Nationals Baseball: The town that Strasmas didn't forget

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The town that Strasmas didn't forget

You might not have heard but Strasburg signed back with the Nats.  The deal is HUGE 7/245 (or 35 per).  Let's understand now he almost certainly not be worth it. Yes I know, Scherzer was and I suppose the Nats could luck into what I consider the second best pitching FA contract of all-time* But let's look at the facts. He's one year older now than when Scherzer signed. He has far less history of pitching the amount of innings that Max had, and a far greater injury history.  He pitched an amount of innings last year well off his usual pace

So Max : Going into his 30/31 season, just had 6 basically injury free years, where 195 was his personal low for a season (when you include post-season) and pitching as he always had

Stras : Going into his 31/32 season, just had his first injury free year since 2014, threw 245 innings 25% more than he has thrown in any season since 2014.

Oh yeah - and Strasburg is pitching off a Tommy John repaired arm.

So it's not going to be worth it in the straight sense, but who cares!  Really baseball contracts are being worth it in a different way.  Stras needs to give the Nats ace level pitching for 3-4 years and then can fade away slowly.  Can he do that? It's not impossible. Max just did it for those ages. It IS unlikely but the only other option for the Nats was going after Cole and hoping to win a bidding war.

This deal keeps Stras on the team for his career. It keeps the Nats full of aces in 2020 to defend their title. It also puts a big ol $35 million toward the cap.  If you are a "Nats are going to try to stay under the cap" type - this makes signing Rendon VERY unlikley.  It would be nearly impossible to sign him and then anyone else good and fill out this roster. I suppose they could fill it with garbage back-ups and relievers and skip out on the 5th starter and hope Ross finally has gotten it. But more likely they let Rendon go and smartly fill out all those other spots.

Is there anything in the fancy stats to suggest Stras isn't going to be able to help next year, if healthy? Nope. In fact Stras has been remarkably consistent over the years.  Maybe a little more homer prone while getting a few more ground balls, as contradictory as that may sound. But the trends are not huge. Strasburg started out as a K machine and then the Nats had an ill-fated attempt to make him an ultimate control pitcher (remember the "strikeouts are too many pitches" era?") but since then has been the same pitcher for years, which has produced consistent 2nd tier Cy Young performance, if not results. Last year kind of broke in a way to highlight that but it only got him the results he deserved not some fluke measure.

The worst thing that can happen to the Nats is an end to the starting pitching injury luck.  It's now 2 TJ guys, one well into that second elbow and Max going on 36.  But they need them all for pretty much 75-80 starts. There's not much you can do though. The Nats days of relying on young arms are over and relying on older ones is risky, but in this case necessary.

My take is this - if you were going to let Rendon walk or were afraid he was going, you had to bring back Strasburg (or sign a Cole).  It wasn't going to get you a team friendly deal but this is about staying where the Nats are at his moment, with Max still presumably Max and Soto a burgeoning superstar.  Ideally something else will work out - it has in the past. A pitcher will develop (like.... uhhhh) or a hitter ( Kieboom or Garcia seem like the most likely ones) to give the Nats another cheap option to keep costs down when they do go out and sign what they need.  If that doesn't happen in 2020 or 2021... well then we start looking at the Nats likely rebuilding post-under control Soto (maybe with him, don't worry) but for the next couple of years they should remain in the mix and could be favorites depending on how they spend.

*Behind Randy Johnson's 4yr, 4 Cy Young, WS contract


DezoPenguin said...

Worth noting, as I linked in the other thread, Stras's deal is, remarkably, market value--if you believe his projections it works out to $8.9M/projected WAR.

Of course, as a pitcher the risks are significant--arm injury is always a threat, and there's the whole question how long would a post-TJ arm last. So there's a greater "fall off a cliff" potential than for a position player. So the variability of outcomes is greater than with a guy like Rendon. But it's important to separate out the concern of the deal not being worth its expected value versus the concern of being risk-adverse.

Of course, the impact on the team budget and desire to stay under the cap going forward cannot be overlooked.

Out of curiosity, I know that for luxury tax purposes contracts are based on AAV, but does anyone know if options are factored into the value of a deal? For example, if Rendon was signed to a deal that was 2/$40M with a player option for 5/$235, would that count as $20M against the tax for the first two years and $47 over the length of the option? Or would it just be $39.2M over all seven years? (Obviously I wonder because Max's money comes off the books after 2021 so I wonder if there's a clever way to structure a Rendon deal to guarantee him all the money he wants while staying under the cap.)

