MLB Trade Rumors » » Washington Nationals 2017-12-16T06:34:02Z Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Re-Sign Tim Collins]]> 2017-12-16T04:29:04Z 2017-12-16T03:54:15Z
  • The Nationals have brought back lefty Tim Collins on another minors deal, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Collins, who is still just 28, pitched competitively for the first time since 2014 during his recent minor-league run with the Nats. He walked 14 and allowed 15 earned runs in his 17 1/3 frames across three levels of the minors, but did at least pick up 23 strikeouts in his preliminary effort to return from consecutive Tommy John procedures. Before the unfortunate health downturn, Collins had turned in 211 frames of 3.54 ERA ball over four seasons with the Royals.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Expect Harper To Test Open Market]]> 2017-12-15T14:04:32Z 2017-12-15T14:04:01Z Dec. 15: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the Nationals say the conversations about Harper were casual, and they fully expect Harper to test free agency next winter. The Nats still hope to re-sign Harper, he adds, but they seemingly don’t expect to be able to do so without him first exploring the open market.

    Dec. 13, 2:54pm: Nationals president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo confirms the meeting, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports on Twitter, and adds that the sides also discussed other topics. That includes Anthony Rendon, another Boras client who is eligible for arbitration for the second-to-last time after a highly productive 2017 season. Rizzo says that a long-term arrangement with Rendon is “something we’ll certainly discuss,” as the Post’s Jorge Castillo tweets.

    10:13am: Agent Scott Boras told the media today that he has engaged Nationals ownership in preliminary discussions about a potential extension for star outfielder Bryce Harper, as Jamal Collier of was among those to report on Twitter. Those initial conversations occurred last month.

    It is still far from clear whether there’s any real likelihood of a deal coming together before Harper reaches free agency after the 2018 season. Indeed, Boras would not commit to anything and also did not indicate whether there are clear plans for future talks.

    That said, it’s notable that the sides are engaging early to explore the possibility of a deal. And there is little question that Boras and the Nats’ ownership can find a way to bridge differences. After all, they have struck numerous high-dollar deals; of greatest relevance here, the sides lined up on a rather surprising extension to keep Stephen Strasburg from reaching the open market.

    Harper, who only just turned 25, dealt with an injury late in the 2017 season but nevertheless compiled an outstanding .319/.413/.595 batting line with 29 home runs in 492 plate appearances. He’s considered one of the game’s preeminent young hitters and is certainly one of its best-known players. The expectation long has been that Harper will prefer to test the open market, where his youth and talent will draw a bidding war, though it’s fair to wonder whether he’d also see some merit in striking a deal to stay with one organization (while also locking in earnings after a strong season).

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Could Nationals Make A Play For J.D. Martinez?]]> 2017-12-15T02:48:41Z 2017-12-15T02:48:41Z
  • It probably isn’t safe to rule out the Nationals on any Scott Boras client given the relationship between the team and the super-agent, and indeed, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link) hears from some in the industry that Washington could be a “dark horse” contender to sign J.D. Martinez.  In this scenario, the Nats would obtain a long-term slugger that would help them withstand the potential loss of Bryce Harper to free agency next winter.  Cotillo suggests that the Nationals could shop Michael Taylor if they signed Martinez, though I’d argue that Taylor is better served as an (overqualified) fourth outfielder for 2018 who could move back into a starting role in 2019 if Harper leaves.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Nationals To Re-Sign Brandon Kintzler]]> 2017-12-14T19:47:52Z 2017-12-14T16:47:37Z The Nationals are set to re-sign free agent reliever Brandon Kintzler to a two-year deal, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports in a tweet. The deal is pending a physical. Kintzler acknowledged that he’ll be returning to D.C. in an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link).

    Aug 15, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler (21) throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels during the eighth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Contract details are still coming in, and they paint a somewhat complicated picture. The deal guarantees Kintzler $10MM over a two-year term, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports (Twitter link), and could reach $16MM in value. But the way it operates is through competing 2019 options, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link), Mark Zuckerman of, and Rosenthal (via Twitter) explain. Kintzler will receive a $5MM salary for the upcoming season. The Nationals can elect to exercise a $10MM club option for the 2019 campaign. If that is declined, then Kintzler will get to decide between a $5MM player option and a return to the open market. At this point it is not clear whether the extra $1MM of possible contract value comes from, but it could be an escalator or incentive bonus of some kind.


    Kintzler, 33, pitched 26 innings for the Nationals last season after being acquired from the Twins in exchange for Tyler Watson and $500K in international bonus pool money. The righty posted a 3.46 ERA in Washington, chipping in a save for the club.

    The Brewers picked Kintzler with the number 1,182 pick in the 2004 draft (40th round). After two seasons in the low minors and a year away from the sport in 2006, he eventually ended up playing independent ball until Milwaukee offered him a new minor league contract in 2009. Kintzler climbed quickly through the ranks this time and made his MLB debut the following year. He pitched well out of the Brewers’ bullpen from his sophomore season on; his ERA with the club never climbed above 3.78 from 2011-2014.

    After an injury ended his 2015 season, Kintzler was forced to settle for a minor league deal with the Twins the following winter. He became the team’s closer almost immediately and has posted impressive results ever since.

    Kintzler is a fascinating case study; the right-hander has vastly outperformed his ERA estimators over the past two seasons. Furthermore, across 2016-2017 he has the 14th-highest ground ball rate among qualified relievers, and the second-lowest strikeout rate. It’s clear Kintzler’s success is built upon an ability to limit hard contact while generating ground balls. He’ll slot in behind Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, reuniting the Nats’ late-inning crew from last year’s playoff run.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL East Notes: Braves, Mets, Robles, Albers]]> 2017-12-14T17:55:40Z 2017-12-14T12:19:08Z Though a few of the Braves’ relief targets have signed elsewhere, GM Alex Anthopoulos has an interesting contingency plan. An article by David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveals that Atlanta is apparently willing to utilize some of their young upside starters as relievers early on in their careers, if the team can’t add the type of bullpen arms they’re looking for through free agency. “We’ve explored it. A long time ago, starters would break in as relievers,” Anthopoulos says. “It’s something that’s come up internally in our conversations. It’s not something we’re planning on doing right now, but at least it’s been discussed, in light of the market for relievers and the price points right now.” Anthopoulos also notes that the relief market has been “continually strong the last two or three years.” The piece also details the GM’s thoughts on calling up Ronald Acuna. It’s great insight for Braves fans.

    Some other items from across the NL East…

    • Mark Bowman of writes that the Braves could seek short-term rotation help this offseason in order to “satisfy their desire to add experience to their inexperienced rotation.” While there might be a desire in the future to “strike a big deal for a legit ace,” Anthopoulos hints that he’d like to take some of the workload off their younger arms. Bowman mentions Wade Miley as one example of a pitcher who could be had on a one-year contract.
    • While the Mets have been linked to Jay Bruce, Anthony DiComo of reports (via Twitter) that the club doesn’t appear to be “warm” on any player in the outfield or first base market. Rather, they seem to be focused on second base as their top priority. One notable Mets target at that position already came off the market when the Angels acquired Ian Kinsler from the Tigers. The second base market does have other options, and the Mets have been linked to of Jason Kipnis of the Indians recently.
    • Though it’s not clear what position Nationals outfielder Victor Robles will play in 2018, GM Mike Rizzo says he’ll be an everyday player (via Pete Kerzel of Rizzo further specifies that if there isn’t a spot for him in the Majors, the Nats’ top prospect will begin the season at Triple-A. It would seem as though the latter is the most likely scenario, considering Washington has Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor ticketed for the outfield grass. On the other hand, perhaps Taylor could end up in a part-time role.
    • Before the Nationals agreed to terms with Brandon Kintzler on a two-year contract, the team was exploring the possibility of bringing back Matt Albers on a two-year deal, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Ultimately, nothing ended up coming together. Albers was fantastic for Washington last season; the righty posted a sterling 1.62 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He struck out 9.30 batters per nine innings against just 2.51 walks.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals Talking With Righty Relievers]]> 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z
  • The Nationals and various right-handed relievers have had “serious” talks today, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. While Janes doesn’t include any names, Jon Heyman of FanRag lists Addison Reed, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek as relievers who are on the team’s radar (Twitter links). Wade Davis and Hector Rondon have also been mentioned in connection with the Nats during the meetings.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Trade Chatter: Nats, Rays, Fulmer, Reds, Jays, Braves, Giants, Yelich, Phils]]> 2017-12-14T03:45:12Z 2017-12-14T03:44:39Z Looking to improve an already enviable rotation, the Nationals have Rays right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on their radar, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (via Twitter). Either would cost far less in terms of salary than free agent Jake Arrieta will, and Heyman notes that the Nats are unsure if they’d be able to afford Arrieta. Heyman also points to Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke as a possibility for the Nats; however, he’s not exactly cheap, with $138.5MM coming his way through 2021.

