Nationals Baseball: Offseason Position Discussion : Third Base

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Offseason Position Discussion : Third Base

Last year discussion revisited

We assumed Rendon would start and play. Despite pretty much full years in 2016 and 2017 I still bought him as an injury risk and suggested they needed a strong back-up. The Nats did bring in Kendrick who could have covered for Rendon but his position was third down on that list behind 2B, which we knew would have to be covered to start, and OF which is a 3 player deal.

Rendon this year bruised his toe, hobbled through a week where the Nats thought maybe it'd magcially heal fast (it didn't) then missed the rest of April and first week in May. Effectively, if the Nats training staff had been on it, he'd have missed a few days under a month. While he was out Eaton was out too and with Murphy already out this was the time guys like Adrian Sanchez and Moises Sierra were seen in the lineup. It actually didn't end up being too bad but in the end a few more wins may have changed some minds in regards to July decisions. He'd miss a week later in the year for paternity leave but otherwise remain healthy and play like Rendon should play.

Presumed Plan : Rendon plays 3B.  His back-up is contingent on the 2B moves. It could be Difo, it could be Kendrick, it could be whoever they sign in FA to play 2B.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan :Why does Rendon play? He's great. Sometimes it gets lost behind the super offensive skill of Bryce and now Soto, or the more heralded play of guys like Arenando or Bregman, but Rendon has been one of the most valuable players in baseball over the past three years, on par with everyone but Trout and probably Mookie Betts. He can hit. He can field. This is easy.

But he still remains they type of guy that can suddenly be out for 1 week that becomes 3+ in the blink of an eye so you do have to think about his back-up more than you would a normal player. But again - with other issues paramount 3B back-up has to roll into other decisions. Whatever they decide for 2B will inform 3B.

Problems with Presumed Plan : As we noted - Rendon is an injury risk. He has played a fair amount of games the past few years, enough that you can't make a Zimm like assumption he'll miss half a year. But a month? Sure. Do you want to see Difo for a month? Nope. That's too much Difo.  Kendrick might be a good solution for a month but he could be pencilled into 2B and if not, would be first up if Robles (injury risk) and Eaton (injury risk) go down* 

There's also the elephant in the room of Rendon being a FA after next year. Can the Nats really do nothing all year and possibly let him walk?

My take : Rendon has to be considered a mild injury risk. He seems to heal slow, this 2018 bone bruise being a more benign version of his two month "day to day" injury in 2015. And being older, injured in 2018, and playing baseball regularly we should expect he'll miss some time. As I said a month seems right and him playing 130-140 games is probably right.

I'd like to find a better solution than Difo but I'm not sure there will be. I suppose you could put MAT in the OF and Kendrick at 3B if you need both as the same time. That's probably marginally better than Difo at 3B and Kendrick in OF. I mean, none of this is bad. It's fine. But it's also assuming 2B is solved and not Kendrick and C is fine. Because Difo for a couple weeks... teams have to do stuff like that, even good teams. You absorb it because everything else is working. But if you have a hole at C and no injury cover elsewhere (which would be the case is Kendrick is at 2B and they don't get a starter level back-up) then Difo could be the tipping point that slows the offense to a crawl.

So basically I'm saying Rendon with Difo and maybe Kendrick covering is fine but only if those things are solved and there isn't this potential for it to blow up in the Nats face. If for some reason C is Keiboom/Severino and 2B is Kendrick then the Nats need to bring in a real back-up. (who that is I don't know - Pablo Sandoval? Adrian Beltre? I mean Asdrubal would be perfect in this situation but I have to imagine he finds a starting job somewhere. There's a big gap at 3B where there are above average guys and guys well below average and nothing inbetween. I suppose you sit and wait it out and maybe a Freese or Moustakas become a cheap grab?)

I don't worry about the FA move right now. First there's Bryce. If you don't sign Bryce you sign Rendon. If you do sign Bryce, maybe you still sign Rendon - that depends on if they spent money on pitching as well this off-season. Kieboom/Garcia make losing Rendon a little more palatable as they are likely to come out with one average guy here.

Or let me rephrase this whole thing - they need to get pitching. Sign a pitcher then they are likely to choose Bryce or Rendon (and I choose Bryce but you are fine choosing Rendon). Trade for a pitcher maybe you sign them both. Signing neither shouldn't be an option. Not getting a pitcher shouldn't be an option. But we'll get to that in a week or so. 

