Nationals Baseball: Friday already?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Friday already?

Next week will be back to more normal posting here.

Winter meetings are over and the Nats dealt Roark but didn't do anything else. The trade of Roark was a surprise but now they have flexibility to make Marwin Gonzalez a member of the Washington Borases.  I actually like Marwin. He's not as good at 2017 but you could expect league average bat from him and a positional flexibility that the Nats crave. With Kendrick and Gonzalez they'd be insulated from nearly every reasonable (re: 2 guys out at same time at different positions) injury situation.

Several pitching options have been lost. Joe's brother Tyson went to Detroit. JA Happ went back to the Yankees. Charlie Morton signed with the Rays. Ivan Nova was dealt to the White Sox. Lance Lynn, who the Nats had their eye on supposedly, went to Texas. The cupboard for a Roark replacement isn't bare yet but the choices are getting smaller. Wade Miley has been floated out there and is interesting, but not as a Roark replacement, because the Nats need IP and Miley can't be expected to give them that.

On the rivals front, the Phillies made a deal that was a little odd in signing Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen still has value, especially as a corner OF for a poor fielding Phillies team but the contract size seems exorbitant (50 million). It also seems to be a signing that suggest a plan in place for a Bryce-less Philly.  With Machado pretty well sought after too this makes it look more likely that the Phillies end up empty handed when it comes to Top 10 free agents this off-season. Not that it's likely - I still think they sign someone big, just more likely. Such a situation would probably doom the Phillies to a projected 4th hoping to snipe off 3rd from whichever NL East team is bitten by the injury bug (re: probably Mets).  And no - their reliever flip of a more talented pitcher for a more stable one isn't worth noting.  The Mets re-signed Familia which along with Diaz gives them a pretty scary back end. However they still need a big impact signing (or several small impact ones) to start to be projected to have impact.

We got the particulars of the Corbin deal. 2.5m signing bonus. 12.5, 19, 24, 23, 24, 35 with 10 million of that last amount deferred to 2024 and 2025 so... 5million per?  This makes the Nats paying 30 for zero pitchers in 2025 and 2026.  But no luxury tax hit.  Although I think this bus has two drivers.

Bryce hasn't gone anywhere with the Yankees first saying they aren't interested because they don't have the room (debatable) but then coming back with a "well don't count us completely out". I don't think he goes there - I think the Stanton deal means one superstar and that will be Machado because he's needed more - but I think they want to stay open to Bryce if they lose out on Manny. This has been my take since the trade. Personally I've never liked the Stanton trade. I think the Yankees got big eyes when they saw all it would cost (re: close to nothing) to get Stanton and jumped in when they should have focused on trying to get Bryce (who fits the lineup and city better) AND Machado this off-season. But it was also gambling both those guys would be free. If they weren't then they passed up Stanton and would be in a bidding war for the one guy everyone wants. They gambled, and mildly lost, imo. I'd read the Bryce situation as

Dodgers, if they clear off a little salary, then
Phillies, if they get their act together and stop believing they can skip big time signings this off-season and somehow stay on track, then
Yankees, if Machado ends up elsewhere, then
White Sox, if none of those guys sign him, then
Nationals, if all else fails


Anonymous said...

Tulo for 2B? Can't imagine the cost would be that high

Harper said...

no way the Nats go with a guy they can't count on to play 50 games let alone 150

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand the Roark move. Unless they're going out and signing Keuchel or something, it makes no sense. There's no depth in the farm to trade, which means you have to trade ML talent. Only depth in the majors the Nats have is at OF, and that assumes a Harper re-signing. So I guess if the Nats sign Harper they trade Eaton or something for another starter? But if the Nats don't sign Harper, what's the plan? Wade Miley is garbage these days. Do you give an incentive laden contract to Pomeranz or Harvey? I just don't understand the logic

Robot said...

Any updates on Murphy?

DezoPenguin said...

