Yes, these one-inning guys are the easiest to develop internally but as we saw last year, that's not the same as saying it's easy to develop them internally. Just compared to "good guy who can throw 6 innings" or "good guy that can field and hit around average at 2nd", "good guy who can get 3 outs" is a lower hurdle. You need to have 2, 3, 4 of these guys on your roster to start the season. That's baseball today. If you don't have them you have to go get them. I don't have any problems thinking that O' Day will be at least good through at least 3 years of the contract so I think it's a shame the Nats missed out on him. The apparent cause was they didn't want to go 4 years. I'm not sure I find that all that reasonable, you pay the value the market sets or you get something lesser, but it's their prerogative.
The Nats are not going to get Zobrist. Zobrist for four years is a definite gamble. He is already old (35 in May) so you'll be paying for years where history tells us decline will happen. He definitely will not be as good at the end of this contract than at the beginning. The only question is how fast and how hard. Players can continue to be effective full time players into their late 30s (just to point one out - Raul Ibanez) but it's not the usual situation. So most likely this is an abbreviated long term signing. In that I mean when you sign someone like Scherzer to a 7 year deal - you hope to get a couple years at prime to start, with diminishing results until the last couple where you'd be happy with anything not terrible. Zobrist's deal dismisses with the years of diminishing results. You hope to get a couple years as he is now and you accept the fact the last couple might give you nothing. It's a gamble totally based on the idea that he will make a difference in the next couple of years, but in sports 3 years is forever. Worrying about the back end of a deal only makes sense if there are several other back-ends already on hand to worry about AND your team won't spend money.
And that may actually be where the Nats are. Werth is often brought up here, but Werth's deal is over in 2 years. If you are having problems with Zobrist and Werth at the same time then something went terribly wrong. But the Nats do have Zimms contract, he can't stay healthy, and there is Scherzer's deal, which should be fine for at least a couple years but relying on a 30yo+ pitcher to be healthy three years down the road is a bad bet. Do the Nats need another dead weight contract potentially? Especially when they'll hopefully be trying to throw money at Bryce Harper to get him to stay. It's debatable. Really it does come down to Bryce. If you expect him to stay, or at least you expect to make a fair (re: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) offer to him, then Zobrist for four years is a bit iffy. If you don't expect him to stay, well then you have 3 years with the kid and you better make them count.
Zobrist himself is diminishing. He has great positional flexibility (which does NOT MAKE HIM A UTILITY GUY) but prefers to play 2nd. Last years stats say he had a bad year there. Even if that is just the annual variability of defensive statistics coming into play it is likely he is getting worse there and is better suited for corner outfield. Yet he wants 2nd and will likely play 2nd, at least in 2016. Offensively, he's been remarkably consistent and I wouldn't go against the idea that he'll be above average for the next two years. Now will he be healthy? That I can't answer but last year was his first year with injures this decade. That's worrisome for an old man in his mid 30s (trust me). Still he did play 126 games and if you can pencil him in for 140 for 2 years, above average offense and defense at 2nd that doesn't kill you? That's great for a team competing for it all. That's why I wanted Zobrist. I think the Nats are still in it and I'm not bullish about the future post 2016 right now. It has potential but is hazy. 2016 isn't hazy. The Nats should be good. Go after it.
Ok, but the title of this post said "So?" What is that about? Well I think it's bad the Nats didn't get O'Day and Zobrist. That's true. But this is a deep free agent class and there are always trades to be had. This offseason isn't over. It has barely begun. The Nats haven't done much... yet. But that doesn't mean they aren't going to do a lot.
- Before 2012 the Nats dealt for Gio, signed Chad Tracy and Edwin Jackson (who would both help that year).
- Before 2013 the Nats dealt for Denard Span, signed Dan Haren, Rafael Soriano and Ross Ohlendorf , re-signed Adam LaRoche.
- Before 2014 the Nats dealt for Doug Fister, Jose Lobaton, and Jerry Blevins. Signed Nate McLouth.
- Before 2015 the Nats dealt for Joe Ross, Yunel Escobar and signed Max Scherzer and Casey Janssen.