Nationals Baseball: Some number of days until pitchers and catchers

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Some number of days until pitchers and catchers

You are all elementary school graduates.  you can figure out the number yourself.

Ok so I took the holiday season off and let's see what I missed - all the Nats transactions from Dec 17th until now...
  • 12/18/19  Washington Nationals signed free agent RHP Mario Sanchez to a minor league contract.
aaaand... end scene.

If you must know, Mario Sanchez, not to be confused with America's Latin Sweetheart, Mario Lopez, was in the Nats system last year.  He had a decent quick early stint in Harrisburg, was pushed up to AAA and got hammered, then spent the rest of the year in AA.  At 25, he's basically org filler.

What happened in the NL East?

Braves did nothing other than anger a fanbase waiting for them to do something else.

Mets, who had just signed Rick Porcello on the 16th giving them the deepest (though not best) rotation in the East if they choose to keep Wacha a starter, signed Dellin Betances.  If he's healthy it should be a really good move for the pen.  Of course Diaz should have been a great move and look how that turned out.

Phillies, signed a bunch of garbage to minor league deals.  The only one I care about is Josh Harrison, who was a decent major leaguer before last year.

What happened in the rest of the majors?

Ok the big moves were
  • Bumgarner, Calhoun to the D-backs
  • Avisail Garcia, Eric Sogard, and Justin Smoak to the Brewers 
  • Wade Miley to the Reds 
  • Tanner Roark, Hyun-Jin Ryu to the Blue Jays
  • Gerrit Cole to the Yankees 
  • Gio, Kuechel to the White Sox 
  • Clippard, Romo, Hill, Bailey to the Twins
  • Teheran to the Rangers
  • CJ Cron and John Schoop to the Tigers 
  • Martin Maldanado to the Astros 
  • Maikel Franco to the Royals
So what's that all mean?  It means that - good Cole is out of the NL (and with the Yankees). It means a lot of 5th starter depth is gone and also the good pitchers so chances of the Nats going with something rotation wise outside of a Hellickson like plan is unlikey.  Only a few more relievers have gone so there are still guys out there for the Nats to move on if they want to. Most notable is the name that's not on here; Josh Donaldson.  He hasn't signed and if the Nats are to trying to re-create the very good offense of 2019 in 2020 they need him. 

Donaldson seems to have a four year offer out there from the Twins and a "four"* year offer out there from the Nats as well.  Still unsigned but you have to think 4 years is what he was looking for so I'd imagine he'll take that Twins offer soon if the Braves or someone else don't counter it. After that the dominoes may fall in a trade direction with both Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado rumored.  My guess is Bryant has a real chance to be dealt while Arenado is out there only to see what kind of haul they can get back. Everyone is always on the table.

Caught up?

Basically we're where we were when we left off. Nats looking to secure 3B with Donaldson and if not, then moving to relief help (evne though they could really use, and afford to, do both) neither situation is off the table yet.

*oh as if it doesn't have significant deferred money


Ole PBN said...

I'm not a big proponent of spending top dollar on relief help, but I'm curious if we were in the running for these guys? Tyler Clippard (1yr $2.75M to MIN), Brad Brach (1yr $850k to NYM), and both Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren taking minor league deals with the Mets and Yankees, respectively. Seems like petty cash for quality relievers, which the Nats desperately need.

Robot said...

Damn, i thought we had picked up Mario Lopez!

The Donaldson hype is way overblown. I really hope the Nats don't sign him for four years. Let Minnesota deal with that.

Bryant could be interesting, but doubt he'll come cheap.

G Cracka X said...

Harper, how do you think the rest of the off-season will play out for the Nats? Seems from your post that you are thinking that the Nats signing Donaldson is unlikely. If Donaldson does go elsewhere, do you think the Nats still go with ACab at 3B? Maybe use the savings to bring in Harris in the 'pen, or sign Nick C and put him at 1B? Trade for Kyle Seager?

mike k said...

Apparently 34 year old Josh Donaldson is already into 4/100 territory, and the Nats are unlikely to get him. Hmmm....looks like the Nats would have been better off just giving the less deferment version of 7/245 to Rendon. I know I'm not being productive here, but the bitterness is likely to continue well into 2020 and perhaps even into 2021.

I don't like the idea of trading away your only decent prospects for Bryant or another top guy. Also kinda goes against the idea of not spending on Rendon by trading your future cheap guys for someone else who you'll have to resign soon at a comparable number anyway. Bryant might end up being the same $$ as Rendon but with lost prospects.

I'd rather the Nats focus on pen and IF depth (especially if no Donaldson) over a 5th starter. I like Ross and they have enough depth beneath him to weather any short-term injuries to the top 4. The Nats might want to look into breaking up Ross and Sanchez (assuming Ross wins the job) because both are prone to get hit 3rd time through the lineup so their games will be heavy bullpen games. Maybe keeping another "starter" in the pen to throw for a few innings in one of those two games would be prudent. If the Nats don't add one (really two) high quality guys to the pen it will be a problem. The marginal gain by spending money on two (or even one) of those guys far outweighs whatever value you gained by adding a 5th starter over Ross.

