The Nats did something! It was exactly what was expected but still it's something to talk about.
They picked up Span's option. Completely makes sense. His defense fits the role the Nats need most in center and he just put up a good offensive year. He's worth 9 million typically and if he can put up those offensive numbers again he's a bargain. Could they deal him? Sure but it's hard to see how they do that and make the team better in 2015.
They didn't pick up Soriano's option. While decent Soriano had lost his closer role and was due to make 14 million next year. That's a hefty chunk of change that doesn't have to go to someone who'd likely be pencilled in as the 7th inning guy next year. He's getting old, losing speed, and his 2nd half ERA is alarming (6.48). He's still probably worth kicking the tires on for someone with a weak pen and an open closer role but that ain't the Nats.
They didn't pick up LaRoche's option. As we discussed they had no place for him and 15 million is a lot of money for a pinch hitter. Given that LaRoche has put together two very good offensive years in three seasons someone will sign him to a 2-3 year deal. The Nats could have gambled, picked up the option, with the expectation that Adam would decline and they'd get that draft compensation when another team signed him. But that would have been ruthless, potentially effecting future FA signings, and reckless, potentially setting up LaRoche taking the extension and effecting some signing plans. Better to let him walk.
Now on with the review show...
Rendon to 2nd, sign Sandoval! - We covered this a little in the 2nd base stuff but to go over it again: Rendon can play 2nd. There are a lot of decent 3rd base options. There aren't a lot of decent 2nd base options. Therefore, move him back and get a 3rd baseman. It's a plan. You might not like it but it exists. Who's the best trade possibility (assuming availability)? For one year - Beltre. For multiple years... Longoria? Harder to tell who is available in this group. Who's the best FA? Hanley Ramirez.
Then why go for Sandoval? Well if you can look past the idea that he's big in big spots (possible but hard to prove and thus hard to base a contract on) he has one very big advantage. He's the youngest. Yep, even younger than Longoria (though less than a year). Where you fall depends on what you are looking for. If you are maximizing for 2015 only, it would be hard to beat trading for Beltre. If you want to extend the window without killing the future, signing Sandoval makes some sense because it costs you only a draft pick not a up-and-comer who may be looked on to help in 2016 or 17. Really there's a ton of fluidity in this plan.
Rendon to 2nd, Souza plays 3b! - To quote commenter John C. "he made 92 errors and turned only 23 DPs in 249 games.
That's a rate of about 60 errors per 162 games! Yuck. His career
fielding percentage at 3b is .866. That means more than one of every
eight balls hit at him resulted in an error." This is not an option.
If you move Rendon to 2nd, It's going to be expensive to get a FA. - Yes. For example Headley, probably the 3rd best FA out there whose value lies mainly with his glove, should get something like 4/48.
Then it's cheaper to get Cabrera back to play 2nd - Yep. But that's because he really isn't good.
What about Panik? - Well if he's available and you want to deal for him (to play 2nd) he's worth a decent prospect because he fields well and just hit over .300 in half a season. But it's going to be a better propsect, likely, then he's really worth, as he was recently scuttling a bit in the minors before this year. You're buying high here. There is a big question of whether he hits .260-.280 or .280-.300. Since his value is tied up completely in singles that difference is everything. If you really like him as a super sub, not a starter, I'd wait a year and try to see if the price drops. If you want him to start - it's a dice roll but one you can make this year that you couldn't next if he hits around .300 again.
Donaldson? Why are the A's trading him now?
Encarnacion? You're crazy! He can't play third! - Yeah, you're probably right. I was just throwing things out there! And remember he's really my 1B OTB plan.
Ain't broke, don't fix - That's a fair view.
Carlos Gomez for Giolito? LOVE IT. MAKE IT HAPPEN - so many people liked this I think I'm going to ask a Brewers guy what their take would be. If one side likes it so much it's gotta be lopsidedly wrong, right?
Plus we don't need him if we sign ZNN and Fister! - That's right! Also if we sign Scherzer! And Lester! and Cueto next year! And Price! Not my money! I don't mean to joke - it's a viable option becoming a Top 3 payroll club BUT "Topped Out" makes me think that isn't going to happen.
Can Zimm move back to left? They did it this year! - Probably not. Moving him to LF opens up 3 questions (Zimm in LF, Zimm's arm in LF, Werth fielding grounders) and one non-question (with Span out the defense gets much worse). The answers to the questions are likely - better than Werth in RF, huge problem, should adjust - and it would likely not keep the Nats out of the playoffs for 2015, but it's more risk for not much more reward. Contenders need less variability, not more. They did do it in a crucial month but they also gave up on it when 1st place still wasn't given.
What about this Mookie Betts thing? - So non-reputable sources are basically click-baiting the idea the Red Sox could trade for Bryce. Mookie Betts and their top pitching prospect Henry Owens would be the return. It doesn't make sense. Thanks to his extremely young age of entry in to the majors, Bryce is still about potential. Think about this way. Take Bryce's first few years. Ask a Red Sox fan if they'd take that offense from Betts and they'd do it in a heartbeat. Ask a Nats fan what they think about it for Bryce and they are disappointed. Betts & Owens is slightly better than Cole & Taylor as a package. You'd (hopefully) not consider for a second Cole and Taylor for Bryce so Betts & Owens should take only a cursory review before rejection. Remember - Betts might look good and Owens might be a Top 20 level propect, but Bryce right now would still likely be #1. He's younger than 3 of the Top 10 OF prospects. Josh Bell is older, put up a worse line than Bryce this year while playing in the EASTERN league, and is still #3. These guys may be what Bryce is at least.
Now could the Sox put together a deal that the Nats should take? Sure. Betts and Swinhart and Owens would make me think - you are getting two very good position prospects that the Nats are one more Ramos injury from needing and a guy that would slot in at the Nats #2 pitching prospect. (Sox fans are probably laughing at this deal - but remember fans ALWAYS overestimate their own prospects. They (meaning any fans of any team) see these guys only for what they best case could be, not what they'll likely be) But I doubt the Red Sox would do it (losing multiple positional best prospects while trying to rebuild doesn't fit with how I see that team), nor does it fit a Nats team trying to win now. Maybe if the Nats were going to jettison Fister, ZNN and Desmond and go all in for a Giolito led squad in 2018...