Nationals Baseball: Assumptions

Thursday, October 20, 2016


I guess we'll start with the offseason reviews next week. Makes more sense to start it clean on a Monday, no?

Anyway this offseason is the most interesting for a Nats team in a long while. Or at least it has the potential to be interesting. You can honestly say that you can't be 100% sure you know who's going to be playing where on Opening Day next year. Sure you keep Murphy, Rendon, Bryce, and Trea, but are they going to be where you think they are going to be? Move Trea to SS then Bryce could play CF. Somehow get rid of Zimm and Murphy shifts over to first leaving a spot for possibly Rendon to go back to 2B. Werth's in his last year and amazingly you could get something for him. Do you trade him? Are the Nats done with Espinosa? 

The rotation is more set - but only in the fact that you can put Scherzer #1 in pen.  Who's #2? Strasburg? That's assuming he can pitch Opening Day. Roark? If you don't trade a guy who's arguably never going to be worth more. Gio? A far more likely trading chip than Roark given his reasonable salary and the fact you aren't giving up multiple cheap years when you deal him. Ok, Ross will be in there somewhere. That's the other given. The pen is going to be dependent on what they do with closer.  Do they try to shift Kelley or Treinen? Does the other one stay in the 8th role? Where do all these other arms fit in?

Individually none of this stuff is really all that likely. Strasburg appears to have no issues that'll keep him from pitching in April. He almost pitched in October. Rendon is playing third. They aren't trading Werth or Roark. They can't deal Zim. But as a whole all these possibilities combine to create a lot of uncertainty with the 2017 Nats. If any one domino falls, everything else can change and most likely a domino will fall.

This makes the "assumed plan" part of the offseason in reviews a little tough. So what am I going to assume? I'm going to assume the 2017 Nationals look a lot like the 2016 Nationals at the end of the year. Zimm, Murphy, Danny, Rendon around the horn. Bryce, Trea, and Werth in the OF. Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio, Roark, Ross as the rotation. Pen roles stay as is. Why? It's the path of least resistance. The Nats can recreate a 2016 team that won the East and nearly won their DS by doing nothing. Seems certainly plausible that they do just that and fritter around the edges filling in bench guys and bullpen arms that leave for greener (re: $$$) pastures.

That leaves the only true questions as C and closer.  I'll have to think more on what I'll assume the Nats plan is there. We're just guessing here so there are no wrong answers but I don't want to be unfair here. What do you guys think for these two? Do you think they are going out to get something or just shifting in house? I've got my leanings but I'm willing to be convinced that the assumed plan should be something else.


Zimmerman11 said...

If we can bring back Ramos for the second half, then platoon Loby n Severino... that's okay assuming Espy is on the bench so we don't have three auto outs at bottom of the order.

If we can't bring back Ramos then have Rizzos steal a good backstop off of someone for a bag of balls.

Adam VB said...

I'm with Boz - go get McCutchen and move Turner to SS.

JE34 said...

You gotta figure that if Melancon is not back, it's because of Lerner-based financial constraints. That dude provided some badly needed stability at the back of the pen, and after all the team has been through in that regard, you'd think they'd opt to continue that stability and its attendant Ws. I expect all the starters would lobby pretty hard for him, for what that's worth. Trying Kelley as closer is a return to instability... especially given his unsettling departure from Game 5 with tingling and numbness in his throwing hand/arm (which he says has happened before).

Really hope Rizzo can find some Rube Goldberg Contract Contraption to keep the Buffalo from roaming, but I'd be surprised to see him back next year.

mike k said...

Woooo let's all play GM.

SP: pretty much set. Giolito doesn't appear to be ready, so that means you either a) start Lopez, b) exercise Gio's option, or c) go out and sign a stop-gap. I'm not crazy about (a) because I think the Nats need a shut down reliever (or more) and I've read that Lopez can be that, and this option also leaves you without a real viable #6 except for Giolito who needs more seasoning. I'm not crazy about (b) because the Nats need that money elsewhere, can probably get what Gio would give them for less money, and there's a vesting option for 2018 which can be a $12M money-hole. So I'd go with (c).