Random thoughts:

1. Marwin Gonzalez, as Harper points out, is the perfect depth signing, especially as Zim/Kendrick/Rendon/Eaton all have some measure of age or injury or both reason to expect them to miss some time here and there. He's not his 2017 self, but the 2018 version would be just fine. Unfortunately, there's about 20 other teams thinking the same thing.

2. DJ LeMahieu makes sense as a 2B signing in connection with other moves: *if* we sign Keuchel (as the current rumor round is suggesting) or Miley (who WAS garbage in 2017, but definitely was not last year, so I think we can chalk that lost season up to "Orioles") or both, then infield defense becomes a more significant point with these groundball-heavy pitchers. Rendon is great and Turner is good, so emphasizing defense at 2B as well instead of the bat-first Murphy types would really make those hurlers more effective (one reason why Miley was so much better last year, with the Brewers emphasizing defensive positioning, rather than the iron-gloved house of horrors that was Baltimore*). If his home/road splits drive down his market, we might be able to get him for a reasonable price. But I'd look elsewhere if the rotation ends up being mostly KO/FB types.

*I really can't emphasize this enough. Per Fangraphs, Baltimore was 28th in total team defense in 2017. Milwaukee was 4th in 2018. Miley pitched to a decent FIP in 2018 anyway, but there's a good reason why his ERA crushed his FIP.

3. I can't see how we can be competitive if we don't obtain at least 2 more starting pitchers, be it by FA or trade. Joe Ross has already been announced to be on an innings limit, over and above the fact that we don't know if he'll be good coming off his injury. Fedde has never been able to actually pitch in the majors. Alvarez is strictly a useful gamble, the most lottery-like of lottery tickets. Our internal options simply aren't good enough. This is doubly true because Strasburg is virtually guaranteed to miss time, Ross as noted WILL not be able to pitch a full season, Corbin will always have that little TJ whisper in the back of the head, and Max, while having no actual expectation of injury, is nonetheless aging. If the #4 guy is someone like Keuchel then expecting the Ross/Fedde/Voth/etc. crew to be #5 and onwards is a bad plan; if the #4 guy is Miley, Hellickson, etc., then it's a disaster.

Jay said...

I saw on MLB trade rumors that the Nats are leary of going 6 years on Keuchel. Rizzo usually has a plan if he makes a move. Plus it is not like the return for Roark was great, so I have to believe has a plan. My guess is they either sign Harper and make a trade with the surplus for a big name pitcher or that they get Keuchel. I don't think they traded Roark so they would have the flexibility to sign Marwin Gonzalez. We'll see.

Also, I'd like to see Murphy back, but he would have to play 1b after next year.

Ole PBN said...

If they sign Bryce... guys, this is what we don't want to happen. Bryce is seeking a massive deal, north of our $300 million we offered early on. I have to think Philly will top this, he is just waiting it out. We can't wait for this. I'd be shocked if Bryce signs before Jan. 1 - if not right up until early February. If he signs with us, it will be late and mean that we have lost out on a lot of FA options. Trade options? Who the hell knows, but who are we sending? Eaton? Robles? Obviously Kieboom and/or Garcia. I just don't like the sound of that.

Bryce is a great player. But it's time to say goodbye. I know because if I wake up one morning and read that he just signed with another team, my first reaction is going to be "Phew!"

DezoPenguin said...

The absolute worst-case scenario is for Bryce to come back to us as HIS fallback position late in the offseason.

If the Lerners decide to say "Hell with the budget! We're keeping him!" (whether because they figure his marketability will offset his cost or because they figure he's the cornerstone of the team or because Boras has incriminating pics of that one trip to Riga in 2002 or whatever) and scoop him up on, say, Tuesday, it means that we have time to package Eaton in a trade (because Eaton *has* to be the one to go then--Robles is the only serious CF, and Soto is younger, cheaper, better, and under control for longer) for somebody useful (see, eg., Cleveland, who'd love to get a great-hitting corner OF on a relatively cheap contract with some team control).