    More on the trade front:

    • The Tigers “will only entertain lopsided offers” for righty Michael Fulmer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). A trade involving the highly coveted 24-year-old doesn’t look likely, then.
    • The Blue Jays are interested in Reds outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall, per reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) and Jays Journal. The Braves also have interest in the 29-year-old Duvall, tweets Heyman. Duvall, a 30-home run hitter in each of the previous two seasons, is controllable for the next four years. He won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter.
    • The Giants’ own interest in Hamilton continues, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the chatter with the Reds has “faded significantly” of late. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds on Twitter that the Giants are the most serious suitors for Hamilton, but they’re “at a bit of a standoff” with the Reds. San Francisco still has interest in free agent Jay Bruce, per Rosenthal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Bruce is the top name on San Francisco’s “wish list.” Still, the club has not made him an offer to this point.
    • It’s up in the air whether the Marlins will trade center fielder Christian Yelich. Either way, the Phillies will continue to monitor his availability, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. Meanwhile, they’ve “been aggressive” in shopping shortstop Freddy Galvis, according to Salisbury, who adds (via Twitter) that the Angels “really liked” second baseman Cesar Hernandez before they acquired Ian Kinsler. The Halos didn’t want to meet the Phillies’ asking price for Hernandez, however.
    • The Red Sox asked about Marcell Ozuna before the Cardinals acquired him, but they did not have the sort of pitching assets the Marlins were for, Dombrowski told reporters including the Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link.) The Indians also inquired about Ozuna, Paul Hoynes of writes.
    • In addition to Chase Headley, the Padres are dangling infielder Yangervis Solarte in chatter with rival organizations, Heyman reports on Twitter. Solarte, 30, is controllable for the next three years at affordable costs (a guaranteed $4MM in 2018 and then club options totaling $13.5MM for 2019-20).
    • The Blue Jays were another team with interest in Kinsler before Wednesday’s trade, Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto was on Kinsler’s 10-team no-trade list, so it’s unclear how open he’d have been to going there.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Interested In Hector Rondon]]> 2017-12-14T01:46:20Z 2017-12-14T01:46:20Z
  • The Nationals are interested in reliever Hector Rondon, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweets. Washington isn’t the favorite to land Rondon, according to Castillo, though he does note that the former Cub is familiar with manager Dave Martinez and bullpen coach Henry Blanco. Both men were on Chicago’s staff through last season.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nats Interested In Alex Avila]]> 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z
  • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic suggests that the Nationals are considering backup catchers, including free agent Alex Avila (subscription required & highly recommended). Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post hears the same, tweeting that while the Nats do like young Pedro Severino, bringing a more proven backup catcher into the fold is something the club has discussed.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nationals Interested In Wade Davis, Weren't In On Bryan Shaw]]> 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z
  • The Nationals are one of the suitors for Wade Davis, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter), though the team isn’t close to signing any relievers.  D.C. hadn’t thought to have been looking for any major bullpen upgrades this winter after the team landed Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson last summer, though the combination of Davis with those two relievers would make for a formidable end-game trio.  Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post hears that the Nats haven’t yet officially started to go afte Davis, though several representatives for free agent relievers feel Davis is one of Washington’s top offseason targets.
    • The Nationals are one of the suitors for Wade Davis, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter), though the team isn’t close to signing any relievers.  D.C. hadn’t thought to have been looking for any major bullpen upgrades this winter after the team landed Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson last summer, though the combination of Davis with those two relievers would make for a formidable end-game trio.  Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post hears that the Nats haven’t yet officially started to go afte Davis, though several representatives for free agent relievers feel Davis is one of Washington’s top offseason targets.
    • In another tweet from Janes, she reports that the Nationals weren’t in on Bryan Shaw, who agreed to a three-deal with the Rockies tonight.
    • Francisco Rodriguez is hoping to keep pitching for his 17th big league season, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.  After years as an effective closer, K-Rod suffered through a disastrous 2017 campaign that saw him post a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 IP for the Tigers.  He pitched in the Nationals’ farm system on a minor league deal before being released last July.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta]]> 2017-12-12T17:59:15Z 2017-12-12T17:28:06Z Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:

    • The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
    • Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
    • Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
    • Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets,’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
    • The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
    • While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
    • For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[6 To 8 Teams Interested In Marcell Ozuna]]> 2017-12-12T20:27:46Z 2017-12-12T16:42:00Z TODAY: The Rockies and Blue Jays are also among the interested teams, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

    YESTERDAY, 7:45pm: The Marlins are telling teams Ozuna would be easier to acquire than outfield mate Christian Yelich, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. That’s not surprising, as the 26-year-old Yelich is controllable by way of a team-friendly contract through 2022 and carries a more consistent track record than Ozuna.

    7:01pm: Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna is drawing interest from six to eight clubs, Joe Frisaro of reports (on Twitter). Along with the Cardinals, whose interest was already known entering Monday, the Giants and Nationals are among the teams in on Ozuna, per Frisaro. The Athletics are also still considering Ozuna, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Slussser first reported their interest in Ozuna in early November.

    Two of these clubs – the Cardinals and Giants – have spent a large portion of the offseason engaging with the Marlins about right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, and they even had deals in place to land the 2017 NL MVP. But Stanton nixed those trades before accepting a deal to the Yankees over the weekend, sending the Cards and Giants scrambling for other options. Ozuna makes for an appealing Plan B, then, as he’s coming off a season in which he slashed a career-best .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and a 4.8 fWAR over 679 plate appearances.

    In terms of production, last year was an outlier for Ozuna relative to the rest of his career – which began when he debuted in 2013 – but he has still accounted for at least 2.5 fWAR in three of four full seasons. At worst, Ozuna seems to be a solid regular, and the 27-year-old doesn’t come with an onerous, Stanton-esque contract. He’s controllable for two more years via arbitration and will earn a projected $10.9MM in 2018. That’s certainly an affordable figure, though it should also help the Marlins land a quality return for him. They’re obviously educated on both the Cardinals’ and Giants’ farm systems thanks to the Stanton talks.

    The Nationals, meanwhile, share a division with the Marlins, but that shouldn’t necessarily serve as a deterrent to a payroll-cutting Miami team whose primary goal in an Ozuna trade should be to bolster its weak system. Washington’s prospect pool is only the majors’ 18th best, per Baseball America (the outlet ranks the Cards’ 13th and the Giants’ 27th), but it seems that’s primarily because of a lack of depth. The top of the Nationals’ system is impressive, according to BA, and that could help pave the way for an Ozuna swap.

    With the Nationals at risk of losing Bryce Harper to free agency in a year, Ozuna might somewhat help cover for his potential exit in 2019. In the meantime, the Nats could perhaps use a left fielder to complement Harper in right and Adam Eaton in center. They do, however, have other in-house options in Michael A. Taylor and Brian Goodwin. Taylor was particularly strong in 2017, yet the Nats may not be content with him functioning as a regular in 2018, if their interest in Ozuna is any indication.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[NL East Links: Anthopoulos, Marlins, Yelich, Kendrick, Lind, Harvey]]> 2017-12-12T13:15:36Z 2017-12-12T13:15:36Z New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters (including’s Mark Bowman and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien) about his team’s offseason shopping list, which includes a third baseman, bullpen help, and a controllable starting pitcher.  The “backdrop of everything” with the Braves’ plans, Anthopoulos stressed, is an improved defense.  “If we can improve in just one area defensively, we’re going to make 12 or 13 guys on that [pitching staff] a lot better,” the GM said.  As Bowman points out, this would seem to hint that Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis could be moved, as both outfielders posted subpar fielding numbers last season.  It may still be a while before we see one of Anthopoulos’ signature major trades, however, as he said he is still familiarizing himself with Atlanta’s baseball operations department after only a few weeks on the job.  While he wouldn’t rule out some notable moves, “I would say my thought for Year 1 would be a more cautious approach,” Anthopoulos said.  He also believed that the Braves’ payroll would likely remain around the $130MM mark.

    Some more rumblings from around the NL East…

    • With the Braves looking for third base help,’s Joe Frisaro believes they could at least be open to a trade for the MarlinsMartin Prado.  One would think Miami would have to eat a big chunk of the $28.5MM owed to Prado through 2019 to make any trade involving the veteran work, as Prado was limited to just 37 games last season due to hamstring injuries and knee surgery.  The well-respected Prado would be a good leader within a young Atlanta clubhouse, however, and Prado has a long relationship with the Braves after spending his first 10 pro seasons in the organization.
    • In two other tweets, Frisaro notes that the Marlins may be better served by trading Christian Yelich, even though the team’s “sentiment…is to retain” the young outfielder.  Getting a big haul of talent in an “overpay situation” for Yelich would greatly help Miami restock its farm system, plus Frisaro cites the factor that Yelich may simply be tired of playing for losing teams.  While Yelich’s name has surfaced in trade speculation, the Marlins are in no particular rush to deal him; the outfielder is locked up on a contract that runs through at least the 2021 season.
    • The Nationals got a lot of production off the bench from Howie Kendrick and Adam Lind last year, and GM Mike Rizzo told’s Pete Kerzel and other reporters that he is open to a reunion with either player.  Playing time could be an issue, as while both Kendrick and Lind saw significant action in 2017, they theoretically wouldn’t be used as much next year since the Nats expect better health throughout their lineup.  The two veterans could therefore try to sign for teams that could promise them more regular at-bats.
    • The Mets and Orioles have had some talks about Matt Harvey, and while Dan Connolly of is “all for [the O’s] taking a flier on Harvey,” doing so in a trade for Brad Brach would be ill-advised from the Orioles’ perspective.  Dealing a proven quality reliever like Brach is too much of a risk, since Harvey is a question mark after two injury-plagued down years.  Fortunately for Connolly’s concerns, a Brach-for-Harvey trade doesn’t seem to be a likely possibility.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Have Interest In Hector Rondon]]> 2017-12-11T20:26:58Z 2017-12-11T20:21:23Z
  • As the Nationals look into possible bullpen additions, the club could consider free agent Hector Rondon, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Washington was among the teams that spoke with the Cubs about Rondon before he was non-tendered. The Nats and others obviously were not willing to risk an arbitration hearing with a player who projected at $6.2MM, but presumably there’ll be fairly wide interest at a lower price tag. Though he faded a bit in 2017, Rondon still carried 10.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 while maintaining his typically robust fastball velocity and also showing career highs in swinging-strike (11.9%) and groundball (48.3%) rates.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Have Interest In Matt Adams]]> 2017-12-11T17:26:06Z 2017-12-11T17:02:25Z
  • Fresh off of a non-tender by the Braves, first baseman Matt Adams has drawn interest from a few organizations, according to Jerry Crasnick of (via Twitter). Specifically, the Indians, Royals, and Nationals have all reached out to Adams’s representatives. While Cleveland and Kansas City could offer fairly significant roles to the left-handed hitter — who really is best utilized in a platoon capacity — the Nats unsurprisingly would consider him as a frequently used bench piece who might take some of the burden from Ryan Zimmerman. Atlanta was not able to find a taker for Adams before the tender deadline; he had projected to earn $4.6MM via arbitration, so it’d be surprising if he ended up receiving more than that on the open market. For the Indians, it seems, adding a player such as Adams would represent something of a “fallback,” as Crasnick terms it, if the team is unable to strike a new deal with Carlos Santana. MLBTR’s Kyle Downing just analyzed Santana’s free agent case and we have also rounded up the latest market chatter on one of the market’s top bats.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Gio Gonzalez, Trade Chip?]]> 2017-12-11T05:24:52Z 2017-12-11T05:24:52Z
  • Could the Nationals use Gio Gonzalez as a trade chip?’s Pete Kerzel discusses the possibility, as the Nats could obtain some controllable talent by dealing the veteran as he enters the final year of his contract.  Gonzalez is coming off one of the best of his six seasons in Washington (2.96 ERA, 2.38 K/BB rate, 8.42 K/9 over 201 innings), though advanced metrics were less impressed by his performance, so Kerzel believes the Nats could look for a trade while Gonzalez’s value is high.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reactions To And Effects Of The Giancarlo Stanton Trade]]> 2017-12-10T03:52:12Z 2017-12-10T03:52:12Z The Yankees shook the baseball world early Saturday when they agreed to acquire 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins. As you’d expect, the deal has elicited no shortage of media reactions, many of which we’ve rounded up here:

