Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Looting the corpse of the Mariners

Monday, December 03, 2018

Monday Quickie - Looting the corpse of the Mariners

Cano and Diaz went to the Mets. Segura might go the Phillies. Seager to the Brewers? I suggested earlier that the Nats get in on this by getting Segrua and Leake.  But why not pull a Mets.  Who do the Nats want? Gamel and Shawn Armstrong? OK we'll take Leake too and give you back... I don't know.  Sammy Solis! You'll love him. Honestly they should be plundering this team because they are willing to take great players to good players just to lower salary.  It's the closest thing to a fire sale we've seen in years.


In the meantime the Nats picked up Yan Gomes. Is this a good deal? Let's start off with what they gave up.

Daniel Johnson is better than Andrew Stevenson, not as good as MAT.  At least as a 22yo/23yo prospect (DJ was an "old" 22. Andrew is a "young" whatever he is. MATs on the younger side as well). He doesn't have any particular strength or weakness. He hits well but not great. He has some power, but not a lot. He's not very patient (ok that may be a weakness) but he makes more contact than the free-swingers. He's a decent fielder but not anything I've heard anyone rave about. And there's the big difference. You can say the same about Stevenson and you barely see him hanging on. Everyone loves MATs fielding and he's been a 4th OF with trials at starting for 3+ years now. You gotta have something to hang a hat on. Right now DJ doesn't. He's young enough that he could develop into something more special, and talented enough that there may be multiple ways that could happen, but there's nothing out there yelling that it WILL happen. His quasi-rehab AFL performance this year was full of kudos for his physical skills and dismal production. Seems like a 4th OF if you are lucky to me.

Jefry Rodriguez - well you saw him. He has some talent but it's real questionable if he will put it together (being 25 next year) in time to be useful in a rotation. After rough 2014 & 2015 it looked like he might not last much longer in baseball but he improved in 2016 and 2017 enough to be of interest to the main club in 2018 as an outside rotation possiblity. However, this seems more of a "let's see if we have something here" than a "this guy is ready for the show". He's probably going to be a reliever. His fastball is good in theory and if he can focus on powering it over rather than trying to save some for innings 4-6 it might be good in practice. Pair that with a decent second pitch and that may be enough.


What is likely to be a player that peaks at 4th OF and a bullpen filler. That's not much. Are the Nats getting back something better?

Yes. Yan Gomes is a professional major league catcher when healthy. He's a plus fielder and while his bat isn't the plus it looked like it would be early in his career, he worked it back to a average (which is pretty good for a catcher). He hasn't caught 120 games since 2014 but he's steadily working his way back up and got to 111 games last year.  His contract is reasonable (7M) with a couple reasonable options if the Nats choose to take then (9m, 11m).  Most likely you are getting a 110 g catcher who hits average and fields well. There you go!

Of course the problem is context and the context is two-fold. First you have Kurt Suzuki signed for two years who can also be like a 100g catcher, who may hit well, and maybe field average. And is also a RHB.  It's an awkward "platoon" with no real sense on who supercedes who. On a team with a strong manager that's built on hitting, this would probably work out fine. The hot hand would be ridden out and the other guy would have to deal with it. On this team with Davey and pitching lead, you face more potential problems as pitchers ask for "their" catchers and the manager wish-washes through decisions. Still having two decent options to figure out how to maximize is a small problem. Second you have Yasmani Grandal. A better hitter than Suzuki (to believe otherwise is to say "No we're not looking at 2018! We're looking at 2017 and 2018! 2016 through 2018? Why would we look at that?")  He's a better fielder than Gomes. He has caught more than 120 games recently. So you are choosing to create this odd situation with suboptimal pieces to do what?

Well it's to save money and avoid playing your catchers. Both might be reasonable. I'd like to see Raudy Read get a turn at the plate for 30-40 games in 2018 but he's certainly not a sure thing and we've seen enough of Can't Hit Severino and Almost as Bad Kieboom. You can't argue that the 150+ you'll get from Suzuki/Gomes won't have a potential hole like these Grandal and Nats minor leaguer. Still you will very likely get a blah year from one of these two guys and that's half a season of below average sitting out there you could have avoided. For how much though? They'll make 11 combined this year, 15 next. Is Grandal going to get over 15? If he goes close to 20 - you can see the savings be worth it. If he's closer to 13 then you paid more for less.  We'll have to see how the market works out.