RP: As much as I like Solis/Treinen/Kelley, these are all great mix-and-match guys, and not really shutdown. Ideally you want 2 shut down guys on top of them...this is the new MO in the mlb and IMO it makes the job of the manager much easier. It also bumps the above trio down a bit and gives Dusty viable options in more game situations. I hope Rizzo ends his moratorium on spending money on relievers. This is one area that I think can help push the Nats over the top.

Bats: Move Trea to short, super-sub Espinosa. I don't care if it makes him cranky. It's easier to justify a fielding-only SS than any other position besides catcher, which I think gives the Nats some PR leeway in keeping Trea in CF and Espi at SS (not to mention that Nats can claim to have finally "solved" CF). But the game isn't won and lost with PR. It's much easier to find a good hitting CF than a good hitting SS, and if Trea can play both positions equally well (which is generous), he should replace the worst bat in the lineup and play SS. Then, find a CF. Not Harper, with Werth in left.

As for catcher, I really don't think they'll be resigning Ramos. I read somewhere that he wants to play for the AL because this is his second knee surgery. If the Nats somehow land McCutchen or something, then you can roll with Severino, but more likely they will need to upgrade catcher as well.

So it's 5th SP stop-gap, shutdown reliever (or 2, but they can go with 1 and start grooming Lopez), CF, catcher. How'd I do?

Chas R said...

I can't really believe Rizzo will be willing to suffer through another season of Danny's lack of production at the plate. He's just not an everyday player. Surely they see that. I'm not sure moving TT to SS is the answer, but something clearly needs to give here. I guess we are hoping for rebound years from Zim and Revere?

Given all the drama over the Closer in the last few years, I gotta believe they try to get one of the big 3- Melancon, Jansen, or Chapman.

I have no idea what to expect on the Catcher question. There are no good options there. I do hope they work something out with Wilson, but that's just sentimental fan thoughts.

Fries said...

I think the Nats consider trading Roark to the Pirates for McCutcheon (with whatever money/prospects are needed to balance it). The Nats lose that deal in my book, but not by much assuming McCutcheon is able to return to form and that this year was simply an anomaly (wasted my first round fantasy draft pick on him...).

That leaves a spot in the Rotation to be filled in by either Lopez or little Gio.

Closer I think the Nats HAVE to resign Melancon, but I doubt they will and I see them going the experimental route and hoping to strike gold with someone in the organization (Glover maybe?)

I'd hate to see it happen, but I think Zimm gets dumped to a bottom-feeding AL team to DH for pennies on the dollar. No way the organization has the heart to bench the longtime face of the franchise, so they'll dump as much of his contract as they can on somebody else willing to take a chance on an aging injury prone player.

Trea moves to SS with McCutcheon in CF. Then the question becomes 2B/1B, depending on where you want to stick Murphy. I'd say go out and get a 2B that's basically the opposite of Danny: hits for contact but with zero power and average defense. That could be resigning Drew or bringing in someone like Sean Rodriguez. I doubt they make a trade here

As for Catcher, you try to get Ramos for half a season and hope that Severino can take on the role during the first half. Given enough reps I think he'll be just as good if not better than Ramos (first half of this year not withstanding).

Zimmerman11 said...

Danny was one of the most valuable 8 hitters in the NL this season wasn't he? Defense at any IF position and 25 bombs? GREAT bench piece, don't make him a 7 hitter tho.

mike k said...

Fries - in your scenario they are adding money by replacing Roark's salary with McCutchen's, exercising Gio's option and keeping his salary (since you say trading Roark frees up one spot and not two), and re-signing Ramos, which entails a large raise. Oh, and re-signing Malancon, another raise. Unfortunately I just don't see that happening. Zim would HAVE to be traded in this scenario, but the Nats would have to cover most of his salary (and even if they didn't you're not accounting for all the extra payroll).

Chas R said...

@Fries- I don't see them making that many big money moves on a 95 win team that is largely intact.

Vdub said...

I believe even with the injury, Ramos is not very likely to sign the team friendly, low end of fair market value deal that Rizzo will offer. He walks. Nats go into 2017 with Severino as the starter. For closer, I think that Nats will re-sign Melancon. Closer seems to be one of the positions that the Lerners allow Rizzo to spend competitively. There should be enough other Closers on the market that Melancon will not have enough suitors to drive his price above what the Nats will offer. He seemed to like Pittsburg, I don't get the impression he needs/wants to leave DC.

