Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Where we stand

Monday, November 19, 2018

Monday Quickie - Where we stand

The Winter Meetings are creeping up on us.  Three weeks from today, we'll be in the thick of it (from Las Vegas no less) and soon after that, if history serves us, the deals will start coming with more speed and frequency. Where do the Nats stand and where does the league stand?


They've made a reasonable enough offer for Bryce and he rejected it and for all intents and purposes they've moved on. They are now doing the same for Rendon and we'll see if he wants to maximize value or not. They've traded for a reliever (Barraclough) and signed a reliever (Rosenthal) and while the risk cost is low, the potential cost is high making it seem like they could be done as far as the bullpen is concerned. Rizzo talks of value here which is not necessarily saying "cheap" but is hinting at that being the case, especially if money ends up elsewhere. As expected that place won't be second base as the Nats like their prospects there and are fine with Howie Kendrick. Where will the money go? Catcher is a good bet as the only guy that seems to be available for a team not willing to part with Top 20 ish prospects and fits Rizzo's wants is FA Yasmani Grandal. Starting Pitcher is the other place as Rizzo has always built around that and seems ready and willing to do that again.

NL East

The Braves expect to spend more money, but not go all in and get a star like Bryce or Machado. It seems like they are likely to add a closer (though not Kimbrel). Also likely is a reliable starter to front end their plethora of young and prospect arms, but don't bet on the top few names. A catcher of some sort to replace Suzuki is also probable though again on the cheaper end.  Given a lack of interest in spending money and a boatload of prospects, where the Braves might make the biggest splash is in trade deals.

The Phillies are going to spend big. It's almost fait accompli that either Bryce or Machado will end up there and there is not crazy talk of both being possible. They'll likely ship out Franco and eat salary to ship out Santana (a great deal for someone who needs a DH) to free up space and some cash for these guys. Then fill in the space left with quality players when those deals are done. Expect them to bolster the pen and the rotation with at least one more decent player apiece as well.

The Mets are a wild card. They hired an unconvential GM in Brodie Van Wagenen, While some want them to trade away what they got and reset it's arguable they still have the best potential starting rotation anchored by DeGrom, Syndergaard, and Wheeler and it's not like a group like that for cheap comes down the pike every few years. It's probably a smarter move to go heavy in. While they have a lot of payroll in 2019 they have almost nothing after 2020. They could do anything but it seems the most likely scenario is adding to the pen, and trying to shape an offense around cheaper pieces.

The League

As expected it's been slow. The biggest Nats related news would be on the catcher fron. The Rays traded for Mike Zunino, one of the few decent available catchers. Grandal got a QO and declined which means he'll cost a draft pick compensation, which we have seen is vastly over valued by organizations. Does that make Grandal cheaper for the Nats? Does that make the Nats not want Grandal?

Both Keuchel and Corbin are QO guys as well but figure to draw enough interest since you need 150 pitchers but only 30 of each position. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Boras client and potential FA pitcher, accepted his QO and he's off the table for the Nats although that was never really discussed.

Other than that the Rangers seem to be gearing up for a non competitive season and the Yankees re-signed Sabathia, a potential innings eating 5th starter for someone. Everyone else has been in a holding pattern for now.

It seems like the early interest is to try to get a cheap rotation and catching answers along with the now annual bullpen run. It wouldn't be surprising to see Suzuki, Ramos, Maldanado, maybe Lucroy, McCann, and Wieters, all go pretty quickly leaving a couple teams to fight over Grandal. In the same way expect Happ, Morton, Lynn, Eovaldi, Cahill, and yes Gio to fill out rotations first if they are willing to go cheaply (or briefly in Happ's case). GMs with money restrictions, which is like 27 of them, are going to try to get out of December with everything pretty much intact and if that means Garrett Richards or Matt Harvey as your #4 so be it.

What's the combination mean? On the budget end, they aren't likely to find themselves with any real value in the bullpen, as this will probably empty out pretty quickly. But I gather they understood that which is why they moved early. The second base gambit though should be fine as interest is low and supply is high. The can stick with Kendrick as they say, but it's very likely a mediocre cheap veteran will be here ready to back up. On the high end, It means if the Nats are in on Grandal, Corbin, or Keuchel it's a gamble. They could end up with leveraging position if everyone cheaps out, but more likely they'll be left in a 2-3 team bidding war if they let these things play out too long. To not get shut out it'd probably make sense for the Nats to make an early play on one of these guys, so I wouldn't be surprised if Dallas Keuchel has inked a deal by Christmas.


KO said...

Kurt signs two year deal. Is he really an answer for full time 120+ catcher after averaging 95 games the past 3 years? Or is he another cheaper fill in to spend money elsewhere? Doesnt seem like much of an improvement if we have to use Severino for 70 games

Josh Higham said...

Contract details aren't out yet, but my guess is they're planning a platoon or Suzuki as the backup. At 35 I doubt he's making more than $5m/2 base (probably incentives if he keeps hitting well) and I bet it's less. No need to buy a starter before the market for Grandal shapes up at all. Worst comes to worst Suzuki/Kieboom go in tandem and some days the Nats have decent defense and some days they have a decent bat, which is still an improvement on last year.

I think this does give them a little more leverage, or at least less urgency, in negotiating with other FA catchers. And I love taking a capable player from the Braves.

Ole PBN said...

Would we rather have Keuchel or Corbin? Which one would cost more? Keuchel has the CY (albeit in 2015), will be 31yo, but with a consistent track record. Corbin will be 29 and has really only had 2 good years, including Tommy John in 2014. Some sites seem to like the Nats-Keuchel fit, what about ya'll?

Josh Higham said...

I get the impression it would take a killer offer to get Corbin because the Yankees are really high on him and have plenty of room to spend this year.

For the same AAV I'd rather have Corbin but a 5 or 6 year deal would mean the Nats have two front line guys whose second UCLs are primed to blow before their long expensive contracts expire. Keuchel will probably come cheaper and for fewer years so if I were Rizzo I'd see him as my top pitching target.

Josh Higham said...

Fangraphs and MLBTR tell me I'm underpricing Suzuki and he will likely be making around 4-7 per year.

Also, in case it isn't clear I'm having my first slow day at work in a week or two.

Fries said...

I wouldn't be surprised to see Keuchel inked much sooner than Christmas. I think the Nats are aiming to go into the winter meetings with everything already figured out except Bryce and 2B. If they sign Bryce, then the plan with 2B is obviously either trade the extra OF for one or stick with Kendrick and use the trade to restock the farm. If they don't sign Bryce, then they use that money to go after LeMahieu and another Lind/Adams type and maybe extend Rendon depending on what's left. But the Nats are going to have all the major holes "plugged" before the winter meetings so that the Bryce sweepstakes drives the rest of their decision making