PotomacFan said...

Barry Svruluga does a good job of breaking down the competitive balance cap numbers. The key is to remember that Strasburg and Rendon both made a lot of money in 2019, so we need to examine the "delta" -- the difference between 2019 and 2020 and beyond salaries.

Strasburg: adds $10 million to payroll, by going from $25 million to $35 million AAV.

Zimmerman: goes from $18 million, to $2 - $4 million. Let's assume $4 million. Net savings: $14 million.

So far, Nats are $4 million LESS than 2019.

Rendon: goes from $18.8 million to ??? [$35 - $40 million]. Worst case, that adds about $20 million per year. Adding back Strasburg and Zimmerman, that leaves Nats with an increase of about $16 million per year. Not insignificant, but certainly manageable.

And, yes, there will be some arbitration raises, and maybe (hopefully) a few mid-priced relievers. But didn't Nats pay T-Ro $7 million last year?

Mr. T said...

@Potomac, that's really helpful, thanks! It makes Lerner's comments about not being able to afford both even more suspect than they already were. Let's hope it was just a negotiating tactic.

If they don't sign Rendon, what's the alternative? Donaldson for slightly less, and fewer years? Bryant for 1-2 years, in exchange for the last remaining pieces in an already decimated farm system?

Kevin Rusch said...

Dezo: that's a really interesting point. I'll wait till coffee kicks in to google it.

Harper: by my math, the Nats have 51.5M in cap space.
If you can get Rendon at $40M (figure that's what it'll take), and you have 11.5M left.

With that they'll need a setup guy (5M), 2 more meh arms ($1M ea), and 1 bench bat (4M?). That leaves a little pocket change for midseason. Not much, but should be enough to handle.

What if they traded Eaton? MAT plays superior defense, looks like he may have really figured out the K problem, ( and "meh with pop" is okay with the rest of that lineup. That frees up another 9.5M, and with that you can get a bunch of Asdrubal/Zimm/Adams types.

Kevin Rusch said...

Mr. T: I'd have to go with Donaldson and every $5M guy you can find for every other role. They'd need another Asdrubal type, another Adams type, at _least_ 1 $5M setup guy (get it over with and sign Hudson for 2 years) and save some cap space for mid-season in case Stevenson, Keiboom or someone else is hurt or horrible.

Max said...

Sportrac had them at about $35M left. Not sure if that's a good source or not, but I'm still trying to figure out how much they have until the luxury tax.

DezoPenguin said...

With Guerra back, that still leaves them a first baseman (probably Zim, but they could go another way), a second or third baseman (with Kieboom taking the other spot), and a relief pitcher (assuming Voth or Ross doesn't get the last bullpen slot) short of a full roster.

That also doesn't account for some of the holes in the assembled roster, such as it having Difo, Taylor, and Stevenson all on the bench, and the bullpen having Rainey, Suero, Elias, Strickland, and Guerra all occupying spots.

So in order to build a team that can genuinely compete, Rizzo may have to break the CBT threshold or find some places where he can move money off the roster without creating new holes.

BxJaycobb said...

But the problem is that they also have more positions to fill which costs money. Like1B 2B and 3B to say nothing of bullpen are currently basically empty. Howie is a bench/part time player. So that’s a LOT to fill out. That said, I would vote they just keep Rendon and go by the tax of course. But if you’re treating it like hard cap u have to let him go I think.

BxJaycobb said...

Sorry. One less infielder bc Kieboom

BxJaycobb said...

Here’s my take. The Nats don’t need to REPLACE Rendon. But here’s what they absolutely do require to make the playoffs in my opinion. A middle order bat to pair with Soto. Preferably RH. I think they should do one of three things that would achieve this:
(1) Donaldson. Simplest way to do it. And I think actually pretty likely.
(2) trade for 2 years of Bryant without giving up Kieboom. They can set it up and not pull the trigger until the Bryant grievance is settled. I think you could use volume to get the cubs to do it since it’s only 2 years. It is possible they would require Kieboom though, which frankly doesn’t help the Nats that much. But a Farm Minus Kieboom for Bryant trade makes a lot of sense to me with the Nats competitive timeline. Keep in mind Bryant probably will cost like 15 mil on books.
(3) Farm Minus Kieboom for 2 years of Lindor and move Trea to 2B and Kieboom at 3B. this gives them the second well over average bat with power they need, plus the infield defense gets better everywhere.

