Washington Nationals – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-12-19T01:20:40Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Ty Bradley <![CDATA[Nationals Sign Matt Adams]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140677 2018-12-18T19:49:37Z 2018-12-18T17:27:51Z DECEMBER 18: The Nats have announced the signing.

DECEMBER 15, 3:38 PM: The Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty tweets that Adams will earn $3MM in 2019, and he’s also guaranteed a $1MM buyout on a mutual option for the 2020 season.

3:18 PM: Free agent first baseman/outfielder Matt Adams has agreed to a one-year, $4MM deal (contract details via Yahoo’s Jeff Passan) with Washington, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Per Rosenthal, the deal is pending a physical.

Matt Adams | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Adams, 30, was excellent in 277 plate appearances for the Nationals last seasons, slashing .257/.332/.510 (123 wRC+) before moving back to St. Louis on a late-August waiver claim. Despite poor numbers in a minuscule sample upon returning to the Cardinals, a slimmed-down Adams posted his highest hard-hit rate (39.1%) since the 2014 campaign, and displayed, for the first time, an ability to adequately handle a corner-outfield spot, earning decent DRS marks after a dreadful initiation to the spots in 2017.

Adams, though, has long been a near-automatic out against left-handed pitching (career .208/.238/.358 batting line, 59 wRC+), and did little to dismiss the notion in 32 plate appearances versus lefties in 2018. Still, he’s a solid bench option for a team in dire need of upper-level offensive depth, and should be an adequate replacement for an aging Ryan Zimmerman or the injury-prone Adam Eaton, should either fall prey to the DL and/or bouts of ineffectiveness.

The Slippery Rock University product made his MLB debut in 2012 with St. Louis after systematically annihilating minor-league pitching from 2009-12. His rookie season in 2013 was arguably his best, as the then-24-year-old joined a host of lineup-mates in demolishing NL pitching (his 135 wRC+ was third-best on the team) en route to the team’s second pennant in three seasons. Sharp decline followed, though, and an undiscerning eye (5.0 BB% from ’14-’15) relegated the 23rd-round pick to extreme part-time duty.

An increased, 7.6 BB% allowed for a slight rebound in Adams’ 2016 performance, before the slugger dropped 30 pounds and vowed to improve his versatility. There’s hope for more, too: Adams’ 107 wRC+ last season was suppressed by a career-low .245 average on balls in play, with his second-St. Louis-stint results (.167 BABIP in 60 PA despite a 56% hard-hit rate) being an obvious anomaly.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals Have Met With Josh Harrison Multiple Times]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140892 2018-12-17T22:09:46Z 2018-12-17T21:55:23Z The Nationals have had a pair of “brief” meetings with Josh Harrison’s representatives at MSM Sports, tweets Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. While there’s mutual interest, Dougherty reports that Harrison’s camp is also looking “closely” at other landing spots as well. Whether that’s due to what the Nats would be willing to offer, how they’d plan to use Harrison or another factor remains to be seen. The Nats have some uncertainty at second base, where Wilmer Difo and Howie Kendrick (who missed most of 2018 due to a ruptured Achilles) currently sit atop the depth chart. Top prospect Carter Kieboom may not be far from the big leagues, but adding a stable short-term option still makes plenty of sense for Washington. The Nats have been connected to Harrison several times over the past couple of weeks, but the versatile 31-year-old surely has other teams interested in his services. He’s been tied to the Yankees and Reds at various points this winter.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Acquire Andruw Monasterio From Nationals To Complete Yan Gomes Trade]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140877 2018-12-17T21:09:13Z 2018-12-17T17:02:39Z The Indians announced today that they’ve acquired minor league infielder Andruw Monasterio as the player to be named later in last month’s Yan Gomes trade.

It’s the second trade of the past four months for Monasterio, whom the Nationals acquired in the August trade that sent Daniel Murphy to the Cubs. The 21-year-old Monasterio’s stay with the Nationals organization will go down as a brief but productive one, as he hit .308/.404/.359 in a tiny sample of 47 plate appearances with Washington’s Class-A Advanced affiliate. On the season as a whole, Monasterio batted .267/.363/.338 with three homers, 14 doubles, three triples and a dozen steals through 483 plate appearances against generally older and more experienced competition in the Class-A Advanced Carolina League.