    • While the Los Angeles-born Stanton would have preferred to go to the Dodgers, they didn’t make an offer that “intrigued” the Marlins, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. Sending Stanton to the Dodgers would have required the Marlins to take on more bad contracts than they were “comfortable with,” according to Sherman, who reports that LA wanted Miami to accept one or both of Adrian Gonzalez or Scott Kazmir and absorb $30MM of Stanton’s contract. The Marlins found acquiring Starlin Castro from the Yankees much more appealing, as he’s someone they could slot in at second base or flip elsewhere.
    • The Dodgers’ wariness toward a more aggressive Stanton pursuit stemmed from the back-loaded nature of his 10-year, $295MM commitment, per Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription required and recommended). If he doesn’t opt out of his contract after 2020, Stanton will rake in $96MM over the final three years of his pact, when he’ll be in his late 30s. The Yankees will be able to slot him in at designated hitter then if his work in the field sharply declines with age, whereas the Dodgers would have had to continue running him out as a defender.
    • Adding Stanton gives the Yankees as many as six major league-caliber outfielders, thereby making Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier potential trade candidates. The Yankees will work to rid themselves of Ellsbury, even if it means eating “a lot” of the $68.3MM left on his contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Ellsbury was reportedly uninterested in leaving the Yankees as of earlier this week, but that was before the acquisition of Stanton relegated him to the role of a fifth outfielder. While Ellsbury, who has a full no-trade clause, would be a salary dump, the 23-year-old Frazier would likely bring back a quality return – perhaps a starter, King suggests. Additionally, the Yankees “would certainly listen on offers” for third baseman Chase Headley, per King. Headley is entering the last year of his contract, in which he’ll make $13MM.
    • With new Marlins owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman on a mission to continue paring down payroll to the $90MM range, Castro looks like their most obvious trade chip, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. By parting with Castro – who has two years and $22MM left on his pact – and not taking back another guaranteed contract, Miami would still be about $15MM above its spending goal, Jackson notes. Further payroll slashing could come from deals involving some combination of Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Martin Prado, Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa. Moving Castro, Ozuna, Ziegler and Tazawa would likely obviate any need to trade Yelich, Jackson suggests.
    • Prior to the Yankees’ Stanton acquisition, they looked poised to go after Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper in free agency a year from now. That may be out the window now, leading Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post to posit that the trade probably helps the Nationals to some degree because it appears to erase a would-be Harper suitor. However, several other teams will make big offers to Harper, Janes points out, so retaining him on what should be a record contract still figures to be a tall order for the Nats.
    • Harper is among the losers in this trade, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic opines (subscription required and recommended). Unsurprisingly, Harper’s agent, the always colorful Scott Boras, disagrees. “A Bronx opera . . . The Three Tenors . . . Hal’s genius, vision,” Boras told Rosenthal via email, referencing Harper, Stanton, Aaron Judge and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. Boras added that the Harper-Stanton-Judge trio would be “a galaxy of international popularity” on the same team. While Boras clearly isn’t ruling out a Yankees-Harper union, Rosenthal sees Manny Machado as a more likely target for the club in free agency next year.
    • The fact that Stanton is set to join a Yankees team that was just one win from securing a World Series trip last season is a major blow to parity in the AL, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs argues. Cameron classifies the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox and Indians as potential “super teams” heading into next season, and the Angels could be on their way to the playoffs after winning the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. As impressive as those clubs look, there’s now less incentive for others to play for the last wild-card spot, Cameron contends, which could lead certain fringe teams to rebuild.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/9/17]]> 2017-12-09T21:26:25Z 2017-12-09T21:25:34Z We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves in this post.

    • The Rays have bolstered their bullpen depth by signing right-hander Cody Hall to a minor-league deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The pact includes an invitation to spring training. As Topkin notes, Hall has made major-league relief appearances with the Giants (who originally drafted him in 2011) and the Marlins. He’s only made nine MLB appearances, however, and the results weren’t good; Hall allowed ten earned runs in just 11 1/3 innings. The upside for Hall seems to lie in his strikeout ability; the 29-year-old struck out 33.1% of the batters he faced with the Giants’ Double-A affiliate last season.


    • The Nationals announced that they have signed David Goforth to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training camp. The 29-year-old right-hander was a seventh-round selection of the Brewers in the 2011 draft, with whom he’d spent his entire professional career until now. Though he spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as a starter in the minor leagues, he transitioned into a relief role in 2014 and hasn’t made a start since. Goforth averages about 96MPH on his fastball, but hasn’t been consistent with his command. He’s also struggled to keep the ball in the park at the major league level, as shown by his 1.73 HR/9. However, while the 5’10” reliever’s 5.94 ERA may seem ugly on the surface, his 3.98 xFIP and high fastball velocity paint him as someone with intriguing upside.
    • The Rangers have signed former Braves prospect Yenci Pena for $675K, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Rangers were currently holding one of the largest international bonus pools in baseball, perhaps in part because they were attempting to lure Shohei Ohtani to Texas. However, they’ll now focus those funds elsewhere, and the 17-year-old Pena is how they chose to kick off that spending. The shortstop originally signed with the Braves out of the Dominican Republic for $1.05MM, but hit just .230/.328/.327 in his first taste of pro baseball. However, his 12.8% walk rate helped make him a roughly average offensive player in rookie ball.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Could Have Interest In Jake Arrieta, Gerrit Cole]]> 2017-12-09T07:27:43Z 2017-12-09T06:35:16Z The Nationals are checking over the market for starters, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required). While the team’s potential targets aren’t yet clear, Rosenthal does list two interesting options, both of whom were among the names we floated as hypothetical candidates in our review of the Nats’ offseason outlook. Gerrit Cole of the Pirates could be a name to watch on the trade market, says Rosenthal. And the Nationals are “kicking around” a pursuit of free agent Jake Arrieta, per the report. Certainly, the club’s numerous dealings with Scott Boras make that possible match one to keep an eye on. It’s certainly still possible the Nationals will go in any number of different directions in filling out their rotation, though the report does suggest the team shouldn’t be ruled out for a significant addition.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Sawchik On Nationals' Need For Catching Help]]> 2017-12-04T20:29:20Z 2017-12-04T20:28:26Z
  • The catcher position remains a glaring need for the Nationals, writes Fangraphs’ Travis Sawchik, who opines that the team should aggressively pursue upgrades despite the fact that they’re already widely favored to win the division. The Nats have just one year of Bryce Harper guaranteed to them, and it’s anyone’s guess how long both Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will continue pitching at elite levels. Matt Wieters’ dismal offense and poor framing were all the more apparent in the postseason, Sawchik observes, and that latter deficiency is particularly troublesome in the playoffs. Amid offseason reports that the Nats will be open to dealing Yasmani Grandal, Sawchik argues that he’s the perfect upgrade for the Nats due to his elite framing skills. It’d also be worthwhile to try to pry Tyler Flowers away from the Braves, he suggests, though intra-division trades are often more difficult to negotiate, and there’s been no indication that the Braves would make Flowers available.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Angels Among Teams To Meet With Shohei Ohtani]]> 2017-12-04T05:40:13Z 2017-12-04T05:40:33Z 11:40pm: The Angels are indeed one of the finalists, as per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).

    10:39pm: The Angels are thought by “multiple sources” to be one of the finalists, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets.  The Tigers are out of the running, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

    8:59pm: The Rangers and Cubs will both meet with Ohtani, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link), and they’re also the only two non-West Coast teams who appear to still be alive in the candidate process.  The Rangers, Grant notes, have yet to comment on their status one way or the other.

    7:22pm: The Nationals won’t be receiving a meeting, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports (Twitter link).

    6:58pm: The Braves are out,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).

    6:50pm: The Padres will receive a meeting with Ohtani, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter links).  The Dodgers are also thought to still be active in the Ohtani sweepstakes though Heyman doesn’t have confirmation; regardless, the Dodgers aren’t thought to be favorites to land Ohtani.

    6:38pm: The Rays, Cardinals and White Sox are out, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (all Twitter links).

    6:15pm: The Diamondbacks won’t receive a meeting, Ken Rosenthal tweets.

    6:12pm: The Blue Jays, Pirates, and Brewers are all out, as respectively reported by’s Shi Davidi,’s Adam Berry, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (all Twitter links).

    5:48pm: The Mets are also out, as per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    5:38pm: Ohtani’s list is “heavy” on West Coast teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, though the Cubs may still be involved.  Not every west-based team is included, however, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the A’s aren’t involved.

    5:28pm: The Red Sox are also out of the running, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  The Twins also won’t be getting a meeting with Ohtani, Heyman tweets.

