In England, it is still a holiday today. Boxing Day is being celebrated in London and for the fútbol teams, their general managers could have another day-off. That is not the case for Washington Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo, his work is never done — those are his words. Rizzo’s employment has few days-off and few second chances. There are only 30 people in the world with the MLB general manager job title, and the general managers who are the best, live in a perpetual world where winning keeps you employed. Rizzo looks to be the biggest winner so far this off-season among his compeers. FanGraphs’ analysts believe the Nationals have made the moves to get them back to the top of the NL East. They are believers or at least their modeling for projections believes the Nats are the best team in the NL East with a projected 90-72 record after they fine tuned the numbers once again (91-71 on Monday).
If you blinked, you missed it. FanGraphs constantly changes projections. A slight move of runs scored per game of 4.64 to 4.57 took away 1-win from the Nationals.
The Nationals roster could be complete, but in Rizzo’s world, he will be looking to make further improvements as he heads back to work today. We have discussed at length that Rizzo has about $10 million left to spend if he takes no other creative action to free-up more money and that leaves him a $9 million buffer for incentives and bonuses and a small July acquisition — of course all of that assumes that the Nats have no plans of exceeding the CBT payroll limit of $206 million for 2019. At least that is what we were told by sources that the team has no plans of exceeding the CBT limit in 2019 after blowing through the cap the two previous seasons. Penalties for exceeding the cap in a third consecutive season is 50% for the first $2o million over the cap and 62.5% for any amount over that plus additional penalties like 1st round draft picks are moved back 10 spots in the draft. Rizzo must spend wisely.
If we had to pick the top remaining priorities, we would say the Nationals need:
- A left-handed batting second baseman with good defensive skills
- A 5th starter in the rotation allowing Erick Fedde and Joe Ross to start their season in Triple-A
- A left-handed reliever who is a lefty specialist
- Add additional veteran players on Minor League deals for extra depth
That is it. A fairly simple list with limited resources. Rizzo could wait for prices to fall, but there is no guarantee that they will. Rizzo was very aggressive to start the off-season and filled many of the holes in the roster and so far signed the top rated pitcher in free agency.
Back to work.