Also, I don't think anyone is ready for Treinen or Kelly to be the everyday closer just yet.

PotomacFan said...

Well, they are not exactly a 95 win team. The 95 wins assumes that Strasburg can pitch most of the season, that we have a catcher who can hit really well, that we have a closer (for half of the year), and that we are in a terrible division. So, let's break that down. We'll assume that Strasburg returns and gives us 20+ starts. We need a catcher who can hit -- or a shortstop who can hit. We can't have the bottom of the order as Zim, Catcher, Espy, Pitcher. That is not a 95 win team. I would love to see the Nats sign Melancon, but I don't think they'll do it. (Why they ever paid $28 million for 2 years of Soriano remains a huge mystery to me.) If they Nats cannot find a closer internally, they'll rent one next year at the trade deadline. It looks like the rest of the division will remain pretty terrible. Miami tragically lost a superstar pitcher. Atlanta and Philadelphia remain weak. The Mets would have to have healthy arms and buy one or more big bats to challenge us.

Froggy said...

I don't see a scenario anywhere in the AL where Zimm fits as a DH. He hit what, .218 this year? C'mon...

I think his options are:

1) Get some reconstruction surgery on his shoulder(s) and join the club mid-season for one last try.
2) Or, get PRP / stem cell treatment and see what happens.
3) Maybe he needs Lasik surgery?
4) Or retire and become a special assistant or coach of some sort. 3rd base coach could use some help for sure.

Since we know the last one isn't going to happen, and his contract is too big for the numbers he generated, I really don't see any other option other than the medical approach.

mike k said...

...and just how is he going to waive people home with his arthritic shoulders? Point?

...I'll see myself out.

PotomacFan said...

With his left arm, of course.

Robot said...

C was already a problem. Ramos's injury just further complicates things, doesn't it? This is his second major surgery in just a few years. Maybe they can resign him for cheap/short with a large option if he performs? (Doubt it, as there are so few qualities catchers available right now.)

I have no faith in Treinen and would like to see the Nats deal for him. Would like to see Melancon brought back.

Nattydread said...

Catcher is a big question mark. Ramos is going to sell at a lower than expected price, but I suspect that Rizzo won't bite. Is Severino ready?

In the last year of his contract, is Werth going to be full time? Left field is going to get a younger more athletic player.

Espinosa will go or become a utility player. I would not be surprised to see him get traded and notch his game up.

I'm betting Melancon gets resigned. Rizzo will give him first shot as the team closer, and, pun intended, they will quickly close a deal. Melancon probably likes the Nats' chances.

My bet is that Tree stays in the outfield.

Rizzo does like to make the big splash. Expect moves that bring in changes at SS, LF and Catcher. A starter will be part of a big multiplayer deal.

SM said...

I think your assumption is correct: that the 2017 Nats will look a lot like the 2016 version; and that the two primary concerns are catcher and closer.

As good as he is defensively, I'm not yet convinced Severino will hit in the big leagues. (Yeah, yeah, the teensy major league sample size offers hope, but still. . . .) As for Ramos, I'm not entirely certain they even offer him a Qualifying Offer. Is a 30th or so draft pick worth roughly $17.8 million for a half season of Wilson?

The Nats will probably take a run at re-signing Melancon, but won't necessarily go goofy on the offer. Like many good teams--including the 2016 version--the Nats will find a way to cobble together a decent bullpen. (I sometimes wonder if it isn't the easiest part of putting a roster together.)

That being said, I think much will depend on how the 2017 season unfolds. If the Nats are in a close race, and need a stopper, they'll find one at the trade deadline (but not one of the Chapman-Jansen-Melancon Big 3). Need a bat? A veteran rental is the likeliest scenario. Or maybe somebody (in either or both cases) emerges in-house.

If they're out of it--always a possibility--the Nats will probably start to shed players and salary and load up for 2018. But because the Nats--barring catastrophic injuries-- will never really be out of it, expect more of the same.

Otherwise, they start loading up for 2019.

Anonymous said...

Several posts advocating or predicting that the Nats rent a closer at the trade deadline if necessary. This is too costly a strategy. Melancon came at a cost. Felipe Rivero was a young, talented, cheap reliever who won't be eligible for free agency until 2022. It isn't prudent to give up talent like that. Sometimes you have to do that, yes, but it shouldn't be a planned event.