Another thing to consider is the salary cap. For his year Gomes is on his original, non-option salary cap figures so Suzuki + him will be worth only like 8 million to the cap. That could free up some space that you wouldn't have signing Grandal (They'll be 14 next year, then just Gomes 11 the year after that). It won't be a lot but it is something for a team that wants to be below. And understand below doesn't mean just sneaking under. That only works if you keep the same roster all year. If you are in contention you are almost certain to add cost so the Nats can't end up at 205.9 million or something. They'll need to be much more under.   

So is it a good move? You can't argue it isn't. Is it the right move for the Nats now? That depends on what you think of 7 years of not going all-in has proven.  If you think it shows the Nats need to do more, to throw caution to the wind in form of cash or prospects, well it's another example of not doing that. Of settling for a lesser solution. If you think it's shows the Nats can keep up a competitive team and that's all you can hope for, well this is more of that.

30 comments:

Jimmy said...

I like the Yan Gomes pickup. Trust me one of the two Suzuki or Gomes will be out for a good portion of the year with some injury.

DezoPenguin said...

As far as the platoon situation goes, Suzuki basically has no splits while Gomes does split left-righty as one would expect, so in a straight platoon Suzuki will probably get the right-handers and Gomes the left-handers. As you note, that probably won't be what happens.

The bottom line is, Rizzo just spent less money than J.T. Realmuto's contract to fill the catcher spot with players who'll probably be within a win of him in the aggregate while costing less and without having to trade some insane amount to do so. The only known available move that would be expressly better than this would be to sign Grandal as a FA. Moreover, the Suzuki/Gomes combination means that in the event of one injury, the Nationals still have a legitimate major-league catcher who can take over more or less full time and only then have Kieboom/Read as the backup. (There's also the less-relevant but still-out-there situation that Grandal has a track record of not being good in the postseason, and we all have Drew Storen in the back of our heads in the mold of "really good player who can be undone for no apparent reason by pressure." One never knows if a FO takes such things seriously--or sees a reason to.)

If Rizzo is as successful in plugging the team's SP2-3, SP4, 2B/IF, and 1B/PH gaps as he did with C, then I will count this as a major win of an offseason.

Fries said...

I fully agree with Dezo, I like the Gomes move a lot. It's slightly more pricy than I'd like from a salary perspective, but other than that there's nothing to not like by having two major league catchers as opposed to what the Nats have had since Ramos left...

Next step is Bryce or Rendon. One of them needs to get signed longterm ASAP, and then whatever is leftover needs to get spent on SP and a Zimm backup. That's probably all the money that'll be left, so we'll all have to hope Kendrick/Difo suffices at 2B batting at the bottom of the order. Of course there's always the trade option, but I don't really know who Rizzo would go out and get. Do you give up the farm for Merrifield/Wendle/Gennett? Give an incentives-laden contract to Lemahieu and hope last year was a blip on the radar AND that he can hit outside of Coors? I just personally don't love any of the options and would say wait for other Kieboom and hope Kendrick/Difo are serviceable.

Ole PBN said...

I see this as injury insurance, and a solid move overall. Suzuki goes down, and we don't downgrade to Lobaton, Severino, or Kieboom or any other dog crap cather most teams have on their bench. Or vice versa, Gomes goes down, and his backup (Suzuki) slides right in. This gives us a very strong catching tandem and avoids the black hole in the lineup should an injury arise to either one of them. I'm not worried about the platoon - I think Dezo's thoughts on that are pretty reasonable.

Going all in and getting Realmuto would have been great in some respects, but you never know what happens to these guys. We saw an all-in move with Eaton, and while I don't disagree with the trade and still say we came out winners on that deal, look at how its bitten us with his injury issues. You have to be prepared (within reason) for when these things happen and Rizzo has done that with the deals for C this offseason, all while not paying a hefty price tag. I feel like if we had a different GM, we would have dealt Soto/Robles for Realmuto and signed Bryce this offseason to $400M+. Where would we be then? In Rizzo I Trust.

SuburbanSteve said...

I agree with the general sentiment and I really think this is a genius maneuver by Rizzo: getting essentially two major-league catchers (with good off and def) for the price of one. This is a great move, given the toll catchers take and how switching them out (or injury) doesn't create a gaping hole in the line-up.

What the Mets (Cano-Diaz)and Phillies (Segura) moves so far mean to me is that the NL East will be at least more competitive, and at most may not be the worst division in MLB anymore. The bar is being raised division-wide, and so all I want for Christmas is a frontline SP...then we'll see what happens after the New Year.

BxJaycobb said...

@Sub: Oh its without a doubt not the worst division in MLB anymore. That’s the ALC. and actually I think it will be a pretty average division this year.