DezoPenguin said...

Multiple reports that the Braves have ponied up a fourth year for Donaldson, which is not good for the Nats in multiple ways. Honestly, I don't understand where all of the Internet's suspicion of Donaldson is coming from; he's still at the top of his game (his bat and his glove both positives), he's only had one injury of note in his entire career (which derailed an otherwise excellent 2017 and then when his rehab was botched largely did him in for 2018), and even if he follows a normal rate of decline over four years he'll be overpaid, not useless, in year four of such a deal (I mean, if 37-yo Donaldson puts up a 110 wRC+ as an average-fielding 1B he's still being productive and also being better than the non-Howie parts of what we've been running out there for most of the last five years). It's like people are looking at the age, not the player, and assuming he's going to drive off a Pujols-like cliff, but Pujols had already stopped being ALBERT! at age 31; the problem with him was that the Angels paid him like the guy he'd been two years before he signed the contract.

The real question is, if it's true that Donaldson wants to go to the Braves, will Rizzo outbid them? Because that means that not only would we not get him but our most serious competitor does, which is doubly a problem.

Apparently we've kicked the tires on Arenado, which is basically like getting a one-year-younger Rendon with a slightly worse bat and slightly better glove for the same money, but we'd have to pay for it in prospects as well. COL seems to have wanted Robles, which, I mean, good for them, but filling one hole by creating another isn't going to cut it. At that point we'd be better off playing Kieboom at 3B and signing, say, Cabrera to play 2B (I mean, Arenado/Kieboom/replacement CF would probably be better than Kieboom/Cabrera/Robles, but in the latter case we'd also get an extra twenty-five million dollars or so to play around with plus retain the prospects we'd send). Bryant is another option, but who knows what the Cubs would demand for him, plus he's only there for two years. And beyond those guys, the drop-off is pretty steep, indeed.

I suppose one reason why the Nats haven't been heavily in on relievers (or first basemen) yet is that they don't know what they'll have to pay their third baseman. It'd be interesting if they signed Harris. He helped us win one World Series already, so maybe he can help us win another while wearing our uniform! It'd be really nice if we could get a couple of guys who are better than Strickland and Guerra. Though relief pitchers are as variable as it gets in terms of outcomes, so who knows what we'd actually end up with.

As for starting pitchers, honestly, I see no reason to do anything else. Ross or Voth as the fifth starter, the other one as the sixth. I just wish one of them had an option available so they could be kept fully stretched out at AAA.

BxJaycobb said...

I also don’t really understand why everybody is down on signing Donaldson. The reality is
(1) the Nats chance to compete for titles probably ends as Max/Stras/Corbin get old or leave, which is by like 2023. Why are you pinching pennies when you have 100 mil/year wrapped up in 3 starters just sitting there aging? They should be maximizing their team in that window. Their farm system has a couple pieces but outside of Kieboom, is simply not good. And the Braves will be the favorites in the division for probably the next half decade, given that their two young stars have signed away their prime for peanuts and they have a galaxy’s worth of young pitching in the majors and minors and somehow MORE position player prospects on the way (Christian Pache, etc).

(2) Josh Donaldson is an elite player right now and probably a very good one for the next few years. He was better on defense last year than Rendon. He was roughly equal in overall value to Rendon. Take away Donaldson’s one injured year and he’s been a 6+ WAR guy every year since like 2014. Will that decline soon? Maybe! But if we get 5 WAR this year and next, who cares if he becomes an average or slightly below average player the next couple years as the Nats will probably be a team with old, increasingly washed starting pitching anyway by then. He’s a guy you can move to 1B once he’s not good enough at 3B. I would sign him for 4/115m or 5 years if that was what was necessary to get it done. It’s not ideal. I would’ve preferred signing Rendon. But they didn’t do that. And they’re painted into a bit of a corner now. The fact is the Nats were and have been and ARE a top heavy team built on stars at the top. Well, they let their two offensive stars (besides Soto) walk away last two off seasons. You cant replace Rendon with Cabrera and expect to make the playoffs. That’s just simply not enough scoring in the lineup unless Kieboom is good+Robles takes step forward+Kendrick is great again+Turner and Soto and Eaton stay pretty healthy. I don’t like the chances of that. You cant have one 30 homer bat in your lineup in 2020 and make the playoffs. You just can’t.

(3) if Donaldson signs with Braves, are you willing to trade Robles to Cubs for Arenado? Kieboom plus Rutledge plus Denaburg? That’s not a great place to be in if you’re planning on being a penny pinching org that won’t spend need those cheap talents who get you 4+ WAR. Robles is already an above average regular (arguably best defensive CF in league and slightly below average bat), who if he improves at plate could be a stud. And a cheap stud.

