Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Close

Monday, January 14, 2019

Monday Quickie - Close

It feels like we are close on a Bryce decision, and a Manny decision for that matter. How these play out could be huge season turners. If somehow Bryce and Manny end up both on the Phillies - the Nats, despite the good offseason so far, have a 4 team fight on their hands for the NL East where they might not be the favorite*. If Bryce ends up back in DC and Manny somewhere not the NL East then the Nats are WS favorites and likely only have to hold off what was a slightly overachieving Braves squad who maaaaaybe are better due to off-season moves?, to get to the playoffs.

The mystery team speculation is fun, but primarily it comes down to 4 teams (not counting the Nats). The Phillies, who have talked about spending stupid money and getting one of these guys for a couple of offseasons. The White Sox, who seem prepared to follow the new trend of trying to capture success as soon as it gets here by spending now** And two of the three forever teams in the mix, the Yankees and the Dodgers. Both these teams were playoff squads last year. Both should be around as good based on their off-seasons so far. But both remain "I'll believe it when I see it" situations, in regards to laying off these potential future HOFers. The Yankees are pushed by the success of the Red Sox and the Dodgers by 30 years of failure. Neither fanbase would be happy with the status quo.

The best scenario for the Nationals, outside of Bryce back, would be both guys ending up in the AL. The worst is both in the NL East. I still like Bryce to the Phillies, but I'll shift Manny to the White Sox. I think he wants to be a Yankee, and the Yankees want him, but they seem to be pennywise, pound foolish here, hoping that Manny's heart outweighs his brain.  I'l say the brain, and more dump trucks full of money, win out.

Personally I think the "Werth hates the Phillies" to be way overrated and I think the main thing Werth will tell Bryce is the same thing that drove him to DC in the first place.  Follow the money.

*probably would still be but it's early. Will need to think about it more. Think there is a reflexive turn to the Nats that might pull away again by season's start.

**in general keeping costs down though for the window.


Jimmy said...

Still think Bryce ends up a nat. I think the Dodgers and Yankees are both waiting to see if the bottom falls out on either of these guys.

Jay said...

It's really hard to tell at this point. I don't think Manny ends up in Chicago. The White Sox have been awful. They look to still not be all that great. I think part of why ARod to Texas didn't work is bc Texas wasn't that good when he signed and then they couldn't afford to build a good enough team around him. I think Manny most likely ends up in Philly.

I think Harper ends up in DC or LA. I am hoping he doesn't end up in Philly. That would hurt more for some unknown reason - I guess bc Philly fans are about as opposite as Nats fans can be. The rumors on Harper seem to be contradictory now. Bowden made it sound like Nats were in the lead and were up to 10 years/$350 million. Then Nightengale says Phillies in the lead and the Nats' interest was waning. Then a guy from the Post writes that the Nats don't want to go higher than $25 million a year, which makes zero sense. I'm really disappointed in the Post's Nats beat writers. Are they even working? This is really a big deal and you wouldn't know it from reading the Post or Twitter.

Jimmy said...

The beat reporters for the Nats routinely get scooped by national guys. But anyway my question is how the Philies can be the favorite if they've never even tendered an official offer? The only two things I think that have been confirmed by our beat reporters is that the Nats offered a 300 million dollar deal for Bryce at the end of the season and that Bryce/Boras met with Ted Lerner over Christmas. Seems like there is a ton of misdirection from everywhere and the reporters are just grasping at straws at this point.

Anonymous said...

Some of these national writers are such blatantly obvious stoogepuppets of Boras that you can’t take anything they say that seriously.

And Boras the boring ass must be the unhappiest person in America today with the leaking of that White Sox offer to Machado. His desperate effort to get the Nationals to bid against themselves just got MUCH harder. The Season of Humility is in full swing!

W. Patterson said...

My bet is we hear nothing until after the Stupor Bowl. Or maybe between the playoffs and the Bowl when nothing else is going on. Then all of a sudden it's the
Bryce and Manny show.

For a week, or so, then it's back to basketball (huh?) and hockey (yawn).

Chas R said...

I agree with Jimmy and Jay- seems most likely Bryce will come back to the Nats. I don't think it's a sure thing as the Dodgers could swoop in at the last moment, but I don't see him going to the Phillies

ssln said...

