Nationals Baseball: Candelari-go

Tuesday, August 01, 2023


Jeimer Candelario is gone. 

Cesar Hernandez didn't work. Nelson Cruz didn't work. Maikel Franco didn't work. Anibal Sanchez didn't work, although maybe that wasn't the point. Trevor Williams is not working. Corey Dickerson almost certainly won't work. But Jeimer worked! The Nats accurately noted and signed a vet who then had a bounce back year and allowed the Nats to trade him for something. 

Some key takeaways before we get into the return. Younger is better. This was Jeimer's Age 29 season. Guys can still bounce back at that point. When you are getting to mid 30s it's a lot tougher, especially for guys that were never great. Hard to replace positions are good. There are not a lot of good 3B so getting one is a prize. Of course there is the vagaries of who will be available as a FA to deal with but know there are usually a fair amount of RP and guys who might be able to play corner OF or DH around. And finally more good recent work is better. 2022 was bad for Jeimer but a full 2021 was good along with what was essentially a full 2020. This is the crucial difference with him and Franco who was good in that brief 2020 season, but bad in the full 2019 before that. 

so look for guys who had a bad year but in the next two previous years was ok, who are not old, and who play a position of need. Guys who might be worth targetting next year : Harrison Bader (the "good if not injured but always injured" type), Amed Rosario, Tim Anderson, though Tim has probably got too good a pedigree to sneak through. 

Anyway what did the Nats get back? Two guys between 10-20 in the Cubs system, which was a pretty good system. This wasn't the 1 guy around 10 I predicted but it's about the same return. 

DJ "Don't call me Donna Jo" Herz is the guy that gets the most interest. 22 in AA wild but strikes out a bunch and doesn't give up homers. A bit easier to hit than you'd like as a guy "with stuff" which explains the higher ERA. Thing is he does NOT have a killer fastball, like most of these types do, instead relying on great breaking stuff. He's not wild as much as relying on what works and what works for him are pitches with a hell of a lot of movement. So the idea of "just make him a reliever" doesn't fit in as much here. There you just tell a guy to focus on the zone for three batters and let it rip. Herz can't focus on the zone, that's not how he works right now. So I don't see him as a reliever unless he suddenly gets closer to full control of a breaking pitch. I see him as a guy that if he can get a little bit of control and his stuff plays up the ladder can sneak into the back of a rotation. AA is inconclusive right now but at 22 that's ok. 

Kevin Made is a super young (20) SS in High A who is just hanging on there this year. People like his defense but they always say they like the defense of guys that can't hit. He doesn't seem like a high average guy but he has made progress taking pitches. But if he doesn't develop power that's not going to help as pitchers won't fear pitching to him. Likely he can't get the bat to work enough in AA but he's got 2-3 seasons to test that theory. 

Both these guys pretty much fit 10-20 for the Nats. They improve the system in the quantity way and aren't just filler but are also long shots to make an impact in the majors. As a return for a rental of a solid 3B? That's pretty on par. I think this was the best the Nats were going to get. Now let's see if they can deal anyone else. 

The hullabaloo is that Lane is going to stay.  He's a starter but he has some pretty strong splits (meh vs righties, great against lefties) which makes some teams view him as a platoon guy. I think that he would make a great platoon guy, but you can't put his value as a guy getting 1/3 ABs. He's shown he can be ok defensively after a weak start and if you need an OF you probably need him to start everyday so the return should be commensurate. IOW if you had the lefty that could hit righties well part of the platoon you probably aren't looking for an OF. That guy is starting nearly everyday and you are fine giving him that break when needed. Don't try to undersell Lane for a deal.


Anonymous said...

I don't see Lane's platoon splits as a strict negative. Having heterogeneity to production is feature because you can strategize around it, and probably more easily than the opponent can react (especially if you have good left handed bats on either side of him).

Obviously, if you have 3 better OFs to start vs right handed pitching, you aren't getting as much value form Lane as a team where he'd be an upgrade every day. But the Giants, Twins, Guardians and Brewers are all getting a lower wRC+ from one of their corner OF spots than Lane is producing vs right handed pitching, so he's definitely not a platoon player in the pejorative sense of the word.

I think the real mismatch on Lane is how much of his improvement is batted ball luck. Statcast has him as the 13th luckiest hitter in baseball, outperforming his xwOBA by 36 points. (Incidentally, that's equivalent to how unlucky Ruiz has been now that a run of decent luck lately has made him less of a wild outlier.)

