There’s a belief across baseball that the Nationals’ affinity for deferring money in contracts has somewhat hindered their pursuit of talent in free agency and could negatively affect them down the line as they attempt to avoid the luxury tax, according to Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. “They’re unique. They’re the only team that operates like this,” an agent told Svrluga, who adds that team ownership won’t comment on its methods. The Nats are set to pay their newest addition, reliever Joe Blanton, $4MM on a one-year deal, but he’ll collect that money through 2019. Among far more expensive examples, starters Max Scherzer (signed through 2021) and Stephen Strasburg (2023) will be on the franchise’s books and through 2028 and 2030, respectively.
More from Washington and two other NL cities:
- Dodgers right-hander Brandon McCarthy has long been a control artist, which makes it rather startling that he walked 26 batters in an injury-shortened, 40-inning 2016. McCarthy returned from 2015 Tommy John surgery and also dealt with a hip issue, but it was a case of the yips that led to his spike in walks – including 15 over 8 1/3 innings (three starts) from Aug. 2-13 – as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. “I think most of it was mechanical,” McCarthy said. “Usually, if you get the shanks in golf, something has gone wrong physically in your swing, and you lose your mental feel for what you are trying to do. It becomes sort of a self-fulfilling thing. I think that was really the extent of it.” McCarthy made a late-season mechanical adjustment and is optimistic the issue is behind him. The 33-year-old is now entering the penultimate season of a four-year, $48MM contract, but he’d have no qualms about retiring and leaving money on the table if he were to lose his desire to pitch. “The day where the motivation is not there to come in and do it, I have no problems ‘Gil Meche-ing it’ and just walking home and leaving it,” said McCarthy, referring to then-Royal Gil Meche’s decision to retire in 2011 and abandon a guaranteed $12MM. (For more on players who have battled the yips, check out FanGraphs’ Travis Sawchik’s piece from earlier this week.)
- The Mets are doubling down on last year’s roster, writes the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, who notes that they’re likely to open the season with 25 players who were on their team in 2016. “It doesn’t feel it’s stale, it feels as if we have consolidated our gains,” general manager Sandy Alderson said of the club’s roster, which managed 87 wins and a playoff berth last season despite myriad injuries. Of the 55 players the Mets invited to camp, just three weren’t in the organization a year ago, and the only newcomer who has much of a chance to make the team is left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, per Sherman.
- The Nationals are doing their due diligence on Eric Gagne as the former star closer looks to emerge from his yearslong retirement and return to the majors. Nats special assistant De Jon Watson was on hand at Dodgers camp Saturday to watch Gagne throw, relays Shaikin, who tweets that the right-hander topped out at 91 mph. Now 41, Gagne averaged just over 92 mph on his fastball in 2008, his latest major league action.