When no one knows anything, you open up the possibility that everyone will say something.
The history of baseball long term baseball contracts is that you limit your team's ability to fill other spots. A-Rod and Pujols come to mind. Hey, don't let history get in the way of irrational emotions. Where is old Pub when you need him. Please remind me again how you hated Werth because the Nats overpaid for him and he couldn't hit or field and wasn't good in the clubhouse.
Oh well, it isn't about winning or losing championships. As BX said, it is all about having memories of watching stars play the game or something like that.
I am certain the Vikings were thrilled to watch Cousins play during the year even though they were home for the playoffs.

BxJaycobb said...

(1) what are the Nats beat writers doing...god they are the worst at knowing things...and I am including Boz, who as recently as a month ago was saying “of course Bryce isn’t coming back the Nats have moved on” he is writing columns about how exciting it is that Bryce might come back. Remember when Chelsea Janes (bless her heart) insisted for months that Zim was skipping ST for no reason and wasn’t hurt? Yeah then it turned out he was hurt.
(2) nobody knows anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if the White Sox signed both. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Phillies signed both. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers signed Bryce and the Yankees signed Machado. I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow the Angels snagged one. All I want is for Bryce to be on either the Nats or not the Phillies. I can’t stomach playing him 20 times a year and having to watch him in that uniform. I do think it’s a good bet that the Phillies will *probably* end up with one of the two. I guess if I were a betting man I would say there are two scenarios that are most likely: Manny to Phillies and Bryce to Nats. OR Manny to Sox and Bryce to Phillies.

blovy8 said...

In football, I think the Nats are more akin to the Houston Texans. Are their fans pissed off about how they haven't even gotten to the championship game yet?

Bowden and Nightengale seem to be right about as often as broken clock. Luckily the torture of going back over their previous musings to call them out is too daunting for any reason but pure, seething revenge.

Is there any actual evidence that anything close to the Nats October offer to Harper has been matched? It's all about page views, most likely.

billyhacker said...

I would love to see Bryce got to Phillies on a 10 yr $40 mil per yearcontract! It would make it so much harder for them to assemble a complete team when overpaying by that much. I think Rizzo wants to let Bryce go to Phillies at a price that hurts them. Also, the bigger the Philly contract the more pressure Bryce will have and the bigger and crazier his swings will get. Sign me up. After the Dodgers cleared room for him, they must still be in the mix...

Harper said...

Jay - there's a difference on being not good and having potential (like the White Sox) and not good and that being it (early 00 Rangers) But potential is still just that - Machado would have to gamble on what he sees

Jimmy/Jay - part of the problem is the beats on the Nats are both very new. They haven't built up anything that would have them get a scoop rather than a Rosenthal or Heyman.

W Patterson - I'll take that bet, in part because I think as one goes so goes the other. You miss out on one it becomes imperative to get the other.

ss1n - all well and good but how many championships or NLCS appearances for that matter have the Nats brought in so far without one of these "roster hindering" deals?

bx - somebody knows something, but good luck piecing out who that is and what they know.

blovy8 - Yes.

billyhacker - maybe in the long run but their payroll is so small it wouldn't(well shouldn't) be an issue for the first couple of years.

Ollie said...

The Nats are better on the field with Bryce. Eaton's a nice player, but Bryce can win another MVP. The amount of hate towards him here reminds me of a spurned boyfriend/girlfriend.

If they re-sign him they can trade Eaton or Robles for a respectable #5 starting pitcher (or a number 4 to bump Sanchez to #5).

I suspect most of what we've seen reported lately is Boras negotiating through the press to get the final contract higher and maybe give Bryce an earlier opt-out. My bet would be he ends up with the Dodgers both out of desire to move out west, play in a big market, play on a contender, and $$$.

Also a "Season of Humility" for Boras probably means making $40-$50 million pre-tax from Bryce and Machado's contracts alone. Not sure how humble he'll be after that.

Jay said...

Boras isn't representing Machado, so he won't make money there. However, I agree that he is going to make a lot of money off Harper. I don't disagree on the Dodgers, but they haven't even met with him. I guess the only thing to do is wait and see what happens.

