Nationals Baseball: January 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Anything going on?

While the world twists and turns the baseball world stays pretty quiet.  Stephen Drew is back which a sensible re-signing. Drew can play multiple defensive positions presumably well and occasionally you luck into a good offensive year. I doubt he'll put up the slash line he did last year (.266 / .339 / .524) but .240 with pop and D and he's the back-up Danny Espinosa prays he'll be at age 33.

The Nats also signed Grant Green.  He's a Boras guy with good PCL numbers, but every batter has good PCL numbers. His PCL numbers are all average based - little power, no patience. When he's been up in the majors without that environment, the average dips and he's pretty much worthless. Not a spectacular fielder. Not particularly speedy. Not young. So should you be upset at the signing? Nah. There's no downside to signing these guys as minor league filler and inviting these guys to camp. What's the upside? I guess Kevin Frandsen.

If you don't like the Robinson/Zimmerman situation, a good back-up option there, Brandon Moss, is off the table, signing with the Royals. If you don't like the bullpen situation, nothing has really moved there.

The Nats (and the league) really have set prices and these... let's call them "lower middle class" players have set their own demands. Who blinks first? Who gets a bargain arm? We're about 2 weeks away from pitchers and catchers so there's still a little wiggle room. My guess is that the teams blink first, we see a signing, then another one a few days later, then a rush, but I guess we'll find out.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The proof is in the 2017-2021 pudding

The Nats lost out on Greg Holland. My first feeling, which denies certain realities in favor of my own desires, says the Nats should just spend whatever. Payroll is whatever. Rich man's toy. etc etc. My second feeling, more steeped in understanding, says is that's a fair amount of money (assumed - club nor Holland hasn't officially stated deal) and if that would mean the end of the Nats FA signings well then I'm fine losing out. The Nats need an arm and a bench player. I'd rather get two B- level of these then one huge question mark with A potential.

There are a lot of decent FAs still left out there. Maybe they'll be available cheap. Maybe that doesn't even matter. We'll see.

What I wanted to really talk about though was the fact we are now completely removed from the "first window" of Nats success. You could argue that it ended after 2015 if you like, when ZNN and Desmond walked away and Storen was dealt. But there's no argument that at this moment, with Ramos out, Espy traded, and Strasburg here on a new deal, that we're in a different era. No longer are the Nats living off the unique set of circumstances that had them looking up after 2012 and seeing themselves as potentially division favorites for 4 more years. That was due to a combination of things in place before Rizzo, things Rizzo set up through the draft, things Rizzo and the Lerners finished out with deals, and a division that parted like the Red Sea. Everything in place now was set in motion by Rizzo alone. There is nothing here that he serendipitously found himself with. There are no #1 generational draft picks to help things along. This is all him.

Why I focus on this is because the Nats have a very specific plan in mind. Be good enough to get into the playoffs more often than not. As we talked about, this is a sensible goal because more playoffs appearances are the biggest factor in increasing your chances of winning it all. Improving the team beyond "playoffs" is a marginal concern when it comes to championships.  And this plan has worked for the most part over the past 5 seasons. However the Nats also seem to have a very specific idea of what their budget should be to accomplish this. It is not a cheap budget, but does not extend to the highest in the league. Instead they feel secure settling on a competitive level around 10th in the league. Rizzo has been able to meet these two concurrent goals up to this point, which makes it seems reasonable. However, the next 4-5 years will tell us if that is really sustainable or just a function of those unique set of circumstances.

Can the Nats compete like this if more than one team in the NL East mounts a serious challenge through high payrolls or a timed explosion of young talent?  With just "one at a time" the Nats planned seemed to acheive acceptable but just acceptable on again, off again, success. Can the Nats keep up a playoff level team without expanding payroll?  This is where Eaton's bargain deal really matters. But even with that deal they'll have far more committed in 2018-2019 before looking at FAs then they ever did in the first window era. Does the age of the team work against it? After 2012 the team was full of players entering their primes. Now the team isn't old but no longer is almost everyone important 27, 26 or younger. Now multiple key players Strasburg (28), Roark (30), Gio (31), Murphy (32), Scherzer (32) are exiting prime years.