Anonymous said...

Given Dusty's imprudent use of relievers, the Nationals should consider trading Shawn Kelley and any other potentially brittle reliever for a less brittle arm that can withstand Dusty's overuse.

Josh Higham said...

I think Danny is the kind of player who could be part of a decent trade. The Nats offer Danny and a prospect for a mid-tier player of interest and some cash? You're not gonna swap Danny for McCutchen or an elite reliever, obviously, but maybe for a #4 starter type or a reliable but not exceptional outfielder, especially if the trade partner has a good SS coming up the pipeline in a couple of years.

I don't really see the Nats getting at big bat at C or replacing Zimm, so I think the only way to make the bottom of the order less of a black hole is to swap Danny the K machine for a contact hitter. 20+ homers is great, but the guy's WRC+ was like 80. Who hits 20+ homers, plays good defense, runs the bases well, and is dramatically less valuable than the average player? A guy who strikes out a third of the time and hits .180 after the break. I'm a big Danny fan, but I'm not sure I can allow my love for the guy to overwhelm my horror at trotting out a lineup with 3 AA-type hitters and a pitcher at the bottom.

Alexander Freeman said...

I think you're gonna see more changes than just C and closer, like you alluded to. But for catcher, I don't think Severino did enough to convince Rizzo to not go out and get someone else. The Nats swung and missed big on Zobrist and Heyward, which wound up being a blessing in disguise, but this shows us that the Lerners are opening up their check books. I think as a result of this, you'll see Matt Wieters in a Nats uniform next year. Solid defensive catcher who should be cheaper after his off-season, but he has a history of solid offensive production. He's a no-brainer in my mind

Jay said...

I agree with the last post. Winters is a Boras client. Switch hitter and controls the running game well. The Nats need a good catcher to call a good game behind the plate. The problem with Severino to me, is that Maddux was calling all of the pitches from the dugout in the playoffs. Not ideal. We need a leader, someone like Molina in StL. I love Ramos, but he would never go out the mound and settle pitchers down or anything like that. He's a great catcher and I'd be ok if they bring him back instead. I've thought the Nats were going with Wieters for most of the year secondary to the Boras connection and no contract talks with Ramos.

I'd sign Hill and trade Gio. I think they need a closer bad. I'd love to see Desmond back or by some miracle trade for Blackmon. However, I have a sneaking suspicion they will go with Revere. I think Zim had a good playoffs, so I'm ok with sticking with him. I am in no way, shape, or form ok with Danny playing everyday again. If he makes contact in just one of those game 1 at bats instead of swinging from the heals, then maybe they beat the Dodgers. It wasn't the strike outs that bothered me about Espinosa. It was the complete inability or refusal to make any adjustments whatsoever other than swing as hard as possible. That may work against the Reds. It will never work in the playoffs. Move Turner to SS.

Adam Peters said...

I can't believe that ANYONE thinks that keeping Danny Espinosa as the Nats starting shortstop is anything but a disastrous idea. He was the worst hitting shortstop in the major leagues in 2016. And it's not like he had 35 defensive runs saved to offset that. WTF?!

Anonymous said...

I think we had the Matt Wieters discussion last off-season after Ramos's disappointing, injury-riddled, year.

In 2014 Wieters had Tommy John surgery and played in only 26 games. In 2015, he played in 75 games. Restored to health in 2016--and accepting a Qualifying Offer--he appeared in 124 games.

Not sure replacing a 28-year-old injury-prone catcher with a 30-year-old injury-prone catcher is what the Nats are looking at.

DezoPenguin said...

Freddy Galvis, Jose Iglesias, Alcides Escobar, Alexei Ramirez, and Adeiny Hechevarria would like a word with you about the whole "worst-hitting shortstop" thing (by wRC+, at least). By fWAR, Galvis was actually better due to good fielding, but Mercer was worse. Andrus and Brad Miller were much better hitters but such awful fielders that they were barely better than Danny.

So yeah, Danny Espinosa cannot be considered "plan A" at SS, but we can do worse than him.

