Washington Nationals Rumors
3:59pm: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets that McLouth will earn $5MM in each year of the deal, and his club option contains a $750K buyout.
3:20pm: The Nationals were in the market for a left-handed hitting outfielder to strengthen their bench, and they addressed that need by bringing Nate McLouth into the fold. Washington officially announced a two-year deal for McLouth today -- a contract that is reportedly worth $10.75MM and contains a club option for a third season valued at $6.5MM. McLouth is represented by The Sparta Group.
Rosenthal goes on to note that while McLouth will technically be the Nats' fourth outfielder behind Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth, but he will get "significant" at-bats. McLouth will serve as insurance for all three outfield positions, but he could also see a more regular role if recent rumors that Span could be available prove to be true.
The 32-year-old McLouth batted .258/.329/.399 with 12 homers and a career-best 30 stolen bases for the Orioles last season. Curiously, McLouth swiped 24 bases in 28 attempts in the season's first half but only attempted nine steals in the entire second half. He's significantly better against right-handed pitching, as he batted just .209/.283/.357 against fellow lefties in 2013.
McLouth's career looked to be on a downward trajectory after he struggled in Atlanta and was released midseason upon his return to the Pirates organization. However, he latched on with the Orioles, and over a span of 201 games with Baltimore, he slashed .261/.333/.409. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes correctly projected that McLouth would sign a two-year deal this offseason in his free agent profile, pegging him for a $10MM guarantee.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the two-year agreement (on Twitter). The $10.75MM value and club option were first reported by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported the option's $6.5MM value.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Brown, 28, is a career .175/.250/.400 batter in 45 Major League plate appearances. At the Triple-A level, he's slashed .254/333/.461 in 1602 career plate appearances. Brown and right-hander Henry Rodriguez were acquired by the Nationals in the 2010 trade that sent Josh Willingham to Oakland. The A's took him in the supplemental round of the 2007 draft as compensation for the los of Frank Thomas.
Trading Jonathan Papelbon wouldn't solve much for the Phillies at this point, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. Seidman runs down a possible scenario in which the Phillies ate $6MM to move Papelbon, noting that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would then still try to sign a replacement. Names like Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit could cost upwards of $10MM per season anyhow, meaning the Phillies may not even save much money should that scenario play out. Papelbon will have more value to teams at the trade deadline when fewer quality options are available, writes Seidman. Here's more from the NL East...
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves have approached some of their young stars about extensions over the past two years but felt they'd have to overpay to get something done.
- O'Brien also runs down the Braves needs on the heels of a quiet Winter Meetings, noting that they're optimistic about re-signing Eric O'Flaherty. Atlanta is still pursuing a veteran bench bat -- O'Brien mentions Eric Chavez -- and are still interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Braves may be considered the favorites to land Samardzija at this point, says O'Brien, noting that payroll constraints will likely preclude them from pursuing David Price.
- After adding to their rotation, bench and bullpen, the Nationals will now turn their focus to extending Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Should the Nats be unable to extend Zimmermann, they may be forced to consider trading him this time next season, one source told Kilgore.
- Nate McLouth spoke to former teammate Adam LaRoche (whom he called one of his favorite teammates ever) and asked what the Nationals clubhouse was like before deciding to sign there, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. McLouth doesn't hold ill will toward the Orioles for not retaining him.
It sounds as if Ike Davis will remain a member of the Mets beyond the Winter Meetings, but will likely be dealt this month, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin hears that the Mets are being reasonable in their demands for the first baseman, and with the Rays and Brewers both in on James Loney, the loser may wind up with Davis. Speaking of Loney, Rubin adds that Loney is still asking for three years, but is unlikely to get more than two (Twitter links).
As the Mets continue to seek out the best possible return for Davis, let's check in on a few more items from around the NL East....
- The Marlins are still weighing trade options for a third baseman, president of baseball operations Michael Hill confirmed on Wednesday, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. The team hopes to add a player who is ready to contribute in 2014 and has the flexibility to switch positions when 2013 draftee Colin Moran is ready for the bigs.
- Ruben Amaro Jr. suggests the Phillies have "left no stone unturned" in their search for starting pitching. However, while the team has laid plenty of groundwork, Amaro and the Phils may leave Orlando without having added a starter, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.
- The Nationals sorted through as many as four trade options before deciding to acquire Jerry Blevins, according to GM Mike Rizzo (link via James Wagner of the Washington Post). Washington liked Blevins because he represents a "younger, controllable type of guy" at an affordable rate, says Rizzo.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has received ample praise for the recent deal that brought Doug Fister to D.C. from the Tigers. And for good reason: as Rizzo put it, the towering righty was "an undervalued asset."