I don't want to suggest that doom and gloom is coming. I have no idea if it is and I'll tell you right now it's not coming next year barring something crazy happening. At worst they miss the playoffs with a high 80 win team. That's not doom nor gloom to me. What I do want to suggest though is that the Nationals haven't proven that they can really manage long-term, decade long type success with a payroll around 10ish in the league. Not yet. There are too many things that went into that first window to believe in that plan with certainty. If they do it over the next five years though. That changes things. Then it shows me it can be done, at least by these people, in this era.

Here's where I leave you - from 2017-2021, in those 5 years let's guess how the Nats will do.  How many playoff appearances, how many division titles. (no playoff result guesses necessary).  Do they maintain a team that's say... 85 wins or better in 4 of these 5 years?

I'll say 2 - 1 division title and no.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dodgers get better, Cubs already great

Yesterday the Dodgers made a deal and got Logan Forsythe.  If you aren't familiar with him it's not your fault. He's played for some terrible teams and was mostly forgettable. But in 2015, at age 28, something clicked and he became a decent batter. The difference seems to be mostly learning what pitches in the zone to attack and which to let go but anyway evaluating him isn't the point. The point is the Dodgers addressed their one glaring issue and in my mind put themselves clearly ahead of the Nationals.

Why exactly are the Dodgers a better bet than the Nationals? Well before this I thought they were pretty equal. Yes, the catcher situation for the Dodgers is better. Yes, the pen a little better too given it is anchored by Jansen. And yes their bench is better with the at least decent OF/1B back ups you would expect from a healthy Ethier and Van Slyke. But the Dodgers rotation is still a huge injury risk to the point where an injury should not be feared, but expected. The Nats have the potential of Bryce to be much better sitting out there. And while the Nats have Zimmerman dragging down the line-up at first, the Dodgers had the probably worse with certainly less hope of being better Enrique Hernandez pencilled in at second. I felt it could be argued that the latter cancelled out the former. But now that 2nd is manned by the competent Forsythe I don't feel that's the case.

The Nats already should face an uphill climb for HFA and any playoff favorite slot with the Cubs sitting out there. Their bench players; Schwarber, John Jay, Montero, La Stella, could start for some teams. Their second oldest bat will be the 27 year old Jason Heyward. Their 6th man in the pen (I see it as Grimm) is comparable to a Treinen/Solis type. That team should win 100 games again. The Nats are clearly not as good as the Cubs.

What does this mean for a 5 or 7 game series in October? Not much. The Nats were clearly better than the Giants in 2014 and Cardinals in 2012 and where did that get them? The Cubs were clearly the best last year and came innings away from losing to a solid but ailing Cleveland team. But when your fanbase is desperate for a playoff series win conceding the "pre-season" 1st and 2nd spots in your league just feels wrong.

And the thing is - the Nats can't do much about this now. They can't bring in a big bat to kick Zimm out like they should. They can't find a closer. And maybe that's for the best because those things can potentially derail the Nats "consistently good enough" plan that keeps them in the playoff hunt annually. But they can improve the bench and pen to the point where you might like those more than the Dodgers (yes even with Jansen) and for a relatively low cost and with little impact on the future put themselves back on par given the usual expected injuries for a team.

This isn't asking the Nats to trade Robles for a middle relief arm, or to sign the slightly better than what we have Weiters to a 5 year deal. It's bringing in some bench and pen guys on a couple year, couple million dollar a year contracts. To me it's a no brainer.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Plop Plop sure. Fizz Fizz? Not yet

The Nats need relief.  Honestly they probably need 2-3 decent arms to have any real confidence that the pen will be good. They aren't likely to get that which means while the pen will probably be ok, there will be a lot more variability on performance, especially on the "oh they could suck" side. That's not to say they should throw up their hands and do nothing if they aren't grabbing all the good arms left. Any single good arm will help reduce variability.  Are there good arms still out there?

