Nationals Baseball: Actual baseball news - and review of 3B and OF

Friday, October 31, 2014

Actual baseball news - and review of 3B and OF

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...


JWLumley said...

The Nats need to get better, but without a clear cut path I'm actually concerned they could do something silly. Personally, I'd still move Strasburg if the haul were big enough and re-sign Fister and NN. I just don't believe in him being able to harness his fastball command over the long run. In stretches, sure, over a season, nothing would indicate he can. If, and it's a big if, the Nats were willing to do that. They might be able to get someone like Donaldson or Longoria.

With that being said, the current market inefficiency is in veterans over 30. They're undervalued because teams don't want to risk catching their decline or having them just be injured throughout their contract. They'd rather risk running a 22 year old out there who may or may not work out. The other market inefficiency is prospects, who are way overvalued currently. So deal some prospects like Cole for someone who's 30, but very good. No one comes to mind, but I'm sure there are players available that we don't know are available.

Mark Twain said...

My idea is Sandoval first choice. Ramirez second choice, but only a one year deal for Ramirez. And leave the outfield alone.unless it's the Gomez trade. Also LEAVE SOUZA IN THE OUTFIELD!
One good idea that won't happen is sign scherzer and cueto.

Anonymous said...

Harper, what would it cost to get a guy like Nolan Arenado? Young 3B with a good glove, no?

JWLumley said...

Here's an idea for 2B, Jed Lowry. He's not the best defensive SS, but he can hit and if Desmond leaves he's passable at SS if he can stay healthy.

JWLumley said...

@Anon I know you asked Harper, but my guess is that someone like Arenado the price is too high because his bat is inflated by Coors Field, but the Rockies won't see it that way. Even with the inflation he's not that great. Only a .314 wOBA away from Coors Field. I'd say you're probably looking at a package centered around Cole.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, just throwing out ideas and I don't like any of them..

Mark twain said...

Harper why don't we do a one year gamble with rickie weeks?

Harper said...

JW - Do they? Moving Strasburg would be very interesting. He's worth a lot but the Nats wouldn't be looking for prospects so it's hard to match him up then. Donaldson or Longoria... I'd do the deal if I were OAK or TB but if I were the Nats... hmm.

Agree on the market inefficiency. The league is being run like an un-fun fantasy keeper league. Everyone is hoarding their young prospects in the hopes of building a dynasty rather than trying to win annually. Kenny Williams basically kept the White Sox insteresting for moderate payrolls by getting vets

Problem with guys over 30 is that they tend to be moving toward corner OF and 1B which the Nats are overstocked with. Looking at other positions 2b, ss, 3b, c... Kinsler and Zobrist jump out. Seriously its a sing.

MT - Don't worry Souza at 3B is a fan invention. Team tried and gave up on it long ago.

Cueto maybe - Scherzer no. Not that he isn't good but he's a FB guy and this team is built for GB guys. He'd be less good here.

Mark twain said...

I like the jed lowrie idea for a year or two.

Harper said...

Anon - I'd say a bigger package than JW thinks. I assume since he isn't a FA until after 2019 and he shown some hitting ability (splits are there but he's usable on the road) he's considered a cornerstone to the Rockies future. Nats would have to give up something similar

JW - Lowrie is like Hill, big gamble. But he also adds in the fun of "will he be healthy?" I don't like him but maybe if you can get him cheap.

MT - He can't field but as a one-year gamble? I'd be fine with it. Note - he played 121 games but was a total part-timer last year.

Mark Twain said...

We can pay Weeks for one year see if he hits, and use Espinosa as his defensive replacement. The problem is if Weeks doesn't hit we are then stuck with Espinosa at second and a terrible defender in weeks.

JWLumley said...

@Harper Obviously, it would be a bigger package, but my thought continues to be that Strasburg is a very good pitcher, but until he figures out a way to have better fastball command, he wont' be elite. If someone wants to give you a return for an elite starting pitcher, than take it so long as that deal fills the 2B/3B void. With the strike zone continuing to get bigger, pitching isn't the premium it once was. Replacing Strasburg would actually be easier than replacing a similar caliber offensive player.

Ollie said...

I have zero concept of where the Red Sox stand position-wise now, but would Zimmermann + one of Cole, Taylor, or Goodwin get Betts? I know Dave Cameron's setting his value at Strasburg, but that gives them a decent prospect plus the ability to exclusively work out a long-term deal with ZNN, since they're likely to bid on him if/when he hits the market anyways. Hate to see him go but if the Nats don't want to toss $160-180 over 5-6 years for a 28 y/o pitcher (understandable), that would make sense on their end at least.

DezoPenguin said...

As a New England resident, I can tell you that Red Sox fans seem to be obsessed with the idea that other teams are lining up to give them their best players in exchange for assorted flotsam and jetsam. Mind you, every fanbase likes to engage in a little rosterbation (indeed, here we are speculating about Gomez...who would be great, mind, but I think it'll be more than Giolito+Taylor to get him), but the Sox fans seem to have an especially bad case of it. Giancarlo Stanton, for example, is the current example, and now Harper's joining the list.

Harper/Span/Werth is a quality OF; if they hit like they did in 2014 it's an exceptional one. I can put up with those three plus McLouth and Souza without particular worry.

For 2B/3B, I support moving Rendon back to second and signing or trading for someone. Rizzo should explore everything--Beltre, Donaldson, Sandoval, Headley--and pounce when he has the chance.

Froggy said...

I agree, explore everything but trading ZNN is simply crazy talk. However, do you do it as part of a package for Giancarlo Stanton? That would mean facing ZNN what, 6-8 times a year and then forcing an issue of where do you play Werth, assuming Stanton plays RF. No, the only way getting Stanton would ever happen is if Bryce were part of a three team deal and going to a club in the junior circuit (Boston?).