@Harper: yeah the one thing you don’t mention is how much better this option is for injury insurance and spreading risk. The Nats have been a team vulnerable to injuries last few years and arguably lacked depth. There’s no doubt this option is superior to Grandal from that perspective. It takes away the possibility that Grandal gets hurt and you have Kieboom for 60-70 games. Thumbs up. I expect before the offseason ends that (1) we sign rendon to an extension (2) we sign Keuchel and (3) we sign one other piece, either another rotation piece or a 2B budget piece or a 1B backup etc.

Jimmy said...

@BxJaycobb

number three starter for sure and the budget pitcher for sure. the 2b and 1b backup piece are all going to be done in spring training or later on in the season, just look at who we we're able to snag last year late. There just always seems to be surplus of cheap heavy hitting bench pieces the last couple of years.

Jimmy said...

Can someone explain to me what the everliving hell the Mariners are doing? The Mets trade is defensible. The Paxton trade was an abortion and this Segura trade reads like a fantasy baseball trade where one guy is purposely tanking his team. Crawford for Segura would have been a win for the phillies but then the Mariner save them from Santanas contract number for nothing is looney toons.

SM said...

I wonder sometimes, Harper, if you realize just how good your posts can be. (Do you ever rate them? You know, "This one was a dog;" or, "I really outdid myself this time.")

We who comment all like to play--vicariously, of course--GM, Manager, Owner or occasionally Player ("I'd hit to the opposite field to beat the shift"). It's fun. Like @Ole PBN--and probably only Ole PBN--we might even re-sign Harper and trade Soto and Robles for Realmuto.

But in assessing the Gomes trade, you've accounted for the positions of the Owner, GM and Manager all rolled into one, and begun peeling the onion (you call it "context") that is the Nats' roster issue: Payroll, salary cap, MAT, the manager's inclinations, etc., etc. And the roster issue . . . is everything.

"You can't argue that it isn't" you say of whether the Gomes acquisition is a good one. But neither can you really argue that it is.

Last season Gomes, a year younger than Wieters, struck out 6 times for every walk he drew. Lifetime, the ratio is exactly 5 strikeouts to every walk. Wieters was no bargain, true. But Wieters's lifetime BA, OBP, OPS and OPS+ are all better than Gomes'. (A variation of "Hey, we're looking at Gomes's 2018! Why bother with 2015 to 2017?")

"Awkward platoon" pretty much nails it. The odds of injury and/or decline to either or both aren't in the Nats' favour. Grandal would have been--and might still be, who knows?--the way to go. Instead, the Nats settled for the lesser solution.

Whether the Nats can keep up with quickly moving divisional competition is obviously the question. Until the free agent dust settles and rosters are set next spring, another question to consider is whether the Nats are a better team now than they were on the last day of the 2018 season.






Jimmy said...

The Mariners threw in a decent loogy relief pitcher in the trade. This trade has to be vetoed. What the hell are they doing?

Anonymous said...

Every trade that makes the rest of the NL East better than the Nats should be vetoed!

DezoPenguin said...

That Segura trade makes complete sense to me from the Phillies' POV:

1. Improve at SS, a position of weakness in 2018.
2. Offset some of Segura's salary by moving Santana.
3. Open 1B for Hoskins to help improve OF defense (and perhaps an addition like Bryce)
4. Add competent relievers to the 'pen.

The Mariners, meanwhile, get post-2020 salary relief and a prospect SS that Philly seems to have given up on for no apparent reason (I mean, he's no Manny Machado, but Crawford isn't garbage), but I don't see what they're doing with all the extra pieces. Segura-for-Crawford straight-up makes much more sense to me, the quality veteran going to the team trying to win now in exchange for the cheaper prospect going to the team that's rebuilding. Santana won't be part of the next good Mariners team, he's expensive, and it seems like they had to give Philly Pazos to get him.

Anonymous said...

The Nats #1 need is SP. Their #2 need was catching. The Nats pursued Realmuto for a whole season and found it too expensive in terms of prospects. Grandal will be expensive in terms of dollars plus he would cost two draft picks. Ramos is a great choice but could be just as expensive as the two we just acquired and is injury prone. Rizzo got creative and beought in two catchers who are capable of putting up similar numbers together as the best catchers in the game. Rizzo also could have waited around for Grandal and came away empty handed. Let's applaud his aggressiveness and creativity.

Ole PBN said...

