Category Archives: Washington Nationals

3 Takeways from opening day

3. The San Diego Padres are a worse team than we expected

There aren’t very high expectations heading into the season as they are terrible in every aspect of their roster. However, opening day just proved how terrible this team will likely be this season and they could even be worse than I expected. San Diego lost 14-3 to the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day. Sure, the Dodgers could compete for a world series this year, but there is never an excuse for a team to allow 14 runs on opening day. Jhoulys Chacin is supposedly the team’s best starting pitcher and if he is the best that they have then I don’t really want to see their worst pitcher because he allowed 9 runs in just 3.1 innings of work. The bullpen for the Padres wasn’t much better, so there doesn’t look to be much hope for the Padres pitching staff. San Diego didn’t do well offensively either, but I expected that considering that they were facing Clayton Kershaw. However, the Padres are basically a minor league team playing at the major league level and they had many players playing today with very little MLB experience. San Diego should be a better team as the season goes on, but right now I’m not sure they even deserve to compete at the MLB level because they looked awful on opening today.

2. Blake Treinen surprisingly could be a good closer for the Nationals

The Nationals had a major question mark as to who their closer would be heading into this season after elite closer Mark Melancon left in free agency. Blake Treinen was just recently named the team’s closer and he certainly didn’t disappoint on opening day. Treinen was faced with a save situation and he made it look easy as he had 2 strikeouts to close out the Marlins in a 4-2 victory on Monday. Treinen faced three really tough hitters and he made them look foolish. It is only opening day, so Treinen could still get worse, but at least he eased some of the concern in the closer role for now.

1. Kansas City might be rebuilding soon once again

Just a couple of years ago, the Kansas City Royals were the best team in the MLB and yet they now are showing signs that they aren’t even contenders anymore. Kansas City suffered an embarrassing loss on opening day as the lowly Minnesota Twins demolished the Royals 7-1. Danny Duffy was outstanding for the Royals, but after he left the game the Royals just completely fell apart. Kansas City’s bullpen was terrible as they allowed 6 runs in only 2 innings of work combined and that is a concern as that has been the strength of their team in recent years. Also, the offense only managed 1 run on 3 hits against a Twins pitching staff that isn’t very overpowering. Kansas City has a lot of key players hitting free agency after the season, so they might have to start trading away players and start rebuilding once again this year. The Royals have many areas to improve in order to contend and they can’t lose to teams like Minnesota if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs in 2017.

 

Biggest need remaining for every NL East team

Atlanta Braves – Biggest need: 2nd base

There is no doubt that Jace Peterson will be the Braves everyday starter at 2nd base, but he will need to be more consistent than he was last season. Peterson hit .254 with just 7 home runs last season, so Atlanta will need him to be better going forward. The Braves did add utility infielder Sean Rodriguez this offseason as a backup 2nd baseman. However, Atlanta will have to do something to improve the position very soon.

Miami Marlins – Biggest need: Shortstop

Adeiny Hechavarria is a shortstop that makes incredible defensive plays often, but his offense has certainly been a weakness throughout his MLB career. Hechavarria hit only .236 with 3 home runs last season so he is definitely an issue in the Marlins lineup. He doesn’t hit consistently and he doesn’t hit for much power as well. The only reason that he is the Marlins everyday shortstop is because of his defensive abilities. Miami needs some more depth at the position either way and it isn’t worth starting Hechavarria just for his defense since he is a liability offensively.

New York Mets – Biggest need: Catcher

The catcher position was a major weakness for the Mets last season especially after their starter Travis d’Arnaud was injured for a large portion of the year. d’Arnaud wasn’t a great option anyway for the Mets as he hit only .247 with 4 home runs in 2016. The Mets have solid depth at catcher, yet they need to find an upgrade at the position over d’Arnaud.

Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest need: Right Fielder

Philadelphia has a big need in right field as they have two inexperienced players that will compete for the starting job in 2017. Roman Quinn is the projected starter in right field right now, but he has hit only .263 in 57 career at-bats. Aaron Altherr has more experience than Quinn, but Altherr is a career .212 hitter which isn’t very promising. Either way, it is a mystery as to how Quinn or Altherr will perform with the starting right field job. The Phillies need to sign a veteran right fielder to a 1-year deal in order to provide a temporary solution to the position.