Monasterio not only split the 2018 season between the Cubs and Nationals organizations but also split his time on the field between second base (645 innings) and shortstop (236 innings). At the time of the Murphy trade, Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote that Monasterio’s size made his likeliest outcome that of a utility/bench piece, though he also praised the Venezuela native’s above-average speed and arm strength while noting he has the hands and feet to play basically anywhere on the infield. Monasterio did walk at better than an eight percent clip in A-ball in 2017 and walked in more than 12 percent of his PAs in High-A in 2018, so there’s certainly some elements of his game about which to be optimistic.

Monasterio joins outfielder Daniel Johnson and right-hander Jefry Rodriguez in comprising the entirety of the Indians’ return for Gomes, who will be under control for the next three seasons in Washington.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Red Sox, Nationals Only Two Teams To Exceed 2018 Luxury Tax Threshold]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=136549 2018-12-17T01:31:37Z 2018-12-17T01:31:32Z TODAY: The final totals are in, as The Associated Press reports that the Red Sox will owe $11,951,091 in luxury tax payments, while the Nationals owe $2,386,097.  Boston will also lose ten spots in draft position, dropping from its original 33rd overall spot in the first round.

NOVEMBER 4: As was widely expected, the Red Sox and Nationals were the only two clubs who exceeded the $197MM luxury tax threshold this season, as MLB.com’s Jon Morosi confirmed (Twitter link) earlier this week.  The exact figures aren’t known, though as per the luxury tax calculations on Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Boston surpassed the threshold by slightly beyond $40.85MM, while Washington was just under $6.3MM beyond the tax line.  As a reminder, a team’s normal payroll is just pure dollars spent on player salaries in a season, whereas the payroll as calculated for Competitive Balance Tax purposes consists of the average annual value of player contracts, bonuses, and other expenses.

This is the second straight year that the Nats passed the luxury tax threshold, so their tax bill will consist of 30 percent of every dollar spent in overage (so around $1.89MM).  After exceeding the threshold in 2015 and 2016, the Red Sox ducked under the CBT line in the 2017-18 offseason to “reset their clock,” so they’ll be taxed at the first-timer rate of 20 percent of every dollar spent in overage.  By Cot’s numbers, however, the Red Sox surpassed the threshold by more than $40MM, so they’ll face a 62.5 percent surcharge on the overage.

This would work out to roughly $25.53MM in luxury tax payments and, perhaps more importantly, Boston’s top pick in next year’s amateur draft (currently the 33rd overall selection) would drop by 10 spots.  Since the Sox are so close to that $40MM figure, it’s possible there could be some other calculation or unknown payroll factor that got the club under the $237MM mark — we won’t know for certain about the draft pick or the final Competitive Balance Tax bill until the league makes an official announcement.  Had Boston stayed within the $20MM-$40MM range for payroll overage, they would have faced only a 12 percent extra in tax on top of their 20 percent first-timer percentage, putting them on the hook for approximately $12.672MM in luxury tax payments.

The Giants were right up against the $197MM line seemingly all season long, though by Cot’s calculations, they squeaked under the threshold by less than $1.6MM, thus avoiding their fourth straight year of tax payments.  San Francisco was very careful in trying to stay under the $197MM payroll line after a busy offseason, as the team made a pure salary dump of a trade with the Rangers in July to unload Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin’s contracts, and also traded Andrew McCutchen to the Yankees on August 31 once they were fully out of contention.

The Competitive Balance Tax was a major subplot of the 2017-18 offseason, as one of the reasons behind the unprecedented lack of free agent activity was the fact that big spenders like the Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers all kept their spending in check (at least by their standards) in an effort to stay under the threshold.  For New York, this marks the first time since the luxury tax system was instituted in 2003 that the team will avoid making payments — the Yankees paid a whopping $319.6MM in total luxury tax payments from 2003-17.  The Dodgers have exceeded the threshold every season since 2013, as the Guggenheim Baseball Management ownership group made an initial big spending splash to bring the club back into relevance, though the Dodgers always stressed that they would eventually take a more measured approach to payroll.

The expectation was that, once these teams reset their spending clocks, it would open the floodgates for increased spending in a 2018-19 free agent market that has two players (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado) in line for record-setting contracts.  Those two superstars plus many other available big names like Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal, Craig Kimbrel, Josh Donaldson, Nathan Eovaldi, and many others makes this winter a particularly important time to have as much salary flexibility as possible.

