Nationals Baseball: Off-Season Position Discussion : First Base

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Off-Season Position Discussion : First Base

 Last year discussion

First base was going to be a mix of players. A good bye year for Zimm. Marcus Thames filling the Adam Lind Memorial role. Howie Kendrick when not playing another position. Some Asdrubal if you felt you needed some better fielding. Maybe a call-up like Yadiel Hernandez. There wasn't a specific plan as much as an idea. It would be a catch-all position that the Nats would probably go with the hot hand. 

However, COVID made Zimm delay his victory lap. Howie, who was already mostly DHing to limit injury potential, got hurt for the season. Thames was terrible. The Nats ended up with one of the worst first base situations in baseball. Plus - as Howie, AsCab, Thames, and Zimm are all FAs - no plan for the future!

Presumed Plan : A free agent signing is pretty much given. Whether it's all new FAs, a mix of someone old and someone new, or just returning people we don't know.

Reasoning on Presumed Plan : What's left here is Jake Noll and Hernandez.* The Nats were terribly thin in the minors to begin with and a year with no evaluation does not help. There is no possible way the Nats are going to go with what they currently have UNLESS they listen to me and move Soto to first and no one is going to listen to me. So they need to either sign or bring back someone.  There isn't a choice here really.

Both Howie and Zimm feel like they would come back if they want to play and if offered a reasonable deal so the Nats have the inside track on two guys. 

The FA class is pretty full with FA first baseman, FA guys who can play first, and guys who became FAs when their options weren't picked up in the past two weeks. That glut means value and the Nats being able to make a choice, not be backed into something.

Problems with Presumed Plan : Both Howie and Zimm could choose to retire rather than play next year. If you want them, the longer it takes them to decide the longer other teams have to sweep in and take the best of what's out there.

The free agent class is pretty weak currently CJ Cron, Jake Lamb...yuck.  It heated up with some options not picked up but it's a bunch of guys who hit previously who didn't hit last year and you'd be taking a gamble on them.  Mitch Moreland, Carlos Santana...There are some better bets than others but all in all you aren't dealing with great choices or even good ones. You have reasonable bets and unreasonable ones. 

The Nats already like going cheap at first base and now are looking at a position in a fire sale. How cheap can they go? Really cheap! So they might give in to their worst impulses and take whoever they can get at basically a minor league deal. 

My take : If Zimm wants to be back, let him come back.  Zimm has always hit when healthy and the possibility of a Zimm with a year off interests me greatly.  Besides I want Zimm to have that last year. Plus he came back for 2 million last year. Maybe he'd take a million for 2021? Either way there should be flexibility to sign him and someone else. 

Who else?  Ugh... If you want a bat I might take a flier on a Daniel Murphy reunion. The guy didn't hit in Coors but Coors can mess some guys up. He's old but so is everyone.  A quick rundown of guys available

Encarnacion - 38 and bad trends

Frazier - Nothing in past 5 years makes you think he's better than average. Not really worth the gamble

Gyorko - Might be best bet out there, age wise, hitting, fielding, which means someone will give him something which prices him out of the Nats' plan 

Moreland - an intersting choice, possibly the best fielder out there. Not anything special, mind you but Zimm will be terrible, also a lefty bat that compliments that.

Santana - One off year but didn't adapt to NL in short stint with Phillies. Maybe needs the occasional DH start? Walks a ton which might be of interest to a team that finished 11th in the NL despite teams pitching around Soto. 

AsCab - he's Asdrubal!  We like him! But he's probably too valuable with his ability to split positions to get back dirt cheap

Dietrich - Age is fine but now just a swing for the fences guy who will hit .200 if lucky.  Pass.  \

Brad Miller - SUPERSTAR.  Has decent all around plate skills but doesn't stand out in any.  Not at all a bad back-up choice for some team but I don't see him as a platoon or starter.

Logan Morrison - see Dietrich but worse. 

Sandoval - Big Panda is fun. He also was complete trash for the Red Sox which makes me like him even more. But at his age/shape when he goes he's going to go fast.  I wouldn't gamble

Neil Walker - An AsCab like who probably fields better but hasn't hit well since 2017.  No reason to gamble on. 

Cron -see Dietrich but better? The guy is going to hit homers.  An interesting bench piece for some team as you can see him come off it and mash some game tying shots but for regular play?  You need to be a pretty decent offensive team to let him just grip and rip and I don't quite know if the Nats are there.

Gurriel - Age and post cheating performance creates a lot of doubt. Who wants a cheater? Not me.

Lamb - Someone is going to look at his two weeks and Oakland and give him a shot. Hope it's not the Nats. As he hasn't been good for years

Smoak - Also like these guys - becoming a pure walk and homer guy. He's interesting to me because he's a switch hitter who's become a "really should only bat left" guy as he's gotten older.  I think he'd make a good platoon with a RHB like Zimm

I guess I've talked myself into trying to do a Zimm/Moreland platoon in 2021, or maybe even a Zimm/Smoak one Santana would also make an interesting choice if you are willing to put him ahead of Soto and see if he can get on base and get knocked in. 

*remember the week of "we should have kept Marmelejos!"  He finished his trial hitting .036 in his last two weeks. He isn't major league. 


blovy8 said...

Gurriel was re-signed by the Astros. There’s maybe 10 1B worth having, and none of them are free agents, so there’s no real advantage to doing anything but Moreland. Trade targets like Josh Bell or Wil Myers stink too. The outside the box idea would be to outbid the field for LeMahieu.

Anonymous said...

Let's not trade any more prospects for a little while. Our system is devoid of talent and in shambles at the moment.

Ryan said...

Marcus hasn't played in years, it's Eric

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Go cheap, hope you strike it lucky with a Zimm/? platoon.

But really I just want the Nats to go for the quick rebuild. As Anon alludes to, there's really nothing we're looking forward to at this point. We can't sit here and say "oh next year X prospect will be called up and Y prospect is coming up the year after". We don't have anyone like that in the system really.

It would hurt, but I really want to see Rizzo be bold and dump Max for a top 25 prospect and a couple lotto tickets. Then take that cash and buy out Turner/Soto arb years and give them a player option for when they may be looking to cash in more at like 27 for Soto and 30/31 for Turner. That gets you through a good chunk of Stras's contract. Then next year a TON of money comes off the books and you have a FA class that looks a heck of a lot more appealing to spend on. But that strategy is far too bold for this FO I'm afraid...

Harper said...

Ryan - is there's a Yankee I remember with the same last name, he wins.

DezoPenguin said...

Yeah, there's really not much out there at all, is there? A Moreland/Zimm or Smoak/Zimm platoon seems like the most logical thing to do; it at least ought to be adequate and cheap if not actively good, and it leaves resources available to spend on actual quality players like Realmuto or DLM or an outfielder if Rizzo wants to make a splash.