Quick run through of the more interesting names

Greg Hollland - Was fantastic up through 2015 as a closer then got hurt. If he's 2013-14 Holland he's a steal.  If he's 2015 Holland he's good but wild. If he's something worse uh oh. And he hasn't pitched in 18 months so he's a straight up lottery ticket.

Sergio Romo - Nats can really complete a set of Giants relievers with him and Javy Lopez (missed out on Casilla though) in FA this year. Romo is the epitome of solid. Last year was a step back and injury plagued but he's still effective. Big drop in FB speed might be concerning.

Joe Blanton - reinvented himself as an effective reliever after years of mediocre starting. Hard to read with only 2 relief years to look at but everything seems in order.

Jerry Blevins - Outside of arguably unlucky Nats stint has been decent and improving over time. Stikes out a lot more guys now then before. Not a LOOGY. Good against all but hard to see him wanting to come back here after he was unceremoniously dealt because he took Nats to arbitration.

Boone Logan - Solid reliever who didn't let Rockies stint mess him up permanently. Really good against lefties, but decent enough against righties to not be LOOGYd. There's some boom potential here if you like guys coming from Colorado.

Luke Hochevar - like Blanton but figured it out 5 years earlier. Solid but a little prone to the long ball. Had another arm surgery in off-season after TJ in 2014 so might miss start of season.

Tommy Hunter - decent control but no strike outs.  Keeps the ball in the park.

Travis Wood - an effective long man. Could develop into a LOOGY as he ages

Javier Lopez - Old guy (39) who made living killing lefties while being good enough against righties. Last year took a step back against both. Not at all a K guy and poor control. Big spike in HR/FB last year. Usually that's fluky but again 39.

There are actually more decent arms out there than I thought. My guess is the dominoes are waiting for Greg Holland to end up somewhere before falling. If I were the Nats - yes I'd take a gamble on Greg Holland - there's greatness potential there, however unlikely, that isn't with any other arm available. The Nats have effective but lack dominance. I'd also pick up Boone Logan to add another lefty arm that's more LOOGY than Solis or a pick-up like Blevins, but not so LOOGY that he can't be useful in the regular way. Plus I like the way Logan's K's went up and HR went down in Colorado. I think there's sneaky potential for him to be really really good away from Colorado. Although it might take a year to right himself. THEN I'd still pick up whoever is left standing in this group (well not Lopez) come March 1st because you can't have too many arms. That's what I would do.

What I think will happen is that Holland will go somewhere then Blanton, Blevins and Logan will all settle in short (and likely that) order. I think they will all get multi-year deals for a few million a year. (I think Holland might get something as long as 4 if you count options) Then the bargain hunt will be on. Like I said Hochevar's injury status will make him a bargain pick-up and he's a Boras client so I think he's the one that ends up here. Another name I didn't mention that might be able to be picked up by the Nats here is JP Howell. He's an extreme groundball guy who pitched very similarly to his 2015 stats but ended up with a worse ERA. He's adding control and sacrificing hits, but since he's a GB guy that's mainly singles. He wasn't effective vs lefties last year but if that was a fluke you've got yourself a Boone Logan type for half the price. If it wasn't a fluke you still likely have a useful arm.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wait, what's going on?

So yesterday a series of what may be unfortunate events happened

Jim Bowden tweeted that the Nationals remaining post-season moves could be affected by the cost of their Spring Training complex.

Bryce Harper tweeted saying signing Weiters and Holland was more important than building a team store (in pithy millennial tweet talk). Note that both these guys are Boras clients so take that as you will.

Adam Eaton tweeted he agreed.