Any team who exceeds the luxury tax threshold in three or more consecutive years must pay a 50 percent tax on the overage, so getting under the line carries some noteworthy savings.  Plus, as per the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that came into play for the 2017 season, a team that surpasses the $40MM overage figure (as it appears Boston has done) faces as much as a 90 percent tax on the overage, plus that 10-slot drop for their top pick in the amateur draft.

Those stiffer penalties surely also contributed to the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants’ decisions, though it should be noted that the actual dollars paid in tax penalties aren’t overly pricey for such wealthy franchises.  While big spending is certainly no guarantee of success on the field, it usually does provide some level of competitive advantage — for instance, nobody in Boston’s organization is sweating that tax payment in the wake of a World Series championship, no matter if the final bill ends up at $12.672MM or $25.53MM.  (Even dropping from the 33rd to the 43rd overall pick is a pretty light penalty.)  As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has written in the past, some “large market teams are treating the CBT thresholds as lines they absolutely cannot cross,” perhaps as an overall excuse to curb spending.  Only eight teams total have ever made tax payments, with two of those clubs — the 2004 Angels and 2016 Cubs — doing so only once.  Teams will have even more room to spend in 2019, as the luxury tax threshold is jumping up to $206MM.

In paying the tax in 2018, the Red Sox and Nationals will each face added penalties for pursuing free agents who were issued qualifying offers, and will receive limited compensation if their own QO free agent (Kimbrel for the Sox, Harper for the Nats) leaves.  If Boston or Washington signs a player who rejected the QO from his former team, the Sox/Nats would have to give up $1MM in international signing bonus pool money as well as their second-highest and fifth-highest picks in next year’s draft.  Should Kimbrel and Harper reject their qualifying offers and sign elsewhere, the Sox and Nationals would only receive a compensatory pick after the fourth round of the draft.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Nationals' 2B Search]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140693 2018-12-16T01:05:06Z 2018-12-16T01:05:06Z
  • While free-agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu has been on the Nationals’ radar, they’re “more likely” to look for a cheaper infielder, per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, who lists Brian Dozier, Josh Harrison and Jed Lowrie as speculative fits. Although, in MLBTR’s estimation, Lowrie will easily land the richest contract of that quartet this offseason.
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    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[NL Rumors & Notes: Brewers, Lowrie, Nats, Giants, Pillar, Kelly]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140676 2018-12-15T23:16:17Z 2018-12-15T23:00:42Z Following last month’s non-tender of Jonathan Schoop, the Brewers’ exhaustive, months-long search for a second baseman continues with the team’s pursuit of Jed Lowrie, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Lowrie, of course, is fresh off an outstanding, 4.9 fWAR 2018 season with Oakland, itself on the back almost identical offensive campaign (119 wRC+ in ’17, 122 in ’18) the year before. MLBTR projects the 34-year-old to earn a solid 3-year, $30MM deal this offseason, though Lowrie’s camp, given his recent two-year output, will surely be fighting for more. The risk with the switch-hitter lies in his subpar performance across multiple seasons (2011, ’14, ’15, and ’16), in obvious addition to his age and former propensity for the serious injury, plus the tendency of second basemen to decline earlier than most, but there could be surplus value aplenty to be found if he continues on his current trajectory.

