Point-Counterpoint on the #Nats off-season spending or the lack thereof!

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We are joined by Richard W. of The Nats Report. We did this point-counterpoint from last week as we discuss off-season spending.

Steve: Thanks Richard for joining us. It did not take a genius to figure out in these difficult times in the “live entertainment” sector that MLB teams would be struggling to make money when so much revenue is dependent on fans in the stands. Unfortunately for our Washington Nationals, they are more dependent on fans in the stands than almost any team because they have the WORST media deal due to the MASN debacle and ongoing lawsuit and they have no stadium naming rights sponsor. With zero attendance in 2020 and a strict DC Government, the outlook is bleak for the first half of 2021 attendance for Nationals Park with the hope by July that most fans have been vaccinated.

With that said, a team like the Nats cannot depend on fan revenue in 2021 and as such will cut payroll. Yes, nobody wants to hear that. Don’t fret, the Nationals without spending a dime are the 7th highest in payroll spent if they do nothing. That is because they have nearly $90 million invested in the trio of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin. That’s where 55% of the Nats money is tied up right now.  Continue reading

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Could the Nats pivot to an infielder as their top acquisition?

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Mum’s the word. There has been little chatter from general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez of the Washington Nationals this offseason. Our sourced intel has produced little as to the direction of acquisitions as the information is being held close to the vest. We have had to rely on actions more than anything through the few roster moves and coaching changes. The rest is based on our own analytics as to how to fill the holes. Continue reading

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Is there a ‘new’ Andrew Stevenson?

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Personally, I absolutely love prospects. And in particular there are a couple of types of prospects who I consistently find myself gravitating toward. On the offensive side, some of my favorites are the prospects who are great defenders, with plus hit tools. I’m less concerned with power, and follow the philosophy that it’s easier for good hitters to develop power, than it is for power hitters to develop a hit tool. Continue reading

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Maybe the Robbie Ray signing was inline with the MLB.com rankings of free agent hurlers!

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MLB.com re-ranked their starters in top free agent order within all of the free agents in their Top-25. This was the original list back in mid-October that we referenced in our article on October 21.

  1. Trevor Bauer
  2. Marcus Stroman Took the Q.O. from the Mets
  3. Masahiro Tanaka
  4. Taijuan Walker
  5. Mike Minor
  6. Robbie Ray Re-signed by the Blue Jays for $8 million
  7. Jake Odorizzi
  8. Jose Quintana
  9. James Paxton

Here is the revised list:

  1. Trevor Bauer
  2. Marcus Stroman
  3. Masahiro Tanaka
  4. James Paxton
  5. Taijuan Walker
  6. Charlie Morton
  7. Kevin Gausman
  8. Mike Minor
  9. Jake Odorizzi

They removed Robbie Ray and Jose Quintana from their top pitchers and oddly moved Paxton up to their 4th best free agent starting pitcher. Personally, I prefer the MLBTR free agent rankings better, and they won’t change this from their original. Why did MLB.com change their rankings? Supposedly it has to do with adding Charlie Morton whose option was rejected and that made him a free agent. They kept Stroman on their list while removing Ray.

My top picks from this list will stay consistent with Trevor Bauer, Kevin Gausman and Jake Odorizzi. Obviously Bauer is not coming to the Nats and Gausman was retained by the Giants with the Q.O. and that leaves just Odorizzi. While Paxton, Walker, and Morton are intriguing, Odorizzi should be 100 percent healthy for the start of Spring Training.

Currently, these are the remaining free agent starting pitchers and the list is fluid and can change with non-tenders, DFAs, retirements, and signings. Ages are in parentheses and alphabetized for ease of searching:

Brett Anderson (33)
Chase Anderson (33)
Chris Archer (32)
Jake Arrieta (35)
Homer Bailey (35)
Trevor Bauer (30)
Trevor Cahill (33)
Tyler Chatwood (31)
Anthony DeSclafani (31)
Robbie Erlin (30)
Mike Fiers (36)
Mike Foltynewicz (29)
Zack Godley (31)
Gio Gonzalez (35)
Cole Hamels (37)
J.A. Happ (38)
Felix Hernandez (35)
Rich Hill (41)
Corey Kluber (35)
Mike Leake (33)
Wade LeBlanc (36)
Jon Lester (37)
Tommy Milone (34)
Mike Minor (33)
Matt Moore (32)
Charlie Morton (37)
Jimmy Nelson (32)
Ivan Nova (34)
Jake Odorizzi (31)
James Paxton (32)
Martin Perez (30)
Rick Porcello (32)
Jose Quintana (32)
Garrett Richards (33)
Tyson Ross (34)
Jeff Samardzija (36)
Anibal Sanchez (37)
Matt Shoemaker (34)
Drew Smyly (32)
Masahiro Tanaka (32)
Julio Teheran (30)
Michael Wacha (29)
Adam Wainwright (39)
Taijuan Walker (28)
Alex Wood (30)
Jordan Zimmermann (35)

Keep in mind that there could be some non-tender pitchers to add to the current list of 46 free agent starting pitchers. That is almost exactly 1½ per team and some of them will be forced to go unsigned or take minor league offers. Here is the arbitration list from MLBTR and there are a few names like Steven Matz and Vince Velasquez who are not locks to be tendered. Matz’s odds to be retained on a $5 million deal got better when the Mets got new ownership, but personally I would non-tender him.