Chelsea Janes got on it and wrote something up where the team basically said "No." and the logic of the "No." answer seems to make the most sense.

But who knows! You wouldn't think one would affect the other but then again the Lerners are famously penurious when it comes to spending. (Those CHEEEEEEEEEP shouts didn't come from nothing. They came from a fear that the Lerners business spending would manifest in the payroll). So I can't rule it out. Especially with my standard no reporting on the subject because I'm not a reporter. I'll lean though to believing the Nats because I already thought they wouldn't spend more than a few million more. It's not about the Spring Training complex. It's about the plan they likely already had in place.

OK so a few million to spend. Where to put it? Today let's say that money is going to a reliever. Who would I like to see?  Do the Nats even need it?

Let's answer the second question first. Generally a bullpen NEEDS three guys. I mean yes it needs more because of usage patterns, injuries, etc. but your average ML team can get by with three solid arms and make up the rest as you go along. Do they have that?  Let's look at all the Nationals pitchers that threw... I'll say without looking 35 IP or more last year. Hey that worked out well! Huzzah for me!

Anyway gone are Papelbon (35 IP), Rivero/Melancon (49.2+29.2=79.1), Petit (62), and Belisle (46)*.  That's 222 relief inning that have to be made up by someone.  Jesus that's a lot more innings than I thought.

Who's back? Perez, who will be a LOOGY type I imagine, although neither his career numbers or his recent numbers suggest he's all that great in that role. If he's not a LOOGY he's likely a blah arm with bad potential. He gets hit hard, and has terrible control. If he's lucky the walks aren't terrible and he K's his way out of jams. But he's not someone to rely on.

So that leaves us with Kelley, Treinen, and Solis and ONLY these three. If these three aren't all solid then the Nats don't even have the "sneak by with" level of pen.

The good news is Kelley is good. Fancy stat review K rate great. Walk rate great. A little fluky LOB% but not crazy probably balance by a little higher than expected HR/FB. Nothing worrying in type or hardness of hits against. No, this guy passes the solid reliever test, no doubt. Of course the last time we saw him he was walking off the mound in pain grabbing his arm so how much you want to rely on him is a valid question but in the general "1 of 3" sense? I'm good.

We've been told for years that Treinen is good but haven't actually seen it in action until last year. Fancy stats have same fluky LOB% though Treinen's high HR/FB rate isn't historically off like Kelley's was. He may just be the type to give up homers. So there's less of a thought that that's balanced. His K rate isn't great. His walk rate is way too high. So how does Treinen survive? A silly high GB rate, almost 2/3rds of all balls hit off him were on the ground and ground balls are hard to hit for XBH. Looking at the type and hardness it seems like Treinen is an on/off type. When he's on - soft grounder. When he's off he'll walk guys and give up a hard hit. Last year he had more "on" outings than "off" but in 2015 the GB percentage was nearly as high (62.7%) and with a little less luck with BABIP and LOB% he was merely ok.  I think it's a stretch to expect Treinen will repeat 2016. But that's not the question. The question is "is he solid"? I'll go with yes. I think he'll fall between 2016 (almost no blow-ups) and 2015 (like a blow-up every 4th time out) and will be solid enough.

What about Solis? K-rate is good. Walk rate isn't. Nothing weird for LOB% or BABIP, but a crazy low HR/FB rate (3.1%) especially for a guy that's not a GB pitcher. Expect that to change. There isn't much to go on with Solis. You can't look at minor league stats - he barely pitched anywhere long enough since being converted to a reliever. I suppose with my arm twisted I'd kind of view him like Treinen, unlikely to put up 2016 again but likely to be solid enough.  One thing I do want to check first - is there a handedness thing going on here. Because your third guy can't be a LOOGY.... nope not really.  He's better against lefties but faced a lot of righties too and was good enough against them.