    In other news from around the NL …

    • The Nationals, another team with a hole at the keystone, offered Ian Kinsler a one-year deal before the 36-year-old signed a two-year pact with San Diego, per Rosenthal. Earlier this week, the club was said to have “checked-in” with free agent second-sacker D.J. LeMahieu, who would likely command a deal in excess length to the one offered to Kinsler, so it seems unclear as to exactly which direction the club will go in terms of filling the position. Carter Kieboom, a 21-year-old middle-infield prospect, has raked in the low levels of the minors and may just be a season and a half or so away, so perhaps the club is seeking just a one- or two-year stopgap in the interim.
    • Per Alex Pavlovic of NBA Bay Area, the outfield-naked Giants are interested in Blue Jays CF Kevin Pillar.  The club, who in years past has shown little interest in staking a defense-first player at the position, despite its park’s huge territory in right-center field, may be undergoing a philosophical about-face under its new, analytics-driven regime.  The club, of course, is stacked with right-handed fly-ball types in the rotation, and would seem to benefit in large measure from a ball-hawking center-fielder like Pillar.  The 29-year-old’s defensive metrics took a bit of a hit last season, but his peak from ’15-’17 (50 DRS) has rarely been matched in recent times. 25-year-old Steven Duggar would seem, at least in part, to fit the bill, but whether or not his bat will play – Steamer projects an 81 wRC+ for ’19 – is still an open question.
    • New Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly, who this week agreed to a 3-year, $25MM with the team, explained (audio version) to WEEI’s Rob Bradford why he chose LA, noting that the team was the first to extend its offer to three years. Though the duration may come as little surprise, it is notable that it came from the Dodgers, who in recent times (Kenley Jansen excluded) have preferred their relievers to be of the under-the-radar variety.
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Pitcher Notes: Fiers, Sanchez, Brewers, Claudio]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140660 2018-12-15T18:09:58Z 2018-12-15T18:02:21Z Free agent starter Mike Fiers is being courted by multiple clubs, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). Among those with interest are the Reds, Giants, Rangers and Nationals, none of whom should surprise given their collective desire for more pitching. Fiers, 33, had his best year as a pro in 2018, working to a 12-8 record with a 3.56 ERA across 30 starts for Detroit and Oakland. His peripherals don’t scream drastic transformation, though he did lower his walk rate to a career-low 1.94 BB/9. He also threw more sliders, a pitch he has steadily worked into his repertoire since 2015, which could signal sustainability for Fiers’ 2018 success. Park factors for Comerica Park and the Oakland Coliseum definitely worked in his favor, so it’s fair to wonder how his stuff will fare in the bandboxes of Cincinnati, Texas, and Washington, especially considering increased use of his slider corresponded with a similar decrease in sinker usage, leading to elevated launch angles and more flyballs (43.2 FB%). Fiers has been homer prone in the past, though it’s a delicate balancing act for the righty, as he has generally been more effective when keeping the ball in the air – a strategy that obviously holds more water in Oakland than it would in, say, Cincinnati.

    • The opposite can be said of Anibal Sanchez, coming off a surprising comeback with the Atlanta Braves driven in part by a return to the wormburning ways of his early career. His groundball rate (45 GB%) returned to career levels after dipping below 40% for a two-year stretch that just so happened to produce career-high ERAs. Atlanta has interest in bringing the righty back for 2019, per Morosi (via Twitter), but they’re not the only club with interest. Given their similar price points, Sanchez and Fiers likely share suitors, though the Reds and Nationals have shown the most interest in Sanchez thus far. A year and a half older than Fiers, Sanchez will be 35 by Opening Day.
    • It’s a little surprising not to see the Milwaukee Brewers listed as pursuers for the starters above, but a slow burn winter isn’t uncommon for the Brew Crew. They have made one notable move, sending a Competitive Balance draft pick to Texas for funky left-hander Alex Claudio. Interestingly, Claudio’s sidelong delivery may be more than an incidental quirk for the Brewers, per Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs. The Brewers now boast a relatively substantial stable of minor leaguers who rely on deception and unique throwing motions, enough of a sample to presume an organizational focus, or at least curiosity. Given the stirring ascendancy of Josh Hader, himself a non-traditional thrower, it’s interesting to see the Brewers potentially exploring a system-wide extrapolation of Hader’s success. From a player valuation standpoint, the one-for-one swap with Texas is noteworthy because of what it means about Milwaukee’s evaluation of college hurlers. The pick being sent to Texas likely lands somewhere in the 40s, where advanced college relievers are often available. Meanwhile, Claudio’s price is rising as a first-time arbitration player. One view supposes the cost-conscious Brewers must view the prospects available in that spot as less-than. The other view, of course, is that this deal is not a wholesale denunciation of the draft class, rather Milwaukee just likes Claudio and views his major league experience as present-day value for a team with legitimate pennant aspirations in 2019.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nationals “Leery” Of Asking Price On Dallas Keuchel]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140574 2018-12-14T18:19:16Z 2018-12-14T18:19:16Z The Nationals’ trade of right-hander Tanner Roark again puts Joe Ross and Erick Fedde atop the team’s list of options in the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, meaning they’ll once again be on the hunt for starters. To that end, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com reports that the Nats have interest in top lefty Dallas Keuchel but are “leery of giving him the five- or six-year deal he seeks.”