Out of the box suggestion :

The Nats seemingly have no compunction about moving Rendon around to fit the needs of another player. So Rendon can go back over to 2B (which may help out Zimm more than most other free agents) then you trade for Nolan Arenando. Great IF defense is set and for one year you are right back all-in (especially if Bryce was signed). Who goes to COL... well that's the tough one. They probably need pitching the most and damned if the Nats don't really develop that. You are likely throwing Fedde and Ross or Ross and Crowe or Fedde and Romero (basically "pick 2 of our imperfect pitching prospects") at them along with #1 pick and complete wild card Mason Denaburg. And you are hoping they love Denaburg.

*No Kendrick wouldn't play CF but they might shift someone there and put him in the corner.


PotomacFan said...

Sign Rendon! Of course, wait to see what happens with Bryce, but don't go into the season with an unsigned Rendon -- unless Harper has re-signed and there has been a substantial upgrade to the pitching staff and at catcher.

Ole PBN said...

I think Bryce will be waiting around for that big contract until Feb. Not that he's not going to get it, but the Boras will let the bidding war unfold for a while. We can't wait around for that. Put in a competitive offer and see if he bites. If he doesn't, MOVE ON. We have SP, bullpen, 2B, and C to worry about. Not an talent heavy OF.

Sign/trade of a top-tier SP, get Ramos back to DC and resign Rendon. If they do nothing else, I'll be happy.

blovy8 said...

Everything affects everything. Again, you seem to be assuming they are going to run a 250 million dollar payroll out there. Signing Harper, a catcher who can hit, another playing time worthy 2B, a quality setup guy, two starting pitchers who you won't cringe at watching in October, a utility guy better than Difo, a LH masher to take starts at 1B, and a few ML quality pitchers and position players to hang around in AAA most of the year kind of costs a lil' bit.

Arenado's gonna be another really expensive guy. Doesn't that make him cheaper in prospects? It's going to be hard to give up much for a guy making 26 million and out the door the next year.

DezoPenguin said...

Out of the box suggestion: Sign Josh Donaldson on a one-year contract, maybe laden with incentives so that we pay for what we get (he probably won't be as expensive as some of the alternatives, coming off a near-lost year, and if he's willing to bet on himself to prove 2018 was just an injury blip he won't want a long-term deal), move Rendon to 2B, and use Kendrick as the primary backup for both of them, with Difo being the SS/emergency guy.

Otherwise, yeah, before we even start talking about extending Bryce or not, pitching and the catcher position need to be addressed. Max-Stras-Roark-Ross-Fedde/Voth/Rodriguez isn't a rotation that can compete for a division title, and starting a catcher that hits like Sandy Leon only works if (a) you don't also have a hitting pitcher in the lineup, and (b) the guy can also play catcher like Sandy Leon. Bryce may be a legitimate Face of the Franchise guy with potential to be in the Trout/Betts level of players, but he's also going to get paid a metric ton to play a position at which we already have three young, cost-controlled, extremely good players.

ssln said...

Congratulations to Jeff Madson. You just let three runners score before you got one out. You are destroying the Dodgers before a national audience (pun intended). Still haven't told Roberts you have an upset stomach.
You are lucky that Belichick isn't your coach because he would cut you on the plane back to LA...if he even let you get on the plane.

blovy8 said...

The Donaldson idea is not terrible, and that's adding even more injury-prone talent. It almost makes too much sense to happen.

blovy8 said...

Off subject. Tanner Roark and Sonny Gray are very similar at this point. Coming off lousy seasons. Gray is younger, but less durable, and seems to have been helped more by Oakland's foul territory, as he disintegrated in Yankee Stadium. They both made about 6.5 mil last year, have the same service time and are in their last year of arbitration. But the Nats aren't talking about dumping Roark for a bag o' balls.

Roark 64-54 3.59/3.91(fip) 935 in. 17.2 BWAR/12.2 fWAR
Gray 59-52 3.66/3.74 (fip) 900 in. 13.0 bWAR/13.7 fWAR

Anonymous said...

Is it Jeff or Ryan Madson? Must be an inside joke that no one understands...

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