Any thoughts on whether this is an either-or situation with Harper and Rendon? If so, should the Nats just try to sign Rendon? Which one is easier to replace. Rendon is certainly more of a team player. However, he hasn't even made the All Star team (though I think he has deserved to make it).

Anonymous said...

ssln, my thumb hurts from having to scroll past your drivel every time I come here. Contribute differently.

Ole PBN said...

All these headlines are exhausting to follow regarding Bryce's leanings. First, the Nat's were in front with a 10/300 offer. Then Philly said they had stupid money. Then Lerner said we're not interested in him. People said Yankees were the favorites too, based on nothing. Then the Yankees said they're not interested. Then people still said the Yankees will sign him. Then we apparently offered Bryce "much more than 10/300" and met with him over Christmas. Then the Dodgers traded away their outfield. Then people said LA was going to sign him. Then LA's front office shot down the idea of signing him. But then people ignored that. And then people remembered Philly had stupid money. Then apparently it leaked that Bryce and Manny don't like Philly. Then a lot of people laughed. Then the Nats were the favorite again, along with the Phillies (why?), the Cubs (also, why?), the Yankees (still, why?), the Dodgers (please explain), and the White Sox (..umm, what?). Then the Phillies met with Harper and it "went well." Then they were the favorites. Good GOD.

Or we could go back to the very beginning, about 3 months ago, and refer to the ONLY offer (as far as anyone knows) presented to Bryce Harper by any team: The Washington Nationals.

And yes, just like our medical staff, the Nats beat sucks too.

DezoPenguin said...

@Ollie: No one here hates Bryce. I can't think of anyone who thinks that in an abstract world of infinite money, we would actually be a better team with Adam Eaton in RF instead of Bryce Harper.

The problem is that we do not live in that world. Rather, we live in that world where the 30 MLB owners have seemingly agreed to treat the luxury tax threshold as a soft salary cap. Exactly two teams in all of MLB broke the cap last year--the Nats were one of them! (And the other one won the WS, for whatever that's worth.) The question isn't "would Bryce Harper make the baseball team better?" but rather "would Bryce Harper being paid at the rate of $30M/year, or $32.5M/year, or whatever, make the baseball team better?" If signing Bryce means NOT extending Rendon, then maybe getting Bryce isn't a great move. If signing Bryce means NOT getting a decent fifth starter or something better than Sammy Solis in the bullpen, then maybe getting Bryce makes the overall team worse even while improving RF.

And the problem is, we don't know. Maybe Ted Lerner has said, "I'm willing to spend the big money. Bust the cap; just don't go over the threshold where we start losing draft picks." And if so I say grab Bryce, extend Rendon, get all the good players! Yay! But we also just ditched Competent Fifth Starter Tanner Roark and his $9M salary earlier this offseason, which tells me that at least on some level, money DOES matter to the front office. So we're still in a world of unknowns. And locking the team to 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars for an unknown...makes people nervous.

Anonymous said...

"Is there any actual evidence that anything close to the Nats October offer to Harper has been matched? It's all about page views, most likely."

Nope, there is none whatsoever.

I believe that Bryce's personal first choice is the Dodgers, and while the Dodgers would no doubt like to have him, they have made it abundantly clear on multiple occasions that they're simply not going to overpay him. So for him to choose them, he would be leaving a substantial amount of money on the table.

I also think that that little dog and pony show in Vegas the Phillies put on this weekend was a straight-up bluff and that they have no intention of making him a truly competitive offer. Why would they do that you ask? #1, they want to make it seem to their fans like they're really trying hard and in the hunt. #2, they're probably hoping they can get the Nationals to stupidly bid against themselves and increase their offer.

My advice to the Lerners: don't fall for the old banana in the tailpipe. Your patience and discipline is going to win out in the end!

Ric said...

@Ollie said: "The amount of hate towards [Bryce] here reminds me of a spurned boyfriend/girlfriend.

Ollie, I've just reread all the comments in the last five posts. I don't see a single poster who expressed hate towards Bryce. Can you quote someone (or preferably two) so we can have some context?

Ryan DC said...

