Nationals Baseball: A little clarification

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A little clarification

I forget that you guys aren't all reading this blog religiously and these things aren't as fresh for you as they may be for me so as we wind down the offseason-previews (SP and RP to come) just a couple reminders.

Plan - What I expect Nats to do
Positives/Negatives of plan - self-explanatroy
My Take - What I think of the plan given those plusses and minuses with a strong dose of what I would do.
Out of the Box idea - some sort of idea that has little chance of coming to pass that I throw out there for discussion purposes.

So I don't want JD Martinez. I don't think the Nats should get JD Martinez. However, I think it's not CRAZY that the Nats could sign JD Martinez, and it would sort of address some problems so why not talk about it. The OOBs don't work as an overall plan though because they don't work together. You can't trade for Dozier AND sign Moustakas and move Rendon to 2B.

Anyway there you go. What would I do so far?
  • I'd trade for Realmuto and because I don't want to trade any real propsects I'd eat whatever salary that isn't Chin's that Miami wants me to eat. (not my money)
  • I'd let Zimm start but make sure to either bring back Lind or get the best back-up 1B out there. 
  • Unless they know something I don't, I'd sit on Murphy for now assuming he's back early next season, signing a decent MI back-up in the vein of a Stephen Drew (but not him - he's done now) but be prepared to go after a starting 2B in trade later in the year if Murphy can't recover and Difo is not above average. 
  • I'd start Turner and Rendon - duh - with that MI signing covering for them as well. 
  • I'd say I'm going with Eaton - MAT - Bryce, but I'd dangle MAT out there and see what bites I get. Probably nothing but maybe some GM is really feeling him. At the same time I don't NOT listen to Bryce deals but you gotta blow me away here. If the Nats do get a deal and no replacement OF is in it then Robles is starting for whoever is dealt.
GM Meetings are closing out soon. They will lay the groundwork for the Winter Meetings after Thanksgiving. We'll see how that all shakes out. Rizzo seems inclined to fix the margins again. A Marco Estrada, an Ivan Nova, a George Kontos in deals if the price is right. A John Jaso* or a Brett Lawrie in FA if the money makes sense. That's what we are probably looking at.

Very Side note : I'd totally sign Tim Collins again to a minor league deal. The Nats picked up the former Royals reliever last year with the idea that he may be able to help them by the end of the year. While he was able to pitch again, when they rushed him up to AA (which is totally understandable) he wasn't good enough to go further. But I'd like to see what he could do after an off-season of rest and training.

*Jaso is an interesting case as he CAN play catcher. Hint, hint Nationals


Anonymous said...

How about taking a flyer on Chris Tillman. he had a bad year last year but is only looking for a one year contract. seems like a possible upgrade to gio if he pitches more to his career numbers

KW said...

Carrying forward the sell-high-on-Taylor conversation: there are good points on both sides. There are teams/GMs out there who find high Ks acceptable in exchange for homers. Thankfully, the Nats for the most part seem to have moved on from that way of thinking (bye Danny and Desi). And while I agree with Harper's explanation of how this is indeed "sell high" time for Taylor, I also agree that Taylor by himself isn't going to bring much in return. It would have to be "Taylor and . . ." to net a package of some substance. I don't think he should be traded by himself for a Gott-like return. He's more valuable than that. (I'll add that Gott looked like a reliever who had established himself in the majors at age 22 when we got him. He's had some injuries and been quite a disappointment.)

The Nats have to add a starting pitcher and another catcher. An OF upgrade would be a luxury. That said, it's also one of the few places (other than catcher) where there's an obvious guy in Taylor who can be bumped. As Harper more or less says in this post, Zim-Murph-Trea-TTB-Bryce-Eaton are pretty much set in stone, and with good reason.

