Nationals Baseball: Nats do as Nats do

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Nats do as Nats do

Ramos was made an offer said Heyman.  How much? Let's go to our resident psychic and see what he said just a couple days ago!
I can see them offering Ramos something like 3/30+ to begin with to see if he would take it and then offering him the QO.
Yay me!  It WAS apparently something like 3 years slightly more than 30 million.  Why is that what the Nats offered?

1) It was the lowest reasonable comp available. When I listed all the recent decent catchers signed Francisco Cervelli had both the shortest contract (3 years) and smallest per (10.333 million).

Is Cervelli a good comp? Kind of. Much like Ramos he was coming off a career year in his late 20s. He wasn't seen as the same type of hitter or defender as Ramos. Cervelli is a high average hitter with ok patience. Ramos is a mid average hitter with good pop.  Cervelli is a decent plate blocker and run-gunner but a great framer. Ramos is a good plate blocker and run-gunner but only a fair framer. The end result though was a year going into a contract that was roughly as productive as Ramos' current season.

However Ramos was a good prospect who had previously hit well over 200 games in parts of 3 separate seasons before succumbing to multiple injuries. 2016 has been a career year, yes, but also a bounce back year of sorts. Cervelli was not a prospect and had never hit, in part possibly because of injuries, prior to his surge up to the year before his contract. That surge up only constituted 66 total games. Cervelli was much more of a gamble.

Also Cervelli's deal covered his 31-33 age seasons, while Ramos' deal would cover his 29-31 age seasons. At a position where wear and tear can play major issues with players, younger is better and worth more.

So you could argue Cervelli is a decent comp but there hardly is anything pointing to Cervelli being worth a bigger deal than Wilson making him more of a decent base than a direct comparison.

2) The Nats offer fair deals at around the lowest reasonable offer. The Nats don't go under market, at least in my mind. They look at a player. They look at the market. They figure out what is the lowest the market would give. Then they offer something around that.

Is it an opening offer? A best and final? Depends on the player, I'm sure. But that's how they roll. The worst that can happen I suppose is the player can be insulted but you know what? Feelings of insult go away pretty quickly if more money is involved.  So if the Nats really want a guy, they can up the offer. There's really very little harm done seeing if you can get a guy to accept the low-end of what he's worth. And in fact it can lead to a lower contract being accepted than if you came in with a more standard market offer.

Of course all Nats fans care about is the two questions I just asked "Is it an opening offer? A best and final?" and history tells us it's probably closer to a best and final. It's hard to say though. The market dried up for ZNN and Desmond as teams pursued mid-range pitchers and Desmond killed his value with a career worst season. This made the Nats' offered deals look more reasonable then they were when initially put out there. They didn't have any reason to up their offer (and in fact as far as I know they took Desmond's deal off the table). So perhaps if Ramos explores free agency and the money is there the Nats might up their offer a little. It's new territory.

However, go back and read what I said a couple days ago. Assuming the Nats want to stick with a payroll of under 150 million, it'll be very hard to fit in a 10+ million dollar catcher into the team's ledger. The Nats have a enough holes to plug in the offeason that they are going to use up their funds before even getting to catcher.  The only way I see them keeping Ramos is if they raise the payroll. It's happened once but I'm not sure it's happening again.


Froggy said...

It would be great if the Nats signed him and Wilson became the our Yadier Molina, or Pudge Rodriguez.

...hey, a girl can dream!

Rob Evans said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Evans said...

I like the Buffalo, but I don't want the Nats offering him McCann type numbers ($85M over 5). I don't think Ramos is worth that.

Richard Parker said...

Off topic. Now that the Nats have all but clinched, I think we should give our gracious host an opportunity to dedicate one column to his beloved Yankees. I'd like to hear what his views are on their future and prospects, with their supposed youth movement, etc. We all love the Nats, but we have to admit the Yankees are always a fascinating team to love and/or hate every year. It would be interesting to hear for once a detailed assessment of what Harper thinks about the future of his favorite team.