Quick reminder here that 1) any team in baseball can afford to sign Bryce or Manny (and perhaps both) and still be able to fill out a major league roster with more high-end talent and 2) the Lerner family is one of the wealthiest ownership groups in baseball and could absolutely afford to pay Bryce $35 million per year and extend Rendon to the tune of say $25 million a year. League revenue is increasing, payrolls are now decreasing, and making excuses for ownership will only lead to less competitive and less fun baseball. The Nats were one of the only teams to pay the luxury tax last year? Good--they should be spending enough to pay it every year. Guys, life is too short to waste it defending billionaires.

Kubla said...

There was a good analytical piece today on Deaspin (which is usually pro-labor no matter what). The author discussed how the actual contribution to the bottom line for WAR may have been overestimated and the recent chill on FA offers is an adjustment to that. A lot of it comes down to revenue sharing and the length of TV contracts, neither of which create incentives to spend for winning in the short term.

Screech said...

Does anyone here remember when a "fan," Danny Snyder, took the reins from an owner who truly understood the sports business, Jack Kent Cooke? Not to disparage any of the views here, but it's worth remembering that building a relationship with one's fan base is a long term process. Trust comes from a record of success, not just one great gamble. Trying too hard risks squandering more than money. Just ask those playoff parched Philly fans.

Mythra said...

My prediction is that Bryce returns to the Nats. I think the meeting at christmas between Ted and Boras was to work out a cap-dodging deal or option year. I could see the Nats settling on a contract like Max, where Bryce would get one of those couple million a year for life deals.

Definitely in the 'Hell no, not Philly!' crowd. LA or NYY is fine, though I'd much prefer Eaton/Bryce/Soto with Robles off the bench or spelling Eaton/Bryce.

blovy8 said...

I agree that Ted wants him back, and Mark was probably trying to balance out that interest in his comments last year. But Rizzo is building the team as though Harper isn't coming as he should. Signing Dozier takes a big step toward replacing some of Harper's power without sacrificing "athleticism" or busting up the budget.

So if we had to choose, would it be a set fifth starter or a loogy? Both is not an answer if we stay under the cap.

Ole PBN said...

I'd take it further than a loogy... that bullpen needs a sure thing (or as close as you can get to that) that is someone other than our closer.

Rotation is fine, just need SP6/7 figured out. Let Fedde, Ross, and a Hellickson-type duke it out, but don't spend to much on the worst guy in the rotation.

BxJaycobb said...

I recommend this piece to everybody.

BxJaycobb said...

@Jay, Harper. I think it’s an either/or with Rendon/Harper. Unless they utterly disregard the luxury tax for the foreseeable future (fine by me, but won’t happen!) I don’t see how the Nats can pay 5 different players 25+m AAV (or roughly 130-140m AAV to Stras/Max/Corbin/Bryce/Rendon. Apparently Rendon is seeking Altuve money (6 yr/175m), which I think is a hair unreasonable. Are you worth almost 30m AAV when there are probably 4-5 superior players at your position (Ramirez, Machado, Bryant, Arenado, Donaldson, Chapman, et al.)......
Also, why do you say Rendon is a better “team player” than Bryce? Seems like hogwash. We don’t know who is a team player. But if you ask me, I’d rather have a guy who is passionate about winning than a Rendon/Zim type who seems to just be going through the motions. Still, thinking about attitude, etc is a fool’s errand.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. I’m curious about your view of the Yankees FO right now. Watching from afar, I am vaguely appalled by the fact that they’re not willing to bid for the top free agents. Wasn’t their excuse for curing payroll last couple years that they were saving up space for this FA year? I mean. I guess it’s fine to complain about Nats FO. But at least they’re pushing the luxury tax. What possible reason do the Yankees (or LAD for that matter) to not sign one of these guys?

BxJaycobb said...

@Blovy: personally I would target Will Smith (LH reliever on Giants) in a trade. He has 1 yr remaining of control and shouldn’t be that expensive in prospects at all. Then if there is any money remaining I sign Hellickson for cheap, and figure a Hellickson/Ross/Fedde combo is enough for 5th starter.