The question is whether the Indians or Cubs would wait to get a return they like better from a team like the Braves or even Phillis, who both simply have more to give esp Braves (I personally think Bryant and Donaldson are fairly likely to fill two spots of the Nats Braves and Phillies 3B carousel....I especially think Bryant to braves makes a lot of sense.

billyhacker said...

Luxury tax payeoll includes benefits probably including Strasburg contracted right to use Nats field gym access in the off-season. Also includes retirement and health benefits which some are estimating at almost $2m on top of Strasburgs salary. But his salary will get net present valued fr each year so I assume the deferrals lower the tax calc (even with some interest).

JW said...

I just don't think Farm minus Kieboom gets you to Lindor or Bryant. I think other teams will be able to give up more attractive pieces. I actually like Bryant as a fit on the roster and as a potential long term piece, but as Bx says, think I think that the Braves or Phils are more likely for him (he and Bryce are supposedly good buddies right?).

Donaldson makes some sense in that it would arguably maximize the competitive window the Nats currently find themselves in. The last piece of the aging core so to speak. But that fourth year he apparently wants is going to be awful. And Donaldson will be the most expensive, which will make it more difficult to fill in the other holes in the roster.

I wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Kyle Seager as a potential trade candidate for 3B but that'd be a big drop off from Rendon/Donaldson/Bryant.

Kubla said...

I don't think they can find one player who can completely replace Rendon, but they can fill the holes he leaves in the lineup and the infield with multiple people. They could expand the search and consider a 1B for the bat. Have the AsCab/Howie/Kieboom crew cover 2B and 3B. Keep Z or Adams as backup 1B. If the 1B candidate is decent in the field as well, then they are looking at an improved right side of the infield to balance out a worse left side. If they get a FA 3B with a meh bat and plus glove, then they can situationally trade off offense and defense by using that guy or Howie. I'm optimistic they can still field a strong team, but the way to do it will be more complicated without Rendon.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...


The big problem with filling Rendon's hole with 2-3 players is that it doesn't offer Soto the lineup protection he really needs. You might get the equivalent amount of WAR with 2-3 players that you would have gotten with Rendon on paper, but the 1-2 punch the lineup had last year doesn't get reflected so well in counting stats. We really want to consider something like wRC+, and you can't magically fill the hole Rendon leaves with a patchwork of players to match that kind of production

DezoPenguin said...

@JW: Out of curiosity, why do you think a 4th year for Donaldson would necessarily be so bad, compared to a third year--especially if he accepts a lower AAV in exchange for the extra security (say, 4/88 instead of 3/75)? Do the projections have him scraping 2.0 WAR in Year 3 and plunging sub-average Year 4 or something?

mike k said...

@Dezo The option is a stopping point for the AAV. For example, Eaton's AAV ("cap hit") was far below his actual salary last year because it was attached to an extension signed when he was still arb-eligible so the breakdown went from low to high; since the Nats exercised his option, his cap hit is now the same as his salary. So, theoretically the Nats can do something that you are proposing. That would mean eating nearly all of the savings you get after Scherzer leaves without adding anyone, but yes you could do that.

@Potomac As you state, those numbers also don't take into consideration arb increases, and also the aforementioned Eaton increase (and it was $9M to T-Ro). I'm in the "sign Rendon" camp but I'm not sure you can do it while also staying under the cap, especially given what Strasburg was just given. Then again, instead of playing tricky with Rendon's contract like Dezo suggested, why not use Scherzer's leaving as an insurance against higher and higher penalties...go a little over for two years, and then just don't replace Scherzer's salary completely so you reset year three. Why not? (Not my money)

@Billy I am 98% sure that deferrals don't lower the luxury tax calc and that you are not penalized for the luxury tax when paying the deferrals.

I agree with Cautiously that filling the lineup with ok guys does not adequately replace Rendon. I think the Nats are better off trying to resign him and hoping some ok-to-decent guys are willing to leave some money on the table to play for a contender. Also you can't just add WAR and assume it's equal because you have to also consider the amount of roster spots being taken up.

