Nationals Baseball: Nats and their choices

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nats and their choices

Let's cut to the chase.

The Nats have the money and the prospects to pick and choose what reliever they want. Do they want Aroldis Chapman? They can get Aroldis Chapman. Do they want... I don't know... Tyler Thornburg? They can get Tyler Thornburg. There is nothing stopping the Nats other than what seems like the small chance of a possible outbidding by another team.

What does this mean?  It means that on August first, when we look up and see who the Nats have on their team and probably most importantly, in their bullpen, it means this is who the Nats chose to go into battle with.

Now perhaps by "the Nats" we don't mean everyone in the organization. The team is a chain, and first and foremost it is run how the owners want it to be run. Next is Rizzo, who has shown over several years he can put together successful teams. Then it's Dusty, a winner as a manager riding a first year out 1st place season, much like Davey did in 2012 or Matt did in 2014. It's possible, given that chain, that Dusty won't get what he wants, or Rizzo won't get what he wants. It's not possible though that the Lerners don't get what they want.

I bring that up because I want to remind you that the Nats payroll this year is 20 million less than last year. This is why I say, "they have the money".  This shouldn't be a make the other team eat salary situation like nearly every Nats trade in the past for a veteran at the deadline has been.  There is no need. But that is assuming the Lerners are ok spending that much.  Remember this is a group that told us they were "topped out", that made last year sound like a singular season in terms of money into the team. Things can change, sure, but it's something that we have to be aware of.

There's a brilliance in spending less and letting the assumption that it would be spent at the trading deadline run through the fanbase. You could have a bad season and be so far behind that trading for a high-price FA makes no sense, which means you don't have to spend more money. You could have a great season and be so far ahead that trading for a high-price FA makes no sense, which means you don't have to spend more money. You can call-up all your young talent to help the team and if they perform in that short while you can convince yourself you don't need to trade for a high-price free agent, which means you don't have to spend more money. 

The Nats are not so far ahead that they can simply run with what they got. They are close, but not there yet. They are trotting out young players. Many in the fanbase hope it's for a trade, but it may not be. It may be getting them ready for important roles down the stretch.  If the Nats roll this way that's fine. But remember that when Reynaldo Lopez or Felipe Rivero are staring down Brandon Belt instead of Andrew Miller, it was the Nats choice. They deserve all the credit if it ends up working, and all the blame if it doesn't.


Jimmy said...

meh. This issue doesn't bother me, relievers are the most fickle players around your rolling the dice no matter what direction you go in. I'd rather keep the talent we have going forward.

Rob Evans said...

I, for one, would feel much more comfortable with a proven reliever in the post season than a rookie. That said, Glover looked nasty last night. Maybe he has what it takes.

1natsfan said...

Interesting sports illustrated article about the Angels trading Trout to reload their farm system. Mentioned the Nats and what they'd have to give up to get him. Still, can you imagine Harper and Trout in the outfield. Wow. (

Jimmy said...

That deal reads like a trade suggestion from the comment section of a masn post. No way the Angels do that deal.

Anonymous said...

We need a reliever and another big bat. The bat more than anything. This team WILL NOT get past the NLCS without another big bat. Zimmerman may not provide anything. Harper is slumping. Werth is doing ok, but now he's been scratched today. Injury? Ramos and Murph continue to hold it down. TT needs to be in the lineup every. single. day. I'm going to say that one more time. Every. Single. Day. It is 100% possible that he ends up being the #2 most dynaic offensive player on this team behind Murph (if Harper doesn't recover), so it is criminal to leave him on the bench. I don't care if we have to play him at C, he needs to be on the field.

I don't care about defense, we need the offense. Offense wins championships. We have enough pithcing. SF over us in 14. KC over the Mets last year. Get Beltran. Get Cargo. Get Blackmon.

We add a big bat, play TT, and avoid a massive injury to Murph or Harp and we're wining the world series. You can take that to the bank. We can't sit tight or we''l be sitting at home after the first week of October.

John C. said...

Meh. Sure, it's technically true that the Nats have the ammunition to go get practically anyone that they want. Want Miller? Giolito gets him! Want Chapman, too? Lopez gets him! Probably even if the Yankees view themselves as contenders (they still might, if they sweep the O's). Thanks to Mike Rizzo and his team, the Nationals have a lot of assets to offer. As 1natfan notes, there's even a plausible argument that the Nationals could go get Trout.

But would that be smart? The reason that those offers would not get outbid is that it would be stupid expensive. And for what? As Jimmy notes, relievers are incredibly fickle. And the Nationals (a) have a bullpen that has actually performed very well by pretty much any measure; and (b) have a lot of young power arms that offer grounds for further improvement down the stretch. Koda Glover is just the most recent edition of that.

I would love to be able to sit in the President's Club seats behind home plate for the whole season and postseason. I theoretically could do it, too. But it would trash my finances. So, while I would love to do it, I decline because of the consequences. I'm sure that Rizzo is burning up the telephones as we approach the trade deadline. And if he doesn't make a trade, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the cost/benefit analysis.

