Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Top FAs

Monday, February 01, 2016

Monday Quickie - Top FAs

FAs? Can the Nats use any? Let's put money and draft picks aside for a second and look at the players left and the talent at hand. 

Ian Desmond 
How he'd help -  Fan Favorite, knows clubhouse. Could allow Danny Espinosa, who looked pretty bad toward the end of last season, to sit. Give Trea Turner as much time as he needed to get ready.
Why he wouldn't be wanted - Nats don't like guys who don't take their offers. Danny is just holding spot warm for Turner. Bad performance last year.

Dexter Fowler
How he'd help - Makes lineup better with RH OF power. Could platoon well with LH OF speed in Revere if you'd like. Adequate fielder. Takes walks. Can trade Taylor or Revere then.
Why he wouldn't be wanted - RH OF power is what Taylor brings, and he's a great fielder.  Line-up already RH heavy, that was part of the point of bringing in Revere.

Yovani Gallardo 
How'd he help -  established decent pitcher who has a reliable arm. Pushes Roark back into pen for depth. Covers injury concerns with Strasburg. When on heavy GB type who can really limit the long ball.
Why he wouldn't be wanted - Last year worst year by most fancy stats. K's are rapidly disappearing, more of a back of the rotation guy who may not make a big difference for this team.

Tyler Clippard
How he'd help - solid relief pitcher with rubber arm known to hold down 8th inning. Would allow Nats year to figure out which of Kelley, Rivero, et al were really in line for a move up.
Why he wouldn't be wanted -  Lots of innings on that arm and a slight slip in results in 2015. If they were fine getting rid of him before 2015 do they really want him back now?

David Freese 
How he'd help -  Good D, decent power, solid offensive player. Far, far better than Stephen Drew as bench player.
Why he wouldn't be wanted - Nats already have a 3B and he's not IF flexible. Not exactly reliable looking at health.

Austin Jackson
How he'd help -  Good D, not terrible at the plate.  If you don't believe in Taylor, Jackson gives you a 4th OF that can field sort of like he does with more offense.
Why he wouldn't be wanted - If you do believe in Taylor, Jackson doesn't give you anything. 

Mat Latos 
How he'd help - Similar to what Gallardo with more potential to be a mid to top rotation type. Prior to 2015, a very effective pitcher. Peripherals haven't change much execpt one.
Why he wouldn't be wanted - the one was "getting hit". Far more bust potential than Gallardo. Arm not reliably healthy. Thought to be a clubhouse problem for a team stuck with one already.

Marlon Byrd
How he'd help  - See Fowler's first two sentences.
Why he wouldn't be wanted - aren't Nats old enough already? Doesn't offer walks or defense. More of a DH type at this point.

Jeff Baker - MD guy they had vague interest in prior to 2015 who crushed lefties... before last year. Maybe better than Tyler Moore but they already have Tyler Moore signed.
Matt Belisle - another arm for the pen. Decent last year and coming out of Colorado might have needed year to get back to form
Justin Morneau - veteran leader who can still swing a bat but can't play in the field at all.  Maybe better than Tyler Moore but they already have Tyler Moore signed.
Matt Thornton - didn't he just prove last year he could pitch here and pitch well? He is old but I'll take good before I'll take young.  
David Murphy - adequate middle of the road hitter who can't play field anymore. Maybe better than Tyler... hey! this sounds familiar.


sirc said...

I've warmed to the idea of signing Clippard to a short/one year contract. I would think that he can be had for a lower number than his final arbitration number from last year, at this point anyway. We are 14 days out from the first pitchers and catchers day for some teams.

Nattydread said...

If Clippard is willing to pick up a Rizzo phone call at this point, that'd be the fan gimme deal. Give Tyler a chance to rewrite his story, unseat the bad old closer, build the clubhouse vibe and provide the positive turnaround story the writers want. Sign the man.

Froggy said...

I think the biggest acquisitions the Nats made were in revamping the medical training staff and team physicians. Harvey Sharman instituted a physio program that reduced injuries by 50% at Leeds FC. I've been saying for years that the Nats need to get into rugby conditioning shape to deal with the rigours of a 162+ game grind of a season.