Just a thought.

G Cracka X said...

So it sounds like Wilson is likely to leave, then. What then is the plan for the Nats? Will they sign a free agent catcher to split time with Severino?

Anonymous said...

Please no Yankees posts. I'm sure they have plenty of blogs of their own.

Anonymous said...

I agree. In fact why not stop counting our chickens before they hatch.

John C. said...

"Is it an opening offer? A best and final?" and history tells us it's probably closer to a best and final. It's hard to say though.

What history? They didn't get a deal done with Desmond or Zimmermann, but they did with Strasburg.

Assuming the Nats want to stick with a payroll of under 150 million, it'll be very hard to fit in a 10+ million dollar catcher into the team's ledger.

Well, yes and no. According to B-R their committed payroll is around $98M for next year, which goes up to about $112M if they pick up options for Gio (almost certainly yes) and Petit (doubtful). They are currently in a kind of "stars and scrubs" model with only six arbitration eligible players on the roster. Rendon and Roark get on the arb ladder for the first time, but as Arb-1 guys won't be outrageous ... yet. Bryce will be in his Arb-3 season (of four, since he was a "Super Two") and will get a raise. Of the other three arb eligibles, Lobaton is almost certain to be nontendered, and the team faces interesting decisions with Espinosa and Revere. Even if they pick up the options and tender everyone, B-R estimates the total payroll will come to $145M. Dropping Petit saves $2.5M. Dropping Lobaton and Revere would save just over $5.5M. They could then pay Ramos an extra $10M and keep it under the current payroll level.

Of course, that would also mean that they don't re-sign Melancon and instead address the closer situation from internal candidates. Given their experience with big-money closers (Soriano, Papelbon) that has some appeal. It would also mean that they are unlikely to make a move for a big, high-$$$ bat like Bautista unless they bust through the $150M mark. I expect that they won't. While Werth's contract is coming off the books after next year, that money is probably set aside for at least a run at Bryce, with a reserve also in place for Rendon if he can stay healthy and prove that he's more 2014 and last five months of 2016 Rendon.

Harper said...

I think I've done a Yankees post once or twice but it's hard to justify when the Nats are heading into the playoffs. Maybe in the offseason. Somewhere in a recent comment section I gave my feeling on 2017 which is basically "Could be good but lack a 2nd very good pitcher and another bat so probably just ok" But if Sanchez hits 70 HRs... I will say so far so good on the "Sweep. Check Standings. Repeat as necessary" plan for the 2016 WC.

John C. said...

And just to be clear, that "pay Ramos an extra $10M" was over and above the $5.5M he's already making - not a $10M a year offer.

I think it's about 50/50 on Ramos re-signing with the Nats. I think there's plenty of motivation to do the deal on both sides, but Rizzo seems to have a pretty good idea of what he is willing to pay. He wouldn't match the Heyward deal (in terms of real value, with no deferred money and two opt outs), and that deal looks like a potential disaster. Rizzo wouldn't match the fourth guaranteed year to a 33yo relief pitcher (Darren O'Day) and O'Day has only pitched 29 innings this year with a 4.03 ERA and a 4.79 FIP. The Cubs and O's have to be feeling pangs about those deals. Interestingly, the one player that Rizzo did overbid on - Zobrist - has been having a very solid season. Maybe Rizzo is pretty good at this game.

Harper said...

JC - They seemed to have a low market offer out there for all three of those guys. "Seems" is crucial - we really don't know - but we either say nothing or go on what little we do have.

As for 2017... I said this at the time. If you keep Gio, and you kind of have to, your payroll is going to be around what it started this year. You can drop Revere (yes), Lobaton (makes sense if you are keeping Ramos) and Petit (maybe) and yeah that gives you about 10 million to play with. BUT you have to replace the closer and a couple other bullpen arms and Drew and Heisey. 2 vet relief arms and 2 vet bench players is about 10 million right there. You can go internal and I agree I bet they do with closer, but you'd have to go internal on nearly all those to pay Ramos say... 12 million and keep payroll where it looks like they want it. That's risky. Imagine if all Heisey and Drew's ABs went to Taylor, denDekker, Goodwin, Difo etc.