So I guess the Nats just get in under the bar. They do have three solid arms. However looking deeper that's almost all you can say about them. Treinen and Solis are nothing more than solid. Kelley is better than that but has to be considered an injury risk.  Running with these three and what's behind them is pressing your luck.  (Another thing - these guys are sneaky aged. Not old, aged. The youngest is Solis who will turn 29 in August. There isn't a young guy breaking out here).

There is one more thing though. I said that this is what an average ML team could get by with. The Nats have found the absolute lowest possible acceptable bar for a major league pen for any team. But the Nats don't aspire to be "any team" or an average team. They want to be more. What's ok for a 79-83 team is likely not ok for a playoff contender.  Given that I'd have to say - yes, the Nats need another reliable arm. I think it would be wise to get another very good arm to be your closer or #2 and knock Treinen and Solis back a peg. Not a shock I know but it's always worth going through the process. 

OK this is long so arms tomorrow.

Finishing touch - I knew Little Jimmy O'Hara (that's how he likes to be called I hear) wrote about this a few days ago so I wanted to go back and see if we landed in the same general area. Pretty much. Kelley is legit good. Treien and Solis are fine. He balks at them being the 2nd and 3rd guys in the pen and has them as more "others". I can see that. I kind of think they baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarely qualify where they are. 

*for those curious Lopez is at 44 but started a bunch, Cole at 38 and only started. Glover would be next pure reliever at 19.2. Rzep only pitched 11.2 innings for Nats.

Monday, January 16, 2017

What the arbitration awards mean

The Nats settled with everyone avoiding the possible "who can we dump this recalcitrant malcontent for" reaction from the team. That's good because the Nats needed all these players in one way or another. But beyond the fact they signed the actual awards are of interest because of what that means for the payroll.

The Nats expected payroll for 2017, that we were playing with, was set in part with the arbitration awards estimated by mlbtraderumors. They aren't perfect of course but they do a reasonable job. Where did things end up this year?

Lobaton : Est 1.6 M,  Got 1.57 M
Norris : Est 4.0 M,  Got 4.2 M
Roark : Est 6.1 M,  Got 4.32 M
Rendon : Est 6.4 M,  Got 5.8 M

Bryce : Est 9.3 M, Got 13.62 M

If you look at Lobaton, Norris and Rendon - those are pretty close. Rendon is the furthest off - around 10% but he might have been sold on taking a little less since the Nats arguably gave him a little more than they needed last year (2.8 when expectation was 2.5 again). This is all rough though so I consider it close enough.  In total for the three the estimate was 12 million and the Nats put up just over 11 and a half.

The hardest call for these types estimates is often the first call because you aren't working off a normal previous year salary as a base. That's where the Nats were with Roark. He was coming off a year making 500K+. So maybe he got underpaid, maybe he didn't. But any assumed saving they got for getting Roark under the estimate was blown out for Bryce. That's a big difference and the end result is that the money spent in arbitration looks like this :

Total Est 27.4 M,  Spent 29.51 M

That's 2 million more than expected. For an average team that shouldn't matter much but there's a palpable sense that the Nats have a 145-150 million payroll expectation for the 2017 season and right now they are right at that 150 million payroll. (assumes normal salary increases for pre-arbitration players) If the Nats were to bring back Drew and sign another arm... that's at least 5 million, probably closer to 8 if they are trying to keep these deals as one-year things. Are they Nats going to increase their payroll by 10 million over last season? I just don't believe so.

If I'm right the arbitration moves mean that the Nats are in one of two spots. They are going to either/or the last bench spot and bullpen arm - spending ~3million for one but not the other, or they are going to go cheap across the board - the Ackley / Hochevar future I imagined.

We'll see. I've was very mildly surprised last year when the Nats didn't follow-up acquiring Melancon with a dump trade of someone - meaning they added 2.5+M to their payroll.* So maybe they bite and do something similar here. That's all we're really talking about 2.5 or so more than they probably had envisioned as their ceiling.