I think and hope Rizzo holds the line. A backend top 100 prospect for Lane, or we don't trade him.

PotomacFan said...

Do the Nationals have a prospect in their system to play 3rd base next year? Is Carter Kieboom done?

G Cracka X said...

@Anon agree on back-100 for Lane, or no deal
@PotomacFan Jake Alu for now, probably House in 2025

G Cracka X said...

Fun perspective from DC Sports Buzz:

"Kyle Finnegan has quietly been one of the best relievers in baseball since April 7th:

42.2 IP
43 SO
1.69 ERA
.582 opponent OPS

He’s been completely lights out since June 11th:

20.1 IP
17 SO
0.89 ERA
.398 opponent OPS

#Nats should get a good return if he’s traded today."

Anonymous said...

I think there's a decent chance House is ready next year.

It's only been 8 games, but he didn't miss a beat after his promotion to Harrisburg. 140 wRC+ and mostly very positive feedback on his defense. If he keeps that up for the next two months, there's a strong case that he should be our opening day 3B, even if Alu shows enough promise to cement his place as the utility man off the bench.

The one wrinkle is that they're still kid gloving House because of his back recovery. He's only playing 3-4 days a week. If he's still on part time restrictions next year, that could hold him back. I'd guess they'd want him to be cleared to play at least 130 games or so before they call him up. (And especially before they put him on tbe OD roster. If playing time is going to remove the ROY upside, might as well steal that seventh year...)

Anonymous said...

Getting an SP prospect who’s young enough to figure out how to make it to the back-end of the rotation is great. Lots of skepticism that he can make it to the majors but if there’s one thing the Nats pitching coaches seem decent at fixing it’s fastball placement. Like that they got a guy who’s a reasonable (even though not particularly likely) bet to make the rotation.

It’s a marginal thing but the club seems to have a reputation for helping underperforming vets turn around their career and then sending them to decent landing spots. That’s not going to move the needle *a ton* on its own but probably helps speed up the rebuild.

Anonymous said...

Can't imagine House up in 2024.

Aside from the so-called load management precautions, his power numbers haven't really flashed. His recent 3 double game say otherwise, of course; and a young player's doubles power in AA can sometimes be a predictor of big league home run power. A small sample size, sure, but the AA home run power hasn't yet appeared.

His teammate, Trey Lipscomb--a 2022 draft pick out of Tennessee--is a likelier 3B candidate. When House sits, Lipscomb plays 3B. When House plays, Lipscomb is always in the lineup, either at 1B, 2B, or DH. Has some power, decent defender and a more polished all-around player.

Brady and the Nats can afford to wait. The team won't be very good in 2024 anyway.

ocw5000 said...

Nats will probably try another FA flip at 3B next year, possible candidates:

Gio Urshela (31 - I would sign him and hope his fractured pelvis heals)
Evan Longoria (37, never healthy)
Eduardo Escobar (34, possibly cooked)
Jonathan Schoop (31, possibly cooked)
Josh Donaldson (37, possibly cooked, potential douche)
Mike Moustakas (34, poor man's Schwarber)
Brian Anderson (30, just tried to Candelario w/1-year deal but meh)
Matt Duffy (32, exists)

Steven Grossman said...

Planning flips so far in advance (which both Harper and ocw have done) seems a bit pointless. It ignores end-of-season evaluations, winter trades, roster construction and spring training performance--all in the future.

The best outcome is enough kids advance that we only need one veteran on a one-year make-good contract and that could be at any number of positions, With Alu, Lipscome, and maybe Kaboom, I hope it isn't 3rd base that needs the 1-year patch.

Harper, when the dust clears, maybe you can give us a sample roster for next year based on making Lane Thomas our oldest position player?

Anonymous said...

None of those really fit the same bill that Harper outlined above as Candelario did though (except maybe your first pick?)

Honestly think the best reclamation to trade rehab project available could be Carter Kieboom. He looks wholeheartedly AAAA but if they can turn him into a semi-competent 3B, maybe with a bit of utility play (I know, very ambitious) then maybe they can get a top 20 prospect for him. Will be 26, could turn it around a bit post-injury rehab/clearly shot confidence.

Anonymous said...

Dickerson released and García optioned. Rumor is that Rutherford is finally getting the well-deserved call up along with Darren Ba—ugh I mean Jeter Downs? Interesting. I guess Rizzo is the type to always take one long last look at the toilet before he flushes.