Washington Nationals – Biggest need: Closer

The Nationals let go of closer Jonathan Papelbon after he had a poor season in 2016 and the team was confident that they would be able to sign a top free agent closer. However, all of the top free agent closers are now signed and yet the Nationals still have a need for a closer. The Nationals’ options at closer are running out and it appears that they’ll have to find a closer from their roster. Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, and Sammy Solis are all candidates to be the team’s closer in 2017. However, none of those guys seems like a very good option especially for a team that has world series aspirations.

White Sox trade Eaton to the Nationals

The Chicago White Sox continued their rebuilding process on Wednesday by trading outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for right-handed pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning.

Nationals evaluation:

This trade signals that the Nationals are clearly going for it all in 2017 as they are hoping that Adam Eaton can be a key piece to make the Nationals world series contenders. Eaton has been a very good and consistent player for the past few years. However, it seems like the Nationals gave up too much in order to acquire Eaton. Lucas Giolito was viewed as the Nationals best prospect and Reynaldo Lopez was ranked as the team’s number 3 prospect. Also, Dane Dunning was the 1st round pick for the Nationals just last season and he is a quality prospect as well. It does make sense for Washington to acquire Eaton since they can now play him in his natural position of center field. Meanwhile, the Nationals can move star player Trea Turner from center field back to his normal position of shortstop. Eaton doesn’t bring much power to the Nationals lineup as the most home runs that he has hit is 14. However, Eaton does have a good batting average and he drives in runs as well as he hit .284 with 59 RBI’s for the White Sox last season. Eaton will probably never be a star player in the MLB and he isn’t a flashy player. However, he does basically everything well as he is a consistent hitter and a solid defensive player as well. The Nationals are clearly getting a very good player with Adam Eaton, yet the prospects that the Nationals gave up is way too much. This is a trade that will help the Nationals right away, but long-term this is a deal that they could really regret considering the young talent that they gave up.

Grade: C-

White Sox evaluation:

The White Sox are clearly in a rebuild mode after they traded away star pitcher Chris Sale to the Red Sox on Tuesday. Clearly, Chicago has no plans to compete next season which is why the Adam Eaton trade makes so much sense. Eaton is a good player, but he isn’t the type of player that the White Sox can build around for the future. He is a good complimentary piece on a contending team, but he would do no good for a rebuilding White Sox team. This trade looks even better when considering the 3 outstanding prospects that Chicago received in return for Eaton. Lucas Giolito is a top 5 prospect in all of baseball and he could be an ace one day for the White Sox. Giolito dominated during his 5 seasons in the minor leagues as he was 25-15 with a 2.73 ERA. However, Giolito was terrible in 4 starts at the MLB level last season as he went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He is clearly close to being an MLB-ready pitcher, although he will probably start next season in Triple-A until the White Sox feel he is ready. Also, Reynaldo Lopez is an extremely talented right-handed pitcher as well. Lopez didn’t dominated in the minors like Giolito did, yet Lopez did put up a respectable 19-19 record with a 3.16 ERA during 5 seasons in the minors. He made his MLB debut last season and he went 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA. Lopez is close to being an MLB-ready pitcher, but he should probably start next season at Triple-A in order to develop some more. Finally, Dane Dunning is another right-handed pitcher that has some potential to be a solid starting pitcher in the future for the White Sox. Dunning was a 1st round pick for the Nationals in 2016 out of Florida. Dunning dominated in his first minor league season as he went 3-2 with a 2.02 ERA. Dunning doesn’t throw hard as his fastball maxes out at 95 MPH, yet he has outstanding control which helps make him a solid pitcher. He is still a couple of years away from reaching the MLB as he will likely spend all of next season in Single-A in the White Sox minor league system. The White Sox are clearly rebuilding right now, although the rebuilding process might not last long thanks to the talented prospects that they are acquiring. Adam Eaton is a quality player, but this trade is remarkable considering that they are getting 3 top prospects for Eaton.

Grade: A+

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Mariners sign Rzepczynski to a 2-year deal

The Seattle Mariners provided some more stability to a relatively weak bullpen as they signed left-handed pitcher Marc Rzepczynski to a 2-year/$11 million contract. He isn’t known as dynamic relief pitcher since he doesn’t have a power arm to blow away hitters. However, he just finds a way to get the job done as proven by his 2.64 ERA in 70 games last season while playing for the Athletics and Nationals. Rzepczynski especially is productive against left-handed hitters as he has only allowed a .222 average against left-handed batters. The Mariners could use some more bullpen help probably, but Rzepczysnki at least fills the need that Seattle had for a situational left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen that can dominate left-handed hitters. We’ll see if he can build off of the success that he had last season, but either way this is a really solid move for the Mariners in order to fill a big bullpen need.