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The MVP was a serious snub when you consider the voter’s criteria!

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The MVP voting criteria makes it clear that the myth of an MVP must play for a playoff team has perpetuated into reasoning for snubs. The ballot reads: “The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.” It never kept Mike Trout down — he has three MVPs, but it is selectively applied. Why wasn’t Juan Soto in the Top-3 of voting at the very least? There were three voters who put Soto in 2nd place in their ballots so there is that and those writers were all from NL East cities.  Continue reading

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We are entering the Cold Stove portion as we await the MVP

Hot Stove

Yesterday brought some offseason excitement with the Q.O. deadline and the Cy Young voting. Sure, Josh Tomlin signed a $1.25 million deal in Atlanta and that was it.  Yes, there is the daily hourly speculation on how the new Mets owner will spend his millions, and filling in their front office — but things are quiet on Nats transactions.  Continue reading

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Decision day on Qualifying Offers and a look at FanGraphs free agent WAR projections!

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Today is the deadline day for players to formally accept or reject their Qualifying Offer (QO). In normal times, it is usually clear-cut which way to go. These are not normal times. The rules say you can only be collared with a QO once which is why some player’s accept the QO which this year automatically pays the player $18.9 million for a one-year deal to return to their prior team. For instance, if Kevin Gausman accepts his QO, he would get paid $18.9 million and return to the San Francisco Giants and then would be eligible to be a free agent after the 2021 season without any risk of being QO’d again.

The QO can slightly penalize a player’s full marketability if they enter free agency because the acquiring team has to forfeit a draft pick at the very least and possibly some international bonus pool money. For the Washington Nationals, if they signed J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, DJ LeMahieu, or George Springer,  for instance, the Nats would forfeit their top of the second round draft pick in 2021 as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool. Continue reading

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Point-CounterPoint: Upgrading the Nats Offense

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Welcome to our first Point-CounterPoint post where Steve debates a topic with someone. This idea grew out of emails that Steve and I regularly exchange on ideas I have that I am not sure I should post.

Our first topic is how to upgrade the offense.

Don: Mike Rizzo has a history of surprising virtually everyone with off-season moves. Virtually no one expected either the Jayson Werth or Max Scherzer signings. I wonder if this hot stove season will see another one that catches everyone by surprise.

Steve: Rizzo’s surprises have included trades also. But his free agent signings have only been as SURPRISING as his ability to spend money because few in the national media cared much when Starlin Castro was signed as the Nats biggest free agent position player last year. Yes, I’m hoping to be surprised!  Continue reading

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Fangraphs WAR rankings for the 2021 Nats and a COVID-19 vaccine!

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How are WAR rankings related to a COVID vaccine? Few teams are as dependent on fan revenue as the Washington Nationals and if the COVID vaccine is here earlier than expected, the Nats could raise their outlook on revenues and simultaneously on free agent spending. More spending generally adds more WAR in projections.

When you have the worst TV deal in baseball and no stadium naming rights, the reliance on fan revenue is paramount to how this Washington Nationals team spends money on payroll. Fangraphs first 2021 roster WAR projection has the Nats as the 16th best team in baseball or the 15th worst team depending on how you want to look at it. Don’t worry, even if spending was not back fully, we would have expected some spending in the off-season. But this team has needs and needs require funds and funds are very dependent on projected revenues.  Continue reading

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Necessity is the mother of invention as baseball must reinvent itself!

Free agent decisions have been consolidated into a series of algorithms and the criteria must be reprogrammed!

In 2014, Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore took his team to the World Series with a very different formula than the dominant San Francisco Giants. Moore’s team did not have one starting position player at an .800 OPS over over that season. They were a low payroll team. Moore started his career in the Atlanta Braves scouting department. He learned how they got their 6.0 innings from their starters which is exactly what Moore’s starters averaged in 2014, and then turned over the game to his three bullpen aces. Moore’s bullpen had Greg Holland (1.44 ERA), Wade Davis (1.00 ERA), Kelvin Herrera (1.41 ERA) and to add to their bullpen depth they had Jason Frasor (1.53) and Brandon Finnegan (1.29). Overall, all of their pitchers were good in RISP spots at a .680 OPS. Part of the reason their pitchers looked good is because of the Gold Glove defense and the team athleticism. They did this with a $92 million payroll. While they lost in the World Series to those Giants, they kept that same concept and made some tweaks for 2015. Continue reading

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