Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Lesspedes

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Quickie - Lesspedes

Nats didn't get Cespedes. He signed a deal with the new hotness - an opt out. For Yoenis it was after a year. You might think the money would have swayed him - the Nats had to have been offering more for 5 than the Mets gave for 3, but as some noted, given the back-loaded and deferred money the Nats put in there the "real" value of the contracts were probably very close. Add in the opt-out and the Mets deal just might top it. (Plus I do think he wanted to stay in NY - he had a very good experience there)

What does this do? It makes the Nats worse than they could have been, yes, but not all that much worse. Cespedes, unless he's year long a player like he was to end 2015, is not a difference maker by himself. He's a great piece. Revere is an ok one. The Nats should be fine.

Really though it makes the Mets better and probably keeps them ahead of the Nats in terms of favorites for the East. Losing Cespedes would have hurt. Losing Cespedes to the Nats would have put them behind the eight ball. They avoided that scenario. It doesn't mean anything for sure but it's preferable to the alternative that was staring them in the face. 

Are the Nats not a desirable location? I think they are fine. Outside of the draw of Madden it's still about money and the Nats are offering fair deals, not great ones. That's smart business but more often than not someone will offer a deal that's great for the player and bad for the team so the Nats lose out. You think they would have learned from Werth and Scherzer, both of who they overpaid, but I guess not. 

Still time for stuff to happen. 

Quick enough for you? 

25 comments:

Rob Evans said...

I'm pessimistic about next year. SP took a step back, the BP is a question mark and the offense is meh. I was hoping they would land Cespedes to at least help with one of those problems.

notBobby said...

I am happy that Cespedes landed elsewhere - even if it was the Mets. I believe Rizzo is looking at all of the free agents that are really worth looking at. He is making market offers, but as Harper said, others are topping him. The team looks fine without Cespedes. I believe Rizzo is going about his business hoping to make the Nats something like the Cards, in contention every year, rather than maxing out on a few years and then needing to rebuild. I would much rather be good every year than great a couple years and then poor a few years.

I also think some of Rizzo's thinking is that he wants to make sure teams pay market prices. He will offer market or just below market to make sure the Mets, Cubs, et al do not get great deals.

blovy8 said...

If the Nats' offer had if so much money deferred though, it opens up a more straightforward deal from another team. I think there's a bargain-hunting aspect to this. Maybe the Mets were the only ones willing to do 25 a year, but it's funny that other teams never made the news with offers since he's the last big hitter. Cespedes got his 25 million a year, and depending on next year can probably still make that for more years, however, for a guy who wants to play in NY, the opt out only includes negotiating with the Yankees, right?

To an extent, I agree with Rob, Gio , Ross, and Roark as an acceptable postseason number 3 seem a little light, or at least there
should be more competition for that spot. and Ross needs a pitch to get lefties out with, so in a similar way as the club seeming to be happy to send Taylor down to improve, sending Ross down and having signed another starter probably would have been a more obvious improvement.

Natty dread said...

Not really a disaster. Last year's under-performances gave the Nats a healthy dose of reality. They will not be front-runners. Good. They cannot afford to give games away. Fine. Overpaying Cespedes is risky.

Even without Cespedes, the outfield is better than 2015. I'm glad to see Desmond leave the infield. His mistakes were costly and he was a K machine. Other teams aren't valuing him either, given that he is still a free agent coming into Feb. With a return to form from Zimmerman, we will be better at every infield position.

Though the loss Zimmermann hurt the rotation, Scherzer and Strasberg are both top ten in NL pitching.

Rizzo isn't done. I expect another move.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything to suggest that this off-season represents a different operating mode by the Lerner's. Specifically that they avoided doing any midseason deals unless it could be done without cash. Maybe the thought is that this team is good enough for opening day and we will go from there. Harper? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Lol It's funny how none of you realize the Nats are a house of cards and the window is closing. The days of 75 wins are about to return.

Anagramsci said...

Less(pedes) is (Tyler) Moore, unfortunately...

JE34 said...

The Nats pretty much have to focus on outperforming the Mets in order to get into the anything-can-happen world of the postseason in 2016... which was half the benefit of the pursuit of Cespedes. As it stands right now, the Nats starting pitching is worse than the Mets in terms of rotation depth...and the Mets offense appears to be substantially more potent, on paper. (Of course, we saw first hand what can happen to the odds-on-favorite.)

You'd think Rizzo would be looking for one more starter to relieve what will be substantial pressure on Ross and Roark, and as insurance against further Gio decline. I view a reliance on Ross and Roark as walking a tightrope without a net.

sirc said...

JE34-

How is the "Mets offense appears to be substantially more potent?"

Also, more potent than the 2015 Mets, or more potent than the 2016 Nats?

blovy8 said...

I think Span is better than Revere by a significant margin. But the difference would figure to be some help from Werth not stinking so much and den Dekker's power perhaps being sustainable. I'm at the point where I'd think about signing Fister if he'd take one year, but maybe Ross has a good enough slider to be fine. If the Nats are looking at rehabs, why mess with Arroyo as is rumored? Cliff Lee is a much better target.