Moreover, Danny Espinosa was only the third-worst regular out of eight. (And probably fourth-worst in the present lineup since C is basically a black hole.) Fixing the 1B problem has to be top priority. Ben Revere was a disaster in CF, considerably worse than Danny. Trea Turner can only replace one of those three problems (1B by proxy, with Trea playing 2B and Murphy moving to 1B).

Think about this. Espinosa is a glove-first SS, at a priority defensive position, and we're still complaining about his hitting being awful. The Nationals first basemen, BOTH Zim AND Robinson, hit WORSE than Espinosa, and they were also terminally lousy defenders. By fWAR, Espi was +1.7, Robinson -1.2 and Zim -1.3.

So, even if you can replace Revere with a good CF, the solution is to then have Trea and Danny in the MI and Murphy at 1B. Zim's not going anywhere, so bench him and have him be next year's Clint Robinson, the 1B/LF backup with a little HR pop. If after all that is said and done, THEN you get a good 2B or SS that can move Espinosa out of the starting lineup, great, but there are other problems to prioritize fixing first.

Zimmerman11 said...

@Adam Peters... how many NL teams got 1.7WAR out of their 8th spot in the lineup this season?

If your answer is "not the Cubs or Dodgers" then I guess I understand... except I don't think those teams got more out of the 8th spot than the Nats did...

with Ramos out, we can't have ANOTHER hole in the lineup, but we can have the SAME hole in the lineup that we had last year, when we were 4th in the NL in runs, can't we? That's disastrous?

We scored more runs than the Cards, Giants, Dodgers and Mets... and fewer than the Cubs. And the team hit in teh postseason, minus Rendon and Espy... and minus any power from bryce.

ClassOf87 said...

The only question that matters is what do the Lerners want to do? Do they want to keep the payroll flat, hope that injuries don't impact the squad next season, get into the playoffs one way or another and then hope we have good luck in the playoffs? Or do they aggressively try to improve a good but hardly great team and make it dominant where they can, to maximize the Nats' opportunities in a potential postseason series?

If it's the former, I expect few changes, other than maybe taking a flier on a buy-low FA CF they've coveted before, like Carlos Gomez, which would allow the TT move to SS, giving Severino the starting job at C and re-signing Melancon to a short deal. That would be...okay. But hardly inspiring. (BTW, I don't buy this notion that the NL East will stay easy. Atlanta's got a ton of young talent. The Mets have a lot of arms, and only need a normal break with injuries to be right back in the mix.)

Personally, I hope the Nats aggressively address their weaknesses, and put the best possible team on the field for the next two years, to take the best possible shot at breaking through in the playoffs. How to do that?

1) Wish Wilson Ramos well in the AL. Then trade a couple of our better--but not best--prospects (maybe Cole and Spencer Kieboom?) to Arizona for C Welington Castillo. Will be 30 next season. Slash line: .264/.322/.423/.745. One arbitration-eligible year remaining. A pretty good hitter who's become a much better defensive presence in the last couple of years. Castillo and Severino would be a very strong C platoon.

2) While I would love to see the Nats go after Marcell Ozuna, my guess is the price tag would be prohibitive, especially after the tragic death of Jose Fernandez. Miami needs pitching now; I doubt prospects would do, and I wouldn't want to give up a Ross or Lopez. But, the Nats need a CF. I would definitely inquire what it would take to get Lorenzo Cain from the Royals. It would be a gamble; he's a FA after 2017. But he's just 30 and he's one of the best defensive CFs in the game. Offense dropped last season, but he's got very good speed and makes contact--only 290 Ks last three years. Compare with Desmond, who has 510 (!) Ks over the same period. Cain would be a terrific #2 hitter in D.C., IMHO. Would I trade Roark for Cain? No. Would I trade Ross for Cain? I might. Could also be the future replacement for Werth in left. Then move TT to SS.

3) Either re-sign Melancon or sign Jansen. You can't start 2017 hoping that Glover or someone else with "stuff" can just step in and close. He's not ready for high-leverage situations. This is a team built to win now. You need a proven closer, not someone you hope grows into the position, or a former setup guy, etc. I don't care which one they sign of Melancon or Jansen, but they must get one.