My thinking with someone of the JD or Stanton level is to go on and get Bryce's replacement now and get maximum bang for one season. They're going to HAVE to add power somewhere for 2019 if they're losing both Bryce and Murph. Robles is going to be like a 10-homer guy when he comes up. For 2018, though, Taylor is decent and cheap, so I don't advocate bumping him unless you can get someone at the ultra level who would be a significant upgrade.

KW said...

I'll add that I thought at the time of the Eaton trade that the Nats made it in part because they didn't trust Taylor to be a regular. But they were also sort of doing what I'm advocating now--getting Werth's replacement while was still here.

BxJaycobb said...

What i would advocate is something along the lines of Taylor + Stevenson + Fedde for Realmuto (or a solid number 3 starter alex Cobb type—but not him, he’s a FA), which I think the Marlins would seriously consider. Or you could try to go big and dangle like Taylor and Soto and Fedde for a Gerritt Cole. That’s a likely starting center fielder plus big time prospect plus back end starter for guy who’s not really performed like an ace with only 2 years of control. They would have to listen.

BxJaycobb said...

Harper. What do you think of Gerritt Cole as a possible trade piece to get so the Nats don’t have to count on Gio in playoff games ever again. What would that take? Only 2 years of control....only one truly ACE level year and a few lesser but good ones, with ace upside. Taylor +Soto +Fedde?

G Cracka X said...

@Bx i like the idea, but i don't know if the Pirates are interested in Taylor. He's only projected for a little over 1 WAR next year, while the Pirates can put Marte in CF if they trade Cutch

KW said...

Soto is the prospect with whom the Nats would least like to part, not Robles. Notice that I didn't say "untouchable," as no one is untouchable. Plus Soto isn't anywhere near peak value yet. If he stays healthy and puts up a 30-homer season, his value would go through the roof. So unless Posey and MadBum are coming in return, Soto probably isn't leaving.

It's an interesting question whether the Nats would be willing to trade Taylor as part of a deal in which another OF isn't acquired. The plan presumably would be to play Goodwin until the Super Two clock runs out on Robles and he can be brought up. That's a BIG bet on Robles, though, in a season they absolutely, positively can't screw up.

I do think the Nats should and will be after a starting pitcher, but I'll leave that debate until Harper gets to it.

blovy8 said...

They can probably pick up another cheap RH corner OF to work with Goodwin if they do trade Taylor and Eaton plays center. Hell, that kind of paves the way for Werth, scarily enough, so maybe you don't want that to happen.

BxJaycobb said...

True but Taylor is a superior fielder and this allows them to trade Cutch, Marte becomes elite on D in LF then they have polanco in RF. Best defensive outfield in baseball. As a low payroll franchise, Pirates love high upside cheap players. I think dealing a couple years of Cole for a few controlled years of Taylor and the upside of a prospect like Soto to replace Marte might appeal to them.

BxJaycobb said...

KW. Why do you say Soto is more valued than Robles? Literally zero prospect evaluation site/source agrees with that. Soto is more like a top 100 prospect and Robles is like the best outfield prospect in baseball according to everyone. He has less power, more of everything else, and far closer to helping the Nats in their winning window in which they have max, Stras, Rendon, Bryce briefly, etc. I highly doubt unless you know something else that Soto is more valued than robles by the Nats.

BxJaycobb said...

I personally think the nats would be insane not to trade from outfield depth to fill in at catcher and pitching this offseason. It’s auch an obvious move i almost think it’s inevitable. And Taylor is the most obvious trade piece that can help get something helpful. To get a Cole or realmuto type, he’s not enough, and you would need to throw in some combo of Kieboom, Soto, Fedde, Severino. Whatever you’re willing or they want. But it needs to be done IMO.

BxJaycobb said...

Sorry this was for @Gcracka

KW said...

Soto is properly ranked based on his limited body of work. Robles was ranked at around the same levels when he was at the same organizational stage. But in chats and whatnot, a slew of the prospect guru types who have actually seen Soto rave about his swing and easy power, and several of them have dropped some variation of the comment, "he may end up better than Robles." Less reliable but still out there are comments attributed to various anonymous Nat staffers who have made similar remarks.

