Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - It begins

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Quickie - It begins

The Winter Meetings are now in full swing and we are seeing movement, finally, of real players.How do these effect the Nats?

Stanton to the Yankees 
This has been a garbage story from the beginning but we're going to focus on how it effects the Nats which is - it's good! We joke about the NL East basically being the AFC East, where the Patriots are not only good but get to beat up on three bumpkins every year. But it's got a grain of truth. In this case, Miami is now under leadership who can't afford them meaning Stanton had to go. He could have gone to St. Louis or San Fran but he demanded NY, LA, or Houston and his no-trade meant he could. NY made the best deal shipping out Giancarlo from the NL and making the Nats road that much easier. They should win more games in division, making it easier to get HFA situations in the playoffs, if they make it.

This also (possibly) has the effect of taking the Yankees out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. However, I'm not entirely sure I buy that. The Yankees will get under the salary threshold this year, resetting their penalties. Sure they could find themselves over in 2019 and 2020, but quite possibly it could reset again in 2021 because some big contracts come off (maybe Stanton's!) and the rookies will still be a season away from FA contracts. Also Headley, Robertson, and Gardner all become FAs after 2018 and none need to come back saving the Yankees over 35 million in salary right there. I think the biggest impediment to the Yankees and Bryce meeting up isn't Stanton, but Machado, who would fit in perfectly at the hole at 3B.  But if Manny goes somewhere else or if the Yankees just want pure starpower, I think it could still happen.

Cubs sign Brandon Morrow

The Cubs are trying to make up for losing Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis by buying pitchers who may surprise. First was Tyler Chatwood, who was the youngest guy out there and pitched very well outside of Coors (though that means mostly in LA, SD, and SF) and now it's Brandon Morrow a guy who was mediocre in an injury filled 2016 and great last year in LA. This should be worrying to the Nats, not because the Cubs know something about these guys you don't. They are fine and should mostly do the job but nothing more. No, it should worry you because it's setting up the Cubs for buying during next year's potential FA bonanza*. It also forces their rivals into an all or nothing situation. Pay a lot for the Arrieta's or scrape buy with the dregs.

In good news though - the Cubs should be less talented. Now does that translate into fewer wins? I'm not sure - depends on the rest of the central. Also I felt the Cubs underperformed a little in 2016. 

Cardinals sign Luke Gregerson 

This is a gamble. Gregerson had been one of the better relievers in baseball since really 2010. Last year though he struggled and at basically 34 next year. You'd think his age is catching up with him. I'd take this to mean that the Cardinals are trying though to piece together a playoff team. The more legitimately competitive NL teams the worse for the Nats. What you want is the NL East to be garbage and the other NL divisions to be filled with mediocrity fighting it out. Let everyone else be 81-81. No 90 win teams who could beat you in the playoffs. No 60 win teams who could feed another squad to 100 wins.

Rockies sign Chris Iannetta

Kind of like the Cardinals thing except gambling on someone decent last year with a less reliable history. Iannetta is at best an average backstop and he's old (35 next year) but the Rockies catching situation before Lucroy was garbage so he's going to be an improvement unless he pulls a Wieters style crash. It's a canny signing at the price they paid, and much like the Cardinals signals a team that is going to try in 2018 (as well they should being a playoff team) 

Mike Fiers to Tigers

This doesn't effect the Nats at all other than I suppose Fiers was a guy they might have picked up to fill out the rotation in February in a panic. He's the dregs I talked about before. Cheap (6 million - 1 year) but young enough that you can shake off last year's badness and be probably sure he'll just do what you think he will - put up a fullish season of 4/5 worthy stuff. Trends in the wrong direction though so its not a signing for a team in contention.

Ok let's see if the Nats do anything. The have holes but they don't have to do anything to maintain favorite status in the NL East. They could be a reactive player making moves only if the Mets seem to jump in on something. I still think we come out of the Winter Meetings with a starter or reliever, though don't be surprised if it's an underwhelming, but reasonable player. Like I said - I'm betting on Lackey, JJ Hardy, and oh I don't know. Pat Neshek.