4) Keep Danny as a late inning defensive replacement/spot starter. If he doesn't like it, tough. He had his shot this year. Not productive enough with the bat. Not close to good enough. Keep Revere in a similar backup OF/spot starter role. Difo stays all year. Hopefully re-sign Drew and/or Heisey.

5) That means the rotation is pretty much the same, unless you move Ross in a package for Cain.

So, my 2017 lineup:

Cain CF
Murphy 2B
Harper RF
Rendon 3B
Werth LF
Zimm 1B
Castillo C
SP (Max, Stras, Roark, Gio, Lopez/FA vet)
RP (Melancon/Jansen, Kelley, Treinen, Glover, Scrabble, Solis, Perez)
Bench: Espi, Revere, Difo, Robinson, Drew, Heisey

G Cracka X said...

OK, so the Nats Opening Day payroll in 2016 was about $145m, right? I know 2015 was much higher, but that was probably a 1 year aberration. They start with a payroll of around $101.5m for 2017. Pick up Gio's option, and add 11.5m to his $500k guaranteed money (buyout), and you're at $112m. OK, now add in the arb guys (Harper, Rendon, Espi, Lobaton, and Roark) - roughly $28.5 mil. Now we are at $140mil, and that's assuming Revere is non-tendered. Throw in the pre-arb guys and you are already not that far from $145mil without having signed even a bench free agent.

The point here is that if they keep Gio, I can't see them doing most, if not all, of the big signings proposed on this comment thread. Given the payroll, I don't think they'll be willing to pay for Melancon. Or take on Cutch's contract. Or sign Wieters/Desmond/etc. It seems that in order to do any of those things, they either have to drop Gio or find some other way to reduce payroll to balance out the offseason acquisitions.

I know that may seem frustrating, given the Lerners' wealth, but it just doesn't seem like they are going to expand the Opening Day Payroll much beyond $145mil. I'd be happy to be wrong on this

G Cracka X said...

'most, if not any' I meant

PotomacFan said...

Gio could definitely be a sign and trade. That would free up $12.5 million. That won't get the Nats very far, though.

Flapjack said...

In addition to keeping Malancon (doable, if Soriano's 2013 deal is any indication), we need a new left handed starter. Harper, I know, on balance, you like Gio. But with the Braves, Phillies and Mets all likely to do better in 2017, mediocrity is too risky. For his part, Gio no longer rises to the big moments and, increasingly, is prone to very bad ones. I have to think that Rizzo (egged on by Dusty, on the record as a Gio doubter) is looking very hard for LH talent -- an up and comer, not marquee (because stealing talent is Rizzo's signature). And then everything cascades off of that. What does the counter-party in this hypothetical trade want? Who are we willing to give up? To get someone good, you have to be ready to part with real talent, not just a questionable Zimm (who, history says, in any case, is due for a rebound) or Espy or Revere (also a comeback candidate). I'll go out on a limb and say Roark. On paper, Roark has saved the Learners a ton of money -- who else gets a repeat 15 game winner for under $550K a year? -- but this could be a case of sell high. Besides, next year is an arbitration year. Lots of teams will have an interest in Ross, but I think we keep him.

Here is a thought: The Marlins, sadly, are short one very good pitcher and some middling ones as well. One hates to do multi-player trades with teams that can come back and bite you, but they have a couple of bats that might be worth looking at.

NotBobby said...

@flapjack - i would think the Fish would welcome Gio with ipen arms as a charismatic cuban pitcher who can soak up innings and maybe pitch well at times. We would need to add something else, but maybe that gets something from the Marlins?

Lerners will stick with Zim and they are not wrong to do so. If Zim is healthy then he is productive and FOTF.

Rizzo will get a closer, but it wont be one of the big three. Just isnt his style.

Lobaton and Severino at catcher.

ClassOf87 said...

If you're right about Rizzo not going for one of the big three closers, NotBobby, the Nats will deserve whatever late-inning misfortune they get. If they don't see the difference before and after Melancon--or, remember the bullpen implosions in '12 and '14, then they're not as smart as we all think. There's three elite closers available. If the Nats are serious about being a contender, they have to get one of them. I guarantee you the Giants will.

NotBobby said...

87 - maybe so, but 27 teams will not have the big three.