I'm not making any claim that Soto is as good as Robles right now. What I'm saying is that a number of people think he has a significantly high ceiling, to the point that it would be very surprising/unlikely that he would be a "throw in" in a trade, particularly a trade for someone like Realmuto or Cole. The Nats could benefit from adding either or both of those guys, but they're not going to give up someone with 30+ HR potential to do it. A trade for Stanton would be a different conversation . . .

KW said...

BxJ, I'm completely with you in thinking they should be looking to move Taylor, although as we've discussed over the last couple of posts, Taylor by himself may not bring much in return. A conversation that begins with Taylor plus Fedde has some value in it. I don't know whether other teams would value A. J. Cole much, but he's certainly expendable. I don't think Stevenson has much trade value at all at the moment. Goodwin and Difo are probably more useful to the Nats as reserves than anything they could get in return for them.

In addition to Fedde, the real tradeable assets the Nats have are Robles, Soto, C. Kieboom, and Seth Romero (who can be traded in December due to the "Trea Turner rule"). As noted, it would probably take a real star-level player (with some years of control) to pry loose Robles or Soto. Of the higher-level prospects, I would think Fedde is the most likely to be traded. As for Kieboom, the Nats really need to try to hold onto him, as they've got very, very little in the way of MLB quality infielders in the upper minors . . . and face the prospect of losing Murphy and Rendon over the next two offseasons.

KW said...

I'll add that a prospect, particularly one in the lower minors, is still just that: a prospect. A team "wins" over the long run by properly evaluating its own prospects and moving those who they don't think are going to pan out before they get exposed. A. J. Cole and Austin Voth should have been traded two years ago, for example. The Nats overvalued them and kept them. They overvalued Goodwin when he was young, and Purke, and a number of others. Conversely, they made a good call in flipping Meyer when they did, for an established MLB player with three years of team control.

Right now, Robles has insane trade value, much as Giolito did at this time two years ago. Giolito's value dropped a notch or two as soon as he got to the majors and struggled. The Nats still got a good return for him, but they had to up the ante to do it. If they decide to keep Robles, I sure hope they're right about him and that he gives them "star" value.

BxJaycobb said...

KW. I agree with you on everything. Basically I trust rizzo to deal smartly from the kieboom, Fedde, Romero tier to get what the Nats need. Although I will say Giolito looked VERY good for his last few starts last year. I still think it’s unlikely to almost improbable that he will be an ace, but if I had to guess right now, I think he’s on his way to being a solid mid rotation maybe number 2 type arm, which the Nats could really use right now. STILL very risky, but I watched him a few starts late last year. I’m pretty confident he is not going to be a bust at all. He seems to have fixed what ailed him mechanically. So we may regret that one for sure.

KW said...

I don't mind giving up talent to get talent, particularly talent that is controlled. Eaton was coming off a 6 fWAR season and had four years of team control. He sure looked like the real deal in April, and we hope he can make it all the way back.

I thought the Eaton deal, even though the return price was high, was a nice step toward extending the "window" beyond the possible loss of Bryce, Murph, and Rendon. Of course Rizzo made that trade with the expectation that Ross would stay healthy and that Fedde was the real deal. I don't know that anyone now thinks Fedde is ready to be the 5th starter at the beginning of 2018, though. If Rizzo makes any medium-to-big moves this offseason, it very likely will be for players who are controlled for three or four years.

I was never a fan of picking Seth Romero, so I wouldn't mind seeing him traded. That said, the Nats have very little in the way of starters now in the mid-to-upper minors. Of course there has always been some buzz that Romero won't stay a starter.

Fries said...

I'm really beginning to worry about the Nats depth right now. The team doesn't necessarily NEED players at the major league level, and if I'm Rizzo then I'd consider swapping prospects at this point with teams who need OF depth. The Nats appear to be converging towards a situation like the Giants are in right now with an aging core and no farm. The Nats had always dealt from their position of strength (pitching) and now they have none. Time to deal from the position of strength again with OF prospects and balance the farm a bit.