    5:16pm: The Giants and Mariners are among the teams that will receive meetings with Shohei Ohtani and his representatives next week, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  It isn’t known who the other finalists are in the Ohtani sweepstakes, though the Yankees are one of the teams that didn’t make the cut, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including’s Brendan Kuty and’s Bryan Hoch).

    According to Cashman, Ohtani seems to be leaning towards West Coast teams in smaller markets.  This ties to a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman saying that Ohtani’s reps are informing teams that the two-way star would prefer to play in a smaller market.

    The news adds another fascinating layer to the Ohtani sweepstakes, which was already one of the more intriguing free agent pursuits in recent memory.  Given the seeming lack of immediate financial motive that inspired Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball, it opened the door for every team in baseball (regardless of market or payroll size) to make a push for the 23-year-old.  There had been speculation that Ohtani might look to avoid playing in a larger market, so this apparent confirmation creates a realistic possibility that he will land with a team that wouldn’t normally be considered a favorite to land such a coveted free agent.

    Of course, San Francisco isn’t exactly a small market, though Ohtani wouldn’t necessarily be the center of attention on a club with such established stars as Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner (and maybe even Giancarlo Stanton in the near future).  Playing for an NL team, however, would force Ohtani into a pinch-hitting or even a part-time outfield role for the at-bats he seeks in his attempt to be a two-way player in the big leagues.  The Mariners do have such a DH spot available (in a timeshare with Nelson Cruz), and were considered to be a contender for Ohtani given their long history of Japanese players.

    The Yankees also have had several significant Japanese players on their past and current rosters, and were widely seen as one of the major favorites for Ohtani’s services from a financial (in terms of available international bonus money) and positional (openings at DH and in the rotation) standpoint, not to mention their international fame and their young core of talent ready to make a World Series push.  With Ohtani now out of the picture, the Yankees could move to signing more pitching depth — a reunion with C.C. Sabathia has been widely speculated as a possibility — or a veteran bat to serve as designated hitter, if the club doesn’t just rotate its DH days to find plate appearances for everyone on the current roster.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[How The Stanton Trade Talks Impact The Nationals]]> 2017-12-04T05:17:50Z 2017-12-04T05:17:50Z Every team in baseball is monitoring the Giancarlo Stanton trade talks given their importance to the rest of the offseason transaction business, though the Nationals are perhaps watching closer than most,’s Mark Zuckerman writes.  Should Stanton end up with the Dodgers, that would all but eliminate Los Angeles from pursuing Bryce Harper in free agency next offseason.  If the Giants or Cardinals (two teams that probably won’t be prime suitors for Harper next year) land Stanton, that leaves the Nats with another major threat in L.A. to worry about for Harper’s services, to go along with the interest he’s expected to draw from big spenders like the Yankees, Cubs, or Phillies.  Beyond that long-term issue, the Nats obviously also are concerned about the idea of Stanton going from an inter-division threat to a team that could end up facing Washington in the postseason.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Thursday]]> 2017-11-30T20:45:29Z 2017-11-30T20:45:16Z The question of whether Shohei Ohtani can successfully lead a big league rotation and serve as a legitimate member of its offense on a semi-regular basis is one of the most fascinating storylines in recent memory, and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports takes an excellent look at the viability of that scenario. Brown spoke to GM, scouts, coaches and players throughout the league, and though the prevailing opinion was that while it would be difficult and unlikely, there’s also a sentiment that those in the industry are nonetheless rooting for Ohtani to succeed at both.

    Rays righty Chris Archer tells Brown that a successful two-way player would “change our perspective” on the game. Archer and free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth both chatted with Brown about their daily schedules and recovery programs, which Brown uses as a means of illustrating the challenges of Ohtani successfully serving as a starter and a DH/outfielder. Brown also talks with former pitcher/outfielder Rick Ankiel about the summer he spent as a starter and a DH in A-ball. Ankiel suggests that the true question isn’t one of whether Ohtani can physically handle a two-way role but rather one of whether Ohtani can thrive in both areas. “Can he be great at both here?” Ankiel asks rhetorically. “That depends on how good he really is.”

    Some other notes on the game’s most intriguing free-agent-to-be, who should be formally posted by Saturday…

    • The Athletics can only offer $300K to Ohtani after exceeding last year’s allotted international pool, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports a detailed account of their pitch to Ohtani. Oakland is will to not only let Ohtani hit but also play the outfield on occasion, she notes, and their sales pitch also centers around an emerging young core of comparably aged players to Ohtani — led by Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. The A’s hope to be in a new ballpark by 2023, if not sooner and are hoping to sell Ohtani on helping them usher in that new facility as one of the faces of the team. They also highlighted manager Bob Melvin’s relationship with Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui as well as Oakland’s relative proximity to Japan, among many other aspects.
    • Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that the Angels have “earmarked” the $1.315MM they now have in their international pool after today’s trade with the Braves for a pursuit of Ohtani.

    Earlier Updates

    • The Phillies haven’t been mentioned in connection with Ohtani, but’s Todd Zolecki writes that they do plan to take their shot at landing him, even if they’re considered long shots. The Phils have $900K to offer Ohtani in terms of a signing bonus, and new skipper Gabe Kapler spent a season playing in Nippon Professional Baseball, giving him some familiarity with Japanese baseball and culture. Zolecki also notes that former Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, a senior advisor in the front office, enjoyed an excellent six-year career in NPB and is likely a known name for Ohtani, even if Manuel wrapped up his playing career before Ohtani was born. Nonetheless, the Phils will also need to convince Ohtani that their rebuilding club is near contention, and Zolecki further notes that other markets like New York, Los Angeles and Seattle have considerably larger Japanese populations and communities.
    • Pennsylvania’s other MLB club may also be a long shot, but Pirates GM Neal Huntington still spoke optimistically in his team’s ability to make a competitive pitch for Ohtani in a recent appearance with Chris Mueller and Joe Starkey on 93.7 The Fan“We are going to do everything in our power, and hopefully, have him honor us with the ability to get beyond the written presentation, get beyond the initial 30-club presentation and really dig into why it would be an honor for us to have him become a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates,” said Huntington. In terms of potential bonus offer, the Bucs are one of the better-positioned teams, with a bit more than $2.2MM to offer, but Ohtani is widely expected to make far more through endorsements than his initial signing bonus anyhow, so the bonus itself may not be an enormous separator.
    • David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago writes that the Cubs have sent scouts to Japan to watch Ohtani for weeks at a time in the past, and some rivals believe the Cubs to be a serious threat to land him. One exec remarks to Kaplan that president of baseball ops Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have success in setting up support systems for international stars thanks to their acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka with the Red Sox in the 2006-07 offseason. The Cubs are capped at a $300K signing bonus, though again, that doesn’t appear to be as significant a strike against them as it would be in the pursuit of a more traditional free agent.
    • Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals crafted a presentation in English, which international scouting assistant Taisuke Sato then translated to Japanese for Ohtani’s consumption. Janes notes that the Nationals, who are also capped at $300K, cannot compete financially in terms of signing bonus and don’t have previous experience in signing Japanese players under GM Mike Rizzo to demonstrate a proven plan for helping an NPB star transition to the Majors. That said, the team has very recently made a significant investment in its medical staff, boasts a new Spring Training facility and a fairly new ballpark in D.C., and can attempt to sell Ohtani on the allure of joining an immediate contender with an open rotation spot. Janes paints the Nats as long shots but notes that they, like all 30 other clubs, will at least perform their due diligence in attempting to entire Ohtani.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Victor Robles Likely Headed For Triple-A In 2018]]> 2017-11-29T01:52:03Z 2017-11-29T01:52:03Z
  • Nationals top prospect Victor Robles is expected to begin the 2018 season in Triple-A, reports Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. The Nats are as bullish as ever on the highly touted 20-year-old, but they’d prefer that he receive everyday at-bats rather than play in a more limited role to open the year. As it stands, Washington figures to head into the season with Michael Taylor, Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper as its starting outfield and Brian Goodwin on hand as a reserve. Robles already made his MLB debut in 2017, so it stands to reason that in the event of an injury, he’d be under consideration for a promotion and a regular role. And, with Harper potentially departing as a free agent following the 2018 campaign, a long-term spot could be opening for Robles in advance of his age-22 season (2019).
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Tuesday]]> 2017-11-28T22:13:31Z 2017-11-28T22:13:43Z Though Shohei Ohtani has not even yet been officially posted — that’s expected as soon as Friday — the supreme young talent is drawing plenty of attention from MLB organizations. Those clubs received a memorandum over the weekend asking them to provide information to Ohtani and his representatives on a variety of subjects, which is only the beginning of a highly unusual and utterly fascinating recruitment process.

    Here’s the latest:

    • Though Ohtani is limited to a signing bonus and a minor league contract in coming to the Major Leagues, he stands to earn substantially more through marketing endorsements, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Marketing agents have predicted to Nightengale that between endorsements back in Japan and in the United States, Ohtani could command north of $20MM annually. That’d make him MLB’s highest-paid player in terms of off-the-field revenue.
    • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to agent Scott Boras (who was in the running to represent Ohtani before Ohtani signed CAA and Nez Balelo) as well as MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem about Ohtani’s earning capacity. Unsurprisingly, Boras offered sharp criticism of a system that won’t allow Ohtani to top a $3.535MM signing bonus at this point. “He is precocious, greatness cast adrift, forced into the MLB lifeboat,” said the always colorful Boras. “And his admission is handcuffs that prevent him from getting at least what his older, lesser valued peers received—in Tanaka’s case, more than $150 million.” Halem, as one would expect, wholly disagreed with Boras’ notions, pointing out that it was Ohtani who passed on the chance to sign with MLB clubs as an amateur out of high school, which could have jump-started his earning potential. And, it was Ohtani who asked to be posted as an amateur just two years before he could have been posted as a professional. The free column has quite a few quotes from both Boras and Halem on the matter and is well worth a full look.

