Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Braves reload as the Nats wait

Monday, November 25, 2019

Monday Quickie - Braves reload as the Nats wait

It is forgotten in the euphoria of the World Series win but the Nats didn't win the division last year. The Braves did. And while the Nats are presumably held back awaiting the decisions of Strasburg and Rendon the Braves are forging forward.

They have re-signed Tyler Flowers. He had an unusually good fits couple of years in ATL but has been his general poor hitting self the last couple of years. To cover for him they brought in the perfectly acceptable Travis d'Arnaud who was average last year and a few years younger. It's a mediocre catching duo at the plate and behind it but catcher is a hard spot to fill. This fills it I guess. It wasn't good last year with the aged McCann getting time. It probably won't be good in 2020. But it also probably won't be worse.

They resigned Nick Markakis, continuing my favorite non Yankees, non Nats subplot - the Marchkakis to 3000 hits.  For those unfamiliar, by virtue of rarely missing games, hitting at the top of line-ups, and being a decent average hitter, Nick currently sits at 2355 hits.  That's still a good 5 seasons away from 3000 and at 35 he probably won't get there, but a couple flukes in 2020 and 2021 getting to 2700 hits and there will be some interest in grabbing him - first off he would have hit well and second only 300 hits away. Anyway for the Braves he's a pretty solid 3rd/4th OF type which keeps ATL having the flexibility to work in prospects as needed and deal with injuries.

Most importantly they signed Darren O'Day, Chris Martin, and Will Smith for the pen.  Smith is the prime get.  He's spent four of the past 5 seasons as a top notch reliever. He had been a little wild but in the past 2 years has calmed that down.  If he can avoid fluky homer issues, he's lockdown and he's killer on lefties, which is important to have in a division with the likes of Soto, Bryce, Conforto and McNeill. O'Day got hurt last year but is worth a flier on for the couple million they are spending seeing how he's been good for a decade when healthy. Martin is a guy who has developed pinpoint control and has strikeout stuff.  He gave up longballs in Texas, but if that was just Texas the Braves, who are keeping him after acquiring him mid season last year, are getting a guy who could be elite.

The Braves are still in an iffy position because of the rotation. They've finally given up on the former ace Teheran and Keuchel is out, meaning they need two arms.  If they succeed in getting Cole, or piecing together two strong alternatives (Bumgarner and Hamels?) they may be early NL favorites.

The Nats are stuc, unfortunately. They proved they can get over a guy like Bryce in an off-season. So if Rendon or Strasburg leaves they can figure out the plan around that. With Bryce because it was just him, they were able to say at a point - we're moving on - and do it. But with Stras and Rendon both sitting out there they can't do that in the same way. They have to make a choice on which one they want and throw money at that guy, then see what happens. But of course if you are the guy they are throwing money at you know you have the Nats in a good position and can work them for more. That drags things out and the longer it goes on the worse for the Nats. If they are really going to play this game and NOT commit to giving one of these two basically what they want no questions asked but instead try their usual working of a fair deal, then they need to hope one gets off the market soon, or else they could watch the B and C plans go away waiting on which A plan they settle on.

(Or as always - not my money, give them both what they want) 

23 comments:

coolsny said...

think we all need to gird ourselves for the reality that the braves are going to be really good for a few years and winning the division is going to be a dogfight

Nattydread said...

And Travis d'Arnaud?

blovy8 said...

Since they apparently reset in 2019, Rizzo can probably make an easy case to go over the CBT threshold if need be, and if so, the Nats don't really have to wait all offseason to fill the vacancies. They can trade players from a position of strength if they somehow find themselves with both Rendon, Strasburg, and another 3B/SP. or even just delay Kieboom's service time clock some more.

Kubla said...

It's pretty clear that the Nats need to sign Stras, Cole, MadBum, and maybe even Hamels just to make sure the ATL rotation won't be good. To be safe, sign every FA starter out there. You can always trade them later.

coolsny said...

^^^this but also the phillies. they are out there looking for starters and 3B as well!

Guys, the NL East is coming back to avenge for the pitifulness of the past half decade

SM said...

Anthopoulos will make sure Atlanta is very good. He--not any specific team, Atlanta excepted--is the greatest menace to the Nats' chances.

Chris said...

Damn, just imagine how all this would feel if we hadn't won the WS.

Positively Half St. said...

Chris -

That is what I have been thinking, too. I hope that the players don't feel like the pressure is off the way that I do.

John C. said...

