said...

Also, heard that cleveland is paying all of cabrera's salary this year. Evidently they think Walters IS the next Jeff Kent. I agree that it is very unlikely. Would you platoon or just put Espinosa back on the bench?

DezoPenguin said...

Matt -- Yeah, actually plugging the hole Zim's injury left isn't easy, and a Cabrera/Espinosa platoon will at least provide improvement at a position of grave suckage during a pennant race. I'm just disappointed that it's the A's pulling off all the stunning moves and not us. Realistically, though, this isn't a bad move, especially with Cleveland paying Cabrera's entire contract as is now being reported.

I'd say...platoon over just playing Cabrera, for two reasons. One is, Espi's defense is just better, so we might as well have it out there when we can, and two is, Espi's going to be on the team next year while Cabrera walks, so if chemistry is a factor I'd rather not park him outright.

Froggy said...

IMO Harper's first step is often wrong and takes mediocre lines to flyballs. He barely makes up for being almost out of position by having a canon for an arm. Really not sure why there are so many Span haters out there when he truly is one of the top 3-4 CF defensively in MLB. Therefore trading Span would be stupid and thinking Harper would play CF as well is stupider. Which is why I wouldn't be too surprised if it Rizzo did so.

Bigger issue is how the potential for the house of cards to come crashing down if we have one more injury to a Werth, ALR or Ramos. Which is quite likely.

I tend to agree with John C, and think the Walter for Cabrera deal is a wash. The bigger issue is how do you replace Zim's offense.

DezoPenguin said...

...I'm now starting to wonder if we could have gotten David Price for Walters and Roark, seeing as how Tampa just gave him away for Drew "He Ain't Doug Fister" Smyly and Nick "I have no idea why he's so highly regarded as a prospect" Franklin.

NotBobby said...

ESPN says Nats get Asdrubal Cabrera in exchange for Zack Walters. I like it.

Matt said...

The more I think about it, the more I like the Walters-Cabrera deal. I remember a few weeks(?) back, noise about the Nats wanting to acquire a SS of the future. So, sounds like Rizzo & co. are pretty sure Walters isn't a future star player.

Obviously Cleveland must think the opposite (although since they are smaller market they also probably get more value out of a cost-controlled above replacement level SS), but I think Rizzo & co. have a pretty good track record on this sort of thing. And if so, the Nats did pretty well to get an upgrade without hurting the future too much.

JWLumley said...

The Yankees got Prado? Seriously Riz? Prado would have been an upgrade. Cabrera is basically deck chairs.

Jay said...

Cleveland could also be paying all of his salary just to clear a spot for the SS Lindert in minors that made Cabrera expendable. May not be just bc of Walters.

MW says Cabrera plays majority of time. Espinosa back to bench.

I think this is a good thing. Saw on ESPN that Nats 2b were 24th in BA at .231, 22nd OPS at .656, 30th in K rate at 27.2%, and 27th in walk rate at 4.8%. It can't get worse. That is with Rendon playing there for about a 3-4 weeks of the season. Wow. Espinosa has to go back to bench. There is no way he can be considered an everyday player or even a platoon player at this point.

JWLumley said...

@Dezo Seriously. Maybe AJ Cole alone gets it done. What were the Rays thinking? Why weren't the Nats in on Price. I'd think Souza and Cole would have been equal and perhaps better than what they got and that would have been a steal for the Nats.

Kenny B. said...

I like the Cabrera deal for the reasons stated by others here. 2B has been a real hole ever since Espinosa broke down for reasons that are not clear to anyone. This improves that hole. Plus, I think I recall that Cabrera used to put up really good numbers a few years ago, so there's some potential upside there. It's not impossible that something in the Nats clubhouse could light a spark and he goes back to his old form. And he doesn't need that to happen to add value to the Nats. That would be a bonus.

I think his value over Walters is that he's much more of a known commodity. So, it's not what I would call an "all-in" move, but it's definitely a "win now" move, which is a good thing.

Really would have loved to see the move of Matt Williams to another team though, for just about anything. And I think the player-manager idea is awesome. Pair that with the addition of a throwback alternate uni, and get Ohlendorf on the mound. We'll all feel so old school.

Kenny B. said...

Also, Charlie & Dave will enjoy spelling Asdrubal on the air.

As a side note, I love Charlie & Dave. Significantly better than Bob and F.P.

Bjd1207 said...

@JW - I think the rest of Prado's contract was what hamstrung us on him. I'd prefer us rent a 2b for the remainder of this season and plan for the future in the offseason (though can definitely see the other side, set up your infield for 2015-2016 as Rendon, Desi, Prado, Zim)

@JW/Desi - Yea Price went surprisingly cheap. Don't know that teams would value Roark as much as Smyly, but certainly seems like he was attainable with a package of players this board has said they'd be OK to part with (Walters, Cole, anybody not named Giolito)

JWLumley said...

@Froggy Oh yeah, we'll you're the stupider.....stupid. Shut up Richard. Great argument rooted in nothing but your opinion that Harper gets bad jumps and takes bad routes, which is substantiated by nothing as well. All of the defensive metrics that measure those two very things indicate that he takes good routes, gets good jumps and has good range. Maybe he does get bad jumps and takes bad routes, but makes up for it with elite speed, whatever the reason, he has good range and defensive metrics are at least passable at measuring that. Span has a below average arm, isn't terribly accurate and doesn't get rid of the ball quickly enough to compensate for it.

Froggy said...

@Jumley, bad mood today? Richard?really?

ANyway, I base my opinion on what I see AT the game not what is shown on tv. So far 20-25 games at the park, and every game except two on MASN. And I have yet to see a ball hit over Span's head unless it's going yard. Harper on the other hand...

Like I said though, Bryce makes up for his conservative routes with his arm.

Super Homer said...

I like it! Ditto to what someone else said above about Walters not being the future option at SS. It could indicate that Rizzo knows he is going to resign Desmond. Fingers crossed at least.

Anagramsci said...

I'd rather have Walters than Asdrubal. That was not a good trade.

Kenny B. said...

And of course as a kind of hilarious irony, we're in the 4th inning of this Phillies game and Espinosa is the only Nat with a hit.

Donald said...

Does anyone talk to Espinosa about his approach before he comes to the plate?
Coach: So Danny, bases are loaded and the pitchers wild, what are you thinking?
Danny: I'm gonna ambush him on the first pitch.
Coach: um...
Or
Coach: so Danny, we are down by four with two on, what are you thinking?
Danny: I'm gonna try to lay down a bunt.
Coach: um...

Zimmerman11 said...

Just happy that David Price didnt wind up in ATL!

blovy8 said...

Definitely head-scratchers from other teams in terms of how they value guys. After hearing so much about the fat price for Price, that seems like a great deal for the Tigers. You have to figure the Rays like something about Smyly that the rest of us don't see beyond his salary.

The conventional wisdom is the bushers like Souza, Walters, Moore, etc. don't do so well unless they get a string of starts to get comfortable against big league breaking stuff, so it makes sense to only bring up Souza if an OF gets injured. Now, I agree that Williams would likely go with the McLouth/Hairston platoon, but we can hope the guy gets a couple of starts and forces his hand were Werth to go down.