But if we re-add Harper late in the offseason, it creates a roster crunch and reduces our opportunity to do something productive with the suddenly surplus resource.

Harper said...

The one thing I heard about Roark - which may or may not be true - is that it may be a move more in line with Kintzler and Kelley trades than something with a grand master plan behind it.

Dezo - I imagine if Bryce came back late it would be as a 1B/OF thing. Pretty much platoons with Zimm at 1B, and when Zimm is in the OFs rotate out for rest. And I say this knowing Eaton will be out for the season by April 20th and we'd have wrung our hand for nothing.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper, Dezo: Ken Rosenthal tweeted when it happened that dealing Roark was not FO/Rizzo idea but rather ownership, who didn’t think Roark’s salary was worth him, and Rizzo thought it was a perfectly reasonable $ (it clearly is....a mediocre ERA starter guaranteed to throw 175 IP is 10+m for sure) if that’s true it was a reluctant trade by Rizzo. I tend to think this is true because (1) it just doesn’t make sense given the Nats needs and (2) they didn’t wait to trade him until they made the other’s pretty weird to deal somebody before you find the replacement, especially when you’re eyeing people like Lynn and Morton, who can vanish in a second. I disagree that if they sign Keuchel for 4 spot and leave No. 5 as competition between Hellickson/Ross/Fedde/Voth that that is a bad plan. That is plenty of starter depth given the quality of the first 4. If No. 4 is wade Miley, then that is foolish because you’re trading a superior pitcher (guys, 2018 was 80 IP, it means almost nothing) who is durable for one who is not.

@Harper: I simply can’t see Bryce signing with the White Sox. I can barely see him signing with the Phillies. I think he wants to go to LA and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised to see him going there for either fewer years or less AAV. Yes I’m sure he would like to break records or whatever but Bryce is the rare guy who makes a ton from marketing and would value LA as a launching pad and spotlight for that stuff. He sees himself as a Lebron like figure. Maybe I’m being stupid, but I bet you on his list of preferred teams to end up with, Nats are 3rd behind Dodgers and Yankees. Of course if Nats are out then I suppose he would go to Phillies. But White Sox? It would have to be a 100m difference or something IMO. Bryce Harper is not the kind of guy to go to the second tier team in ITS OWN CITY. If he does, I will eat my hat.

BxJaycobb said...

I should’ve said Nats are 4th behind Dodgers Yankees Cubs in that order but I assume Cubs are out.
One other point: the reason that—unlike many in this blog—I would be fine paying Bryce a ton of money is that if he is willing to play 1B, you can plant him there starting part time next year and for full extent of contract, and not worry about his outfield defense.

BxJaycobb said...

I’m starting to think the pitcher they replace Roark with will be a trade. The FAs available just don’t solve the problem, unless you’re willing to pay Keuchel. Also. Apparently Nats are talking to Kikuchi, the Japanese player being posted possibly.

Johnny Callison said...

Seems like the Nats moved faster than everyone else before the Winter meetings and fixed catcher and #2/#3 SP, and added a couple of bullpen arms. All good. Now we sit and wait while they fix 2B/1B/Utility slot and #4 SP. They need an okay answer on the first one and a good answer on the second. Word is that Keuchel wants SIX years, which seems way too long, but SD is thinking of going for it, which means he might be gone. I wanted Charlie Morton--three years and good value, despite the age. Maybe some sort of trade involving MAT and a pitching "prospect" (do the Nats have any?) could land Bumgarner and Panik as SF does a salary dump. The Nats could patch the rotation for one year and maybe cash in on some of the MadBum post-season greatness and hope Panik has a year or two of value left. Just a thought, because I have a feeling Marwin G is going to be too expensive, and Boras may hold him out till Bryce signs.

BxJaycobb said...

Other possible SP trade targets: Stroman? Michael Fulmer? Bauer?

NotBobby said...