I already explored some of the strategic and philosophical approaches that the Nats' GM successfully employed in pulling off the deal, including the packaging of players whose perceived value has skyrocketed of late. With the benefit of reflection, however, the true extent of Fister's value to Washington appears even greater than at first glance.
Others have pointed out that a better infield defense (and the lack of a DH for the opposition) could benefit the groundball-inducing hurler's ability to prevent runs. But there are also several strategic mechanisms by which Fister brings enhanced value to D.C.
The first relates to the possibility of negotiating an extension with Fister. As I noted in my earlier piece, the two-year exclusive negotiating window now open for Washington is valuable in and of itself. Extensions are the only way to capture excess value from established, high-level big leaguers, and the rights to negotiating them are a nice asset.
But that holds all the more so in this case, given the Nats' array of starting pitching. Washington already has one starter inked to a long-term contract in Gio Gonzalez. And the club has other relatively young arms -- primarily, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann -- that are plenty good enough to command their own new deals. But Strasburg is represented by Scott Boras, who (it hardly bears repeating) has tended to lead his premium clients onto the open market. And Zimmermann is now, like Fister, within two seasons of free agency, reducing his incentives to sign and driving up his price.
Fister's presence among D.C.'s slate of extension-worthy starters gives Rizzo options and leverage. If the club only plans to extend a certain number of its arms, then he can effectively compete his offers between his three top starters. If Rizzo has designs on extending all of those who are willing to talk, then he can legitimately point to limitations on the club's future payroll pool. And if some of the three are determined to test the market, he'll have better odds to lock up a reasonable deal with the remainder.
Even more importantly, perhaps, Fister becomes a replacement arm in the club's long-term plans if either Zimmermann or Strasburg suffer injury or performance decline. For a team that has designs on competing in the near term while setting itself up for a long run of success, a major injury at the wrong time could derail careful planning. (Indeed, I just discussed how the Tigers have navigated that kind of situation.) Now, Fister offers another potential long-term piece, which is especially important since both Strasburg and Zimmermann already have had Tommy John surgery.
Somewhat relatedly, Fister leaves the Nationals with immense flexibility for the 2015 offseason and beyond. In addition to Ross Detwiler, the Nationals have a host of other potential starters percolating through the system: Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan, Nate Karns, Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole, Jake Johansen, and Matt Purke. (Oh, and then there's top overall prospect Lucas Giolito, who is just 19 but could soon be knocking on the door.) By adding the last two years of Fister's arbitration eligibility, instead of a long-term contract with a free agent, Rizzo ensured that he will be able to promote cheaper options from within if they prove ready.
Indeed, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that good seasons from some of those just-mentioned arms could make Fister a trade candidate next year. It bears noting, of course, that one of the club's other top starters could instead be shopped. Asked about that possibility by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Rizzo acknowledged that a trade was always possible if extension talks did not work out. (links to Twitter.) If that happens, given Rizzo's track record for value-based dealing, it would not be shocking to see him get back nearly as much in prospect value as he gave up to get Fister in the first place.
Of course, even if Fister proves to be a two-year rental, he appears highly likely to warrant a qualifying offer that will net a draft pick if he (or, say, Zimmermann) walks. Any big league return on that pick would come well into the future, but it is no mean consideration.
In the end, of course, the best deals are those where a player can bring additional value to his new destination. That appears to be the case with Fister's switch to the Nationals, both on and off the field.
The Mets made a big splash this afternoon when they inked veteran starter Bartolo Colon to a two-year deal. Here's the latest out of the NL East..
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter links) asked Nationals GM Mike Rizzo if he'd consider trading Jordan Zimmermann. The Nats have tried to extend Zimmerman twice and, like David Price of the Rays, he has two years of club control remaining. “We’d certainly love to get something done with him. But like any premium guy on your team, if here is something that can’t be done, then you would think about a trade. But that’s the furthest thing from our minds,” Rizzo said.
- Colon's age and history allowed the Mets to land him at a reasonable price, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors. In Tim's view, it's easy to see him returning $20MM+ of value over the next two years.
- Jerry Blevins found out that he was traded from the Athletics to the Nationals around noon time, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (on Twitter). He was initially shocked because, unlike our readers, he did not pay attention to any of the trade rumors going on.
- The Braves were interested in Roy Halladay before he chose to retire and would like to add a veteran starter on a short-term deal, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
- Mets officials met with Ervin Santana's people, but that appears unlikely in the wake of the Colon signing, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Phillies didn't meet with Bronson Arroyo yet and while that doesn't necessarily preclude a deal, others are more serious about him, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
It's been a busy day for baseball's Western divisions, with the Mariners agreeing to sign Corey Hart and acquiring Logan Morrison as well as the A's trading Jerry Blevins to the Nationals. Here's more out of each division...
- Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes has switched agencies, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweeted last night. Formerly a client of Excel Sports Management, Hoes will now be represented by the MVP Sports Group.
- The Nationals asked the Athletics about Sean Doolittle before acquiring Blevins, but Oakland didn't want to part with Doolittle, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee (on Twitter).
- The A's are excited about Drew Pomeranz as a potential replacement for Blevins, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that Oakland's interest was piqued by a handful of strong relief appearances by Pomeranz at the end of the season.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies still want to add another bat, but relief help appears to be their priority. Colorado's prefernce is to add a left-handed arm, which is why they were so interested in Sean Marshall earlier in the week (Twitter links).
- Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius has drawn some interest from the Yankees, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The D-Backs reportedly could use their shortstop surplus to land a starting pitcher, but the Yankees are in the market for starters themselves and don't seem to be a good fit in that regard.
The Nationals have acquired Jerry Blevins from the Athletics, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter). Oakland will receive outfield prospect Billy Burns in return, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
The Nationals have been known to be actively seeking a left-handed reliever, and Blevins fills that need for GM Mike Rizzo. Blevins, 30, is coming off a pair of strong seasons in which he posted a 2.80 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 125 1/3 innings.
Even better for the Nats, he will cost far less than a comparable player on the free agent market: MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects that Blevins will earn just $1.5MM in his second (and second-to-last) season through arbitration. Other well-regarded lefties have cost a good deal more: Javier Lopez got three years and $13MM, while Manny Parra got two and $5.5MM. The move should take the Nationals out of the market for higher-end southpaw relievers, though the club could still look to add a few budget options to compete in Spring Training.
Meanwhile, Burns is an interesting player whose value has been on the way up after a 2013 season that resulted in his being named the organization's minor leaguer of the year. Splitting time between High-A and Double-A in his age-23 campaign, the center fielder swiped a total of 74 bags while getting on base at quite an impressive clip. (His triple-slash landed at .315/.425/.383 in 540 plate appearances, 138 of which came at the Double-A level.) Baseball America credited him with the best strike zone discipline and speed in the Nats' system.
For the Nats, however, Burns lacked a clear path through the minor league system, let alone to the MLB roster. Denard Span is still under team control through 2015. More importantly, the club possesses a series of speedy, well-regarded prospects who are capable of fielding up the middle in Brian Goodwin, Michael Taylor, and Eury Perez.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Braves have signed right-hander Yunesky Maya to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, tweets Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deports. The 32-year-old Cuban hurler never lived up to expectations with the Nationals, posting just a 4.17 ERA in 464 minor league innings and a 5.80 ERA in 59 frames at the big league level. Elsewhere in the NL East...
- The Nationals have discussed Jerry Blevins with the Athletics, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. However, James Wagner of the Washington Post adds that it was the Nats who reached out to the A's, and Oakland is said to be happy with its bullpen (Twitter link).
- Former manager Davey Johnson rarely utilized infield shifts, but Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com writes that defensive shifts will be a point of emphasis under new manager Matt Williams. Kolko quotes Williams as saying his club will have defensive meetings every day.
- Despite tendering John Mayberry a contract, the Phillies are seeking an upgrade over the soon-to-be 30-year-old as they look to add a right-handed bat with better defense in cente field, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Marlins have checked in on Delmon Young, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, who notes that Rosenthal has previously reported that Young has worked out at first base (Twitter link).
Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the top left-handed relievers on the market -- J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Eric O'Flaherty and Scott Downs -- should begin to start coming off the board in the next 24 to 48 hours. It's already been reported that O'Flaherty is in talks with the Braves about a return to Atlanta. Here's the latest on the market for relievers...
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweets that there's a sense that the Nationals will land a left-handed reliever today.
- The Orioles have had talks with John Axford, tweets Morosi. They're also said to be the current favorites for Grant Balfour.
- A rival executive estimated that the Phillies would have to eat about 40 to 50 percent of Jonathan Papelbon's remaining salary to trade him, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Papelbon is owed $13MM in each of the next two seasons and has a vesting option for a fifth year.
- The Rockies have had discussions with Joaquin Benoit but are a ways apart in terms of salary, Morosi reports. Talks between the two sides are fading, as Benoit appears likely to seek a more lucrative deal elsewhere (Twitter links).
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted yesterday that when the dust settles from the Winter Meetings, Matt Guerrier's name could be a of interest to the Indians.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that even after re-signing Juan Carlos Oviedo and acquiring Heath Bell, the Rays are still looking to improve their bullpen. One option could be injured lefty Jordan Norberto, who underwent Tommy John surgery last season.