Although not an FA, it would be nice to have a Lucroy reporting to Viera in 17 days. On the other hand, if Ramos has listened to Mr Sharman's off season conditioning guidance we might not have a need for Lucroy's services.

blovy8 said...

Clippard would give you some more flexibility and depth, but the FIP/xFIP numbers were really scary last year. Maybe it was just a rough patch though. I think if there was any chance Papelbum could be traded soon, he would be a reasonable target. Of course, if there were a deal out there worth making to one of his non-prescribed teams, it would likely have happened by now.

Austin Jackson would be an interesting buy low guy if they want Taylor to have AAA time to work on contact issues. It wouldn't have to be a lack of belief, more akin to how they are treating Taylor, and a real depth and athleticism issue. They found 3 million for a has-been like Stephen Drew, you'd think Jackson would be much more useful over the course of a season. The Nats don't have another OF you'd want to call up from AA/AAA if there's an injury unless den Dekker doesn't make the 25-man roster. Jackson could really push the roster to the point where there's no spot for Moore as well, so maybe he'd finally get sent somewhere and create space for a more versatile player with some upside.

It's kind of weird that no one has signed Thornton, there are ton of guys worse than him who got guaranteed contracts.

Harper said...

My guess is Clippard has a few one-year deals in hand, he wants 2. Nats probably don't want to go there. If he bites on a one-year deal I bet it's with Mets, honestly. They traded FOR him and have shown consistent interest in the off-season.

Froggy - The thing about soccer is that it's mostly a consistent activity sport. Sprint, jog, jump sometimes, kick. Baseball is a lot of sitting/standing followed by "do this odd thing (throw, swing a bat, dive for a ball) as hard as you can a couple times a day". I'll be interested to see if they really can make an impact on injuries in that environment.

Harper said...

blovy8 - I think teams are very age oriented now a days - focusing on health. They have the mindset of younger = better (which makes sense), even though for a one-year deal it really shouldn't matter all that much .

Froggy said...

Harper - true, very different sports, but what makes Sharman successful is the analytic approach (read: medical Moneyball) that he has to prevention that will be key. But, like you said, we'll see...

HammerTime said...

Free agent Boras clients still looking for a home: Austin Jackson, Greg Holland, Pedro Alverez, Kyle Lohse, and Barry Zito. Who on that list do the Nats sign to help out Boras, or did they help him out enough by signing Stephen Drew? I could see us to him a favor on Austin Jackson or Greg Holland.

Unknown said...

I'd really like to see Thornton back. Imagine he's in a similar boat to Clippard due to age? Waiting for a two year deal...

Bjd1207 said...

@Froggy - Man your post made me happier than anything I've read this offseason. If we get through this season without a guy who needs to work out something that's "a little sore" for 1/2 the season then I'll pick up Sharman's contract next year (not a real offer). But I may donate to the cause...

Mythra said...

Signing Goggles and Thornton would give a solid A bullpen, and would let you use others in the B roles to work out their post-2016 roles. Thornton in the 7th, Clip in the 8th and Papelbum in the 9th.

Locker room cancers aside, that's a solid, playoff bullpen. We already know a few of the young guys can pitch, so they'd help with in-season depth while carving out roles on the B side.

John C. said...

Although I like both guys, I'm not really sold on either Thornton or Clippard as adding value at this point. The team already has Felipe Rivero as the late inning lefty, with Oliver Perez as the matchup lefty for earlier work. While he's certainly as good as Perez, I'm not sure that I'd say that Thornton is likely to be better than Perez in that role.

Clippard's peripherals worry me (and apparently not just me, since he's not yet signed despite a strong run on relief pitchers this offseason). He cost $8.3M last year and is very unlikely to want to take a discount from that figure. If he'd be willing to sign a one year $5-6M deal I'd happily endorse it - but I don't think he wants to do that. The Nats have such a backlog of RHRP that I wouldn't want to invest heavily in a multiyear deal for Clippard. They already have Kelley, Gott and Treinen to work through the late inning RH role.

Sammy Kent said...

The biggest reason Tyler Clippard wouldn't be wanted is that while he didn't invent the eighth inning three run dinger, he darn sure perfected it. Not every single time of course, but certainly enough that you could never feel confident when he pitched that he was going to make it unscathed. For the life of me I don't know how the heck some people (like Tony Kornheiser) are so enamored of Clippard when he's a walking heart attack trigger. There was never a time in all the years I watched him pitch for the Nationals I could relax when he came in the game. NEVER!

