Nationals Baseball: TRADE

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Trade! I like to do these things in Q&A for with myself so here goes:

Kelvin Herrera... I thought the closer for the Royals was still Soria. I guess I should pay more attention. Is he good?

Yes. He's been very good every year but last year. WHIPs in the 1.100s, FIPs in the 2.50-3.50 range. Very good at limiting the home runs because he's a pretty historically strong GB pitcher.

Sounds good, what happened last year? Injury?

Maybe? He did have a forearm injury later in the year, but I mean like September. He wasn't good all year. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to it. Just an off-year. He seems fine this year.

OMG I glanced at this year's stats. A 1.05 ERA?!?!  Tell me this is real

This is nowhere near real.  There are a couple of things that are going to come crashing down sooner or later.  A ridiculous 98.9% LOB rate (80% is very high - his career ave would be high 70s), a .246 BABIP (not impossible but on the low end and his career numbers are closer to .280-.290), a ridiculously low HR/FB rate of 6.7%.  (he's low but around 10% is a better guess).

So... did we get sold a lemon?

If he keeps pitching as he has then it just means he should have an ERA in the high 2.00s instead of around 1.00. That's still good right?

Phew. Well good. Now we can move on to




Tell me.

There are some things I don't like here. If you want to hear them.

I don't honestly. It's been a long 6 seasons

Too bad. The biggest reason his numbers should be in the high twos is a crazy drop in his walk-rate. Usually it's in the 3.00s, now it's under 1.00.   Also his K rate has dropped under 8.0 K/9 which isn't very good, and there's reason to believe that is going to stick.  Also he's been a great HR stopper because he's been a heavy GB pitcher. This year he's giving far fewer GBs (and far more FBs) then ever before. Also his soft-hit rate is the lowest of his career, hard hit is up matching last year. FB speed did drop over an MPH though to be fair he is starting super high (like 97 to 96)

 So what are you saying here? You said we didn't get sold a lemon!

Well actually I said if he keeps pitching like he has then the Nats are ok. So if he has really become a master of control giving up basically no walks, he'll be fine. More hits, more homers, higher ERA but still very good.

Is there any reason to believe that he can do that? Become a master of control?

Yes! Two years ago he dropped his BB/9 rate to 1.5 over the course of the year. So 0.7 might be too much but significantly under his historic 3.0+ rate has some precedent. And he's always been hard to hit, and hard to hit homers off of.  It's hard for me to see him becoming BAD. It's just there is definitely potential here that the Nats bought high - of course they didn't pay much.

What did they pay? I know maybe Kelvin Gutierrez, but I might be confusing him with the guy we got.

Don't feel bad. There aren't any big names here. I'll give a quick rundown
Kelvin Gutierrez is a Wilmer Difo type. Slick fielding, contact guy with minimal pop. He's the kind of guy, like Difo, who you can stick in the majors if not this year than next and he won't embarrass you but he should probably be on the bench. For a team like KC, who is likely to start rebuilding, he's a good guy to play to see if you get lucky. Chances are very good no you will not, but you need ML capable bodies.
Yohanse Morel is the talent. He's not yet 18 and can hit the mid 90s at least. He could develop into something special, but you can say that about dozens of 17 year olds every year. Only a handful make it. Plus he's years away, and not in the usual way we say it, which is more like "not this year or next" but in a literal sense. He's very possibly post 2021 if he ever makes it. He's not even in the traditional minors right now, pitching in the Dominican league.
Blake Perkins is the wild card. He has talent. Was deemed a plus outfielder and had shown some great patience for his age and level. But he can't hit. He's 21 in Advanced A and he's carrying a .234 average. His power showing from last year has gone away leaving him as nothing but maybe a slick fielding walk taker? That won't get him past AA. He'll have a couple years to turn things around but there isn't a strong sense from anyone he will.

This seems like not much at all

It isn't! This basically changes nothing in the Nats plans other than maybe make Difo more likely to stick around rather than be tossed into a trade or replaced from below. 

I'm still worried about the Kelvin Herrera stuff though

I know. It's weird. There's a lot of stats that are untenable or historically off. There are a couple of worrying signs. BUT if you have to guess you say "Yes, he does revert back to his norm" that means across the board though. So the hits start dropping in, he starts walking more, but also he starts throwing more GBs and gets some softer contact. If you just say the first part and not the second you are pulling out the pessimist scenario

That reminds me - you said you'd be more positive! 

Well I said I'd try to accurately present all sides so I will spell it out here. The likely scenario is Herrera pitches well (around a 3.00 ERA) getting his GBs and keeping the ball in the park but not being a DOMINANT force (as would be expected given what it took to get him).  The pessimist scenario is that the troubling numbers are real and the luck stats kick back and he goes from 60 to 30 pretty fast, a 4.00ERA+. The optimist scneario is that he has become a control master and he sort of corrects for the things I've seen I don't like (more GBs) and he puts up a under 2.50 ERA.