Now could they do a scaling thing? Pay Ramos like 7-8 next year and 15 by the end? Maybe. But you start cutting into the 2018 flexibility to move on from Gio and the need to replace Werth.

Harper said...

JC - your last comment is right though - I trust that Rizzo won't make a bad signing. So even if he misses out on a good one he is not going to cripple the team for the future. So whatever you think of Ramos - if he walks, the Nats will have a little money to make up for int in 2018 and a guy who proves he can do that

Richard Parker said...

Okay, fine. But, seriously, @anon, the chickens have hatched. We've basically got about two weeks to rehash dozens of things we've already talked about (e.g., how well the Nats would do against the Dodgers). Just look at today's blog -- nothing to do with the playoffs this year. Why? Because we've already talked the rest of the season to death and the Nats virtually clinched this thing a month ago (when Harper called it).

Anonymous said...

Minor point on payroll--they clearly aren't bringing Petit back. Clearly managing his innings (60.1) to keep his option (80)from vesting. One appearance in September (OK, rosters did expand) and a light load in August when cycling through not quite ready mix of starters in Giolito/Lopez/Cole. I doubt he's even on the post-season roster. Hey--post season roster--there's a topic to fill some time while waiting on resolution of Murphy's health and home field advantage.

Harper said...

I don't think they will either - but I think they are keeping their options open. The Nats are already going to have to make-up like a third+ of their relief innings next year (Papelbon, Rivero, Belisle, Melancon, Rep) Losing Petit - who isn't that bad - would push it to nearly 50% (and this isn't counting downplaying Olvier Perez as much as possible). This isn't necessary good innings - but they were mostly ok - and increased roles for Treinen/Kelley are only going to eat 30 or so more innings - less if one of them is now "9TH INNING SAVE SITUATION CLOSER MAN". Don't be surprised if he was kept.

BxJaycobb said...

@harper. Can we do a blog post on the (in my mind) thoroughly bizarre Harper shoulder injury response by the Nats this season? My hypothesis is pretty simple. 1. Bryce has been playing hurt for about half the season. Maybe he's not hurt enough that playing through it risks further damage, but the evidence in my view is overwhelming, even if we ignore the SI verducci reporting. I simply cannot think of another example in recent history of a guy with the most power in the major leagues losing 75% of that power in one age 23. And just watching him wince from swings and just sort of swing way less hard im thinking of the many swings where on like a 2-0 pitch he delivers a "protect the plate half ass" swing where he takes his left hand off the bat. Granted this is a view SLIGHTLY informed by bias as a fan since we don't want to believe Bryce is capable of hitting like .235 with no power. It's just that I find it so so weird that the guy is walking more than he strikes out yet when he hits the ball it goes nowhere. Usually big slumps in big leagues are due to bad approach/ pitch selection. That's not the problem here. And folks who say "yeah but his mechanics and balance look bad!" I mean...all of that could easily be due to compensating to try to generate oomph at the plate.
2. BUT I must say, the far far weirder part of all this is the Nats response to it. First, in a year you have the division sort of safe for the final 1.5 months, why not rest Bryce until he's fine? (Frankly, why don't you rest him or DL until he's better anyway? Second, what is going on with the weird denials of press stories about a shoulder injury which seems decently well documented by his obviously inability to extend on any pitch on outer half, sapped power, interviews and reporting by Verducci, the "neck" thing, etc?
My general take is this: the Nats were embarrassed by the first verducci report during the summer. They didn't want to say "yeah his shoulder is injured and he's hurt" because that means they've been bizarrely playing one of the most valuable assets in baseball through injury for no reason. So they denied it. Then when Verducci filed another story this week, they had to deny it because they had already gone down this path and you clearly can't say "he's hurt and we lied last time."
Is it possible Bryce or Boras or somebody in his camp is embarrassed that he's had a down year and is leaking excuses? Umm, I GUESS it's possible, but incredibly unlikely to me, based on fact that verducci is a real pro and he seems to have talked to trainers and even Dusty. Plus the physical evidence of being clearly hurt IMO. But I have no clue how this relates to Bryce playing weirdly shallow in RF. Maybe it's related. Maybe it's a red herring and just an example of Bryce being weird. I don't know.