*How are the Nats set-up? Not as well.  They'll have money coming off the books for sure. Like 75 million! But they are losing guys they need to replace. They need a new Daniel Murphy, they'll need a starter for Gio, a good reliever for Madson, a real catcher, and they'll have to either get back or replace that guy in the FA bonanza, Bryce Harper. Also Stras and Max go from counting 40 million against the cap to 80 million. If the Nats are concerned about that then there's a lot of potential spending money locked in to these two players**

** even though they won't be paid this money until much later.


cass said...

"but the Rockies catching situation before Lucroy was garbage"

I think I remember something about another team whose catching situation is garbage and maybe errors and something about poor hitting and poor receiving costing his team a playoff series win but maybe I'm imagining things.

Jay said...

Any chance they just trade for Ramos? Seems the Rays are throwing in the towel early this year. Trading closer Colomb, Longoria, maybe Archer. They already let Boxberger go. I'd love to have the buffalo back.

Josh Higham said...

Is the AAV for a contract recalculated every year? I thought Max, for example, counted $30m every year because that's 210/7? Is it remaining value divided by remaining years?

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper, re your view that Stanton means no Harper for Yankees. I don’t think anybody thinks this takes Harper all but out of the Bronx because they won’t have the money now. I think it’s because of positional scarcity. He just doesn’t fit. they have two corner outfield studs entrenched and have nowhere to play a third. None can play CF credibly (at least not for this part of Bryce’s career coming up), and I highly doubt any of the 3 players of this caliber are going to be willing to be almost full time DHs, particularly with Gary Sanchez taking up a ton of DH starts as well—unless he learns to catch and becomes the first backstop ever to get MORE nimble back there as he ages. I mean I GUESS I could squint and see the Yankees making Stanton a DH starting at age (what?) 28? But come on. Not really. Throw in the fact that if I’m the Yankees I want almost ALL of my FA $ powder dry for the (relatively) stacked starter FA class in 2018 (rotation to me is easily the Yankees biggest weakness), and I just don’t see them buying a THIRD corner OF basher. Makes no sense. With one exception. Unless they flip Stanton to a place like LAD after a year. That’s the only way I see it. But yeah. Not having enough money for Bryce is not among the top few reasons “Bryce to NYY” is done. It’s the other stuff. And PLUS as you say Machado will be (probably) cheaper AND fit better, so it makes no sense any more. I think the 5 contenders are (in order of rough likelihood): Cubs (because I feel like Bryce would love to play at Wrigley), Nats, Phillies (because they simply have no limit on what they might offer), Red Sox, Dodgers. I would be legitimately VERY surprised if he went anywhere besides these 5 spots.

blovy8 said...

I think this deal from the Yankees end is being glorified a bit too much; it's as though the writers have almost dismissed Stanton's no-trade clause and opt out. The pitching prospect the Yanks gave up isn't chopped liver, he could be borderline top-100. After Machado and Harper get paid tons after next season, and he spends enough of his time on the back pages of the NY tabloids, it's not unlikely Stanton may opt out, probably at best meaning they have to pay him more as they did with A-Rod to keep him beyond two years.

Harper said...

cass - never heard of such a thing

Jay - hmmm - I think its POSSIBLE but I think there are other things the Nats want to deal with first that'll keep this from happening.

Josh - OK maybe your are right - this is what Cot's says about his contract

for purposes of annual payrolls (including salaries and a pro-rated 1/7 share of the signing bonus), Scherzer will earn $17,142,857 in 2015, $22,142,857 annually in 2016-18, $37,405,562 in 2019, $35,920,616 in 2020, and $34,503,480 in 2021 (salaries and bonus paid before the contract expires are not discounted, but 2019-21 salaries are discounted to $30,262,705, $28,777,759 and $27,360,623, respectively, as money paid after deal’s expiration)

for luxury-tax purposes, Scherzer’s annual salary is $28,689,376

I'm not sure what the purpose is for annual payroll if he's not being paid that money and it's not going toward luxury tax.

Bx - I don't disagree, really. I think though one should find a place for great players rather than worry about positional flexibility. What are the chances that in 2020 Bryce, Sanchez, Judge, Stanton are all healthy and all hitting well? Probably not that good.

blovy8 - I think he definitely opts out if the Yanks don't sign Machado (or Bryce I guess) because if they don't he'll possibly have a lot of leverage as the main star (let's see Judge keep it up before we keep him a star)

Kubla said...

I read that Angelos doesn't want to send Machado to NYY.