Re Machado/Harper predictions. Here’s the thing. To get a high deal you need two teams bidding. It seems to me that Machado is being very dumb right now, because if he waits and the Phillies sign Bryce, he is left with just the White Sox as an interested team, according to reports. Nobody to big against. I actually wonder if THAT is what the Phillies are doing with Bryce, because it seems they prefer to sign Machado. Maybe they are trying to freak out Manny that he’s going to be left at the altar in order to drive him to the table. Meanwhile if you’re Bryce, it seems like he always wanted to go to the Dodgers. But if they are really out, and it’s really Nats, Phillies, White Sox, I HAVE TO assume Bryce prefers the Nats, all things being equal dollar-wise. So perhaps he is meeting with Phillies ostentatiously to try to get Lerners to raise their offer as much as possible.

Jay said...

I read that the Dodgers are trying to sell minority stake currently. Somewhere in the paperwork it states that the Dodgers will remain under the luxury tax threshold for at least the next 2-3 years. Not sure if this is true or not.

If it's Harper or Rendon I guess another question is who is easier to replace?

Josh Higham said...

Thanks for the link, Bx. I find myself in the ass-backwards position of a fan who wants a strike. What a world we live in. If anyone's into academia, here's an analysis of player share of revenue from 1990-2015. It explores 5 reasons that the general labor market is seeing declining share of revenue paid to labor, and tests whether the same phenomena are driving the decline in baseball.

sirc said...

By any numeric measure Rendon is harder to replace.

Ric said...

BxJaycobb, I (respectfully) suggest you combine your multiple comments into one longer one? Every post you have anywhere from four to eight (yes, eight), back-to-back comments.

I hope you take this nicely, which is how I mean it. I don't mean it to be read as snippy.

DezoPenguin said...

Rendon's definitely harder. In fact, we've technically already replaced Harper with Adam Eaton, who is projected for 2.2 fWAR (and that assuming that for some reason he'll have his worst offensive season since 2013, because projections are funny that way). There are a whole lot of respectably adequate corner outfielders out there. If we didn't like Eaton, we could have signed a Michael Brantley or an Andrew McCutchen just this offseason to give us three or so wins in RF. And 2018 Bryce, specifically, wasn't all that great, given that his defense and baserunning gutted the value of his bat (3.5 fWAR and less than 2 bWAR).

Rendon, on the other hand, is a reliably six-win talent (consider: Bryce is projected for 4.9 fWAR next year, which would be the second-BEST season of his career. Rendon is projected for 5.4, and that would be the fourth-best season of his) at a position where four-win talents do not grow on trees. Replacing him would take Arenado, Turner, Ramirez, or a metric ton of luck. He doesn't have Harper's potential to bust out into Troutian heights of brilliance, but he's reliably better on average and it's a lot harder to find a 3-4 WAR third baseman than a 3-4 WAR corner outfielder.

tl;dr No question, if Lerner says he'll back the money truck up for Harper OR Rendon, then I take Rendon every time. I've read reports that Boras is looking for Altuve's extension (5/$162.5) for Rendon; if I were Rizzo I'd have that contract on Boras's desk before the words finished leaving his mouth.

sirc said...

The MLB Network Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now aired this past Saturday and it made very clear just how deep and great the 3b position is in the game right now.

And yet Rendon was ranked 4th. On the individual lists he fell between second and 7th. In an era of great and deep third basemen, the Nats have one of the greatest.

They need to extend him. Unless they intend to trade for Chapman or Jose Ramirez, they will not find a better combination of age and production at the position. Sign Rendon. Please.

blovy8 said...

The only problem I have with that Rendon deal is no position players seem to be getting that kind of money now. I imagine subtle negotiations until Harper and Machado sign is wise.

Thanks for the article links on compensation. My feeling is that since management is rarely transparent about finances, it’ll be really hard to figure out what the players cut of the profits should really be. It could end up like those old record deals where the artists owe a bunch of money to the label before they get royalties.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Cubs management just put a pretty definitive smackdown on the idea they’re interested in Bryce.

Feeling any more humble yet, young man?

CardinalX said...

say Bryce comes back to the Nats? could it be said that Rizzo, the Lerners, the Nats, whomever were irresponsible in not getting the team under the luxury tax in 2018 atleast to do a reset for 2019?

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