    That’s the first word on the asking price for Keuchel, and it’s a fairly steep one, as most would expect. Of course, early asking prices are always going to be high — typically higher than the eventual landing point. If agent Scott Boras and Keuchel are ultimately seeking four to five years, for instance, it’s only natural to see them set out asking for five to six years. MLBTR estimated a four-year, $82MM deal for Keuchel at the outset of free agency, and a recent reader poll saw only about 15 percent of respondents believe a five-year pact was within reach.

    Keuchel, 31 on New Year’s Day, is the top remaining starter in free agency but is one of several available pitchers to whom the Nationals have been linked since trading Roark. In the 48 hours since that swap, Washington has been tied to Yusei Kikuchi, Anibal Sanchez and Wade Miley. Keuchel would give the Nationals a virtually unparalleled top four alongside Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin but would also quite likely give the Nats an unheard of four starting pitchers with annual salaries in excess of $20MM. Like Corbin before him, Keuchel would cost the Nationals a pick in next year’s draft by virtue of the fact that he rejected a $17.9MM qualifying offer.

    As for those wondering about the wisdom behind trading Roark only to immediately search for a replacement, it’s possible that the organization simply felt Roark’s rising arbitration price — MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz pegged him at $9.8MM — outpaced reasonable expectations for his performance in 2019. Roark’s strikeout, swinging-strike, home-run and ground-ball rates all went in the wrong direction in 2018, as did his velocity.

    In the meantime, the Nats added a 100-mph arm, Tanner Rainey, in exchange for Roark’s final season of team control. While Rainey’s MLB cameo in 2018 was unequivocally brutal (19 runs on 13 hits and 12 walks with seven strikeouts in just seven innings), he also notched a 2.95 ERA with 13.5 K/9 across the past two minor league seasons. Walks were still an issue in the minors, though, as he averaged 5.4 free passes per nine innings pitched.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals "Seem To Prefer" Marwin Gonzalez To Josh Harrison]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140550 2018-12-14T05:32:24Z 2018-12-14T05:32:24Z
  • The Twins have interest in free-agent reliever Kelvin Herrera, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports. The club knows Herrera well from his days with division-rival Kansas City, where he pitched from 2011 until the Royals traded him to Washington last June. The hard-throwing 28-year-old didn’t perform well with the Nats, though, and then saw his season end in late August on account of a torn Lisfranc ligament in his left foot. However, Herrera’s progressing in his recovery from that injury.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals Hopeful They'll Extend Anthony Rendon]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140522 2018-12-14T03:03:43Z 2018-12-14T03:03:43Z
  • It’s well-documented that the Nationals could lose one of their elite players, outfielder Bryce Harper, to free agency this year. And the team may be in a similar position 12 months from now if third baseman Anthony Rendon, who’s entering a contract year, doesn’t sign an extension. However, general manager Mike Rizzo is optimistic the Nationals will prevent Rendon from leaving, Jamal Collier of MLB.com writes. “I think Anthony wants to be here, I think he wants to be here long term,” Rizzo said. “And we want him here. Hopefully there’s a deal that transpires out of goodwill between the two sides.” According to agent Scott Boras (also Harper’s representative), Washington’s “very aware” of what it has in Rendon, who has “been in the top 10 players in the game in the last three or four years.” Boras is always one to talk up his clients, but he’s not exaggerating in Rendon’s case, as the 28-year-old ranks seventh among position players in fWAR (17.3) dating back to 2016.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Nationals Had Interest In Lance Lynn]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140399 2018-12-13T12:44:14Z 2018-12-13T12:44:14Z
  • The Nationals were considering Lance Lynn for their rotation, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports (via Twitter), but they weren’t willing to give the veteran righty the three-year guarantee Lynn seems to have found from the Rangers.  Lynn would have filled the rotation spot left open now that Tanner Roark has been dealt to the Reds, though with Lynn off the board, Washington will keep looking at other veteran arms.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Showing Interest In Wade Miley, Anibal Sanchez, Yusei Kikuchi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140321 2018-12-13T13:48:33Z 2018-12-13T04:42:51Z The Nationals already seemed like a possible ongoing pursuer of starting pitching before trading away Tanner Roark; now, it’s all but inevitable that the club will add another new arm. Veteran free agents Wade Miley and Anibal Sanchez are both on the Nats’ radar, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links), though it’s not clear whether either is particularly likely to land in D.C. Both hurlers turned in excellent results in 2018 after overcoming injuries, with the latter relying on his ability to induce groundballs and the latter finally overcoming his home run woes. Sustainability remains a question, of course, as each has had his share of struggles in seasons prior.