*I'm sure though they desperately tried to get someone to take Papelbon in a way that took the payroll back down but no one wanted him for anything.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A whole lot of nothing

When the off-season started it was pretty well decided that the free agent class was a particularly weak one. So the excitement that would come, if it did, would probably be through the trade market. And the offseason delivered with a bunch of stuff between Thankgiving and The 13th of December.  Cespedes, Melancon, Sale trade, Eaton trade, Fowler, Chapman, Jansen. Even things only interesting to the Nats took place during this brief fortnightish period. Desmond signs, Ramos signs, Espinosa was traded.

Since then there's been a couple somethings but given the players involved and the general lack of activity it's been a big yawn. We're closing in to Spring and it's time to turn the page on the off-season. I suppose if Bautista and Napoli and Trumbo and Weiters and Hammel all went in a hurry that'd be interesting, but that's not very exciting to begin with and less so for Nats fans when you realize that Trumbo and Napoli are very unlikely to end up in the NL. 

I guess I'm saying I'm bored.

The Nats aren't likely to get a big-name closer at this point. So we're waiting to see what kind of secondary pitcher, if any, they manage to wrangle to DC.  They may or may not be waiting for a bench player - Drew, or perhaps a better 1B/OF alternative (Moss? Lind?). The longer it goes the more I expect a late off-season clearance sale pick up.  Hochevar for 2 million. Ackley on a minor league deal. And that be that.

Eaton was a good deal, probably very good, but all that given away really killed the offseason for a team with a set budget like the Nats.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Hey where's Stephen Drew?

Aren't we supposed to have Stephen Drew back by now?

You may have forgotten but Stephen Drew was not unimportant for the Nats last year. He hit .266 with good pop (8 homers and 11 doubles in 143 ABs) with reasonable defense.  He spelled Danny at short, Rendon at 3rd and Murphy at 2nd, ended up playing 2nd when Murphy's butt got hurt and was the teams most effective pinch hitter.*

So why isn't he back?

Well the last news we heard - 2 weeks ago - was that he could end up with a starting position somewhere.  This makes sense as he would be a better option at SS or 2B then some of the players currently manning those positions. Probably not even half, but some and really just a handful is enough. It would be more playing time and more money than the Nats would dish out.

But this protracted hunt by Drew is hurting the Nats in two ways. First, if he doesn't come back it leaves Difo as the top bench option for the infield. There's no good reason to think Wilmer will be that good next year. Could he? Sure. It's the bench. You have limited at bats. Weird things happen in limited at bats.  In 2012 the Nats got much better performances than one would expect from Lombo, Bernadina, Moore, and Chad Tracy.  But you have to start with the expectation and the expectation for Difo is not great. Last year in AA Difo hit .259, with limited patience and no power. He did hit .276 in the majors, but it's hard to believe 66 PAs as opposed to almost a full season in AA. Plus his AA season corresponds with what he has done for most of his minor league career.  He had a bit of a breakout in A-ball in 2014 followed by an impressive start in High-A in 2015, but by all appearances that impressive start was a fluke of sample size. He's not quite old yet - but he's almost there which means his chances of surprising are growing smaller everyday. Short of it - the bench is worse with Difo there in place of Drew.

The second way this hurts the Nats is something that I presume. I'm guessing we haven't had any movement on the relief front because Rizzo is unsure of his budget. If Drew comes back, it might mean they have only a couple million and he needs to dumpster dive or trade. It might mean they have nothing. If he doesn't come back than surely they have at least some money to spend. Whether that means bargain hunting or competing for the names left on the market I don't know but it means they don't have nothing. That alone would have me expect a signing or move or some bullpen activity.

My guess is we hear nothing from the Nats camp about relief pitchers until Drew is signed or until that last week in January. That's about as long as you can wait on it with pitchers and catchers coming up. You don't want to be the one left on the side of the dance floor or whatever.

So hurry up Drew and either come back or go.  The Nats need to move on and they can't until you decide.