@BX I like the idea of Lindor in that infield but I think the Nats are better off keeping the farm and paying Rendon over trading the farm for Lindor. The Bryant trade market will be interesting I think.

Jay said...

The only problem, according to the twitter, is that Rendon refuses to accept any deferrals in his deal. If that is indeed the case, then he has played his last game for the Nats. That might be why Lerner said at the end of the year that Rendon had to decide what was best for his family. Strasburg deferred $80 million to try and increase flexibility for the Nats to sign other players. It's not knock on Rendon - he can do what he feels is best.

DezoPenguin said...

@mike k: Thanks! I appreciate the info; I don't know if the Nats would want to do something like that but it's nice to think that there are creative solutions.

And your 98% surety is correct. Luxury tax is calculated based on the dollar payout averaged over the playing length of the contract. Deferrals count against the playing years, not the later time (so Max's payments, for example, won't count against the Nats after 2021 for CBT purposes).

Trading for Bryant or Lindor would be interesting (I'd prefer Bryant, as he'd basically be 90% of Rendon for two years, whereas some of Lindor's value is tied up in his glove and as Cautiously Pessimistic accurately points out, we need a high-end bat to pair with Soto) but I have to agree with JW that the Nationals just don't have the resources to offer that some other teams would for those guys. I suppose we could season the pot with the Cubs by adding Taylor and one of Voth/Ross to the mix (since the Cubs have a need in both CF and SP5 and this gives them cheap MLB-ready pieces to a team in Win Now mode), but that's not going to move the needle in terms of saving prospects.

JW said...

@Dezo -- I don't know that he'll be sub-replacement level or anything, but he doesn't have to be to make $22m a bad deal for that year. I felt like with Donaldson, if you were assuming 3/$75m, that third year wasn't going to be great value. So saving the $3m in Year 3 and adding $22m for Year 4 would...not be great. But that is resting on my assumption that he will have a pretty big drop from last year to four years from now. I just feel like he is in for a somewhat steeper aging curve given his skill base and injury history. But I'm also not a MLB front office employee, so my opinion matters very little in the grand scheme of things.

I think Donaldson would be a solid alternative to Rendon for next year and probably the year after (assuming no injuries) in regards to maximizing the competitive window for the next couple of years, after which things could get dicey anyways depending on how the starting rotation ages. So it's not like if they sign him I'll be particularly disappointed. I don't think it's the optimal solution by any means, but it's a good solution and I don't know that the optimal would be possible given the state of the Nats farm.

Again, that's just my opinion.

DezoPenguin said...

@JW: I see! Thanks for explaining. I'd be interested myself in seeing what the various projections think of Donaldson's four-year curve, 'cause if he wants that fourth year you can bet that there'll be a bunch of GMs hip-deep in their proprietary systems as well as checking with their eye-test observers. But yeah, I agree with you--the optimal solution for replacing Anthony Rendon is definitely to resign Anthony Rendon; you'll get more good years at the front end of the deal and there's no reason to believe that Rendon's year 5-6-7 would be any worse than Donaldson's year 2-3-4. Unfortunately, it does seem like that isn't the likely outcome and whatever Plan B turns out to be it's going to be a lot less appealing in terms of age, cost, term, certainty, or all of the above.

Anonymous said...

@Dezon and mike k

Does it work that way for a player option? It would be really weird if team options were counted against the cap, but I could see the cap caring about the AAV of the guarantee, which would include player options.

But that also has me thinking, why don't teams tack on a few extra years to these mega deals (like arguably Philly did with Bryce). Strasburg isn't likely to have much left in his age 39 and 40 seasons, but if he can pitch at all and he still wants to, I promise you he'll be pitching here in DC for a discount. So tacking those years on to the deal does very little in terms of the value exchange but saves the team a lot of cap space.

Maybe Boras or Stras cared about the AAV record or just the AAV on its own for sentimental reasons, and if so, that's fine. But I hope the team tried to get him to take 245/10 or even 245/12, because why the hell not? You can even front load the payments so he has almost all of it on the same schedule he'd get it now.

BxJaycobb said...

@mike k. I completely agree. My proposals are assuming they don’t re-sign rendon. Since I am told by media that it’s over.

mike k said...

@Anon This sounds suspiciously similar to an issue the NHL had a few years back. I assume the mlb/mlbpa cba has safeguards for this because IIRC it was signed after the NHL instituted their own fix, but I don't know.

