Filtering by Tag: Free Agency

The Nationals May Not Want LaRoche Back

As the ongoing LaRoche drama has stretched to infinity and beyond, this isstarting to look like a case of the Nats hoping that there is someone out there who will offer LaRoche a three year deal. That isn't because the Nats wouldn't like to have LaRoche for 2013 or even 2014, but with Morse signed through this coming season, Anthony Rendon working his way through the minors, and Tyler Moore already in the majors the Nats have little to no need of Adam LaRoche. What the Nats do need is minor league talent, and the best way to add minor league talent is through the draft.

If the Nats do re-sign LaRoche they will certainly work to trade Morse, but the level of prospects they receive for him will be nowhere close to the talent Mike Rizzo and the Nats scouting department have acquired in the first round of the draft. Simply look at the Nats last two free agents that garnered compensation picks. With Mike Rizzo as the head of scouting and player development the Nats were able to turn the Alfonso Soriano compensation picks into Josh Smoker and Jordan Zimmermann, and while Smoker didn't amount to much Jordan Zimmermann's ability as the Nats third Ace more than makes up for that.

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Edwin Jackson, the Qualifying Offer, and the Cubs

There seems to exist among some, astonishment as to why the Nationals would not make a qualifying offer to Edwin Jackson as he was obviously going to be seeking a multi-year deal. As talks have ramped up between he and the Cubs for a 4 year $52 million deal the masses continue to be perplexed. Baseball is not complicated. It is much closer to connect the dots than rocket science. So, why might the Washington Nationals not be willing to offer Edwin Jackson a qualifying offer?

Beginning with the facts as known to us, the first and primary thing to do is to forget about any subsequent offers that came in for the services of Edwin Jackson. At the time the qualifying offer had to be made he was the sole property of the Washington Nationals and unable to negotiate with any other organizations. Upon laying $13.3 million in front of Edwin Jackson there existed a fear among those in the Nationals organization that Jackson would accept. This fear existed because a year earlier Jackson turned down multi-year offers from the Orioles and Pirates in order to play for the Nationals. 

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The Washington Nationals Other Off-Season Need

All of the focus of the Nationals off-season and what is left to do has been on Adam LaRoche, and while signing him or not signing him will have the biggest impact on the team moving forward the Nationals do have another need. In 2012 the Washington Nationals bullpen ranked fourteenth in baseball with 3.3 fWAR. There is some question as to how effective a stat like WAR is in measuring relievers as it heavily weights innings pitched. By all measures the Nationals had better relievers than the Rockies, but because the Rockies relievers pitched so many more innings than the rest of baseball they finished second in fWAR.

By the rate state of ERA the Nationals had the seventh best bullpen in the majors and by FIP the twelfth. Moving forward into 2013 there are questions about the Nationals bullpen. Gone from last year's squad are Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny, and Mike Gonzalez. While Gorzelanny or Gonzalez could be brought back to join Zach Duke as the lefties in the pen, that is unlikely. The Nationals have been tied heavily to JP Howell but until a deal happens nothing can be assumed. As it stands right now the Nationals bullpen lines up with Storen, Clippard, Stammen, Duke, Mattheus, Bray, and Henry Rodriguez.

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Michael Bourn and the Atlanta Braves

Before the off-season began Michael Bourn was linked to the Nationals more than any other player. The Nats needed to improved their outfield defense and were still looking for someone to lead-off. When it came to free agents Bourn was that guy, but as the off-season has dragged on and the Nationals traded for Span, the Phillies for Revere, the Giants signed Pagan, and the Reds traded for Choo…the Bourn market is quickly evaporating. 

As the market for Bourn vanishes he may employ a tact used by other Boras clients and look for a one year pillow deal and hit the free agent market again next season. If this is indeed what happens then the Atlanta Braves suddenly make a lot of sense for Michael Bourn. Sure they signed BJ Upton but it isn't written into his contract that he has to play center and an outfield of Upton, Bourn, Heyward would be the best defensive outfield in baseball. 

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JP Howell and the Unspoken Option

What if the Nats search for a lefty reliever turned internal. For a couple days now all the writers that cover the Nats have been able to talk about is JP Howell and he, along with former Nats Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez, is one of the last lefty relievers left on the board. After losing Sean Burnett to the Angels the Nats are left with fewer and fewer options for a lefty reliever. Except of course the one option no one is talking about. JP Howell is a fine lefty reliever. For his career as a reliever lefties have hit .241/.323/.351 off of him, but what if I told you that the Nats have in house a pitcher who lefties hit .214/.307/.300 off of.

That pitcher is Ross Detwiler and while it sounds foolish to take a starting pitcher and turn him into a LOOGY consider that righties hit .272/.331/.418 off of Detwiler for his career. Detwiler has been a reliever and a very good one before and just last season he bounced between relieving and starting. If the Nats rotation suffers an injury as it stands then either Zach Duke, Yunesky Maya, or Christian Garcia would be forced into the rotation. Converting Detwiler to primarily a reliever solves both the lefty bullpen issue and the worry about injury to the starting rotation. 

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The 2013 Washington Nationals and Planning for the Future

A common refrain for the Nationals off-season so far has been that they have been smart to stay away from big free agents so as to not lock themselves into too many long term contracts and prevent their ability from re-signing their own players. The players most effected by this would be Desmond and Zimmermann as they are both free agents after the 2015 season, but let's look closer at the Nats 2016 payroll. 

As it stands right now the Nationals have $47.67 mil committed to three players (Werth, Zimmerman, Gonzalez) for the 2016 season with several others arbitration eligible like Strasburg, Espinosa, and Harper. Their will be an increase from the arb players but as that depends on their performance and health it is way too early to even attempt to figure out what that money will look like. If Strasburg and Harper can stay healthy they will be two of the highest paid players in the game, but if we have learned anything from watching baseball it should be that the expected future is not always the most likely one. 

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The Signing of Dan Haren and What's Left for the Washington Nationals 2013 Off-Season

What do Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, and Mariano Rivera have in common? Besides all of them being Hall of Fame level pitchers the answer is that they are the only pitchers of the modern era that rank higher than Dan Haren in career K/BB ratio. When you think of what a pitcher controls there are few better than Dan Haren at striking batters out and not walking guys. When looking at Dan Haren you are looking at a pitcher who has average 4.7 fWAR over the last eight seasons and in seven of those has pitched more than 200 innings. Haren has a career 3.66 ERA and 3.64 FIP.

Looking at those numbers it can be questioned as to how the Nationals were able to snag him on a one year $13 mil deal. The answer is 2012 was the worst year of his career where he was worth only 1.8 fWAR in 176 2/3 innings with a 4.33 ERA and 4.24 FIP. Haren's K/9 and BB/9 were in line with his career averages but he gave up nearly half a homer more per nine innings than he has for his career. The reason for this may have something to do with the fact that his velocity is on the decline.

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The Case for Signing Victorino over Bourn

Yes, I know I'm the head of minor league coverage at Citizens of Natstown and no, this is not a minor league subject. It is a subject that I've struggled with during the offseason so far, though, so I figured to write what was on my mind (and because it takes forever to write 549 player profiles for this year's minor league free agents as I plan on doing).

Michael Bourn is a very good baseball player, and is both better and younger than Shane Victorino. I will not argue with that at all. I do think that the situation isn't quite that simplistic, however, and busted out my Ted Mosby yellow legal pad to make a pros and cons list to make my decision.

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