The Curious Case of Carlos Rivero
The Nats claimed IF Carlos Rivero off
of waivers from the Phillies in December of 2011. At the time, the
move came with little fanfare; Rivero was coming off of a
.270/.326/.440 triple slash in his third full season of AA ball.
Carlos Rivero has always been a toolsy guy; the Phillies used a
waiver claim and a 40-man spot on him the year before the Nats did
after he put up a .603 OPS in AA ball. The issues with Rivero
revolved around his mediocre results, because the talent has always
been there both offensively and defensively.
Rivero turned a corner in Syracuse in 2012, where he hit .303/.347/.435 with 10 HR and 64 RBI in 126 games, as well as in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he hit .283/.365/.498 with 10 HR and 35 RBI in 55 games for the Leones del Caracas. His defense improved as well, as he improved from a .913 fielding percentage at 3B in 2011 to a .953 in 2012. While .953 is still not great by any stretch, the potential is there for him to keep improving, to the point where Baseball America named him the best defensive 3B in the AAA International League in 2012. Rivero's bat won't play nearly as well at the ML level as it did in AAA, but can still be passable enough for a utility role.
What it comes down to for the Nats is whether or not they’re willing to give up a future bench/utility guy with 6 years of team control for basically nothing. Rivero’s trade value is relatively low given that the Nats’ backs are against the wall. His best value to the team is as a guy who they can ship back and forth between AAA and the big leagues as needed, but with no options remaining, they can no longer do that. Since other teams know the Nats are likely to give him up for nothing if they can't trade him, they'll have to engage a few teams into a bidding war for his services (and I use “bidding war” lightly, as the Nats can probably only get an A-ball lottery ticket type guy for him).
This all being said, losing Rivero for nothing is a poor option. He was claimed twice on waivers and put on the 40-man roster due to his tools; now that his numbers are starting to catch up with his talent, there is no way he will clear waivers if he doesn’t make the Nats’ opening day lineup. While I don’t expect it to happen, the Nats could conceivably stash Tyler Moore in AAA for the beginning of the year so he can play every day and then let the Rivero situation work itself out when injuries and poor performances across the league inevitably hit. If Rivero hits well in Spring Training, the Nats could ship him to a team that needs a 3B or utility infielder.