First off, if Stras signed for 245/7, then he probably won't take 245/10. But he might take 260/10. If this is the case, then yes you are decreasing the AAV by 9 mil/year, but you run a significant risk of having a bad pitcher (or no pitcher if you release him) at 26 mil against the "cap" for three years. I think the Nats would rather just have the 35 mil hit while he's playing.

What you seem to be referring to is a handshake agreement of 260/10 where the salaries are frontloaded in the first 7 years (already a problem for the Lerners but let's ignore that for now) and Strasburg agrees to retire after year 7, where he's not giving up a lot of actual money in years 8 9 and 10 but the cap hit is artificially decreased for the years he actually plays. The Devils did that with Kovalchuk. I don't think that would be allowed here.

Nattydread said...

Why am I optimistic about Rendon returning now?

This is the best option if he wants to be on a competitive team and that matters to competitive players (Dodgers withstanding). Good management, good relations with team mates and coaches, great 1-2 punch with Soto. Nothing new in DC.

Sure he can get a bit more $$$ at home with the Rangers. If he wants to play out his career closer to his hood, he should do that. Rendon is class all the way.

Interesting that Strass is helping make the pitch.

Nick said...

Cole got 9 for $329 from the Yankees. Makes Stras’ contract seem like a bargain!

Harper said...

On Options - just to clear it up team and mututal Options count against the cap for the year they are paid out (if they are) They don't factor into AAV and are essentially one year deals for luxury tax purposes. Player options do factor into AAV . This is to avoid exactly the scenario you propose where they offer large definitely to be taken option years to circumvent the salary cap early in the contract.

G Cracka X said...

Harper, thoughts on Cole's contract?

DezoPenguin said...

Thanks, Harper, for the clarification!

(You must be happy with your Yankees being the faves for the AL pennant AND Hal deciding to play "screw the cap! It's just money and we have billions!")

BxJaycobb said...

(1) Donaldson is going to require 4 years. That’s age 34-37 seasons. Dicey. Especially with a guy who missed most two recent seasons.
(2) re Bryant and Lindor. I gotta say....I just don’t think two seasons of these guys is going to require like 2 blue chip prospects plus. They’re not going to be inexpensive and again, it’s two years with little chance of extending either. I think it’s possible to snag one with a volume offer of A- and B+ prospects, which the Nats have..... because I’m not convinced that another team like Braves or Dodgers is going to be willing to trade top tier prospects for just 2 years. If they are, then yeah, Nats wouldn’t be able to get them. But Donaldson will be the main backup plan to Rendon.

Mr. T said...

Feeling cautiously OPTIMISTIC now, reading about how Stras is personally lobbying Rendon to stay and Rendon may be willing to accept deferred money...

Chaos56 said...

The Angels? Really? Well damn.

Dave said...

Well, that cheap POS has let Rendon go. Golf clap. I think I have had enough of this league. It is no better than basketball. The Yanks have tied up a half a billion in TWO players. Screw this.

Josh said...

While I hate to see Rendon go anywhere else, the Angels stings less than many. Having him in the AL and getting to see him and Trout mash together is far preferable to the Dodgers!

The Ghost of Ole Cole Henry (JDBrew) said...

I hope Anthony really enjoyed his 1 ring, because he’ll never win anything else in LA. While I understand player always take the highest dollar offered, it will really bother me if Tony says any of the cliched crap about how the organization “is committed to winning” and he cares about “brining success to this team.” Quite frankly if he comes across and says anything except “yeah, they really paid me a lot” then he’ll be full of crap. That team is terrible and they aren’t trying to win. They openly admit that their top priority was starters and relievers this off season. So what do they do, give a half hearted attempt to sign Cole. Doesn’t work, big surprise. They trade for Dylan Bundy?? I mean that guy is terrible. The best thing they could bring themselves to say about him was he is very durable. Yeah, he’ll show up to work to everyday, he’ll be terrible, but he’ll be there. Then they trade with the pirates for their a reliever with a career 7.77 era. And are discussing a trade for a washed up Corey Kluber and Carrasaco, when Ryu, Bumgarner, Bailey, and Pineda are all available and real options within their budget window. What the H*#%!?!?!? That’s not trying to win. They panicked, blew their payroll on Rendon to appease their fans after they missed out on Cole but aren’t addressing the real issue. That team is going nowhere. If Anthony claims to care about winning AT ALL, then he’s a damn liar. That team STINKS. They were 72-90 with the best player in the history of the sport. And they didn’t get unlucky, they’re expected W/L was 72-90. They were 35 games out of 1st in that division. They had a run differential of -99 while the first place team had a run differential of +270. They need to make up almost 400 runs to match that. They were 4th place. And I’m almost every division that record would have been 4th place. That team freakin sucks. And they have been for a LONG time. Anthony will not win a damn thing for the rest of his career. And he can forget every hearing M-V-P chants from his fans. They have a perennial MVP. He will always be 2nd fiddle.

