Nationals Baseball: Maybe something? Maybe

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Maybe something? Maybe

Ladson says Murphy will take his physical today, maybe have a presser tomorrow.  I generally wait for the Post to confirm to really believe it but seems plausible enough. At the same time Heyman is back to tell us the Nats are looking to trade for a catcher. Does that still fit with the Harper Conspiracy That's Not Really A Conspiracy Theory More Like Just Boring Account Balancing Theory? That depends on the target.

For the most part catchers do not make a lot of money in baseball. Even Jon LuCroy is looking at a mere 4 million dollar payday in 2016 (before cashing in in FA presumably). So say the Nats bring in a Derek Norris type (should make around 3 mill this year) and pawn off Storen along with the requisite prospects. That would fit the bill of dumping salary to bring in Murphy.  Even if they go a little higher (say Devin Mesoraco territory of 5+ million) if you presume Ramos is part of the deal that's a few million leaving as well.

Really the only way this doesn't work is if somehow the Nats are bringing in Russel Martin or the trade for whoever didn't include Storen and/or Ramos. THAT would be something that should signal that the 2015 payroll was fine and is likely to be roughly repeated.

Why would the Nats go after a catcher? We talked earlier about how Ramos was a good enough defender, and just young enough and cheap enough, that you probably ride him out for 2016. But it is very unlike Rizzo / Lerners to not have a sense of the potential budget for an upcoming year. If the Nats do ride it out with Ramos, they are essentially saying they will delve into the FA market next year for a catcher. They will simply have to because there will be no starter available to them.  Jose Lobaton has drifted away from being a potential one-year stop gap and the catchers in the minors are a few years off if that. That presents an unknown and the Nats don't like unknowns.

What is the last FA signing that you felt "Oh the Nats need to get an X"?  Probably the first LaRoche signing right? They like to have a reasonable plan in place (say Espinosa at 2nd, Turner at SS; or before 2015 Roark as the 5th starter) and then build on that if necessary. Right now they have no reasonable plan for catcher in 2017 and no reason to think they will have one by the end of the year. They have a plan in place to replace Strasburg (Giolito) and I'm sure they think they can find someone to replace Papelbon/Storen (if either are still here - Kelley or Rivero are probably the two in their minds right now), but Ramos? Nothing. So the way the Nats are run they need to bring in someone they feel could start in 2017 for no reason other than a sense of cost certainty.

We're going to have a fun time soon seeing some signing break the dam that's holding back this glut of FA. Let's see how the Nats position themselves before then. 


blovy8 said...

Mesoraco is interesting because he's got a backloaded deal that goes to 2018, and it's a gamble after his hip problem and Rendonesque recovery pattern.

We can expect Lucroy to cost tons of future value and really just kicks the can one year further even if you believe he'll be better than last year's version. The Norris idea makes some sense, but he's not really expensive at all yet and seems like a guy that would help the Padres screw Hedges for service time. I'd bet they hold him until they see what Bethancourt can do. Maybe there's a chance Wieters will be out there next offseason to overpay for. Lobaton's 3M option in 2017 is the scary hedge against nothing better turning up, and you're right that it wouldn't be wise to expect Kieboom or Severino to be ready if they ever even are.

They actually don't have an obvious closer option for 2017, because Rivero has to even do it. It will be interesting to see if gets the spare closing opportunities if Storen is gone. If they were willing to pay Soriano-ish prices in the past, they should expect to be able to find a closer easier than a catcher.

The Royals made a nice deal, who says Gordon wasn't going to give his home team a discount?

Harper said...

LuCroy would have to be a sign and extend situation which is tough coming off of last year (but might be an affordable gamble and might be willing to bite on the likely short extension Nats might go for). I think Norris is available but they are looking for something special seeing the C market which is blech.

Closer is an issue - I think you can try to find one, much like you can try to develop a back of the rotation starter from unknowns, but they would be better off (or at least more consistent) with having something in hand already. Still I'm not sure they want that. I see Kelley's deal setting up him and Rivero 8th/9th in some order for 2017+.

I don't know if he gave a discount or if the market is depressed for not top-level talent. Could have been tired of teams playing him off Upton, but surely someone had a better deal out there, right?

John C. said...

I think the draft pick compensation likely hurt Gordon the way that it hurt Murphy. Neither player is a top tier free agent, and it seems that the impact of accepting the QO is that the team signing the player recouped the value of the draft choice by paying less in the deal. In Gordon's case, the Royals were able to take advantage indirectly because they are bidding against teams whose offers were likely curbed by the impact of the QO.

The QO impact (suppressing salaries) is why I think it's likely that this will be a bone of contention in the next CBA negotiations.

blovy8 said...

Well, it may be apples and oranges, but Gordon's a lot better than Jeff Samardzija and took a year less than him at the same rate. If you believe some of the projections, then 72M is about what he's worth for three years. What it probably really means that 8 million per WAR is a lousy estimate of free agent value.

Harper said...

John C - agree. What do you think they do? Move to 2nd pick being lost? Only add compensation with no loss? I feel we're going through a cost control revolution that is mostly taking care of competitive balance worries.

Blovy8 - SP will always get more since you will bump out the 5th best option. The improvement on a signing can be huge. Gordon was also hurt by the myraid of OF options out there. Murphy/Zobrist pretty much hit marks bc MI wasn't deep. Someone in OF is getting screwed

blovy8 said...

I'm not buying that "always" assumption, as I suspect teams generally do not allocate 90 million for five years for their fifth starter. The assumption has to be that he is at least in the argument for 3rd best which to me correlates with an OF pretty well. Even if this year's market is proving more lucrative for relief pitchers than in the past, there were a ton of viable starting options when he Shark signed, which would tend to depress his value. Hell, there still ARE viable options for less - the guy gave up 5 runs a game last year, he's not all that different than Ian Kennedy except maybe homers. SF would have helped with that too. Dingers didn't get Heyward paid. Maybe age matters more than anything else.

John C. was spot on with the DFAs.

Froggy said...

Span signs with the Giants, so what number compensation pick do the Nats get?

Anonymous said...

They didn't make a qualifying offer to Span.

Froggy said...

Oops that's right.