What I don't see is him being terrible - like a 5.00 ERA bust. I think his base level being hard to hit, being very hard to bomb, keeps that from happening. I also don't see him being dominant because the Ks aren't there.

Anything else? 

I do wonder what this means for Kintzler and Strasburg. Pitching wouldn't be the first area I would address with this team. It'd be the offense and the easiest area to improve would be catcher.

How are Kintzler and Strasburg?

Don't really know. Kintzler has a forearm strain which as you know from what we just talked about rehashing my take on Strasburg could really be nothing to worry about. He's had injuries before (shoulder in distant past, leg more recently) but this forearm doesn't seem like part of a pattern.

Strasburg still no word, but given I expect full rest to the ASG I don't expect more than the token "he's progressing" until we get into July.

In other words - there is no reason to worry about either yet. Yes, you can wonder, especially about Kintzler, but you gotta take the Nats at their word right now.


Anonymous said...

I think it's fine to speculate whether this trade gives us information we didn't have about Kintzler's health. It's very possible he's hurt worse than we know, but we won't know that until later. Herrera is better than Kintzler, though, so this is an upgrade even if Kintzler is healthy.

This trade cannot possibly have anything to do with Strasburg, so put that away. If Strasburg had spontaneously combusted and no longer existed in the world, the set of solutions to that problem would not include "trade for Kelvin Hererra."

Josh Higham said...

I think this move is likely a response to Kintzler's injury. But also, Madson has not been inspiring this year. Not as bad as ERA suggests, as he's had some BABIP bad luck, and his FIP- is 79, but he's also not the high K low BB machine he was last year.

You could argue that having at least 2 of KMD healthy and dominant all year was not likely, but with Miller's emergence and Herrera, the pen is now a clear strength even with some bad injury luck moving forward.

In other news, Raudy Read's suspension should be over in a few weeks, right?

Froggy said...

So, we should expect him to be the Matt Albers of 2017 not the Mark Melancon of 2016, then...

...I'll take that.

Jay said...

I think it has more to do with Shawn Kelley and Wander Suero. If you want to connect it to an injury, I'd connect it to the oft mentioned but little seen Koda Glover. The Nats have needed another RH in the bullpen all year. This solves that. I think Herrera becomes the 8th inning guy. I think Madson more so the 7th. I think Kinzler (who I think is coming back) becomes the ground ball specialist. I think it is a great move.

Anonymous said...

Another piece: the "why now" question seems to me less about the Nats than the Royals. Seems the Nats would want to get a minor leaguers for a reliever trade done as early as possible, since its not like they are going to get any major league production out of those 3 in the mean time, so more days with Herrera is better. The reasons trades don't normally happen until closer to the deadline is the seller waiting to decide the year is a bust and waiting for the market to heat up so they can get the best value. That this trade happened now, and doesn't smack of desperation from the Nats, says to me that the Royals wanted to get the trade done because he might have a bad few months and tank his value, not that Kintzler is dead and the Nats are desperate for another arm this very second.

Chas R said...

Herrera seems like a Kintzler replacement- same type of pitcher

mike k said...

Nothing wrong with adding a quality bullpen arm. You can't have too many of them. Granted if you do this every year then you find your minor league depth slowly deteriorating for rentals who only give you a handful of innings....ahem....but overall it's a good thing.

I agree with anon that the Royals might be trading him now instead of later (when they would traditionally get more value) because they're expecting a drop in value. But considering who the Nats gave up, it looks like both teams are in agreement here.

Can we just give Koda Glover a bionic arm?

G Cracka X said...

Also, Herrera is yet another reliever who can close if Doo needs a day off, and he has postseason experience. Maybe not meaningful, but it's something

Kubla said...

@ mike k

I think it's in part because the Royals are so clearly toast that they need to start hoarding prospects to see where their future is. While Herrera probably would drop in value because his stats are unsustainable, there's also a risk that other tanking teams with decent to good relievers will flood the market and lower the price at the deadline. Although, in their case, I don't really know who else they can trade besides Moustakis. Their SPs are crud. By September, their big league roster could be 90% guys who started the year in the minors just to find out what they've got.

While I don't really like trading for relievers, I'm down with packaging a bunch of meh prospects for useful pieces and hope the Nats do it again to get a bat. On a related note, what actually happens if a farm system gets so depleted that there literally aren't enough guys in the organization to field a team at some level?