Grade: B+

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Notable MLB players non-tendered

Here are the notable players that were non-tendered by their teams just prior to Friday’s non-tendered deadline. All of these players are now free agents and can sign with any team.

Chris Carter – 1st baseman – Milwaukee Brewers – 2016 Stats: .222 avg. and 41 HR’s

This was a shocking move by the Brewers considering that Carter tied for the national league lead this past season with 41 home runs. However, the issue is that Carter doesn’t play good defense, he strikes out too much, and he doesn’t get on base enough. Still, I don’t think this was a great move for the Brewers to make because they are taking away a tremendous power threat from a relatively weak lineup.

Grade: C-

Welington Castillo – Catcher – Arizona Diamondbacks – 2016 Stats: .264 avg. and 14 HR’s

The Diamondbacks releasing their starting catcher Welington Castillo was by far the worst decision made this offseason by any MLB team. Castillo was very productive last season as he hit .264 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI’s. It’s really difficult to find catchers that can hit in the MLB these days, so for Arizona to get rid of a solid catcher like Castillo is extremely stupid. Also, they are replacing him with Chris Herrmann as the starting catcher who had a decent year as he hit .284 with 6 home runs for Arizona last season in limited time. However, Herman has been awful throughout his career and it’s hard to believe that he’ll be any better now that he is a starting catcher for the first time at 29 years old.

Grade: F

Jeff Locke – Starting Pitcher – Pittsburgh Pirates -2016 Stats: 9-8 and 5.44 ERA

This non-tender actually makes a little bit of sense for the Pirates. Sure, he was a productive player at times during his 5 seasons with Pittsburgh. However, he has been too inconsistent and therefore he lost his spot in the Pirates starting rotation. I’m sure a team in need of some pitching depth will sign Locke this offseason. Locke clearly didn’t have a role with Pittsburgh as the Pirates have a lot of young starting pitching that is ready to join the rotation.

Grade: B

Ben Revere – Outfielder – Washington Nationals – 2016 Stats: .217 avg. and 2 HR’s

Ben Revere was a really productive player just in 2015 when he hit .306 with the Phillies and Blue Jays. However, his only season with the Nationals proved to be a disaster as his average dropped dramatically to .217 and he only hit 2 home runs in 103 games played. Revere still could provide something to a team as he still can steal some bases and I expect his average to improve a lot next season. However, the Nationals don’t have the patience for him to improve as they are trying to win immediately. Also, Washington has a really crowded outfield right now, so this is a really good move for the Nationals to give him an opportunity to find a role elsewhere.

Grade: A

Tyson Ross – Starting Pitcher – San Diego Padres – 2016 Stats: 0-1 and 11.81 ERA

I think it was a really poor decision for the Padres to non-tender Tyson Ross. Sure, Ross only had 1 start for San Diego last season before a shoulder injury ended his season. However, when healthy this guy might have been San Diego’s best pitcher as proven by his 2.81 ERA in 2014 and his 3.26 ERA in 2015. I know the Padres are going through a rebuild right now, but Ross is only 29 years old which makes him a long-term option for the team. Also, the Padres have a very poor starting rotation and Ross would have provided at least some more stability to the pitching staff. This was yet another poor decision for a Padres organization that is trying to find a clear direction towards contention that seems really far away right now.

Grade: D-

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Nationals acquire Norris from the Padres

The Washington Nationals made kind of a surprising trade on Friday as they acquired Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-handed pitcher Pedro Avila.

Nationals evaluation:

This trade makes sense for the Nationals since they had a need at catcher after Wilson Ramos tore his ACL late last season and he wasn’t expected to re-sign with Washington. Norris brings a very talented catcher in his prime at only 27 years old and most importantly he will help to make the Nationals immediate world series contenders. Norris only hit .186 last season, but he is an all-star caliber catcher so expect those stats to improve in 2017. Norris has very good power for a catcher as he has hit 14 home runs each of the last 2 seasons for the Padres. He won’t be as good as Ramos was last season for the Nationals at the catcher position, but Norris at least provides Washington with a catcher with pretty good offensive abilities. Meanwhile, losing a prospect with plenty of potential like Pedro Avila might hurt the Nationals long-term. However, the Nationals have a pretty good farm system that they can make this trade and be fine, but the priority for the team is clearly to win now. Hopefully Norris can improve his batting average to what it was a couple of years ago, but he is a solid catcher either way that can help the Nationals to win immediately.