And I’m sorry, I LOVE Rendon. But he is not a 2nd highest AAV in baseball kind of player. That’s crazy. Is he valuable? Yes but $35M a year valuable? I don’t think so. I guess it depends on whether you believe he is the 2019 rendon for the next few years before declining or if he is the 2017-2018 rendon for the next few years before beginning his, albeit probably slow, decline. I’m more inclined to believe he is the latter. That lines up a little more closely with his career averages. Last year it seems like everything broke right for Tony at the plate. I hope for the Angels sake this deal isn’t Pujols 2.0. As that would just be sad.

Yes, LAA stings less than nearly everywhere, unless you are a fan of the player. And I have been a big Rendon fan. I wanted to see him win more here. If not here then win with another contender. But at least contend. In Anaheim, he’ll just be another mirror to add to their collection of smoke and mirrors that they sell to their fan base. Nothing more than a lesser Mike Trout. Who can’t make that team competitive despite being a real life superhero.

I’ll miss you Tony. Much more than anyone else this team has ever let go. Enjoy the quiet twilight of your career and spending October at home with your family. (Maybe the additional PTO played into his decision) Enjoy heading the fans chant MVP for the player batting in front of you. And enjoy California’s 12% state tax rate. I’ll miss you, but I’m kinda glad if we could only have 1 we kept Strasburg.

The Ghost of Ole Cole Henry (JDBrew) said...

Sorry for the long post. Had to get a bit of that off my chest. I can’t stand teams that try to fool their fan bases with crap like this or players that pretend they care about anything more than getting paid as much as possible. I get it, I’ll take the most money to do my job too (well maybe, I didn’t fairly recently accept a slightly lower offer to be with an organization I knew I’d be much happier in). But please don’t lie to me say it’s about winning.

Nick said...

Very sad, but if he was gonna go to an LA team, he went to the right one. Something about seeing Rendon in Dodger blue would've been revolting....

I agree with the sentiment that the Angels are still not going to be any good since they don't have pitching (and the Nats do!). That being said, with them being in the AL West, and Mike Trout being a really hard player to hate, I am intrigued about how they do this year. I see them losing a lot of games 12-10 instead of 12-2, but Joe Maddon loves the analytics so maybe that combination finally makes them a contender.

Either way, we need Kieboom to play 2B. He shouldn't switch. Nats have to make a run at Donaldson now or there will be a bottomless pit at 3B.

JW said...

Not an Angels fan, but in my opinion this is a pretty good move for them. If you think Rendon will continue to be one of the better third basemen in the league -- which I do fall into that category -- it's not actually that bad. Is $35m high? Probably, but they had the payroll room and he solidifies their hot corner for a while. They need volume, but I don't see volume really there with this free agent crop, especially with the prices this year.

The Angels rotation still stinks, but at the same time is Ryu or MadBum going to really be the piece that moves the needle there? Even both of them? To me, this is less about winning a title this year than seeing a key piece available for a contender in 2 or 3 years. With where the organization is with their farm and their roster, there really isn't a one year fix that's out there. Try to start actually building a competent team around Trout while you hope the Astros core starts falling off -- that seems like the best available plan that organization has honestly.

W. Patterson said...

About the only good thing I can say about Rendon going to the Califonria/Anaheim Angels (it's Orange County, folks, and that ain't Los freakin' Angeles so if you want to talk about another lie for the fans . . .) is that it's a closer to where I stay when I go out to visit family. So if I go out during the season, maybe I get tickets to an American League game.

And yeah, I grew up in Los Angeles County, bled Dodger blue until the Nats came to DC, and going to an American League stadium feels like I'm in a different country.

I wish Rendon the best and maybe, just maybe, the combination of him and Trout will get Gene Autry's ghost another World Series.

blovy8 said...