BxJaycobb said...

The Nats have 4 prospects that catch teams eyes: Turner, Giolito, Lopez, and Robles. I'm not saying that teams don't like other prospects. I'm just saying that you are not acquiring somebody like Andrew Miller (multiple years of control) without giving up 1 of those players, and IMO probably it will require TT, Giolito or Robles headlining the deal. I frankly don't think that is worth it. Chapman is a different story. He's a rental...a great one, but there is no such thing as a rental relief pitcher who costs the farm. He will PROBABLY not require one of those three, and I would just guess the Nats could nab him for a collection of their 4-8 best prospects (maybe Harper disagrees). But I am more comfortable with that, than with a deal giving up a player like Robles or Turner or Giolito for Miller. I also would be interested in a less "shiny" but still quite effective reliever like say...Will Smith from the Brewers. I don't actually think the Nats need a CLOSER per se to replace Papelbon. I just think they need help for the late innings. A deal of 2-3 prospects outside their top 4 for Will Smith makes a lot of sense to me. Robles for Chapman seems like a deal the Yankees would sign onto. I would hesitate to pull trigger on it though. Possible center fielder of future with AS potential for 2 mnonths of a reliever is tough to swallow. tough. but might be the price.

Alex Freeman said...

I agree with the consenses that giving up one of our top 4 prospects for Andrew Miller would be too risky, but you'd essentially be trading possibly a good player for 2 and a half years of a shutdown closer. I think we need to take Giolito and especially TT off the table, but if it takes Robles + another mid-grade prospect or Lopez + a mid-grade prospect, I'm all for that. That being said, I think such a deal for Blackmon makes a lot more sense. I think CF is our biggest weakness, not our bullpen but Miller would definitely help.
Rizzo, please don't trade Turner

Zimmerman11 said...

"Eppler could probably wait a year or two, with the confidence that Trout's trade value won't appreciably diminish. But what if, say, the Nationals, imagining a championship outfield pairing of Trout and Bryce Harper, dangled starter Lucas Giolito (No. 4 on Baseball America's just-released midseason Top 100 prospects list), shortstop Trea Turner (No. 5), outfielder Victor Robles (No. 13), starter Reynaldo Lopez (No. 48) and 23-year-old major league starter Joe Ross before the Aug. 1 deadline? In Anaheim, these are desperate times—and you know what those call for."

Why on EARTH would the Nationals do that deal??? All five of those players under team control for EVER? For four years of (admittedly) even the best player in baseball? No. Can you say Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips?

BxJaycobb said...

I don't particularly understand why we need Blackmmon. This is a guy who, over the course of his career, is a total product of Coors (sure, this year he's better, but why would you trust a smaller sample size as an indicator of future success? Nothing in his peripheral numbers suggest his greater non Coors fortune this year is related to anything but BABIP luck). I think you would get similar performance out of Turner in CF honestly. I don't have inside info on Turner's D in outfield obviously, but I would imagine his crazy speed advantage probably makes up for his deficiencies in playing the position (route running etc). I wouldn't give up anything of substance for Blackmon. If you can get him for relatively nothing, go for it. I agree that I would trade Lopez and a mid grade prospect for Miller. I just don't think Yankees would do that. They would require Robles or TT or Giolito. R

Zimmerman11 said...

The Yankees are gonna give Miller AND Chapman to CHC, just watch. Miller+Chapman = Schwarber.

The Yankees gotta get THEIR heads outta their butts though. Seriously... WHY are Beltran and Sabathia still on this team?

Yanks could load up on prospects and move EVERYBODY... Gardner? Gone. Package Ellsbury or A Rod money with Miller/Betances. Someone wants McCann...


Josh Higham said...

@Anonymous 8:08: Can we please put to bed the "Bryce is slumping" narrative? Even if he really is as good as last year, it was an outlier. We can't expect best in the world performance all the time with his track record. Also, even with his prolonged better than league average/worse than BRYCE average performance, he has 20 home runs and a .400 obp. This is what we should be expecting from him, until he puts together another 2015ish run. Then we can reasonably set the bar at hitting .300 and 40+ homers.

Second, there are exactly zero absolutes in the baseball future. There is a way the Nats win it all right now, even with Zim in the lineup and Trea out. All that has to happen is that Max, Stras, and one other starter are hot and the Nats' batters are luckier than the other guys for 3 or 4 weeks. Conversely, they could add a big bat and a late inning guy, win 100 games, and get swept by the wild card team. The playoffs are quasi-random and the idea that a new player guarantees anything is a pipedream.

mike k said...

I agree with Harper that the Nats have the pieces where whatever they chose to go into the playoffs with, that's on the Nats, not circumstance. If the Nats choose to go into the playoffs with the same pen and that pen does poorly, that's on the Nats. I get that.

But John C is also right. If the price of a top reliever is Turner or Giolito, then while it's still technically on the Nats if they don't get a top reliever, that doesn't make not doing so a bad move.