Jay said...

I wonder if the MASN thing has finally started to bite the Nats in the rear end. All of this deferred money. I think the one common thread from all the free agents turning down the Nats is supposedly fair market deals but with likely lots deferred. I saw one article stating Daniel Murphy is making $8 million next year. Great for the Nats, but not so much for him.

I think this year is going to be a big step back. I'm figuring best case is low to mid-80s in the win column. I'll admit that is bc I don't think the Nats stay healthy all year. I worry Strasburg, Werth, Rendon, and Zimmerman are likely to spend some time on the DL. If that happens, this team has no depth and will likely struggle.

Hopefully Rizzo has another move up his sleeve, but it is awful late in the offseason to hope for that. I will also agree that I don't think Cespedes ever had any thought of coming to DC. Why?? Not sure I have a good answer for that.

Josh Higham said...

I guess the SP question is whether you trust Roark to be as good as he was in 2014. If yes, then Ross as 5th is the only big question mark. If you think Roark is a crapshoot (which you probably should), then pushing Ross to AAA, at least for a bit is probably the right thing to do, especially if you can get Lee on an incentive-heavy contract. Rizzo won't pay a penny above market value for him, and I imagine Lee is looking for more money than the market will say he's worth.

All I know is, I miss ZNN already.

Zimmerman11 said...

I don't know how you can expect the Mets lineup to be better than the Nats' lineup next season... the rotation, yes. The lineup? No... Nats were half a run better last year w/ all the injuries... plus Ian sucked.


Of course, so long as the mets average 4 runs per game, they'll probably win 90+ with that pitching staff.

Jay said...

Anyone read the article on espn about how it seems no one wants to play in DC? Is this Rizzo or Lerner or what? I'm a little spooked at this point worrying that this could be true.

John C. said...

The meme of #toxicclubhouse has now reached the stage where it is now self-referencing - it's being talked about so it must be valid!

As I've said at length elsewhere, whatever the state of the Nats' clubhouse, the only thing that's been established is that most players are unwilling to take a less valuable offer from the Nationals when they can get a better deal elsewhere. As Garfield would say, big, fat, hairy deal.

Weirdly, despite all of Jay's doom and gloom, Fangraphs think that the Nationals are better than the Mets. I'm not certain I'd go that far; I'm closer to where Las Vegas sees the division (Mets 14/1 to win the WS; Nationals 15/1) - but it does seem to indicate that the gambling community and the analytics community aren't quite as gloomy as Jay.

Anonymous said...

We will take the NL East by Storm!!!!

Fries said...

Rizzo has another move left, but I think it's going to come later into spring training. He's going to test the waters with what he's got, wait for an injury to occur (either on this team or another team) and then make a multiplayer deal. If all goes well in spring training, then he holds onto the cash to make a midseason move.

As underwhelming as this offseason has felt, I really do think Rizzo is being strategic.

Kenny B. said...

Yeah, I still believe that ownership and Rizzo are trying to keep offseason costs low to see if they can hang around until the deadline, and then maybe, finally, add money in-season by bringing in somebody to fill in a hole. And I think it makes sense. Since health is such a question mark for the team, it makes sense to see how well your guys are going to hold up. If it's May/June, and you're looking at missing a lot of time from Werth, Zim, Rendon, Strasburg, and to a lesser extent Ramos, along with any number of other guys who haven't presented their injury risks yet, then you're probably already thinking about how to build for 2017. If, by some miracle, the injury gods are generous, and you've only lost a little bit of time from that group, everyone is playing more to expectations, Bryce is back, and the Mets are the ones with the wheels falling off, you have a better idea in the middle of the season where your holes are and moves can be a little smarter.

Keep in mind, the Nationals are likely to get better by doing nothing, given the level of underperformance last year. Are they better than the Mets? I don't know, but it's close enough that the right move later in the season could put the Nats over the top. Last year we had the NL MVP and a pitcher who threw two no hitters, which tells you a lot about how bad the rest of the team was. That level of underperformance is likely not sustainable. I feel like too many people in these comments have established 2015 as the team's ceiling, and are judging the offseason moves based on that assumption.

Anonymous said...

A few notes for the doom and gloom crowd.

First, as others have noted, the projection systems have the Nats and the Mets neck and neck as currently constructed. What's interesting is that Zips - one of the most reliable - likes the Nats pitchers a lot better than the Mets pitchers. Scherzer is projected for 6 WAR, Strasburg for 5, and the Mets trio for 4 each. One may question the Strasburg projection, but I think there's decent reason to not be so bullish on Harvey, deGrom, and Syndergaard (which is why they're each projected for good-but-not-great totals). All three have fairly short track records and each threw a ton of innings last year. Both Harvey and deGrom are TJ survivors. There's good reason to believe they won't be healthy this year. And Zips really likes the Nats bullpen.