Also, i do not think Melancon is anywhere close to the other two. He is definitely good, but he doesnt miss bats like them. I want RPs who miss bats. Rizzo will find someone in another org who misses bats and is obtainable. Melancon will quite likely be better but the other will cost much less.

Sammy Kent said...

Melancon and Chapman both become free agents. IMHO you pick the one you want and sign him. Melancon will probably come much cheaper, and he's already had a half year to acclimate himself to being a National. I doubt Rizzo could sign him before he tries the market just because he probably wants to try the market. But we ought to be able to give him what is required and get his name on the line. I'd be happy with either one, but Melancon is a better bargain IMHO.

Ramos is also on the free agent market, and there certainly has never been a more untimely injury than his. I don't mean to sound cold, but this is business. The Nationals do not owe it to Ramos to re-sign him. In fact, it is probably best for both him and the Nats to shake hands and part friends. Wilson himself has acknowledged that it probably will do better for his long term health to sign with an American League team as a DH and backup catcher.

Rizzo could go with Loby, Severino, and Kieboom, or sign Jason Castro or Jonathan Lucroy and save Severino and Kieboom for trade bait or 2018. Castro has the obvious advantage of being Hispanic. I'm pretty certain the only non-Hispanic catchers to start a game since Rizzo arrived are Will Nieves and Kurt Suzuki. (Pudge Rodriguez, Sandy Leon, Jesus Flores, Jhonatan Solano, Wilson Ramos, Jose Lobaton, Pedro Severino) Rizzo collects Hispanic catchers like other people collect stamps.

Mat Latos is becoming a free agent. I'd like to re-sign him.

Lucas Giolito is still considered one of MLB's top five prospects. TRADE HIM. Rizzo won't do it, partly because he still thinks Little Gio will figure out how to throw 98 miles an hour effectively; mostly because he simply does not do Tier 1 trades. He gets his stars via the free agent rack. He needs to grow a pair and pull the trigger. I think we have more than enough starting pitching in the pipeline to use Giolito as the biggest part of the bait for a genuine, All Star type 30/90 bat that (trust me) we DESPERATELY need.

Anonymous said...

@ Sammy

Giolito is losing is aura though. Yeah we like to make the arguments that other flamethrowers have taken time to mature, but he had a solid chance in the majors to show his stuff and it was subpar. He's not some unproven prospect in AA anymore that has inflated value, he has real major league stats and those are going to hurt his value in a trade. I don't think you can bring in a 30/90 without giving Giolito and at least 2 other prospects. No way Rizzo does that deal

Mythra said...

I had a couple of thoughts on this after Game 5.

1) I think the Nats exercise the option on Gio, but not to keep him. I think Gio gets traded, maybe to the Giants or an NL West team that wants to beat the Dodgers and another lefty has value there. Plus, he's cheap for smaller market teams.
2) Danny is traded as well. Likely to an AL team that needs his glove and he hits 9th in the AL. He has some value, so maybe he returns a #5 guy to replace Gio who eats innings.
3) Nats re-sign Latos to replace Gio or play #6 starter in the wings like this season.
4) Doubt Rizzo goes after McCutchon, but I could see him getting Bourn to platoon with Revere, if Revere doesn't bounce back. I could also see them make a run at Desmond, but only for 1 or 2 years.
5) Zim and Werth will slowly be phased out of starting 120+ games and platooned. Goodwin will get a shot to play LF now and then.
6) I think Rizzo signs Drew and makes a run at Heisey as bench guys again. However, signing Drew may push Zim to the bench a few days a week. No way he gets to stink it up at the plate all year again.
7) Nats have to look at Kelley and say no way to closer. That Game 5 scare is a warning. Get Melacon or Chapman (Dusty favorite) and stop rolling the dice. Groom Glover as the next Clippard. Reliable, 8th inning guy waiting for the 9th job to open when Melancon's contract is over.

I had some time to think since Game 5, I guess.

JE34 said...

Echoing an earlier point... I really hope they steer clear of Ian Desmond. An abundance of strikeouts killed this team's chances of beating the Dodgers -- they had em on the ropes! Kershaw did not own them! Ducks on the pond! And so forth! -- and adding Ian exacerbates that problem.

Sammy Kent said...

"Groom Glover as the next Tyler Clippard." scares me. I'm sure I know what you mean, but "next set-up man" sounds a lot less ominous. Goggles may not have invented the eighth inning two-run dinger, but he darn sure perfected it.