Sign Donaldson. Otherwise I like the Mets and Braves rosters more than the Nats roster going into season. Which is not how you want to build on a title and grow the fanbase given this great opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Robles for Arenado? Arenado has a market contract, or very close to it. Even with Rendon resetting the goalposts, there's just not a lot of surplus value on that deal. The Rockies thought they were getting ahead of Manny and Harper blowing out free agent prices with that deal, and instead ended up overpaying. Rendon's deal makes it look a lot better than it did (which is why the Rockies are picking this moment to get out from under it), but it's not like Rendon overshot Arenado by all that much.

Asking for Robles is ridiculous. I mean, why not, I guess, but I bet Rizzo laughed in their face. Hell, I'm not sure I'd trade Garcia for him unless he waived the opt out, or if there was some cash or talent coming over with him. Maybe Crowe or Rutledge straight up. But probably something like 3-4 meh prospects headlined by someone like Cate.

Byrant has more trade value than Arenado. But let's not pretend he is cheap either. Even assuming he loses his hearing (and man, it would be pretty cool if he won it), he's looking at $18M this year and then $25-30M next year. There's definitely surplus value there, but even that isn't Kieboom or Robles. Probably Garcia and Crowe or something like that.

Look at the trades over the past few years. The return has as much to do with the contracts as the talent.

BxJaycobb said...

@Anon. There’s no trade to be made with Colorado (I assume you were responding to other comments), unless the Rockies eat a bunch of money, which I suppose is possible. Assuming they don’t, that’s not happening. There is a trade to be made with Cubs. Bryant won’t win his case—it’s 2 years of control. I’m not supporting this, but if they wanted to, Cubs could send Bryant along with Almora Jr to play CF (he had a bad 2019, but he’s far better than MAT) for Robles and an arm. That would not be an unreasonable trade. Or Bryant for Kieboom and say, Time Cate. Those are trades that—given window of contention for a Nats—are debatable to take the risk that Robles doesn’t blossom further/that Kieboom doesn’t blossom period. Remember that the Cubs probably will have multiple suitors for Bryant, so to get him you do need to beat those offers. So the exchange does need to include either Robles or Kieboom to happen. As I said, I’m not a big fan of the Bryant route in general. That said, I prefer some sort of reasonable deal for him to doing nothing and having Asdrúbal Cabrera play 3rd.

Kubla said...

Has Cabrera even signed with the Nats yet? Have Adams or Zimmerman? Even semi-decent FAs are getting picked up by other teams. I am not looking forward to the timeline where the Nats sign no major league talent and we regularly have to see Difo play.

billyhacker said...

The thing about Donaldson is that if heas say a 4 War year in 2020, that's probably 6.5 war in the standings for the Nats against the braves (its not 8 because they will get a 1.5 war player to replace him). You can give him 10m a year to not play for braves and 17m to play for Nats.

Kubla said...

Harris to the Nats: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Still no infielders, though.

DezoPenguin said...

Hey, we did sign Harris! A three-year deal, nonetheless, which is a little surprising for a 35-year-old RP. Mixed feelings on the money (higher AAV than Doolittle) but he was clearly the best relief arm standing and only Smith (dammit, Braves) and maybe Betances were better at the start of the offseason. Fangraphs had him as their 23rd-best FA of the offseason and predicted 2/$20M and MLBTR had him at 22nd, at 2/$18M. So the Nats actually got a discount on AAV by being willing to give that 3rd year, maybe?

In any case, a solid signing at a position of need. Rizzo was apparently not willing to go for a second year on Hudson according to previous reports, so although Harris seems to be clearly the better pitcher by the numbers I do wonder what the club is seeing, there.



with Abad waiting in the wings in the event of injury or ineffectiveness.

JW said...

Glad the Nats signed a reliever (finally) but it is most likely going to be an overpay. To the points made earlier though, you have a very expensive and very good rotation that is aging. Have to try to maximize the window you have now to maximize that rotation. I'm just not sure Harris alone really saves your bullpen, but every bit helps.

On Donaldson, I'm not sure that being less than enthusiastic about the end years of the deal qualifies as being down on the signing. Many free agent agreements are going to have bad years at the end. A fan can be both less than thrilled at the implications for the 2024 roster and really pleased about the potential impact on the 2020 roster. It's not a mutually exclusive thing. And as people have rightly pointed out, it's not like the other options are better; this isn't fantasy baseball, Rizzo has to operate in the realm of what's possible and that depends on the actions and opinions of players, GMs, owners, etc.

Though for 3B -- and the infield in general -- I don't think the options are just sign Donaldson, trade for Bryant/Arenado, roll with Asdrubal. There are other options across that spectrum of outcomes. Not that those options are better than signing Donaldson or trading for Bryant/Arenado, and some are probably worse than rolling with Asdrubal, but there are other permutations out there; if Donaldson signs elsewhere, it's not the end of the Nats chances to field a competitive team.

T B said...

As always I am looking for some commentary on prospects we already have.
What team would you play if we made no more trades or signings?
It is possible to use possessed assets until this market turns or even until there are July rent-a-players. I think with the players we already have we could be at least .500 after 50 games, which would be much better than last year.

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