Nationals Baseball: Seth Romero and the gambling drafts

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Seth Romero and the gambling drafts

When it comes to the draft, the Nats are gamblers at heart. I wrote this a few years ago, and nothing has changed. The Nats still are gambling on talent hoping to find a transformational player rather than a mere useful one. The idea is, if you find one every 3-4 years, it can sustain a team. The Nats were handed two in Strasburg and Bryce, and then, with a high draft pick, snagged a player close to that in Rendon. But since then they've been failing.

2012 : Lucas Giolito - injury risk that was initially thought to have Hall of Fame potential (no seriously see that link above people were saying that) if he could stay healthy. He is more likely to settle into a 3-4 role in a rotation. (though personally I like him to be a savvy 2). Traded with others for Adam Eaton - a very solid player but not transformational. 

2013 :  Jake Johansen - 2nd round pick (first lost for Soriano) here was a guy that wasn't a highly thought of player that dropped because of warning signs, but a guy with all talent and no results. A6'3" 235 pound beast with a 7-6 record and a 5.40 ERA in college with good but not impressive K and BB rates. Because of the results he was ranked low as a prospect, lower than where the Nats grabbed him. He never performed outside of short-season ball and the Nats released him last year.

2014 : Erick Fedde - Very highly thought of college pitcher whose pre-draft season ended in TJ surgery. The Nats scooped him up and waited out the injury. He didn't pitch in 2014. He's had some decent pitching in the low minors but the high minors have been a bit of a struggle for him, the Nats have toyed with him in the pen, and had a real rough outing in the majors. Is expected to at least start 2018 in AAA. The good news is that his control clock has barely started. The bad news is that he won't start a season in the Nats rotation until at best he's almost 5 years post TJ. If you believe in a shorter shelf life after TJ there is a diminishing return possible.

2015 : Andrew Stevenson - 2nd round pick (first lost for Scherzer). A little bit of a reach as a toolsy speedy defensive specialist that the Nats hoped could develop as a hitter. He has reached the majors but outside a short stint in AA to start 2017 his high minors time has more shown what he is not capable of (hitting with any power) than what he is. He's maybe a 4th OF to be if he can figure out how to use his speed to get on base. I'd maybe give the Nats a pass here though because I don't think they expected Stevenson to be much more than he is. I think.

2016 : Carter Keiboom and Dane Dunning - both were seen as more 2nd round picks, though the Nats did select late in the first round. Hard to completely judge either of these players but both look strong at the moment. Of course Dunning, part of the Eaton deal, is doing it for the White Sox.

 2017 : Seth Romero - Talented but troubled youngster. His first minor league season was just ok and now he's doing something wrong, if something relatively minor.

Either of Keiboom or Dunning (again for CHW) could be that next hit the Nats wanted, though you see why I set the time frame as hitting one every 3-4 years. If one of these guys hits they'll likely make their squad in fall 2019 at the earliest and at least a year of play is needed to see if they are special. At that point your original hits, Stras, Bryce, and Rendon will basically be out of your control and you'll have to have made a $ decision on them. It's nice to have these guys coming up but they haven't reloaded you in time. The Nats have missed on 4 straight, went for something special and whiffed on that goal. They probably did it again with Romero.

I don't really fault the Nats for this approach. You need superstars and if you can get them cheap that is a huge load off your payroll. However, if you don't get them you are passing up on some opportunities to shore up the current team, with the stars in hand, trying to start that second round with new ones. It's a calculated gamble for the Nats. Luckily that also involves international signings and trades which have kept this from being a disaster. Because of those moves, and not the draft, the Nats have a chance to keep winning without breaking the bank.


Chas R said...

Where does Robles fit into this equation? Arguably, Turner could also be considered potential transformational player, no?

Seeking a real catcher said...

Please sign Jonathan Lucroy pronto, Mr. Rizzo. Thank you.

P.S.: congratulations on your new DC home.

Anonymous said...

I like Daniel Johnson, so far. What does anyone else, think of him? Fifth-rounder, probably a sleeper.

sirc said...

Robles was an international free agent. Any team could have signed him but the Nats got him.

Trea was a first round pick that every team had on their first round board. He wouldn't be considered risky.

Josh Higham said...

Trea was seen, like Bryce and Strasburg before him, as a much higher floor type than the guys Harper brings up as gambles. And was traded for, which is enough different from actually drafting him as not to be considered, even if he had beena higher risk prospect.

Anonymous said...

And technically Turner was drafted by the Padres...

Jay said...

Hopefully, Rizzo's new home for a little over $1 million close to the stadium is an indicator that he is staying. Rizzo is their most important free agent in my opinion.

Any thoughts on the Nats picking up a pitcher or two? What happens as far as compensation if they sign Holland and Arrieta?

sirc said...


I worry about that compensation. According to the post article today it's 2 draft picks attached to Arrieta, along with international bonus cash. I was under the impression that it was a single draft pick.

Wait until the qualifying offer expires in May and sign whomever is left would be my newly adopted approach.

Or wait until July and dangle Fedde + in a trade, assuming that he is performing at AAA.

I'm spending a lot of this late winter worried about the next 2 years and not seeing the young arms we have always had on the way. Maybe that argues for making the most of 2018, but I dread the tear down and rebuild that the Nats have managed to avoid thus far.

I'm not as old as Ted Lerner, but I'm not so young that I can accept 4 years of wait-n-hope.

blovy8 said...