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. First of all, if I’m Rizzo I make this trade, period, even given everything you’ve said, and even given what I’m about to post below. I thought the Nats even with Kintzler healthy were one at least solid reliever away from a team that could make a deep run through postseason. They have him now and then some. This pen doesn’t need another arm this year barring injury. It’s now a strength IMO. Now, if there is one thing that concerns me, it’s this. Do I think Moore pulled a fast one and sold us an injured player? Uh, no. But I think Moore may have figured “this feels like last year with the forearm and we remember how last year went and that’s why I’m dealing him now and not waiting until the deadline.” But everybody should watch what Ken rosenthal says below. I find it compelling.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. One more thing. To me, of all the years I’ve followed the contending Nats, I’ve never known of a more obvious and inevitable trade than getting Wilson Ramos. They should go get him now. I would overpay a bit if necessary (anybody in any non insane quantity except the top 3 prospects...should be doable. DO IT). Hell, I would even do this if it makes getting anything else at deadline much lower probability, including pitching. Although if you ask me, I have some internal discussions about the following Q: “Stras is an injury risk. Gio will be a FA. We have no SP depth next couple years. Should we deal Robles/Kieboom for Stroman or Archer?” (Note: only do it if Stroman returns and looks good, ditto Archer and performance rest of the way). But if you asked me, Fake Rizzo, the Rays will give you Ramos and Archer for Robles and some additional prospects outside our top 3 (not Soto, not Kieboom)? I seriously consider doing it...and well....yeah i probably do. What do you think?

Sammy Kent said...

Unless the Nationals were just trying to keep the Phillies from making a deal for Herrera, I don't know why they traded for a fourth closer. We need another serviceable starter and a long man.

Of course, that's not going to solve the batting woes anyway. Wanna know how bad the Nats offense is? Bryce Harper is batting .192 since the 1st of May, and STILL leads the team in runs, homers, and RBIs. We have one lonely guy officially batting as high as .275--Matt Adams, at exactly .275. The only players with higher averages are three with too few plate appearances to qualify for official ranking--including one pitcher (A.J. Cole, Adam Eaton, and Juan Soto), and Howie Kendrick, who is out for the season. Team batting average is .237. Take out the pitchers, and it climbs all the way up to .242. Shazzam.

BxJaycobb said...

So yeah. I think that the Nats don’t get this done this early if this guy didn’t JUST have an appearance where the trainer went to the mound. And I’d be a little worried.

DezoPenguin said...


That might be true even if there's nothing wrong with him. If Herrera got injured, then Moore wouldn't be able to get anything for him, so if he has the chance to move the guy now, then taking it isn't a bad decision.

Jay said...

I think it was a great move. The doom and gloom is strong on this blog recently. MLB Trade Rumors had Herrera as the number 2 impact trade candidate behind Manny Machado. They said the following:

"All you really need to know here is that Herrera has allowed two earned runs and no walks in his 23 2/3 innings this year. After scuffling last year, Herrera has been unstoppable in 2018. His swinging-strike rate is back to 14.6%, near his 2016 peak. While his fastball is down two ticks from his early-career levels, it’s still a healthy 97.2 mph. Sure, his 96.2% strand rate won’t last, and Statcast suggests there’s regression to come on the batted ball outcomes (.191 wOBA vs. .277 xwOBA), but there’s little doubt that Herrera is in fine form at the moment."

Anyway, Rizzo knows what he is doing. I agree that Ramos is a bit of a no brainer to me since a) he can hit more than .200 and 2) he already knows the staff pretty well. I would also love for them to get a number 3 starter but I think that is asking too much. Hellickson says he is ready to come for his next start. Murphy is starting to look more like himself - did you see his double in the 9th last night. I think Strasburg waits till after the AS break but he'll be back and hopefully be strong down the stretch last year. Harper is not going to hit <.200 the rest of the year. Plus the Nats picked up all of Herrera's salary. Maybe younger Lerner is willing to spend.

Anonymous said...

What's with the Wilson Ramos love-fest?

JE34 said...

Ramos leads the AL in grounding into double plays, one off the MLB lead. I was going to advance this as a point of evidence against re-acquiring the Buffalo, until I looked at the list of yearly league leaders in this category, and saw it was loaded with Hall of Famers.

It's all about the cost in farmhands. Ramos will be a half-year rental of a 1.0 WAR guy, so you really shouldn't overpay.

JE34 said...

In 2014, AssCab was a 1 WAR pickup of a half-year rental that cost the Nats the services of Zach Walters and a sack of unmarked bills. Sold American.

JE34 said...

(an overly simplistic comparison, I know.)

Huzzah! said...

Braves best the Jays 11-4 tonight. Ugh.

BxJaycobb said...