    Earlier Updates

    Read more

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nationals Likelier To Make Big Pitching Move Next Offseason]]> 2017-11-27T04:49:01Z 2017-11-27T04:49:01Z
  • A case could be made that the Nationals should pursue a top-tier starting pitcher rather than just rotation depth this winter, though as the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes outlines, the team could be gearing up for a bigger pitching addition next winter.  The Nats will have over $50MM in salary coming off the books after the 2018 season, which could allow the club to sign or trade for a notable arm.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nationals Not Expected To Re-Sign Jayson Werth]]> 2017-11-27T02:28:28Z 2017-11-27T02:28:28Z The Nationals don’t have Jayson Werth in their plans for next season, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reported earlier this week, “barring an unexpected development.”  There had been some rumors that Werth could return to the team on a one-year deal for 2018, a scenario that GM Mike Rizzo “wouldn’t close the door on” in a recent interview, though it seems as though the team is ready to move on.

    Werth was limited to just 70 games last season, perhaps emblematic of his overall injury-plagued tenure in Washington.  The outfielder played in 808 out of 1134 games over his seven seasons in D.C., missing the equivalent of over two full seasons of action due to a variety of maladies.  Despite the injuries and the criticism that often followed Werth in the wake of his seven-year, $126MM free agent deal with the club, Werth was an overall valuable asset when he did play, batting .263/.355/.433 with 109 homers in a Nationals uniform.  As Castillo notes, Werth also provided a big boost off the field; Werth’s signing was seen as a pivotal moment in Nationals history as the club began to shape into a contender, and Werth brought a hugely-respected veteran presence into a young clubhouse.

    The Nats will use Adam Eaton in Werth’s old left field position, with Michael Taylor becoming the regular center fielder and Bryce Harper holding down right field.  Brian Goodwin, Andrew Stevenson, and top prospect Victor Robles all represent additional outfield depth for Washington, and if the team did decide to bring in another veteran outfielder, it would likely be a player with more positional versatility than Werth can provide.

    It remains to be seen what kind of market will develop for Werth, 38, as he prepares for his 16th big league season.  It should be noted that Werth hit .262/.367/.446 with eight homers over 196 plate appearances prior to suffering a bone bruise and fracture in his left foot in June, and he was likely still bothered by that injury after returning from the DL, given how his numbers fell off down the stretch.  Werth could best stay healthy and productive by joining an American League team that can offer DH at-bats, though he joins a long list of DH/first base/corner outfield types on the free agent and trade markets this winter.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals Have Interest In Jordan Zimmermann]]> 2017-11-25T21:55:49Z 2017-11-25T21:55:49Z
  • The Nationals are interested in reuniting with righty Jordan Zimmermann, but the Tigers would unsurprisingly have to eat some of his contract, according to Cafardo. Zimmermann was at his best with the Nats from 2011-15, but he has experienced a sharp decline since signing a five-year, $110MM pact with Detroit entering the 2016 campaign. The 31-year-old has pitched to an ugly 5.60 ERA in 265 1/3 innings as a Tiger and is owed an unpalatable $74MM over the next three seasons.

    • The Nationals are interested in reuniting with righty Jordan Zimmermann, but the Tigers would unsurprisingly have to eat some of his contract, according to Cafardo. Zimmermann was at his best with the Nats from 2011-15, but he has experienced a sharp decline since signing a five-year, $110MM pact with Detroit entering the 2016 campaign. The 31-year-old has pitched to an ugly 5.60 ERA in 265 1/3 innings as a Tiger and is owed an unpalatable $74MM over the next three seasons.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reunion With Adam Lind Unlikely For Nats?]]> 2017-11-23T01:37:17Z 2017-11-23T01:19:11Z
  • In his latest Nationals Inbox piece,’s Jamal Collier writes that he doesn’t foresee a reunion between the Nats and first baseman Adam Lind this offseason. Washington’s decision to turn down their half of a $5MM mutual option suggests that they’re not willing to pay him at a rate he may very well be able to find elsewhere on the open market. The Nats will likely utilize Brian Goodwin as a fourth outfielder in 2018, Collier notes, but Lind’s absence will make finding a backup first baseman/corner bat off the bench a priority this winter.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Janes On Mike Rizzo's Contract Situation]]> 2017-11-21T15:55:47Z 2017-11-21T14:33:00Z
  • While the Nationals front office has long been helmed by Mike Rizzo, his future with the organization is not assured at present. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes that Rizzo and ownership have yet to discuss a new deal. And the veteran executive says he isn’t going to be the one to kick off talks, saying he’ll “allow [ownership] to talk to me if they choose to” and noting that he’s comfortable entering the offseason without a long-term contract. Janes tackles some of the many facets to the situation in the post, which is worth a full read.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Added To The 40-Man Roster]]> 2017-11-21T01:48:28Z 2017-11-21T00:47:42Z As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…

    Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …

    Read more

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nationals Not Close To Stadium Naming Rights Deal]]> 2017-11-20T14:47:31Z 2017-11-20T05:58:28Z
  • After almost two years of trying, the Nationals aren’t close to selling the naming rights to Nationals Park, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports.  If the Nats can eventually find a deal, it would create a short-term revenue bump for a club that has extensive short-term financial commitments and doesn’t seem any closer to resolving their ongoing TV rights dispute with the Orioles.  (Janes also provides an update on the latest development between the Nats and O’s in that court case.)
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Coach/Manager Notes: Ausmus, Blanco, Gott]]> 2017-11-18T16:15:08Z 2017-11-18T15:58:19Z Katie Strang of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) had a phone Q&A with Brad Ausmus. The former Tigers skipper explains his rationale in taking a year off from the field. Among his reasons for a hiatus is the ability to be more involved in his daughters’ lives. Ausmus also mentioned that the Red Sox managerial opening he interviewed for would have been a perfect fit due to a house up in Cape Cod and an emotional connection to the franchise, so he would have accepted the job in Boston. He was unwilling to comment on his interviews with other franchises, including the Mets. When asked about his time with the Tigers, Ausmus mentioned that he has no hard feelings about the way his tenure in Detroit ended, adding an anecdote about his disappointment that the Tigers didn’t win it all. “The only thing that bothered me the most is that we didn’t win,” Ausmus tells Strang. “We didn’t win a championship. That’s the only thing that stung.” The piece gives great insight into Ausmus’ experience and emotions.

    Other notes about coaches around baseball…

    • The Nationals’ hire of Henry Blanco as their new bullpen coach finalized their coaching staff for 2018. Blanco will leave his position as the quality assurance coach with the Cubs to join the Nats organization. Being that Washington’s new skipper Dave Martinez will also be coming over from the Cubs, the prior relationship between the two is a definite plus, as’s Jamal Collier notes in the above link.
    • The Phillies have announced that Jim Gott will fill their bullpen coach opening. As Todd Zolecki of notes, the 58-year-old Gott served as the pitching coach for the Angels from 2010-2012, and has spent the past five seasons as the Angels’ minor league pitching coordinator. Gott pitched in the major leagues from 1982-1995 and had a lifetime 3.87 ERA, notching 837 strikeouts against 466 walks.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals Name Dave Martinez Manager]]> 2017-11-20T16:28:11Z 2017-11-18T14:35:27Z NOV. 18: Martinez will make $2.8MM over the next three years. His 2021 option is valued at $1.2MM, giving his contract a maximum of $4MM over four years, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports via Twitter.

    OCT. 30: The Nationals have formally announced the signing of Martinez to a three-year deal with a team option for the 2021 season.

    “We are delighted to bring Dave aboard and excited about what he will bring to our clubhouse and our dugout,” said owner Ted Lerner in a statement announcing the hire. “We have been very clear about our goals as an organization and we feel confident we’ve found the right man to help us reach them.”

    GM Mike Rizzo also offered a statement on his new skipper: “I am excited to bring Dave into our family. As we went through this process it became clear the type of manager we were looking for — someone who is progressive, someone who can connect with and communicate well with our players, and someone who embraces the analytical side of the game. We came away from the process feeling like there was absolutely no one better suited — who matched up to what this organization needs right now — than Dave.”

    OCT. 29, 10:16am: A contract is now in place, Janes tweets. It’s a three-year deal with an option for 2021.

    10:14am: Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post confirms that Martinez is the choice, though she reports that he and the team haven’t finished negotiating a deal yet (Twitter link). Notably, the Nationals hired Baker after negotiations with Bud Black fell through. Black looked like a lock to land the job at one point, which is obviously the case with Martinez now.

    9:14am: The Nationals will hire Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez as their manager, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports. The Nats will make an official announcement after the World Series, Heyman adds.

    Dave Martinez

    After the firing of Dusty Baker on Oct. 20, the 53-year-old Martinez quickly emerged as the overwhelming favorite to take over in Washington, which chose him over fellow interviewee John Farrell. The Nationals also showed interest in Alex Cora, whom Boston selected as its manager, and Mets hitting coach Kevin Long. Washington received permission to interview Long, but it’s unclear whether the two actually met.

    Martinez was a major league outfielder from 1986-2001 who also brings plenty of experience in the dugout. He served as manager Joe Maddon’s right-hand man in Tampa Bay (2008-14) and Chicago (2015-17), and drew managerial interest from multiple teams in recent offseasons. In fact, the Nationals nearly hired Martinez in 2013 prior to tabbing Matt Williams, who lasted two years before giving way to Baker.

    Baker’s own two-year era was a resounding success during the regular season, as Washington piled up 192 wins and back-to-back National League East titles, but the club’s playoff struggles led to his ouster. The Baker-led Nationals were unable to get past Martinez’s Cubs in the National League Division Series this year, leading general manager Mike Rizzo to declare that “winning a lot of regular season games and winning divisions is not enough.”

    Given the talent on hand, the Martinez-guided Nationals figure to once again end up as one of the majors’ premier teams in 2018. The Nationals’ collection of quality players surely made their managerial vacancy appealing to Martinez and others, but the job does come with drawbacks. The position doesn’t seem to feature much stability, for one, nor is Washington regarded as a franchise willing to spend much on a manager. Further, the Nationals could lose two of their best players – right fielder Bryce Harper and second baseman Daniel Murphy – to free agency in a year.

