Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Winter of our BryceContent

Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday Quickie - Winter of our BryceContent

WS over. Congrats Sandy Leon?

Madson was the more prominent former Nat and he failed big time. If there could be an LVP for the series, he would have won it. Part of this is his fault for sucking. Part of it is the Dodgers fault for saying "all he needs is to be rested" and then abandoning that in the series. Oh well.

So now we move into free agency and the number one thing is getting the Bryce Harper decision made and out of the way. We'll talk about it more tomorrow in the OF post-season review but this is the decision that informs everything else. Right now through 5 positions the Nats plans are pretty clear

- Get a 1st base back-up for Zimm
- Get a decent 2B to start or back-up Kendrick
- Get a catcher

You can finagle these all to be rather cheap but more likely you are looking at around 15 million in 2018 and that's with just getting a catcher. You get a good catcher and that jump up to 20 or 20+.  Bryce's savings is nearly spent and we haven't gotten to the rotation (they need a starter - a good one) and the bullpen (they need some good arms).

But a good and healthy Bryce covers a lot of problems. The 2015 Nationals' second best hitter was Yuney Escobar. Their third best hitter was Clint Robinson. And yet they still led the East half the season before the trade deadline and flirted with the playoffs. So you can bring him back and maybe roll with Severino/Kieboom/Read at catcher. Or Difo as your #1 back-up while you wait for Kieboom the Greater or Garcia to be ready.

But you have to decide. We're going to get some movement here very soon and if they wrong moves are made the Nats are going to find themselves making moves out of necessity rather than choice. These can still work out (see Murphy, Daniel) but let's not pretend that wasn't a fluke.


DezoPenguin said...

The basic problem here is this: if you think that Adam Eaton isn't somehow cursed to have his body explode at random intervals and that Victor Robles is ready to play, you're spending $35M per year, at a minimum, over again a minimum of eight years, to replace a 4-6 win player with a guy that could put up 10 but probably won't. Bryce is amazing and in a perfect world keeping him as a Nat forever would be great, but the plain fact is that the Nats PROBABLY have a guy under a much cheaper contract right now who'll put up the same level of production as Bryce will. By fWAR, Bryce put up 3.0 in 2016, 4.8 in 2017, and 3.5 in 2018. That's a good player, a useful player. It's also a bit more than half an Anthony Rendon. He hasn't been BRYCE since three full seasons of baseball ago, and that's just not someone I say "Back up the Brinks truck for!" when we already have his internal replacement on the team signed to a cheap long-term contract. Give him the QO, thank him heartily for his contributions, and move on towards fixing the many problems the team actually has.

blovy8 said...

Can't argue with the above except to point out Harper's age. He could become a better hitter; in theory. But unless the Lerners commit to paying luxury tax, you can't field a World Series caliber team, pay for Harper and have any depth for injuries on the bench or in the minors. The other thing would be defense - if he's this bad in his mid-20s, is he gonna be Rusty Staub when he's 30?

Froggy said...

Let Bryce walk and sign Kershaw.

That is all .

Josh Higham said...

The Lerners' too little too late selloff this year coupled with their inane refusal to exceed the tax threshold in 2019 has somehow managed to make me angrier than anything they've done to this point. It is so inexcusable that they would keep Gio, Adams, and Murphy on the roster just long enough to not get under the threshold in a failed season, then prepare use a refusal to spend over the threshold in 2019 as an excuse for failing to build a strong team.

There isn't a GM in the world good enough to fix the Nats with that limitation. Signing Bryce helps the team win games. Signing Keuchel or Corbin helps the team win games. Staying under the luxury tax threshold doesn't help them win this year, and it is no guarantee of winning in the future either.

Josh Higham said...

Follow up:

If you care about winning, you have to maximize your chances while the Scherzer-Rendon-Harper window is open. They have all but blown it with their inane refusal to spend like the rich owners they are.

Andrew said...

@Dezo, are you saying Eaton is the 4-6 win player? I don't think that's at all reasonable to expect going forward. He was that player for 3 years by B-R, though a bit lower than that by Fangraphs, at ages 25 to 27, but now we're looking at ages 30-33 after some major injuries. Even in the best case that he hits like he did with CWS and he mostly did with the Nats when healthy, it is not reasonable to expect him to be as good in the field as he was then, and that was a big part of his value before. That was particularly true in his good outlier year in 2016. Besides, I don't think the fact that you can come up with three good outfielders (assuming Robles is good next year) and figure you're set.

I think what makes the most sense is start planning to transition Harper or Soto to 1B. Next year one would work as OF part time and 1B part time and then transition there all the time when Zim leaves. Added benefit is you save a few million by not paying for whatever Adams/Lind/Robinson backup 1B they'd otherwise sign.

SuburbanSteve said...

I have to agree with Dezo, thanks for the memories, but we need to build a team.

blovy8 said...

What's the board's estimate on what Harper will get? I'm gonna guess 10-340 and be wrong.

PotomacFan said...

I think it will be more complicated, with opt out years for Bryce (along the lines of the Strasburg contract). That said, I'm guessing that the basic contract will be closer to 10/310 -- because it has to be more than Stanton's contract, but the market isn't as strong as when Stanton signed.

Harper said...

Dezo - I'm with Andrew. I think you are overvaluing Eaton and/or Robles here. The difference would be more like a 4.5 expectation for Bryce (in like 130 games) vs 2.2 for Eaton/Robles (in 100) I think. Still is that worth putting 20-30 million for that improvement when you might have a negative value catcher and 5th starter pencilled in right now? That's your question.

blovy/ PF - it has to beat Stanton on overall value or AAV. 13 / 325. I can see it be 10/ 330. I can see it be 8 / 250. I can see it be 15 / 400. I think PF is probably close to right though - something where the average value is up over 30 million close to 10 years. (With opt out after like 3-5-7 years)

Fries said...

I am so torn on Bryce, but at the end of the day I think the Nats have too many holes to fill to keep him. The only area of depth the Nats actually have is OF, so we don't need another OF. If Bryce agrees to move to 1B, then maybe you sign him and have a carousel of Eaton/Harper/Soto/Robles in OF and platoon Zim/Harper at first. But that's a big if. His value is diminished as a mashing 1B with zero defense (though also less of a liability most likely than a mashing RF with no range, even with his arm).

Given that the Nats need at least a #2/3 starter, a catcher, and a 2B, I say let Bryce walk. Give him your best offer and if he doesn't take it, say oh well

Robot said...

Rumor is that Kershaw kid might be available. The Nats should sign him. I like his hustle.

dc rl said...

I like Happ as a FA target for the reasons you give.

Archer is also an intriguing target, but it's highly doubtful the Pirates deal him now. They just gave up several good prospects to get him, so they could hardly justify dealing him away so soon unless they got a similarly nice haul in return. Also, you're not right about his contract, at least per bbref info; they show that he has team options for 2020 and 2021, at salaries that will be certainly picked up unless the guy totally craters, so he's not just a one year rental.

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