The Nationals may not have as much financial flexibility as it seems this offseason, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post observes. The Nationals have $112MM committed to 23 players for next season, Janes estimates, adding that MLBTR’s projected salaries for their seven arbitration-eligible players push the number to $152MM. However, for competitive balance tax purposes, that figure would be closer to $140MM, per Janes, who writes that Washington does “not want to come close” to the CBT in 2019. In the end, Janes expects the Nationals to spend around $180MM, which could include their top free agent – superstar outfielder Bryce Harper – whom they want to re-sign. Regardless of whether Harper stays in D.C., the club will still need help in several other areas, Janes points out. However, thanks to the money that’s already on the Nats’ books, Janes cautions that it’s going to be difficult for them to spend freely this winter.
Now the latest from Baltimore:
- Even though the Orioles don’t have a true general manager at the moment, they “remain open to moving anyone in the right trade,” Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com writes. Front office questions aside, it’s unclear how many valuable trade chips Baltimore even has, given that it’s wrapping up a 47-win season in which it dealt a slew of established veterans. Reliever Mychal Givens would likely be in demand, and Kubatko cited him as a possible trade piece earlier this week. Speculatively, middle infielder Jonathan Villar and right-hander Dylan Bundy are also among O’s who may find themselves in trade rumors this offseason.
- The Orioles, who have more international money available than any other team, are known to be battling with the Marlins for Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston. While it has been suggested that the Mesa brothers will sign with the same team, they’re not necessarily a package deal, Kubatko reports, writing that the two “aren’t joined at the hip.”
- The Orioles made an eyebrow-raising move in August when they traded $750K in international money to the Phillies for minor league first baseman Jack Zoellner. It turns out the Phillies may have released Zoellner had they not found a taker for him, according to Kubatko. Per Kubatko, Philly was “far less enthusiastic about Zoellner” than Baltimore’s front office, which was then led by since-fired GM Dan Duquette. Zoellner doesn’t rank among Baltimore’s top 30 prospects at MLB.com, and, as Kubatko notes, didn’t stand out in Rookie ball from 2017-18 despite being old for the level.