    • Whether the Nats will also be exploring higher-end pitching options isn’t yet fully clear, but president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo did say today that the club is performing “due diligence” on Japanese hurler Yusei Kikuchi, as Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com tweets. Given the wide interest that the 27-year-old has drawn to this point, it seems safe to assume the Nationals are at least open to making another significant rotation addition this winter.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Acquire Tanner Roark]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140296 2018-12-13T01:27:53Z 2018-12-13T00:10:00Z The Reds have announced the acquisition of veteran righty Tanner Roark from the Nationals. Reliever Tanner Rainey goes to Washington in the swap.

    There have been indications over recent months that the Nats were inclined to move on from Roark, who projects to earn $9.8MM in his final trip through arbitration. It seems reasonable to anticipate that the D.C. organization has its eyes on another upgrade to its staff, with an obvious need for one or two additional rotation pieces.

    Meanwhile, Roark will help to shore up a Cincinnati starting unit that the club has long targeted for improvement. The 32-year-old has thrown at least 180 frames in each of the past three seasons, even if the results haven’t always been there. Adding him to the staff likely won’t take the Reds out of the market for starters, though the club surely values the lack of a long-term commitment given the price for open-market pitching we’re seeing so far this winter.

    Roark has, to be sure, turned in some eye-popping earned run averages over full seasons, but it’s tough to see him as much of an upside play. He has only once topped a ten percent swinging-strike rate, during his otherwise poor 2017 season, and has consistently graded out as a low-4 ERA type hurler in the eyes of ERA estimators.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t value in Roark’s profile — there is. But it seems likelier that the Reds should anticipate a quality, durable rotation piece than the front-line starter Roark produced like in the 2014 and 2016 seasons, in which he spun 2.85 and 2.83 ERAs, respectively, in ~200-frame samples. The varying highs and lows over the years have seemingly correlated more with variations in opponents’ batting averages on balls in play than with significant differences in the underlying quality of Roark’s work on the mound.

    If there’s an area of concern, it could be in the cozy confines of Great American Ball Park. Roark has never had particularly pressing issues with the long ball, but he has coughed up quite a few more in his lesser seasons (2015, 2017, 2018) than in his good ones. And after turning in approximately 48% groundball rates over the prior three years, Roark dropped to 40.7% in 2018 even as his flyball rate rose to 37.6% after sitting at or below 32% in that same three-year span.

    As for the other Tanner R. in this swap, the 25-year-old Rainey is perhaps a more intriguing asset than his forgettable MLB debut effort would suggest. He scuffled badly in an eight-appearance showing last year, but did show a blazing fastball that touched 100 and averaged out at a healthy 98.3 mph.

    Promising, Rainey also produced 52 innings of 2.60 ERA ball at the Triple-A level in 2018. Of course, that comes with a massive caveat: he also surrendered more than six free passes per nine innings, continuing his longstanding control difficulties. The Nats have taken some other notable risks on high-octane, command-challenged hurlers this winter. It seems likely that Rainey will open his time with the organization at Triple-A, unless he shows a major spark or a clear need arises during camp.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals Interested In Ian Kinsler]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140124 2018-12-12T06:00:02Z 2018-12-12T06:00:02Z The Tigers, Brewers, Athletics and Nationals are among the teams interested in free-agent second baseman Ian Kinsler, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The Brewers have met with Kinsler at the Winter Meetings, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel relays. Detroit’s inclusion on the list is particularly interesting in light of the fact that Kinsler thrived there from 2014-17, before the team traded him to the Angels last offseason. The 36-year-old ended up dividing the season between Anaheim and Boston, where he combined to hit a less-than-stellar .240/.301/.380 (87 wRC+) in 534 plate appearances. But to Kinsler’s credit, he swatted 14 home runs, stole 16 bases and, for the 12th consecutive season, posted at least 2.0 fWAR (2.3).

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[DJ LeMahieu Reportedly Atop Nats' Second Base List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140091 2018-12-12T01:36:26Z 2018-12-12T01:36:26Z
  • The Nationals want an everyday second baseman, and free agent DJ LeMahieu tops their list, Bob Nightengale of USA Today relays. General manager Mike Rizzo revealed last week that the Nationals had contacted LeMahieu’s camp.
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