IMO the Nats' pen's ERA is smoke and mirrors. I don't feel comfortable with anyone right now. I want them to make a move. However, it can't just be any move. If the asking price is too high, then I'd rather they stay pat.

That msn article is ridiculous. I'd give the Angels anyone from #3-on (no Turner because it would leave the Nats without a SS, not because he's not worth trading for Trout). Don't care about Robles if you get Trout because he plays OF. And it probably helps you resign Harper, too. But I doubt the Angels do it without Giolito or Turner - if they do I'd give them everyone else (not just anyone...everyone).

JW said...

You trade anyone in the farm for Trout; and as many of them as it takes. Pretty much anyone on the big league roster other than Stras and Harper too. It's not happening though -- Trout would have to leave LA in free agency. So it's all just silly talk.

I don't see the value in Miller or Chapman. I just don't think you could get either for a price that would approach reasonable. The Nats really just need another reliable arm; inconsistency is the biggest issue with the current bullpen. I echo the sentiment that you never feel comfortable with any of them.

I also agree that a consistent bat is the biggest need. CF makes the most sense, but you get it where you can find it. It doesn't have to be All-Star caliber, just someone with an BA above .275 would be a huge upgrade.

Ollie said...

@Zimmerman11 I would totally do that deal and think that's a light load for the Angels to come. I don't think it's the right deal for the Nats at the moment either, since they need bullpen help more than a big bat (though the big bat would be nice).

I could see Lopez bringing Chapman, but you'd want to sign him long-term afterwards and only after making sure there won't be a repeat of the domestic violence that got him suspended. I think Giolito and Lopez might be overvalued right now, probably better to capitalize off that now, though you ideally want to keep at least one around as a long-term replacement for Gio.

I agree that either Miller or Chapman should be the target for closer, but tossing a lower-tier prospect--AJ Cole maybe?--to bring Clippard back for more bullpen depth might make sense. He's on an expensive contract but it's only two years which makes him movable in the offseason if you don't want to pay next year's tab. Put him and Chapman in the bullpen and it looks a lot better.

The knock on effect could be Papelbon acting like a punk and not accepting a lesser role so you might have to swap him for pennies on the dollar--ideally for a major league usable if not great reliever if you pay much of his contract.

Definitely would like to see them upgrade CF too, but the more pressing need looks like the bullpen. Also, why hasn't Brian Goodwin's name been floated as a potential solution? Granted he's not lived up to the Sidd Finch-esque coverage written about him years ago, but he's played well in AAA this season, old for a prospect disclaimer and all.

Kevin Rusch said...

Tyler Clippard is making about $6M this year and next. And he's with AZ, who is going nowhere. I bet you could send them a halfway-decent prospect (Drew Ward?) and take the $ off their hands. You have a guy with the mindset to close if Papelbon implodes, and a great setup guy, and in any event, you've added a proven solid arm to the bullpen.

Anonymous said...

Clip was awful in the 2015 post season. Three appearances, five earned runs, at least one earned run per appearance, 7 hits, 3 walks. Dude ran out of gas.

JE34 said...

Clip gave us a lot of quality innings over the years, but I am not sure the bespectacled hand licker is what we need at this point. Shawn Kelley can be the setup guy for a closer (and can close on occasion), and all-in-all is performing at a higher level than Clip is this year.

PotomacFan said...

Koda Glover looks terrific. I know it's way too early to say, but he definitely has some "giddy-up" on that fastball. According to Wikipedia: "Glover made his major-league debut with the Nationals on July 20, 2016, as one of the fastest-rising draft picks in Nationals history, and the first member of the Nationals' 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016 draft classes to reach the majors."

He lasted 3 games at single A before he was promoted to AA.

Froggy said...

Agree with other, Koda Glover looked great yesterday. Looking forward to seeing if he is legit.

Switching gears, did anyone see that nonsense Manfred was chirping about 'MLB looking at limiting relievers' because it makes the game too slow? Meanwhile, we have replay review that takes 2-3 minutes ea time. There should be a 30 second clock for replay during innings 1-8 and 60 seconds in inning 9 and if in that time there isn't conclusive results to overturn then that's it. The double steal by Turner and MAT showed TT clearly beat the throw but NY was slowing it down to Zapruder frame by frame speed to see if his hand came off the bag. I mean c'mon...

Harper, are you talking about this Tyler Thornburg?

Bjd1207 said...

@Froggy - Yea I thought those Manfred comments were ludicrous as well. I hate changes like that which impact usage and strategy, especially when there are still plenty of ways left to reduce game time without touching the strategy aspect. He also threw in there that relievers these days were "too good" wtf?

Your suggestion for replay limiting is one good suggestion. Another one related to relievers would be to reduce or eliminate their warmup pitches from the mound. Maybe just give them one or 2. But they're warming up immediately before coming in, its not like a starter getting warmed up before the half-inning. That way you don't impact the reliever usage strategy at all, but hopefully cut down the time needed for those innings where you use 3 relievers to get through it