The one thing that we can always count on - whatever the Nats do, here on the internet we will conclude that the Nats have blown it in a ludicrous, brain-dead way.

Me? I'm still looking forward to the WS DVD. Sadly, I couldn't get into the premier (which is next Monday at Anthem).

Mr. T said...

@Positively, totally. It makes the millennia-era Yankees even more impressive. They won the WS 4 times in 5 years. They were IN the Series 6 times in 8 years. They were in the playoffs every year from 1995-2007. The Nats win one World Series and I'm like, who cares what happens next year, they did it!

SM said...

John C.

Unlike Bogart, we won't always have Paris.

We'll always have the 2019 World Series.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper I guess what I don’t understand at all is why signing somebody like Will Smith (whom the Nats should have targeted as the best reliever on the market) or D’Arnaud are things you have to wait to do until you know whether you signed Strasburg and/or rendon. I mean we’re not talking about a Patrick Corbin or even a Grandal here. We’re talking about players who are like 7-13m AAV players. And I assume Rizzo realizes he needs to spend money to augment the bullpen either way.

BxJaycobb said...

If we were talking about say Grandal or Wheeler or Donaldson, of course, those are things that you are paralyzed from going for until you know about the big two. But these are not moves you have to wait on. They’re just not.

Kubla said...

Why should the Nats target the best reliever in the market? Grabbing a bunch of cast-offs and guys trying to recover from injury in order to cobble together a maddeningly awful BP leads to WS trophies. The Lerners should save the money and buy big yachts so they can join Dan Snyder in the cool owners that everybody likes regatta.

ethan said...

I am a huge baseball fan and love reading stuff like this. If the Nats lose strasburg or rendon then that will leave a huge hole either at the plate or on the mound.

BxJaycobb said...

Just a more general comment. The Lerners would be wise to realize the unique opportunity they have following a championship for a young franchise. You can either solidify a passionate growing fanbase or lay an egg in the years after the title while your pinching pennies and watching the budget. The title can never be taken away and the fanbase will grow either way. But honestly....being worried about say 3-4m in luxury tax by going over the tax this year to bring back stras and Rendon and strengthen the team otherwise appropriately is nuts when you will be getting back that value like ten fold by building on the enthusiasm with another winning year (not even a title just a playoff year even.) the one thing that would be just so insane would be to worry about money with the amount they currently have pouring in and finishing like 3rd or 4th in the division because they signed Moustakas and Wheeler instead of Rendon and stras and didn’t improve the pen much.

Chaos56 said...

Unless there's some crazy alternate reality I'm missing, don't expect the Nats to spend much on any RP this year. They never have in the past, they won't this year either. 15 semi decent relievers in spring training competing for 8 spots. Then, depending on the situation in July, sign or trade whoever's having a good year. I just find it highly unlikely that they change their pattern this off season.

BxJaycobb said...

@Chaos56. I think the argument for changing it up is that Rizzo has been objectively a failure at assembling a competent bullpen with last year being particularly embarrassing/terrible....lot of media and PR during postseason About the terrible Nats pen....and they don’t have the space to beat out the Braves for division if they wait until deadline to get good relief pitching.

BxJaycobb said...

Also it’s impossible to spend a LOT on individual relievers this offseason bc there aren’t any really good ones. But for example Will Harris is available. So would Rizzo give a reliever like 2/22?

Mr. T said...

@Bx, But...but...not paying for bullpen still won them the World Series.

No. Rizzo will not give a reliever 2/22.

Anagramsci said...

just don't sign Sam Dyson

Ole PBN said...

Any interest in Matt Duffy for a infield utility guy? Seems good to me if we were considering AsCab...

DezoPenguin said...

Gomes back at 2/$10M, so counting the buyout we're getting him for $6M this year (and 5 against the cap) instead of $9M, and he stays for the year after. Seems about right; the offense might pick up and even if it doesn't he was actually more valuable this year than Kurt by fWAR (though 0.8 to 0.6 is basically a rounding error, particularly when defensive stats are involved). It helps that he was only truly abysmal in May and June, and was at his best down the stretch when Kurt was injured and the Nats needed him to step up.

In any case, given how good the starting pitching was in 2019, we could do a lot worse than bring back the same catching duo, and while saving $3M of payroll to do it, besides. Obviously, Grandal would have been a better choice, but once he was off the board bringing Gomes back was as good a decision as any of the other FA options.

...Now if they can just do something about two other members of 2019's team...