@SM - agree with you that it’s fun to play GM, Manager, etc. Guilty as charged over here for sure. But my point was that a lesser GM (like many that we’ve seen over the years) find a way to make a terrible deal or acquisition; they just can’t escape it. The Marlins wanted Soto/Robles for Realmuto (before Soto’s call-up to the bigs) and I’m certain that a lesser GM would have pulled the trigger on that. “Because we need a catcher!!” A lesser GM would have re-signed Bryce for top dollar without hesitation because “he’s the face of the franchise!!” I think Grandal is better than Suzuki or Gomes on their own, but I don’t think Grandal and a side of Kieboom is better than the duo we now have, and it’s bechase of the depth and insurance to injury.

To address your concern: no, we are not better than the team was on the last day of the 2018 season. Yet. Bring in a Keuchel or Corbin and backup 1B/platoon for Zimmerman and I think we’re as close to better as we can ever be without re-signing a player like Bryce Harper. I’ll roll with that every day of the week.

BxJaycobb said...

In my opinion, the Paxton trade was even. The Mets trade was a win for the Mariners (barely). But the Segura trade is an unbelievable heist by the Phillies. I really do not understand how they got Segura and a solid reliever for a bad contract and a failed prospect.

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BxJaycobb said...

Comparing Gomes to Wieters is completely completely wrong. Writers has been gradually decliners for YEARS and is now a worse hitter than Gomes (who is about league average). Without a doubt. But the more important point is that defense is Gomes’ strength, not his bat....whereas Weiters is a horrid defender. Gomes has been about a 2-3 WAR player the last few years. Weiters is replacement level. Come on.

BxJaycobb said...

If it was Segura for Crawford it would make a bit more sense. But everything else is a boon to the Phillies and bad for the Mariners. It’s like the Mariners were so desperate to shed salary they’re being too quick to make trades. I mean, if they could’ve gotten Segura and a good RP for Crawford and Santana. That means we could’ve gotten Segura for, say, Fedde and Ryan Zimmerman (the latter being less money for Mariners to take on and more quality.)

BxJaycobb said...

Or Garcia straight up.

BxJaycobb said...

I have only applause for Rizzo’s Catcher moves.

BxJaycobb said...

Prediction. It is entirely possible Robles has a higher WAR in 19 than Harper’s 18. Probable? No. But I expect 2+ WAR from Robles, and as high as 4. And we probably gained 4 wins at Catcher.

BxJaycobb said...

To add this: Gomes last year was worth 2.6 WAR. Weiters has been worth negative value over his time with the Nats.

Ole PBN said...

Sup Pat. Welcome to DC

DezoPenguin said...

Chelsea Janes is reporting that the Nats have signed Corbin. Details unclear, though a six-year deal is rumored. Rosenthal says it'll be higher than Darvish's 6/$126 (which I'm cautiously okay with, given that Darvish was coming off a decline year AND a tire fire postseason). Rizzo continuing to act fast to address the team's most urgent needs this offseason.

Given that Ross is explicitly going to be on an innings limit this year even if he does prove to be good (which makes SP6 the perfect role for him), I think this leaves SP4 to be our biggest position of need left to address.

NotBobby said...

Interested to see what kind of deferrals are in it

Kevin Rusch said...

Seeing as how both catchers are roughly league-average bats, I'd really like the Nats to either keep one of the bad catchers around, or have someone on the roster who can catch the ball for a couple innings, and be willing to use the catcher who didn't start as a pinch-hitter. I hate the idea of the didn't-start catcher being untouchable just for the sake of 4 innings a year when one has pinch-hit and the other gets hurt.

G Cracka X said...

Patrick Cor-bin! (duh, duh, duh-duh-duh). Though the length of the deal makes me uneasy. They'll be paying for his age 35 season. Risky for a pitcher.

G Cracka X said...

Lot of money tied up in Starting Pitching! Do the Nats have the best top-3 rotation in baseball now?

I think Rizzo got aggressive here, because SP is the Nats' mantra/MO: dominate on the mound, and get by with just enough hitting, 'pen, and D. Every year they made the playoffs, they had excellent SP in the regular season.

Last year, the SP (outside of Scherz') was not good, and the rest of the team got exposed.

Jay said...

My only concern is that Corbin is more of a one year wonder. I trust Rizzo's eye as a scout, so I'm excited. I did see one article that stated Corbin through his slider almost 40% of the time and that was one of the highest percentage uses of the slider. The article mentioned that it could affect Corbin's TJ elbow.

Ole PBN said...

I saw the same thing Jay. I remember hearing the same for Jose Fernandez before he had TJ. Has me worried a little, which is why I was more for getting Keuchel - although he comes with his own issues as well (diminishing velocity, wrong side of 30). We now have three starters capable of leading the league in strikeouts, which means our defense might no be as crucial to our success? We'll see.