Shark, Minor, Ray, Straily, Kluber

BxJaycobb said...

Matt Adams to Nats 1/4m. Acceptable price/move. Allows Nats if they want to get a pure 2B type. With Zim/Adams at 1B, I would suggest an excellent fielder so that for the first time in years the right side of the infield isn’t a defensive disaster. BUT if it were me, I would go the scrap heap for 2B route (like walker) +spend remaining cash on a QUALITY 4th starter, like Keuchel. If they can’t get him, and they can’t trade for a Roark upgrade, and instead end up signing Matt Harvey or Anibal Sanchez, they better spend plenty to get a quality 2B, like Lowrie/DJ/Marwin.

G Cracka X said...

Neil Walker is projected for less WAR in 2019 than Wilmer Difo.

If you want a quality 2B, why not sign Dozier? Steamer and Depth Charts has him projected slightly higher than both Lowrie and DJ and definitely higher than Marwin.

BxJaycobb said...

I'm going to respectfully refuse to believe that Walker is a worse player than Difo. Dozier I assumed would cost more money than Walker. But sure, I'll take him.

BxJaycobb said...

BTW Rosenthal says Nats offered Kinsler a 1 year deal with higher AAV than Padres, but Padres went to a 2nd year. Don’t blame Nats there. My main concern at this point is trading for a No. 4 starter who is better than Wade Miley/Anibal Sanchez. And if they do go that route, they better find a way to beef up the pen and get a long man or something because the back of that rotation is going to need a lot of help

DezoPenguin said...

Basically, if you believe that last year was age finally catching Walker's bat, then yeah, he'll be worse than Difo, because Difo can field. Steamer projections clearly see Dozier's 2018 as an aberration, given his strong previous performance (indeed, in 2018 Dozier posted his first sub-100 wRC+, his first negative baserunning figure, and his first negative fielding figure, so basically he decided to suck in all areas of the game more or less out of nowhere last year). The major problem with both of these guys is that projections never recognize when a guy is cooked the first year after it happens; that's just the nature of the beast (for the opposite, see, eg. Murphy's breakout turning out to be real and making Rizzo look like a genius). So signing Dozier, especially, is a belief in a one-year slump (see also: Wade Miley 2017).

FWIW, Walker had a much stronger second half than his first half, while Dozier started the year bad and then descended into being truly awful with the Dodgers.

Signing a player like Dozier would mean two separate things: (a) that we have some reason to believe 2018 wasn't a new true talent level, and (b) that we don't have a lot of faith in Kendrick being able to be a full-time starter. Someone like Gonzalez is clearly a supersub type, there to collect a lot of PAs through the year filling in all over the infield and maybe even the outfield. I can see the wisdom of going in either of these directions. If you have faith in Kendrick, you get a guy with competence and positional flexibility to offer better support than Wilmer Difo as Plan B if people start going down or just need days off--Gonzalez. Dietrich, maybe Harrison (if you believe his 2018 was largely because of the broken hand) or Descalso (if you believe his 2018 was the real thing). If you don't trust Kendrick to be able to be a full-time starter (whether because of injury or age or whatever), then get somebody who could be a full-time, quality starter in his place with Kendrick then becoming the 2B/3B primary bench backup--Dozier, LeMahieu, Lowrie.

Of course, there's always also the possibility of a trade for someone in either category as well, but trade chips are limited resources and the question of a fourth starting pitcher looms large over everything. At least 2B has a solid plan in Kendrick, but right now we're looking at Ross for SP4, Fedde for SP5, and Voth/Alvarez/? for the inevitably necessary SP6 and beyond. Whatever the 2B/IF plan ends up being, it has to be a secondary priority in terms of salary or prospects expending.

BxJaycobb said...

Agreed on all counts. The no.4 SP has to be the priority. You can’t waste 3 stud pitchers by having replacement level crap in the last couple spots. I say get as good a starter as you can. Then use whatever you have left for second.