    With Harper and Murphy in the fold for at least another season, the Nats will turn to a neophyte manager to win over a clubhouse that’s reportedly “upset” with Baker’s exit. Martinez has long been a well-regarded assistant, though, and both his openness to analytics and Spanish-speaking ability should serve him well in his new role.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[East Notes: O’s/Cobb, Mets, Nats, Jays, Rays]]> 2017-11-18T05:19:33Z 2017-11-18T05:19:33Z The Orioles seem to be casting a wide net in their hunt for starting pitching, as they have been cited as having interest in quite a few arms already. While the organization has become known for doing a good portion of its business later in the offseason, perhaps it’ll be more aggressive on some pitchers this time around. In any event, the latest name connected to the O’s is righty Alex Cobb, with Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeting that the team has interest in a hurler who long tormented them in the division. Cobb won’t come cheap, but could be an option if Baltimore decides it’s able to add a more significant contract. The primary goal, though, will be to ensure there’s enough depth on hand in the rotation.

    More from the eastern divisions:

    • The Mets are the current poster child for the concept that you can never have enough pitching depth. Even on the heels of a tough season in which the club’s vaunted rotation collapsed, though, GM Sandy Alderson says he’ll consider dealing arms, as Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. While there’s still a need to “be careful” not to thin the staff out too far, Alderson is obviously also looking for ways to improve with a limited amount of payroll flexibility. Odds are that the team’s most prominent pitchers won’t be dangled, but Puma suggests Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, or Rafael Montero might conceivably be discussed.
    • While there’s nothing the Nationals can do to get out from under their 2018 commitment to Matt Wieters, the team will look for ways to improve behind the plate. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes that the plan is to reduce the veteran’s role. Of course, that would mean relying more heavily on another player, and the team’s top internal alternatives (Pedro Severino and Raudy Read) are hardly sure things. An external acquisition will surely at least be considered; I ran through some other possibilities after the Nats were bounced from the postseason.
    • The Blue Jays are aiming for depth in their pitching staff, Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. Lefty Robbie Ross is among the arms they are interested in, he reports. Certainly, Toronto has had a chance to see Ross up close over the past several years, which he has spent with the Red Sox. He was limited by injury in 2017 but turned in 55 1/3 innings of 3.25 ERA pitching in the prior campaign. Toronto isn’t limiting itself to lefty relievers, though; Nicholson-Smith says the club is looking at basically every type of hurler out there.
    • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the latest on the Rays’ efforts to land a new ballpark. Owner Stuart Sternberg expressed optimism about a prospective site in Hillsborough County, but there are plenty of challenges still to be dealt with. Among them: the club “might only cover $150 million of the projected $800 million cost,” Topkin writes. Those interested in learning more about where things stand will want to give the link a full read.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Washington Nationals]]> 2017-11-17T21:10:45Z 2017-11-17T21:10:45Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here for the other entries in this series.

    The Nationals organization isn’t hiding the disappointment after another NLDS washout. Neither is it making any secret of its expectation of a World Series run in 2018. But what’ll it take to get there?

    Guaranteed Contracts

    • Max Scherzer, SP: $165MM through 2021 (2019-21 salaries deferred, without interest, through 2028)
    • Stephen Strasburg, SP: $150MM through 2023 ($70MM deferred, without interest, through 2030)
    • Ryan Zimmerman, 1B: $36MM through 2019 (includes $2MM buyout of 2020 club option)
    • Bryce Harper, OF: $21.625MM through 2018
    • Adam Eaton, OF: $15.9MM through 2019 (includes $1.5MM buyout of 2020 club option; contract also has 2021 club option)
    • Gio Gonzalez, SP: $12MM through 2018
    • Daniel Murphy, 2B: $17.5MM through 2018 ($5.5MM deferred, without interest, through 2020)
    • Matt Wieters, C: $10.5MM through 2018 ($5MM deferred, without interest, through 2021)
    • Ryan Madson, RP: $7.5MM through 2018
    • Shawn Kelley, RP: $5.5MM through 2018
    • Sean Doolittle, RP: $4.85MM through 2018 (includes $500K buyout of 2019 club option; contract also has 2020 club option)

    Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

    Free Agents

    [Washington Nationals Depth Chart | Washington Nationals Payroll Outlook]

    On paper, this is a fairly simple offseason for president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo and his staff. The Nats will return all of the core of a team that coasted to a second-consecutive NL East crown. Unfortunately, though, the postseason heartbreak now hangs over the organization more than ever before. Perhaps as much as anything else, a sense that something had to change is what led to the decision to part ways with manager Dusty Baker.

    The overarching question for the winter, then, is whether the organization will find it necessary to seek significant improvement to the roster that will be turned over to new skipper Dave Martinez. The Nationals may not have many glaring needs on paper, but that doesn’t mean there won’t opportunities for major acquisitions.

    If there is a key area to improve, though, it’s probably behind the plate. The Nationals whiffed on their signing of Matt Wieters, who not only failed to bounce back offensively but sank to a personal-worst .225/.288/.344 batting line in 2017. The hope has been that Pedro Severino would force his way into the major-league picture, but he managed only a .242/.291/.332 slash of his own at Triple-A. Raudy Read provides another option but hardly seems to be a sure thing at this stage.

    While Wieters is said to be viewed as an asset to the pitching staff, and there’s still cause for hope from the youngsters, it’s the one spot that’s crying out for improvement on this roster. As I explored earlier in the offseason, there are some possible options out there, with J.T. Realmuto of the Marlins representing an ideal (but likely hard-to-obtain) target and a few open-market veterans also worth considering. Even if the team has to commit multiple years to draw a free agent, such a player could be a part of the future solution when Wieters departs. While Wieters is going to be an important member of the team for 2018, it seems critical that the Nats reduce his role and find production from a second catcher.

    There’s far less urgency elsewhere in the lineup. The Nats are locked in around the horn, with Ryan Zimmerman (first), Daniel Murphy (second), Anthony Rendon (third), and Trea Turner (shortstop) making up an enviable unit. And in the outfield, the club can flank breakout performer Michael Taylor with Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton. There are bench options on hand as well, with the left-handed-hitting Brian Goodwin representing a potentially solid platoon option to pair with Taylor and Wilmer Difo providing infield versatility. With top prospect Victor Robles impressing enough in his brief debut that he made the postseason roster, and Juan Soto also climbing the ladder, the Nats also have future outfield pieces on hand — with Robles giving the team a high-upside, potential early or mid-season call-up. Adding two veteran bench pieces — perhaps a lefty slugger type to replace Adam Lind and a righty swinger capable of playing the corner outfield (perhaps even Jayson Werth) — would round things out without much fuss.

    Of course, when you’re aiming to win it all, you have to look for every opportunity to get better. In this case, it’s arguable that the Nats could stand to do more in the outfield. Taylor and Goodwin have each been top prospects in the past. But the pair overperformed expectations when thrown into surprisingly significant roles due to injury. In Taylor’s case, he rode a .363 BABIP to a .271/.320/.486 batting line; with his excellent speed and glovework mixed in, he topped 3 fWAR. He also struck out over 30% of the time; while his speed makes a higher BABIP more believable, there’s likely some regression coming. Goodwin, meanwhile, launched 13 homers and posted a .247 isolated slugging mark over 278 plate appearances — the kind of power output he has never sustained in the minors. While there has long been a hope he’d eventually tap into his nascent upside, he too is far from a sure thing.

    There’s an argument, then, for the Nationals to go after a significant new bat in the outfield — especially if the organization comes to believe it likely won’t have a shot at retaining Harper past 2018. Really, it’s possible to imagine any number of possibilities, particularly since the club felt comfortable utilizing Eaton in center field to open the 2017 season (though he has long been viewed as a much better option in the corner). Were such a move to be made, the Nats could go on to flip Taylor and/or Goodwin — each of whom comes with affordable control — to bolster the pitching staff, or simply hold onto them for depth and flexibility. Alternatively, or additionally, the Nationals could spend more money than they need to on a bench piece. The club once made a luxury signing of Nate McLouth (not that it worked out well) and might do something similar — say, with Howie Kendrick, who was a quality contributor in D.C. down the stretch.

    Of course, it’s also possible that a bigger move could be swung in the pitching staff. Given the presence of Robles and the possibility (however slight) of trying to get a deal done with Harper, this is likely the safer bet. The Nats stunned many when they added Max Scherzer to a rotation that was fronted by Stephen Strasburg, but that move has worked out better than anyone could have hoped. With those two joined by Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark, four of the five slots are taken, but the other is entirely unclaimed. Joe Ross underwent Tommy John surgery in July. A.J. Cole, Erick Fedde, and Austin Voth provide alternatives, but it’s unlikely that any of that trio will be entrusted with a rotation spot after tepid 2017 campaigns.

    On the relief side, the Nationals are no doubt glad that the late-inning mix isn’t in doubt with Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson returning. But Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley are question marks, lefties Sammy Solis and Enny Romero were far from dominant, and the team is losing the steady contributions of Matt Albers and (upon his mid-season arrival) Brandon Kintzler. While younger pitchers (including some mentioned above) provide options, none have earned anything approaching a presumption of a roster spot.

    There’s not a huge amount of urgency on the mound, particularly given the general state of disrepair that envelops much of the rest of the NL East. Perhaps the wiser course will prove to be one of largely waiting and observing, with an eye on dedicating resources to fill the most pressing needs once they are known at next year’s trade deadline. Early signals are that’s where the organization is leaning, though it wouldn’t likely tip its hand anyway.