*He had the same number of PH homers and one fewer hit than  Heisey in 18 fewer PH situations.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Nothing Happened - But I can still fill a post!

Hey! We're back so let's talk about what happened in the two weeks we've not been talking about the Nationals!


... and we're done!

It's not only been a quiet period for the Nats. It's ben a quiet period for baseball. I'm pretty sure Daniel Hudson was signed before we shut it down for Christmas so after that...

Clay Buchholz was traded to the Phillies.  Does this make the Phillies better? Yes, but probably not as much as you think. I do love AL -> NL moves and Bucholz has had some really good years so there's potential there but the most likely scenario is he's fine and eats up necessary front of the rotation innings for the cost of a few dollars and a nothing prospect. Could the Phillies then surprise? Probably not. They were bad in all aspects of the game, so even if their young starting pitching comes together around Bucholz and Hellickson, they still have to solve the pen and get some real offense toghether. I like them for no more than 75 wins. That puts them out of surprise range. They are at least a year away, probably more.

Ivan Nova signed with the Pirates.  Good for him. If he pitches like he did in Pittsburgh last year, it's a steal and the Pirates are still in the thick of things.  I like the Pirates to be better than 2016 even trading Cutch. I feel they caught some bad breaks last year and there's potential for that offense.

Encarnacion signs with Cleveland. Hey did you know Mike Napoli had sleep apnea? Encarnacion is younger and better than Nap. This should help them keep pace with the Red Sox and starts putting gaps between them and the rest of the Central on paper. 

Inciarte extends with Braves.  He's a bit of a slappy Joe, but a good slappy Joe, with great fielding and very good speed. The defense is a big thing because the Braves are still going to play Kemp in a corner. Part of the Braves rebuild. So could the Braves then surprise? Maybe actually. If Dansby Swanson is an immediate impact bat then with Kemp they are immediately a much better offensive team (5th best offense in Aug, best in Sept). The olds will have to come through for them in the rotation, but they threw a lot of terrible junk out there last year. Dickey and Colon should allow them to only put out, if not good arms, then arms worthy of a look.  I think the Braves will be .500 ish and that means they have a shot to surprise. 

Tigers re-sign Avila.  I don't have anything to say about this but it's what passes for news during this dry time.

Angels sign Revere. One year deal - 4 million.  It was a good thought bringing in Revere (while at the same time unloading Storen). You'd be blind not to see the consistency that led you to believe that at worst he would be "not awful" at the plate and good everywhere else. But then he got injured and presumably never really got healthy and that was that. Revere is not really a player who was very good at a lot. He had no power or patience. His D was allright. His speed is very good, but if he's not hitting singles he's not getting on base and thus his speed is meaningless. Basically that left him as a contact hitter. A bunter, move the guy over type. That's a dime a dozen in the minors. Turned out as bad as it could have. So is it a bad signing? Not at all. As a gamble on a fourth OF I think it's real smart. Off the bench his speed can be used at your discretion. For the Angels he can play a corner OF position (presumably LF) late in the game where he'd probably be perfectly fine. And again - that contact bat is useful off the bench. This is all if he's not healthy.  If he is and can be the.290 contact hitter - even better. That's a very good plug and play guy when the inevitable injuries happen.

Brian Dozier's name floated out there. It would fit, despite what some might think. You have to bench Zimm but hey - you probably should bench Zimm. If he can hit his way back then that's a good problem to have. You want good problems, not bad ones, which is what the Nats very likely could have if Zimm can't hit. However if what I see is true - the Dodgers offered at least Jose DeLeon tstraight up for him - I don't think the Nats can match that.  It would have to be Robles plus and I don't see the Nats making Dozier the player to trade Robles for. Note that even if the Dodgers don't get Dozier (and they probably will) the other likely landing spots aren't good for the Nats either. The Cardinals, Giants, and Braves have all been mentioned.