Nationals Baseball: The opt-outs

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The opt-outs

The Nats right now have three opt outs and given it's about 48 hours until Opening Day that's probably going to be it.  How do these opt-outs effect the team

Ryan Zimmerman

Zimm was going to be in the DH/1B mix during his victory lap. Now Zimm's ABs will be eaten up by a mix of players. Eric Thames, who was going to be the lefty balance bat like Lind and Adams will probably have more of a chance to play if he does well. Howie is also listed in the depth charts but will spend most time at DH I imagine. If Carter Kieboom is truly the third baseman then Asdrubal could also get in some time. It's my contention we should give Soto a game or two there because that's where I see him long term but that's me. The first two games they flipped Howie and Thames DH/1B but that hardly makes sense as a plan for the season.

My guess is this plan does hurt the Nats a little because a good Zimm is an effective bat - better than AsCab, better than Thames. Plus it could force Howie into the field more than they were expecting.  But all in all it's just a little different because it's hard to project out a healthy Zimm hitting well at this point in his career.

Joe Ross 

The 5th starter spot was his to lose before walking away. Now Erick Fedde has got first crack. More "next in line" than "next big thing", Erick was passable last year in a limited role, getting better results than his stats might have suggested.  There's nothing here to suggest he'll be any good. He is still wild, still gives up too many hits and homers. There was no drop in hard hit balls last year or big changes in his GB/FB numbers. He just got a little lucky with when and where the hits came and that kept him from being terrible.

His one saving grace is basically - he's not the other guys.  Austin Voth deserves a look but there's a reason he keeps getting passed over. Kyle McGowin? Come on. Now there are guys further down that are interesting but are they ready? And if they are do you want to throw them out there in this season? With a championship in hand? Seems unlikely.

So Ross' departure hurts a lot. Not necessarily for the 5th spot, which was going to be a mess - or possibly more fairly - the same trouble spot it is for nearly every team, but in case of injury (or sickness) in another spot in the rotation. The depth is not here at all and if they need to go more than a pitcher deep into starters things get bleak quick.

Wellington Castillo

3rd catcher depth.  I think in part he was here to cover for potential trades of Gomes or Suzuki if things went in that way.  Now with him gone it's over to the guys they don't really like, Raudy Read, Tres Barrera.

Like Zimm it won't be a big deal but like Ross it cuts into the depth they have at a position that is particularly weak (again to be fair - for most teams)

So the departures set up the Nats but in a way similar to last year. A mix of the older and the guys with injury history hoping that Soto and the rotation carries them. Last year they made it through and then got the breaks they needed.  But last year they also had one more big bat in Rendon. This year the margin started even thinner and these departures cut it as thin as can be. But if you are scary thin, the season to be like that is the season that is only 60 games long.


Anonymous said...

Even if you believe Soto ends up at 1B, why on earth would you want to accelerate that? A) he can surely play 1B; B) if you are uncertain about whether he can play 1B, surely there are better ways to find out whether he can than to try to get him reps at 1B in MLB games as a 21 year old.

blovy8 said...

Cabrera at 1B is a better hitter than playing the non-starting outfielders the Nats have. It would make more sense to DH Suzuki than have those guys start unless Stevenson can learn to hit offspeed stuff. I’ve given up on Taylor doing it.

JDBrew said...

Agreed that losing Joe Ross hurts a lot. I thought he would have a good year this year. But I don’t completely agree that Zimm is a better hitter than Cabrera right now. Healthy Zimm or not, AsCab was pretty productive the last couple of years. I think it’s very close.

Harper said...

Anon - can he surely play? I'm not so surely. BUT blovy8 point is right - probably easier to replace at 1st than OF, though we've had some pretty bad non-Howie production at 1B and I still have a MAT soft spot.

JDBrew - maybe. I think at the very least healthy Zimm has the higher upside

mike k said...

Crazy how this team went from having potentially a ton of depth to no depth. Sign Rendon + regular season, and you have both Castro and Kendrick on your bench with a strong Zim/Thames platoon at 1B. Don't sign Rendon + permanent DH + Zim opts out, and you have Thames and Kendrick playing everyday and AsCab as your primary IF backup.

@blovy8 but think of the OF defense if MAT and Robles play everyday!

I agree we can afford Fedde not to work out because we have Voth, but also that you don't want one of the big 4 going down because you don't want Fedde AND Voth.

@JD AsCab did pretty bad in an everyday role for the Rangers last year. I'd much prefer Zim, and I think that if someone gets hurt for more than a few weeks, the Nats should find someone else to play IF/DH, rather than have AsCab in an everyday role.

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