    There surely are plenty of potential pieces that could fill the holes without making any major commitments. The Nats previously have signed short-term veterans to shore up the rotation (Edwin Jackson, Dan Haren) and bullpen (Brad Lidge, Joe Blanton), and might look to do something similar. There’s no true analogue to E-Jax and Haren on this year’s market, though Jaime Garcia shares many of the attributes they carried when they signed. Pitchers such as old friend Doug Fister and grizzled competitor John Lackey could make sense if the team looks to fill out the rotation with a seasoned hand; CC Sabathia is also out there, though he’ll likely cost more. There are many cheaper, less-certain options in free agency. The Nats also might pounce if a team like the Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin), Astros (Colin McHugh, Mike Fiers), or Rays (Jake Odorizzi) decide to shuffle the deck a bit. In the pen, the Nats seem likelier to focus on the right side. Re-signing Kintzler certainly makes sense on paper. Albers could be brought back, too. And there are a wide variety of hurlers in the broad range between those two pitchers that will likely sign for fairly manageable guarantees.

    But those are mostly gap-filling measures, and we have to at least consider the possibility of something more. There will be opportunities to get even better from the jump, many of which simply won’t be there over the summer. It would be a bit of a stunner were the Nats to add a third top-rate pitching salary to their books, but pursuits of Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, or other top hurlers can’t be entirely ruled out — that is, so long as the Nats are willing to blow past the luxury tax line. Even in the ’pen, it’s not inconceivable that the Nationals could put in a bid on Wade Davis in hopes of fielding a dominant late-inning trio.

    Rizzo has also swung quite a few high-value trades over the years. The Nats do have some outfield talent to play around with if they go hunting for a controllable starter or reliever. Sean Manaea of the Athletics is an appealing target — the Nationals and Athletics are frequent trade partners and this could be something of a reprisal of the Gio swap — though it is far from clear whether there’s a match there; Kendall Graveman might be a more realistic (but less enticing) fit. Rizzo has also done business with the Pirates, who could have some arms to spare and would draw a crowd if they market Gerrit Cole. The Nats would certainly have to weigh a run at Chris Archer if he’s made available, though he’d have a swarm of auction participants and may well not be put on the block at all.

    Tampa Bay is likely more willing to part with closer Alex Colome, a power pitcher whose price tag won’t be as lofty as it was last winter after a less-than-great 2017 season. Similarly, Kelvin Herrera of the Royals might be had after his own down year; as a pending free agent, he won’t cost as much in future value. Brad Hand of the Padres ought to be available, but competition will be steep. Raisel Iglesias of the Reds is probably the most appealing reliever that could be available, though he’ll need to be pried out of Cincinnati. Iglesias, notably, is the type of pitcher that could function as the multi-inning relief piece that the Nationals don’t have. Danny Salazar could be another, and he’s a fascinating trade chip for the Indians — though that contending organization may well prefer to keep trying to unlock his upside itself.

    Ultimately, those are just a lot of names that could conceivably pique the Nats’ interest. None seem particularly likely to end up moving to D.C. (or, in many cases, moving at all). But the variety of options out there shows that there are quite a few avenues for Rizzo to pursue; it would hardly be shocking for the Nationals to line up on one of these hurlers (if not some other, yet more surprising pitcher).

    Another key topic for the winter centers on existing Nationals players. There’ll be at least some effort to explore a new contract with Harper. It’s conceivable the team could chat about things with Murphy, who’ll also be a free agent, though that seems less likely. The under-hyped Rendon is also clearly a candidate for a multi-year pact, though, which might offer a nice opportunity to realize some real value. There’s no urgency, but perhaps it’s not too soon to think about approaching Trea Turner with a deal that could lock in some earnings and deliver tons of upside to the team.

    There’s also one other key extension candidate to account for: Rizzo himself. The team previously picked up his option for the 2018 season, but he’s not under contract beyond. Whether and when that’ll be sorted out remains to be seen — indications are that ownership would like to continue the relationship — but it seems the club would do well to ensure it retains an executive that has delivered an extended run of success while leaving the club well-situated for the future. Of course, there’s still that pesky matter of the postseason failings. It’s tough to pin dropping tightly-contested postseason series on an executive who has compiled talent capable of winning so many games. But the same general reasoning arguably held true of Baker to an extent. Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether the Lerner family extend its commitment to Rizzo before it sees how things play out in a 2018 season that could shape the future of the organization.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals Notes: Harper, Rendon, Bullpen]]> 2017-11-16T05:34:14Z 2017-11-16T05:34:14Z
  • With both Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle under team control next season, the Nationals are less inclined to pursue top-tier free agent relievers, Janes writes in a second piece. Rizzo expressed confidence in that duo and offered a generally encouraging review of his relief corps overall, health permitting. Injury concerns are present, though, as Janes notes; both Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley were heavily limited by arm troubles in 2017. As such Rizzo indicated that it’s possible his team will pursue some right-handed bullpen help this offseason. Janes runs down several options that Nats fans will want to check out, and she also notes that Matt Albers may ultimately end up elsewhere as he cashes in on a career year.
  • The Nationals have yet to hold any extension discussions with stars Bryce Harper or Anthony Rendon, agent Scott Boras told reporters at the GM Meetings on Wednesday (via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post). Asked whether there’d be any talk about a deal for Harper before he reaches free agency next winter, Boras suggested that the matter is presently up to the Nationals. GM Mike Rizzo told the New York Post’s Joel Sherman yesterday that he’d be “surprised” if there were no extension talks with Harper this winter, though as Janes points out, those types of negotiations typically occur later in the offseason.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer Win Cy Young Awards]]> 2017-11-16T00:20:25Z 2017-11-15T23:54:18Z Indians ace Corey Kluber and Nationals ace Max Scherzer have been named the Cy Young Award winners in their respective leagues, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced tonight. Scherzer has now won back-to-back Cy Young Awards and three total in his career after receiving 27 of the 30 first-place votes. (Clayton Kershaw received the other three first-place votes.) It’s the second AL Cy Young nod for Kluber, who won in even more convincing fashion with 28 of 30 first-place votes. (Chris Sale received the other two first-place votes in the AL.)

    Corey Kluber | Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Kluber, who also took home the award back in 2014, rode a blistering hot finish to his second career Cy Young honor. The 31-year-old missed nearly all of May after going on the DL early that month with a lower back strain. At the time of Kluber’s DL placement, he carried a 5.06 ERA through his first six appearances on the season.

    The Kluber of old resurfaced upon returning from injury, though. In his first appearance upon activation, Kluber fired six innings of shutout ball with two hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts. From that point forth, he went on an otherworldly hot streak, pitching to an immaculate 1.62 ERA with a 224-to-23 K/BB ratio that looked more like something one would see in MLB: The Show than in real life. All told, Kluber wrapped up his season with an AL-best 2.25 ERA through 203 2/3 innings. Kluber also led the American League in complete games (five), shutouts (three) and walks per nine innings (1.6) while averaging 10.3 punchouts per nine frames as well.

    Sale took not only the other two first-place votes but 28 second-place votes, meaning that he and Kluber were first or second on all 30 ballots. Luis Severino finished a distant third place, while Carlos Carrasco, Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel, Ervin Santana and Marcus Stroman rounded out the ballot.

    Max Scherzer | Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

    As for Scherzer, the 33-year-old topped 200 innings for the fifth consecutive season and led the National League in strikeouts for the second consecutive year. His gaudy 2.51 ERA and 12.0 K/9 rates were both career-bests, and he’s now made at least 30 starts in the past nine seasons after taking the hill 31 times this season.

    Unlike Kluber, Scherzer was dominant from day one in 2017. Remarkably, there was only one point throughout the entire season where Scherzer’s ERA crept above 3.00; on May 20, he yielded three runs in five innings to bump his ERA to 3.02. From that point forward, Scherzer was virtually unhittable, posting a 2.30 ERA over his final 141 innings and at one point whiffing at least 10 hitters in six straight outings.

    Kershaw received 25 of the 30 second-place votes, while Zack Greinke and Scherzer’s teammate, Stephen Strasburg, each took home a second-place vote as well. Strasburg wound up finishing in third place, with Greinke taking fourth and Kenley Jansen landing fifth overall in the balloting. Yet another Nats starter Gio Gonzalez, came in sixth place overall, giving the Nats three of the top six in the NL. Robbie Ray, Jacob deGrom, Jimmy Nelson and Alex Wood each collected an odd fourth- or fifth-place vote here and there, rounding out the ballot in that order.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rizzo: Nats Expect To Discuss Harper Extension Before Free Agency]]> 2017-11-15T02:52:13Z 2017-11-15T02:52:13Z The Nationals only control Bryce Harper for one more season, but GM Mike Rizzo tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he would be “surprised” if the two sides don’t discuss an extension prior to Harper reaching the open market. “I feel like I have a great relationship with Bryce and his family since he was 16,” said Rizzo of Harper, whom the Nationals selected with the No. 1 overall pick back in 2010. “…I think Bryce has comfort with [Washington], loves his teammates, likes our organization and has a loyal mentality. But this is a unique player in a unique situation.” Rizzo adds that there’s no set time for extension talks to begin, but Sherman notes that the Nats were able to secure a seven-year extension with fellow Scott Boras client and fellow former No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg less than one year before Strasburg was set to hit the open market. Any talks with Harper would likely be precedent-setting; there’s been plenty of speculation that he’ll ink a contract in excess of $400MM, which would of course shatter Giancarlo Stanton’s record-setting $325MM deal.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals Re-Sign Ryan Raburn To Minor League Deal]]> 2017-11-15T01:17:47Z 2017-11-15T01:17:47Z
  • The Nationals have re-signed veteran outfielder Ryan Raburn to a minor league pact, as first mentioned by Tyler Poitras on Twitter. Set to turn 37 next April, the right-handed-hitting Raburn has long been a thorn in the side of left-handed pitching with a lifetime .259/.338/.480 batting line when holding the platoon advantage. Raburn logged just 69 plate appearances with the Nats in ’17 due in part to a strained trapezius muscle, posting a .262/.304/.431 triple slash with a pair of homers in that short sample.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rizzo On Nationals' Offseason Plans]]> 2017-11-14T05:19:16Z 2017-11-14T04:14:13Z
  • Nationals president of baseball ops Mike Rizzo downplayed the possibility of the organization landing a top-flight starter, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. He did, however, say that depth in the rotation and the pen were on his offseason wish list. It’s interesting to hear that Rizzo isn’t keen (at least publicly) to pursue more significant additions to the pitching staff. After all, the lineup is also mostly set; on the whole, the ballclub has few holes in terms of its major contributors (with catcher arguably representing a major exception). But with a mandate to pursue an elusive, deep playoff run, that has left some wondering where the team will look to improve. Perhaps building out a strong supporting cast will be the focus; then again, it could be that larger moves could be pursued in a stealthier manner.
  • Rizzo said he wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Nationals would retain Jayson Werth, as Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. “We haven’t really discussed that or gone down that road yet,” said Rizzo, “but I wouldn’t close the door on it.” He did note that such a move would “have to fit into what we want to do,” likely hinting at a much-reduced role for the veteran. In honesty, it’s somewhat difficult to see just how Werth would fit in with the team’s current alignment, though perhaps it’s possible he’d mostly work as a bench bat and depth option.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Poll: Which Of These Prospects Is Most Likely To Be Traded?]]> 2017-11-12T02:35:31Z 2017-11-11T22:22:57Z During the offseason, rumors about major league players dominate the headlines. Fans and analysts alike discuss potential landing spots for major league free agents and trade candidates. With so much of the focus on big name MLB players, the subject of which top prospects could change hands falls into the background.