I agree, and the lack of starting pitching depth in the minors has to factor into extension talks with Gio. He is essentially the same age as Arrieta, and I don't really expect less value from Gio, stripping away the postseason arguments. The guy is probably a reasonable innings-eater in the old school terminology, if nothing else.

Ross hasn't put together close to a full season, and Fedde is not looking like a reliable cog in the machine just now. While it's nice to have so many OF prospects, any team can just sign a guy like John Jay for a few million and keep all their pitchers away from our team.

Romero seems like the kind of a guy who is really unlikely to stick in his first organization, I think there are some more bridges he's gonna burn before he gets it. Who is next on the list? Will Crowe? Not very exciting.

Ole PBN said...

Just looking at the market for any additional relief arms... Trevor Rosenthal? Is he asking for an arm and a leg? Huston Street? Or the SP market (aside from Cobb, Arrieta, Lynn)... how about kicking the tires on Clay Buccholz? R.A. Dickey? Jeremy Hellickson? John Lackey?

I know these guys are still on the market for a reason, as they're washed up, but I haven't heard any interest on our part. Especially on SP front where we have ZERO depth.

sirc said...

Rosenthal is in tommy john rehab, not pitching this year iirc.

Harper said...

chas R - The international signings are almost all lottery tickets because you sign them so young now. So the Nats aren't any different than any team that aggressively spends money (which is most). The big difference is you can't be consistently aggressive because the way the money works. You generally spend a bunch one year then sit out. (Nats for example bought up three big time prospects in 2016, none last year.

Yes Turner has that potential, but he's not a gamble as others noted

seeking - Rizzo, if you read this blog this comment is smart and good and right.

Anon @ 9:02 - I like him but if he's striking out that much in A-ball can't help but think he's going to get eaten alive in his first go through in the upper minors. If he can make an adjustment he could be something special.

Jay - 2nd/5th round picks and a million in int'l money. I still think they should sign one of the name guys out there (Arrieta, Cobb, or Lynn) there isn't a bridge past Gio right now and I don't like next years FA class (as it stands)

sirc - I THINK they can avoid that teardown. Some people may wonder what we are even talking about but with Bryce, Murphy, Gio, Madson FA after this year and Roark and Rendon FA after next there would be big impetus to sell if this season somehow got way off track. Probably the only way that happens is injury + young players aren't at least very good but still it's there because right now the 2020 team is questionable. This is the closest they ever been to seeing a bad team since they've been good. The previous closest was after 2014 when You could see some trouble after 2016 but you still knew you'd have at least Bryce, Rendon, Roark, and Gio (along with whatever Zimm and Werth would give you)

blovy8 - I'd rather sign a Cobb than Gio. A little younger and I love AL->NL guys but the point is they generally figure out a post 2018/9 rotation around now and that means signing someone because you can't be sure of the young guys.

Ole PBN - relief arms are down to Holland. When we signed Benoit we looked at it -

Josh Higham said...

A's are interested in Wieters. Good scenario: Nats convince Lucroy to sign in DC for cheap, promptly trade Wieters to A's.

Josh Higham said...

JK, A's nearing a deal with Lucroy. A brief moment of glorious hope.

BxJaycobb said...

Lucroy to As for one year. Lynn to Twins for 1 year. What are we doing? Seriously. This whole win World Series or nothing else matters shtick from Lerners was such nonsense.

Froggy said...

Great, now we get to face Arrieta 6 times at least this year.

sirc said...


I'm not sure whether or not you're being sarcastic, but my take is Yay we get to face aging, wild, progressively ineffective Arrieta 6 times per season for the next 3 years while Philly has 75 million fewer dollars to wave at better players over that same 3 years.

Btw, the Nats have hammered Arrieta. .284/.383/.393 against. Some of that was when he was an Oriole, but they hit him as a Cub too.

They spent 75 million for a number 2 on their young staff. I don't see it as a smart add. Arrieta would be a nice addition to an already good staff, like Darvish was for the Cubs. But he isn't Scherzer, Sale or even Price. He had a single great season, at age 29. Then he had a good season, then a pretty good season. Why would he get better in his age 32 season while pitching half of his games in the best Home Run ballpark in the east?

Froggy said...

@sirc, I was. I should have made it clearer. Arrieta is essentially Roark v2.0 for $25mm AAV. I'd say the Nats dodged a bullet, no?

Ole PBN said...

Nats did dodge a bullet with Arrieta. Clearly got paid for what he WAS, not what he IS - which is everything sirc said. Lynn was the guy I wanted, but 1yr/$12M was a little steep I suppose... on the other hand, we did give Dan Harren 1yr/$13M a few years ago (facepalm).

Here's to trade deadline SP upgrades.

DezoPenguin said...

Absolutely dodged a bullet. As I commented in the previous thread because I'm apparently an idiot, with his decline he's not likely to be any better in 2018 than Gio and Roark, meaning that he's basically our fifth starter. Better than Cole or Fedde, probably, but nowhere near $25M and draft picks worth of better than Cole or Fedde. We'd basically have paid that for 1 WAR's improvement and to soothe the fanbase's angst over starting Gio in a playoff game (note that's "soothe the angst," not "actually pitch any better in the actual game").

I'd be willing to go three years for Cobb for less money (AL->NL switch, younger, not in the middle of two years of precipitous decline), but Arietta was a giant ball of red flags.

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