Second, as others have noted, the Nats bats have much more bounceback potential. Zim, Werth, and Rendon were all injured and bad last year. There may be some injury and some bad in this group in 2016, but I don't think all three will be injured and bad.

Third, the Nats have better reinforcements on the way. Syndergaard was a top pitching prospect, but never the Best Pitching Prospect in Baseball, like Giolito currently is. The Nats have shown that once a guy hits AA, he can be promoted right away (e.g., Karns, Ross). I predict that Giolito will be in extended spring training for the better part of the first half of the season to save some of his innings for MLB in September. He could provide the same boost to the 2016 Nats that Syndergaard provided to the 2015 Mets. And, once his service clock issues have been dealt with, Trea Turner can replace Espinosa at SS if the latter isn't hitting. These are impact players. The Mets promoted theirs last year.

Fourth, the Nats have better high-end position players. Harper projects to be worth as much as the Mets' two best position players combined. And I think Rendon is much more likely to repeat his 2014 than Cespedes is to repeat his 2015. The Mets are pretty good across the board, but they have no player to carry the team unless 2015 Cespedes is the new normal.

JW said...

I don't think the acquisition situation is as dire as some people are making it out to be. Zobrist was overpaid by the Cubs and had a previous relationship with the manager. Cespedes most likely wanted the opt-out after one year more than anything else. He (and his advisors) most likely believes that another year like the second half of 2015 would boost his value significantly. Upton was overpaid by the Tigers. O'Day wanted the fourth year. Phillips wanted more money (creating an overpay). The Nats already have two-three overpays on the roster already (Werth, Zimm and Max) -- do they really need another one? The Heyward one is the only one that really hurts.

The Nats problem has been one of perception, starting back with the whole Bud Black/Dusty Baker debacle. Coming off a disappointing year, publicly missing out on players in the offseason just creates an impression that things are not right. I just don't see that as being supported by the facts.

The Nats biggest holes are really catcher and SP at this point, but the SP issue is muddled a bit by the fact that you don't know exactly what Ross, Roark and eventually Giolito are going to give you. Personally, I am really low on Roark but I can understand why the Nats want to give him a chance to succeed. The catcher situation....glad it's not my job to worry about it.

KW said...

Frankly, I'm glad that most of the deals the Nats were rumored to be a part of fell through, as most just weren't good fits for what they actually needed. Zobrist would have been nice to have, but Murphy came much cheaper (and younger). And the Mets will miss him much more than Met fans think. He was the guy driving the bus in the playoffs.

I wanted a power bat, but I could never wrap my head around all the whiffs by both Cespedes and Upton, neither of whom should play CF, either. Heyward didn't have the power the Nats needed, certainly not $200M of it. I do like that the Nats seem to be paying more attention to contact guys, although they'll still have Espy out there, and perhaps MAT for 400 ABs as well unless they come up with another OF.

We'll see. The Nats didn't panic and didn't overpay because they didn't need to. Baker is guaranteed to improve the environment, and Maddux will bring new eyes to tweaking the pitching staff. I'd love a catcher upgrade, but again, don't overpay. The Nats have a good hand. They just have to stay healthy and play it right.

Zimmerman11 said...

From MLBTR:

The Nationals have filed an interesting affidavit in their litigation against the Orioles (via MASN) relating to the arbitration on the value of their television rights fees, as James Wagner of the Washington Post notes. Seeking to help convince the judge to order the O’s back to a league-run arbitration panel, Washington owner Ed Cohen said of the lack of market-rate revenue: “[W]ithout this added and steady income, the Nationals cannot bring full economic confidence to investments in multi-year player contracts to keep up with the fierce competition for top players — especially when such control over finances is in the hands of a neighboring club.” It’s interesting to see some insight, however vague, into the team’s thinking on the matter, although it’s hard to know just how much impact there’s been in actuality on the team’s willingness and ability to offer contracts to free agents.

So, all these "failed" contract offerings were just posturing by the Lerners, knowing the deals would get turned down... in order to curry favor with an appellate court judge in the MASN case. MLBTR also reports via Peter Gammons that the present value of the 110M dollar offer to Cespedes was 77M when the 15 year payment term is accounted for.

BUT if the Lerners expect us to believe they're not making tons of money owning the Nats, they should have to open up the books and show us...

Zimmerman11 said...

The Orioles re-signing O'Day is an interesting twist in the case. The Nats are going to claim the O's used an unfair advantage, and the Nats' offer was suppressed by the rights fees dispute.

What a fantastic mess Selig made for us. Best commissioner EVER!!!

Bjd1207 said...

I don't think the Lerners have to show that they're not making money, or lacking it in any substantial way. They just have to show that the O's holding things up in arbitration and court is depressing their finances at all, like you said in the O'Day case. That seems to be a pretty easy sell right?

Ryan said...

Bronson Arroyo is pretty much the kind of pitcher we were talking about in previous comment threads. He's not exciting, but he should be able to start some games if needed.