“What’s with the Wilson Ramos love fest?”
Let’s be very clear. The biggest way to improve isn’t replacing a fine player with a great one. It’s replacing a horrible player with a solid one. The Nats catching situation is legitimately catastrophic level bad. It’s not bad. It’s not a problem. It’s a disaster. It is the worst position in terms of personnel of any serious World Series contender. Putting an average of mildly above average starting catcher would be more than a 1 WAR pickup. Because our catchers are below replacement level. And it changes the lineup. Because of the pitcher, every third inning the opposing P basically has a break. We’re chasing a team that has not one but TWO very good above average catchers. We don’t need Realmuto. But we do need Ramos or somebody similar (Cervelli is better, but would cost more due to control). But if I had to upgrade one spot on the team, literally it’s 1. Catcher 2. Catcher 3. Catcher 4. Rotation. Our offense is a problem. It’s partiallt because we have catchers who are not major league starter bats. And I include Weiters who I bet won’t be back until the last month of the season anyway. So that’s why there’s love for Ramos. Because (1) he’s good and thus WAY BETTER than what we have (2) if we got him not he’d be more valuable than a normal rental with the extra 6 weeks and (3) he wouldn’t cost much. You could get him without giving up any of the top 3 prospects.

BxJaycobb said...

And to be clear I like Severino, despite him being an offensive zero. He’s a good defensive catcher and that’s job number one. But we need to make a move.

BxJaycobb said...

Well said. All true. As an alternative to Ramos, not just Realmuto but (between Realmuto and Ramos in terms of cost) is Cervelli. Controlled beyond this year. Athletic catcher. Good defender. Good hitter. He’s like Realmuto but a bit worse it seems like. I think it would take Kieboom though. Might be worth it to have a real catcher this year and beyond!

BxJaycobb said...

Sammy: this frankly seems like good news to me. Put yourself in rizzo’s shoes. Do you think the offensive production of Bryce rendon turner Zim Taylor Eaton Murphy and our C will go up or down in second half. I could argue that due to either playing more games or simply positive regression every single player I just named is more likely to improve. Every single one. Soto and Adams are only ones more likely to decrease in performance. That’s good news. The Nats offense is about to pick up.

Mark said...

I would trade Robles for Realmuto... He is a MLB proven difference maker under reasonable cost control for 3 years, and at the position the Nationals are terrible. Robles is not a lock to be a super star given injury history, and even if he does end up as an all star level player, Realmuto already is.

JE34 said...

BTW Harper - your self-interview format is . Moar pleas.

JE34 said...

Oops. that was supposed to say:

BTW Harper - your self-interview format is [insert fire emoji here]. Moar pleas.

You know when you have to explain a joke and you feel like a moron? This feels like that. Enjoy your day. All I ask is that you don't send me a bill for the time I just wasted.

Ryan said...

Trea Turner had such a great game last night, maybe Orioles garbage pitching will help turn this thing around

Jon Quimby said...

I know this is somewhat off-topic, but I see next year as an obvious down year for the Nationals. They have so many big contracts ending this year, that I think it makes sense for them to see what they've got in some of their younger players in 2019 (Soto, Robles, Fedde, Ross, Glover, etc) and plan to go back after it in 2020.

Buying Buffalo for a half year may make sense if they see 2019 as a down year anyway.

Ole PBN said...

I'm with Bx on the catcher catastrophe. I'm aboard the Ramos train. Thought Wieters was worse when we got him, still thought so. And we could have signed the Buffalo for pennies because of the knee injury. So what if we missed him for the first 1/3 of the season, we suffered through Wieters for a full season in 2017. I'd offer up Fedde and change for Ramos... maybe another one of our young middle infielders who will never hit in the MLB (enjoy that, Royals).

Regarding the rotation, losing Hellickson was a bigger blow than a typical #5 would be because he was throwing so well, perhaps even offering flexibility so we might not have to throw Tanner or Gio in a playoff game (if we make it there). But Strasburg is the biggest gut punch of all these injuries. The only thing that makes it bearable is that we don't yet know how bad it is. If he is in fact done for the year, there are some tough choices looming for Rizzo. Gut your system for Strasburg replacement and we might not make the playoffs? Wave the flag and deal with what we have? Who knows, but we're not doing jack in October with one pitcher (Max).

Outside of the box idea because its crazy: Trade Bryce now or at the deadline? I'd imagine we could get a nice haul from someone looking for another bat? Plus Robles might be back before the season is over? Depends on how bullish we are in thinking that he'd resign here in DC.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Ramos is the answer... His defense is so bad, and your going to rely on a pretty broken down right side of the infield already. I'd be fine paying a song for Realmuto, but why not chase one of the names not as hot on the market? I like someone like Tucker Barnhart more, and I think we could have him for less than Realmuto

Mark said...

The idea of trading valuable young assets for a 3 month rental of a mediocre catcher is crazy. Either get any mediocre catcher for a song (as anonymous said) or pony up highly regarded prospects for Realmuto.