JE34 said...

@Sammy - I have that same feeling... it felt like he put the first two guys on base far too often, but his results have been consistently above average for some years now. 2015 saw a little regression, but as much as he drove me nuts with all the ill-timed late inning baserunners, he was a very good reliever in 2011-2014.

So GMs are surely wondering how much more he has in the tank, for starters. Then there's the copycat league thing - the Royals success with finding guys who put balls in play is where all the cool kids will gravitate... Clippard will be less and less likely to overpower anyone, so hitters who fight off the off-speed stuff can jump on his fastball (or vice versa). He will have to rely on lots of late movement to stay effective. His changeup has been awesome in that regard - I hope he can keep it going. Seven years in a Nats jersey entitles him to permanent Nat status, with all the attendant well wishes.

I do find his predilection for licking his entire throwing hand very disturbing. That's gotta smell terrible.

Jay said...

Any move that results in Treinen going to AAA is a net positive. I vote get Clippard, but not likely to happen. He questioned Rizzo. That never ends well for said person - Riggleman, Storen, Blevins, etc.

Harper said...

Hammer time - I don't see an intersection of needs here. Holland the Nats would certainly take but Boras isn't looking for a one-year non-closing deal for him I'm sure.

Myrtha - At least someone is ready to "graduate" to late inning role and by bringing in both you really limit their opportunities for that. One maybe but not both, unless Thornton is used early instead.

JC - I don't disagree. I think the value added is slim. Worth it? Perhaps but if you are going for bullpen help I'd rather spend a lot for a guy I like then a little less for a guy I'm ok with. O'Day was that guy and they swung and missed on him. Happens. I'll take Clip or Thornton but it's a finishing touch not anything more. Marginal.

Sammy - well "enough that you could never feel confident when he pitched that he was going to make it unscathed." really defines it as a personal opinion. I'm pretty confident about Clip (or I was - last season does give me pause). Oh and Kornheiser actually hates Clippard because he's slow to the plate. I'm sure about that.

Jay - I'll be intrigued to see how exactly things line up. You'd expect Papelbon and then Rivero/Kelley in 7th and 8th somehow. Is Treinen really in mix? He was the one guy who really seemed to wilt under pressure. Worse in high leverage situations, save situations, worse the closer the game was. Just a fluke?

Bjd1207 said...

Wait what? Doesn't Holland have another year with the Royals?

John C. said...

If by "swung and missed" on O'Day, you mean "decided not to match the O's offer when Angelos decided to guarantee a fourth year" yes. I interpret that as the Nats being willing to spend a lot for a guy they liked (three expensive guaranteed years to a guy in his mid-30's!) but not so much as the Orioles.

I also suspect that the only reason that the O's went to the fourth year for O'Day is because Angelos was willing to be stupid rather than watch a valued contributor go to the team that he is currently suing.

I also know fans on other sites that constantly carp on the folly of paying big money for relief pitchers in general. Which for a GM means, of course, that you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Occupational hazard.

Harper said...

BJD - nope TJ surgery so the let him go

JC - yes that is what I meant. You can try and fail and not do anything wrong. Made an honest effort and didn't get him. So honest, we didn't even here about deferred money!

Damned either way is a good way to look at it. A bunch of teams will "find" (as if you turn over a rock) young very good relief pitchers so it's expected of everyone. If you can't and you didn't try to sign anyone you messed up. If you do sign some one and he doesn't live up to expectation, you screwed up. If he lives up to expectations but your team has a budget that is tight and you can't sign someone else and you "feel" like you are a player short - you screwed up. Not a job for the faint of heart. Rizzo doesn't sign guy - bullpen is great, until postseason. Nats lose in first round - he screwed up. Did he REALLY? No. But results matter more than process. Actual wins trump should have wins.

I like what the Nats did - a handful of more proven live arms rather than converted minor leaguers they hope will get it. I would have liked O'Day as a capper but it is what it is. You can't get everyone. The important part was that they didn't throw up their hands and do nothing after that.

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