JW said...

Catcher -- I think they'll go with Severino at C, if for no other reason than there aren't really a lot of other good options. Certainly not ones that would warrant giving up anything of actual value (which is what it would take to get even a mediocre option)

Closer -- I wish they'd resign Melancon, but I doubt they will. Just seems too expensive. I would imagine they'll look for an "internal solution."

I think there will likely be changes in the IF/OF, but it's hard to predict exactly what changes and what impacts there will be on the SP rotation as a result. I would think that the SP will stay the same but I'm not sure how else they could address weaknesses in the other positions. I don't think Cole, Difo or Goodwin (in some type of package) could net you much of anything, and trading Giolito or Lopez is likely trading too low given the rough patches they had in the majors this year. So if you can't get what you need with prospects, you probably are left with Roark, Ross and maybe Gio. I'm just not sure that moving them alone frees up enough money to replace them. Unless you think Cole, Giolito, or Lopez can do it (which I don't).

So it'll be interesting. I agree that if one domino falls, there will have to be several others. I just don't know that any dominoes will fall.

PotomacFan said...

To the previous commenter who recommended trading Tanner Roark because it would be selling "high": I totally disagree. The Nats are paying Roark $545,000. He is under team control for years. Sure, he may not be able to sustain another 15 win, below 3.00 ERA season. But even worst case, he falls to a terrific long reliever -- and even after he gets a big pay raise in arbitration, he is still a bargain. And why would you replace your #2/#3 starter. A 15 win starting pitcher gets $15+ million per year on a minimum four year contract. In fact, .500 pitchers like Jeff Smardzjia (sp.) on SF get huge contracts. So, Tanner stays until his arm falls off -- which probably won't be anytime soon because he has been very healthy throughout his career. BTW: if Tanner were a free agent this winter, he'd be looking at $15 - $18 million per year, minimum four year contract.

Jay said...

The only thing I do know is that Espinosa has no business starting at SS next year. When asked about his 3K's and 6 men left on from game 1. His response - Kershaw left some pitches out over the plate to the other hitters that got hits. He threw tough pitches to me. Good pitches that were pretty much unhittable. Wow. That my friends is why Danny hasn't changed his approach to hitting in the few years he has been up in the big leagues. It's not that he can't hit. It's just that pitchers throw tougher pitches to him than to other guys.

I have no idea what Rizzo is going to do. I tried to think back the last few off seasons and I didn't see most of those moves coming either. I hope they get a catcher - I just don't think Severino is ready to lead a pitching staff. I hope Zim bounces back and hits like he did in the playoffs and stays healthy. I justify this in my mind by looking at the improvement seen in Werth this year. I hope Rendon has a better year. I hope Turner plays close to what he did this year. I hope Murphy keeps raking. I hope Strasburg is healthier this year, but I doubt it. I think they should let Gio go and go get another lefty - Rizzo has always like de La Rosa in Colorado. I agree that they have a legitimate 2 year window and then Bryce is gone. I hope they try to take advantage of it.

Jay said...

Plus you know Henley waved Werth home bc he knew Espinosa was on deck. Now Espinosa had actually driven in a run earlier in the game, but I'm betting Bob must have been doubtful he'd do it again.

Anonymous said...

Agree with PotomacFan, trading Roark would be organizational malpractice. Good teams that don't have unlimited budgets like the Nationals need to have several quality players at cheap, underpaid salaries like Roark. This is doubly true for the Nationals when you factor in how much they are overpaying Zimmerman and Werth. (Lets hope Rizzo isn't dumb enough to sign Desmond)

Also factor in the Nationals did not have much starting pitching depth this past season when Strasburg and Ross got hurt. Cole, Lopez, Giolito did not set the world on fire. Trading away another quality starter would hinder the Nationals biggest strength - starting pitching.

NotBobby said...

Man, barrett dfa'd. Maybe the injuries will keep him from signing with another team and he comes back on a minor league deal?

JE34 said...

@Anon 11:27am -- does any MLB team have organizational SP depth that can survive multiple injuries to the rotation? I think we should be delighted with what we got out of replacements to Strasburg and Ross. We could have been much worse off than 95 wins.

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