DezoPenguin said...

So after all is said and done, the Nationals' needs are:

1. A starting pitcher around the level of Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark who'll end up the 3-5 starter depending on how Gio, Tanner, and the new guy pitch.

2. Right-handed bullpen help in the middle relief/long relief category. Our new pitching coach fixing Long-Ball Kelley might help, too.

3. A backup first baseman who can hit the ball and can, if need be, play an extended period if the injury bug or the suckage bug eats Zim again.

4. A middle-infielder to fill in the bench while Difo starts for Murphy at the beginning of the season.

That assumes the eight guys we already have (Eaton, Taylor, Harper, Rendon, Turner, Murphy, Zim, Wieters) are the starting players, Severino is backup C, Goodwin is OF4, Difo is the utility infielder, and we use somebody like Stevenson as OF5 if we thing playing time at AAA is more valuable than bench-riding in the majors for Robles.

Possible improvements are:

1. Catcher, catcher, catcher. The only positives Wieters has are the intangible benefit of his game-calling (that the staff speaks positively of) and the potential to hit like he did in April and/or previously in his career. His negatives include lousy defense, lousier framing, and five months of hitting like Jose Lobaton. Severino is a D-first guy who seems positioned as a backup catcher.

2. Middle infield. Nothing suggests Difo will hit like he did when he started at SS, and you'd kind of like to get someone who can hit to replace Murphy, especially if there's any chance Murph will miss more than a month. Also, a good 2B option means that Murph can also be the best option for backing up 1B in the event of a Zim meltdown. (Neil Walker would be ideal here, but his price tag would likely be too high.)

3. Outfield. This rests on the assumption that 2017 Michael Taylor is not who he is going forward. Stellar center-field defense (literally the best in the NL by UZR), good power, speed on the basepaths (if not necessarily skill) and a wRC+ around 90 is a very good player and if you think this is who he is it's not worth expending resources from a limited pool to replace him. If you think 2017 was his flash-in-the-pan with the bat AND you think Victor Robles isn't ready for the majors, then replacing him would be good. This is a situation where the scouts, coaches, and stats guys all need to be on the same page before Rizzo makes a decision to keep or jettison Taylor.

And that pretty much sums it up. A Harper extension is a secondary subplot running around (both in terms of what it means for post-2018 planning and for the amount of cash it would tie up that would otherwise limit Rizzo's moves), of course, but for 2018 we know Harper will be available and there's no reason to sabotage that unless somebody overpays. Like maybe that Trout guy kicked Arte Romero's dog or something.

BxJaycobb said...

Dezo: I’ll tell you one thing. The Nats need to extend/sign either Bryce or Rendon. You can’t lose both to FA as a team trying to contend that also had resources. Just can’t. So if you’re not signing Bryce, fine——-I think you SHOULD sign I’ve said elsewhere, the most sophisticated projection models (which include injury history etc) have him as a 40-something WAR player over next ten years, and 1 WAR is valued at about 9 million by the market, so he IS worth about 400 million or close to it. BUT if you ARE going to pass on a Bryce, you simple cannot pass on Rendon. Get it done.

Josh Higham said...

So, all September as I was dreading the Nats making an early exit, and during the Dusty Drama after the playoffs, I managed to completely forget how much I hate the offseason. Here I am refreshing this blog, fangraphs, and MLBTR about a dozen times every day and of course there usually isn't anything new because there are a lot of months to fill where hardly anything happens.

Thanks for keeping up during the offseason, Harper. And thanks everyone else for commenting.

Flapjack said...

Harper, you are undervaluing Goodwin for the second straight year (and to be fair, you're in good company). The kid was hitting for decent average and on a 30 HR pace when he got injured. Here is someone the Nats have patiently developed, who seems to be reaching his first rounder potential. It's a good year to wait and see in the OF.