Ryu and Bumgarner should be a targets for the Angels, but I do think the Angels could easily get David Price. He would be a good fit there, but to flesh out their rotation, I don't see how they'll avoid the CBT.

It's creepy to me that the number is the same as Strasburg's deal.

DezoPenguin said...

All I have to say is that the next thing I read had better be "Nationals sign Donaldson." (Or, alternatively, "Nationals trade for Bryant" or "Nationals trade for Arenado.") Losing Harper was annoying, but I wasn't particularly worried because we had Plan B ready to go (and hey, Eaton stayed healthy and gave us two fewer WAR for $24M less money). Losing Rendon is bad. In 2019 he was the seventh-best player in fWAR for the league. For 2018-2019 collectively, fifth. For 2017-2019 collectively, fourth. He's not just great, but reliably great, and now he's an Angel (which compared to the garbage fire they had at 3B last year once Fletcher had to take over second, basically gives them an expected six-win upgrade at the position). Losing him hurts. Losing him for the exact same deal that Strasburg signed for (though admittedly the lack of deferrals does matter) *really* hurts given that I think pretty much everyone would prefer Rendon to Stras if it's one or the other at the same cost.

On the other hand, he's not a Phillie, Brave, or Yankee, so at least it's only the Nats that lose, not our immediate rivals that gain.

blovy8 said...

I expect more growing pains from Kieboom that we saw from Turner, Robles, and Soto. Howie gives them a little coverage at 2nd at least.

I think Donaldson is going somewhere else, but the the 25-30m remains there to be spent. How about a trade for Kyle Seager and some money for guys not in the top 30 prospects list? Get a reasonable 8th inning pitcher like Will Harris for 7 per year. Get a LH or SH 1B from the Thames, Moreland, Smoak pool. Re-sign Zim for $2m with PA incentives. Maybe a slightly pricey minor league deal for Greg Bird, there's not much power in the system. That's your Donaldson money.

JWLumley said...

Ultimately I think Rendon was pissed that they didn't try to re-sign him sooner and the Lerners cheaped out on this one. That contract wasn't huge and losing Rendon basically turns the Nats into a .500ish team, with no good options to begin to replace him. Kieboom might eventually be the answer, but what the Nats need to do is look at replacing Rendon by improving 1B, 2B AND 3B and I just don't see a way to do that, but maybe there's some trade that's available from a team trying to shed payroll that will deal someone good if the Nats take a bad contract for minimal prospects. However, if they're will to do that, why not just sign Rendon to begin with?

Perhaps the best thing the Nats could do is to go in the other direction and sign MadBum or Ryu to be the 5th starter AND improve the bullpen. Trust that MLB will fix the seem issue on the baseballs and try to win all the games 1-0 and 2-1, while adding a bat at the break.

Kubla said...

I did some math just using OBP to figure out who you would need to have in order to make opponents' probability of getting three outs in a row the same as if they were facing Rendon-Kendrick-Cabrera (.412,.344,.342). Assuming Howie is still part of the trio (with Soto batting ahead of them), you need two .378 OBP or better guys. That's two top-20 OBP players - one of whom is Rendon - pretty much none of whom are going anywhere. I was optimistic about picking up enough bats to make up for losing Rendon before I worked this out. Now... not so much. The hope, I guess, would be that better fielding from the players they do get makes up for the weaker lineup. The bottom of the lineup looks to remain crud since they reupped on the C platoon and are going to stick with Robles.

They did have a better pythag than the Braves last year, and the bullpen couldn't possibly be worse than it was, so there is still a shot at the division through small improvements.

von_bluff said...

I don't see Rizzo going into the year with some sort of stopgap option. Nats are defending champs with over a half billion worth of contracts in their starting rotation alone.

I also don't think they'll trade away Kieboom - if the FO were unbelievers, he'd have been gone at the deadline last season for bullpen help.

I don't think Garcia and an arm or two gets them Bryant. I'm thinking it MIGHT get them Marcus Semien from Oakland? He's due a big raise in arb after such a strong year. Oakland isn't the place to let their stars walk away for nothing in FA (cough cough death stare to Lerners cough cough)

I'm no expert but it's a thought. Play Semien 2B and Kieboom 3rd. Possibly get Travis Shaw on a minor league deal for backup plan?