Fries said...

I think it's more than likely that Bryce is injured and, given his ego/star power/money making prowess, he has told the team he wants to play through it and the team (after assessing any potential damage) has said fine. I don't think the Nats would have any problem benching/DLing him, but I think Bryce is the one saying "let me play through it" and the team recognizes that a diminished Bryce is still better than their other options (particularly earlier in the season when Werth was literally a garden gnome in left and Revere was still flailing at the plate)

That's just my take and is more likely to be completely wrong than right, but I like to pontificate from my keyboard on matters completely unrelated to my profession

Richard Parker said...

He's hurt, he wants to play through it. I think it's pretty obvious. I'd love it if they shut him down from now until the playoffs and give him about three weeks off, but I don't think he'll go for it unless someone drags him off the field.

Rob Evans said...

I'm actually hoping that Harper has been playing with an injury. At least that would be an excuse. Otherwise, we may be left with the fact that last year was a fluke.

Richard Parker said...

The denials are obvious. The team wants him to rest and he refuses to do it. No team wants to hint at any type of dissension between management and the players. I think it's all pretty simple.

JD said...

I'm biased as a Yankee fan, and this isn't really the place for it, but I'd love more Yankee content (please start a Yankee blog Harper!). There's not much to discuss about the Nats at the moment. We've had posts about the postseason rotation, post season match ups, the offense, Ramos, etc. Not much has changed yet.
As for the injured Bryce story, I don't think there's anything concrete to talk about yet.

Robot said...

1) I will miss the Buffalo. I'd like him to stay, but i don't think he's worth what he's likely to be able to get as a FA

2) Bryce is clearly playing with a shoulder injury, but everyone's behavior in all of this has been, well, odd

3) NO YANKEES POSTS! It's not our problem that your awful team has awful blogs.

Richard Parker said...

As a rabid Nats fan, I agree with JD (sort of). Just one long post in the next two weeks before the playoffs. I think it would be interesting to see how Harper views his own team compared to how he talks about the Nats on a daily basis. Let's see how truly objective he can be, and I would rather hear the Yankees' prospects from someone who has been covering another team for ten years or so. It's just more interesting.

Richard Parker said...

But Harper has a good blog. That's the point. We can expect him to at least make a fair assessment.

Donald said...

Maybe instead of a dedicated Yankees post, we could get a 2017 preview around the league. Who's going to be up, who's going to be down, that things to look for.

As for Ramos, I'd be more comfortable letting him go if there were a clear plan on who would fill his shoes. But still, I would be very surprised if the Nats keep him. They tend to shy away from risky contracts and given Wilson's injury history, this would certainly qualify. Maybe he'll put up similar numbers for a few more years, or maybe he'll land on the DL for 50-100 games a season over the life of the contract. Someone is going to pay him under the presumption he'll stay healthy, but that won't be the Nats.

As for closer, I do hope they keep Melancon, but I don't know what it would take. Closer has been one of the most unsettled positions on the team for a while and Melancon seems low drama. I could get used to that.

Froggy said...

As of today, the W/L of Mehtz, Cards, and Giants. And as the Nats Ichabod Crane their way to the post season a more funner topic might be to re-visit the possibility of a three way tie for the 2nd WC.

I think (hope) we are going to need you to explain (again) how a three-way tie breaker for the 2nd WC might is going to work, 'cause I for sure can't figure it out.

Takes scoreboard watching to a different level don't you think?