Trading for a SP is probably a good idea. I hated the Eaton trade, which reflected a throwing up of hands on Taylor, to say nothing of what it did to the team's pitching depth. As it turned out, we should have waited and seen. That said, Cole is a development project who saw glimmers of promise in 2017. This should be his breakout year. Assuming he has one, he could help answer to the depth problem.

Much of this year's off season will be about 2019. I will hate to lose Gio, Murphy and Harper (the player). But, worst case, it means at least two first rounders (for Harp and Gio) for 2019.

Murph may be the most signable of the three, but I'd take a pass. Micro-fracture surgery means he's had bone-on-bone arthritis. This procedure replaces the missing cartilage with cartilage-like, but less durable, scar tissue. It isn't a case where strength conditioning will help. We shouldn't expect a full recovery of mobility.

IMHO, re-signing Rizzo is probably onwership's most important challenge this off-season. (I wonder how good his Spanish is.)

BxJaycobb said...

@Flapjack: there’s less than zero chance they sign Murph. I frankly think they’re more likely to sign Bryce. Murphy is the most “headed to the AL to DH” free agent ever. He will be offered twice as much money by AL teams. I don’t think you will be upset about losing Gio in a couple years. Last year was not a real thing. He is going to likely put up a 4.5+ ERA year in 2018 (i would guess) and has had declining fastball velocity for years. This whole “wow, he really has learned to use his finesse stuff” is MOSTLY hokum. He just got insanely lucky with hit sequencing and BABIP this year. I know that sounds nuts after this season. But if he has a year like he did last year in 2018 (as i think he will), I bet most teams assume 2017 was a fluke and treat him as an aging back of rotation arm who throws 88. Maybe he can land a 2-3year deal somewhere for like 30-40 million dollars. I actually don’t think he will be more sought after than that. Make no mistake. The Nats will have gotten every good/great year Gio has as a pro. In terms of signing people, the Nats should try to sign Rizzo. Then they have to re-sign either Rendon or Bryce. Not permissible to lose both unless you are interested in doing a rebuild.

BxJaycobb said...

APologies I meant to say “if he has a year like he did in 2016 as I think he will, most people will assume 2017 was a lucky fluke in the midst of Gio’s accelerating decline. Zim and Gio are the two most predictable ultra-reversions to mediocrity on the team for next year. You can’t *expect* a 3+ WAR/very good year from them. Can only hope and plan on more like 1-2.

Josh Higham said...

Except Gio has been worth 2.9 fWAR or more every year since 2010. Declining though he is, Gio is probably at least a 2 WAR guy next year. bWAR didn't like him in 2016, but fWAR still identified him as a good pitcher with bad luck.

Fries said...


I disagree on Gio. His stuff has declined, but what he did this year (and I begrudgingly credit Weiters for it) was improve his pitch sequencing/location. Essentially he became less predictable, making his plus curveball mess with hitters more. Fangraphs did an article about it a few months back, but I can't seem to find it.

Long story short, I don't think Gio will repeat 2017 in 2018, but I do think he could repeat 2015 type numbers. I think 2016 was the year he learned he had to change his approach and, with the help of a good game-caller, he did.

Ric said...

Just to add on to the last two comments.

Gio is, if I'm correct, the BEST number 3 pitcher in all baseball. Maybe two other teams have a better #3, but I'm not willing to go back and look.

I get that 2017 was probably a fluke. But my gosh, our number 3 pitcher got Cy Young votes. In a worst case scenario, Gio would be the number 2 pitcher on about every other MLB team. We are paying $12 million for possibly the best #3 rotation pitcher in baseball.

Yeah, sucks that he's not an ace in the postseason. But the piling on Gio is like the piling on MAT at the beginning of 2017.

Ric said...

Clarification: worst-case Gio/2015/2016 Gio would be the best number 3 pitcher in all baseball. 2017 Gio would be 20+ teams ace.

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