    The players below are some of the most valuable trade assets in the game who have not yet lost their rookie eligibility. MLB Pipeline considers each of them to be among the top 25 prospects in baseball. They all play for teams that are firmly in “win now mode”. Indeed, all five of them belong to teams that finished with a top four record in baseball last season. It’s safe to say that, were they to dangle their respective prospects as trade bait, each of those teams could fill nearly any need on their big league roster.

    Victor Robles, OF (No. 2 Overall Prospect): Nationals

    The Nationals signed Victor Robles out of the Dominican Republic at age 16, and he’s met little resistance throughout his development. The Nats promoted him to the majors for the first time in September of 2017; he even made the club’s NLDS roster. In his 24 regular season at-bats, Robles managed six hits, including three for extra bases. The Nationals are in need of another starting pitcher, and the 20-year-old outfielder could easily bring back an elite arm. Washington’s outfield picture for 2018 seems reasonably clear, with Adam Eaton, Michael Taylor and Bryce Harper all under contract and Brian Goodwin as a solid fourth outfielder option. However, Robles is practically major league-ready right now, so it might not make much sense to trade him when he could easily contribute this season. eIt’s especially important to note that Eaton, Taylor and Harper all dealt with injuries last season. With that in mind, the Nationals might prefer to deal their second-best prospect, outfielder Juan Soto, instead.

    Kyle Tucker, OF (No. 7 Overall Prospect): Astros

    Houston took Tucker out of H.B. Plant High School in Tampa, FL with the fifth pick in the 2015 draft. The young outfielder proceeded to rocket through the club’s minor-league system, reaching the Double-A level midway through 2017. Tucker’s hit tool is one of the best among minor-leaguers, but the Astros already have other left-handed outfield options at the major league level. Josh Reddick and Derek Fisher both bat primarily from the left side, while George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Marisnick figure to be ahead of Tucker on the depth chart heading into 2018 as well. That’s not to say that Tucker isn’t more talented than those players, but it seems like a lot would have to happen for him to stumble into significant playing time next season. On the other hand, the Astros don’t have a clear hole on the major league roster outside of the bullpen, and Tucker is far too valuable to trade for a reliever. The organization has also reportedly been stingy about trading any of their top prospects lately, so perhaps it’s unlikely we’ll see him moved.

    Francisco Mejia, C (No. 13 Overall Prospect): Indians

    Mejia’s development has been a somewhat slow process; the Indians signed him out of the Dominican Republic all the way back in 2012. However, he’s vaulted up prospect lists after incredible success across the past two seasons, including a 50-game hit streak during the 2016 campaign. The best catching prospect in baseball is only 21 and has an elite hit tool from both sides of the plate. Cleveland decided to give him a bit of seasoning at the major league level this past September, which seems to imply that they think he could be close to MLB-ready. The Indians already have catchers Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez under contract for the foreseeable future, so Mejia could be a good candidate to be exchanged for help at first base if Carlos Santana signs elsewhere. But the Indians are also testing Mejia out at third base in the Arizona Fall League, a position he could more easily claim on the Tribe’s roster at some point in 2018.

    Triston McKenzie, RHP (No. 20 Overall Prospect): Indians

    After McKenzie struck out 157 batters in 91 innings during his senior year in high school, Cleveland selected the right-hander in Competitive Balance Round A of the 2015 draft. The lanky 20-year-old stands at 6’5″ and throws his fastball in the low 90s, though most scouts believe he could pick up even more velocity as he grows stronger. McKenzie struck out double-digit batters in six different games at the High-A level in 2017, including a 14-strikeout effort on May 9th. Overall, the Royal Palm Beach High School product pitched to a 3.45 ERA (and a 2.67 FIP) while punching out 11.71 batters per nine innings. With the Tribe’s window of contention seemingly at its peak, and McKenzie highly unlikely to reach the majors in 2018, the righty could potentially end up being an excellent trade chip. Even if the young righty were MLB-ready, the Indians already have a stacked rotation that will include Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and two of Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger. McKenzie could be dangled for help at first base (should Santana depart), or elite bullpen help such as Brad Hand or Felipe Rivero.

    Alex Verdugo, OF (No. 23 Overall Prospect): Dodgers

    The Dodgers took Verdugo in the second round of the 2014 draft, and the left-handed outfielder has done well at every level of the minors. His power isn’t prolific and his speed is average, but his hit tool is excellent. Verdugo is patient at the plate and is great at hitting to the opposite field. While fellow Dodgers prospect Walker Buehler is excluded from this list due to his proximity to the majors and a fairly clear opening in LA’s rotation, Verdugo could be more of a luxury than a vital asset. Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig are set to man center field and right field, respectively, and it’s unclear whether the Dodgers are ready or willing to give up on Joc Pederson yet, especially following a strong postseason performance. Verdugo could potentially be used to land a strong second baseman. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he could be used to acquire a more proven outfielder, either. Still, the Dodgers have four other top 100 prospects outside of Buehler and Verdugo. Even if they attempt to make a blockbuster trade during the offseason, they might prefer to move someone a bit further away from the majors.

    What do you think? Which of these top 25 prospects is most likely to be with another organization by the time spring training rolls around? (Poll link for app users)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals Hope To Retain Brandon Kintzler]]> 2017-11-10T22:29:49Z 2017-11-10T22:29:15Z
  • The Twins have already reached out to right-hander Brandon Kintzler about a possible reunion this winter, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota is one of a “handful” of teams to show early interest in the 33-year-old Kintzler, per Berardino, who also notes that the Nationals have interest in retaining the sinkerball specialist. Kintzler has turned in an ERA just over 3.00 in the past two seasons despite averaging scarcely better than five strikeouts per nine innings, thanks largely to his excellent control, lofty ground-ball rates and a dearth of hard contact allowed.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals Add Derek Lilliquist, Tim Bogar To Coaching Staff]]> 2017-11-09T20:01:06Z 2017-11-09T20:01:06Z The Nationals announced on Thursday that they’ve hired longtime Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist to fill that same role on their staff under new manager Dave Martinez. The Nats also hired Tim Bogar, who was most recently the Mariners’ bench coach, as their new first base coach. The has also confirmed its previously reported hiring of Chip Hale (bench coach) and Kevin Long (hitting coach), and announced that Joe Dillon will be the new assistant hitting coach to Long. Bobby Henley is back with the team as the third base coach.

    The 51-year-old Lilliquist was dismissed as the Cardinals’ pitching coach at season’s end. St. Louis ultimately chose to replace him with former Nats pitching coach Mike Maddux, meaning the two clubs have effectively swapped their 2016 pitching coaches. Lilliquist spent more than a decade and a half with the Cardinals organization, including the past six years as their pitching coach and the two years prior to that as the bullpen coach.

    Bogar, also 51, joins the Nats after a long run in the American League West. A bench coach with the Rangers in 2014, Bogar joined the Angels’ front office as a special advisor in 2015 and jumped to the Mariners organization the following year when Jerry Dipoto (with whom he worked in Anaheim) was named GM in Seattle. With the Mariners, Bogar spent two seasons as the bench coach. He’ll bring another experienced coach to the staff as well as one that is quite familiar with analytics due to his close working relationship with Dipoto. He’s also coached on the Red Sox’ staff in the past.

    The 42-year-old Dillon was the Nationals’ hitting coach with Triple-A Syracuse in 2014-15 but has spent the past two seasons as a minor league hitting coordinator in the division-rival Marlins organization.

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first tweeted the news that Bogar had been hired. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post first reported Lilliquist had been hired (also via Twitter).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals To Name Chip Hale Bench Coach]]> 2017-11-08T23:54:18Z 2017-11-08T23:54:18Z The Nationals will name current Athletics third base coach and former Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale their new bench coach, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). He’ll serve as the right-hand man to rookie skipper Dave Martinez, who was recently signed to a three-year deal as the new manager in Washington, D.C.

    Hale, 52, spent two seasons as the Diamondbacks’ manager back in 2015-16 before being replaced with Torey Lovullo by Arizona’s new front-office regime. In addition to his time skippering the D-backs, he’s had two stints on Oakland’s coaching staff and also served on the Mets’ Major League staff as well. Since concluding a seven-year playing career that spanned 1989-97 with the Twins and Dodgers, Hale has managed in the minors and spent eight years as an MLB-level coach (in addition to his two years as a manager). Suffice it to say, he’ll bring plenty of experience to a new-look Nationals coaching staff in 2018.

    It’s been a busy offseason for Hale, who was also reportedly among the candidates to become the new manager of the Phillies and the Mets before those posts went to Gabe Kapler and Mickey Callaway, respectively. The move for Hale now leaves the A’s with a new vacancy on their staff that they’ll need to fill in the coming weeks.