Grade: B-

Padres evaluation:

The Padres are in yet another major rebuild mode after their big acquisitions prior to the 2015 season really backfired on them. Derek Norris was one of those big acquisitions that the Padres made in that offseason and he was not quite the productive player that the team expected him to be. Austin Hedges is the catcher of the future for the Padres and it is the right move for the team to give Hedges the opportunity to be the team’s full-time starting catcher. It’s pretty clear that the Padres won’t be close to competing next season with the roster that they have assembled, so getting a pitcher with some potential will help them long-term. Pedro Avila is only 19 years old and he has a 2.93 ERA in 2 seasons in the minor leagues, although he has only reached Class A so far. It will take at least a few years for Avila to reach the MLB, but it’s hard not to like his potential and his ability to strike out hitters. Norris had no use for the Padres any longer and it makes sense to help their team during the rebuild process by acquiring a young pitcher with some good potential.

Grade: B+

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Predicted landing spots for the Top 10 Free Agents

The 2016 free agent class is filled with great closing pitchers, but other than that the free agent market is rather weak especially with starting pitchers. Either way, here are my top 10 free agent rankings and where I predict that they will land this offseason.

  1. Yoenis Cespedes – Outfielder – Former Team: New York Mets

It isn’t a shock that Cespedes opted out of his contract with the Mets considering that he is in line to receive a big long-term contract that is surely going to be worth more than $100 million. Cespedes has tremendous power as evidenced by his 31 home runs last season for the Mets. However, he isn’t the type of player that can carry a team on his shoulders, so he’ll likely land with a contender this offseason. The Yankees could make a strong push for Cespedes since they always want to make a big splash in free agency. However, the Mets will have an awful offense without him and they’ll likely do anything to re-sign him which is why he’ll likely return to the Mets despite the many offers that he’ll receive.

Prediction: Returns to the Mets

2. Edwin Encarnacion – 1st baseman/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Edwin Encarnacion struck out a lot of times last season, but he proved why he is a dangerous hitter as he hit a whopping 42 home runs along with 127 RBI’s. He can play a decent 1st base, but at 34 years old he is most likely to be a full-time designated hitter. I don’t see a return for Encarnacion to Toronto after they just signed Kendrys Morales. However, the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros are all in the mix for a big-time middle of the order bat like Encarnacion. Boston is a team in need of a designated hitter after the retirement of David Ortiz and they have the money to be able to pull a deal for Encarnacion off, so ultimately he will land with the Red Sox on a 2 or 3-year deal.

Prediction: Signs with the Red Sox

3. Justin Turner – 3rd Baseman – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Justin Turner is a really good 3rd baseman that just happens to really benefit from a poor market at the 3rd base position. He has always had a good batting average, but he took his offensive abilities to the next level last season with 27 home runs for the Dodgers. Also, he is an average defensive 3rd baseman, so that adds to his value even more. The Braves, Padres, and Giants are teams that will have interest in Turner. However, the Giants seem like the team that will challenge the Dodgers the most for him. Turner could get around $15-20 million per season and the Dodgers have the money and the desperation in order to re-sign him.

Prediction: Returns to the Dodgers

4. Kenley Jansen – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen is one of the top closers in MLB and yet he is only 29 years old, so he could be in line for a substantial long-term deal this offaseason. He is a hard-thrower and he has a cutter pitch that rivals that of Mariano Rivera. Also, he has had consistent production in recent years including last year when he had a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves for the Dodgers. There are many teams interested in Jansen and the Dodgers would certainly would like him to come back. However, the Cubs have a need for a closer since they don’t seem like they will retain their closer Aroldis Chapman. Chicago could use a consistent closer like Jansen that can pitch multiple innings especially in the postseason.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

5. Aroldis Chapman – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Chapman is extremely difficult to hit at times because of his 100+ MPH fastball that hitters can’t catch up to. He proved valuable for the Cubs in the postseason as he could pitch multiple innings and he handled the workload well. Also, his 1.55 ERA and 36 saves last season was extremely impressive. The Cubs could be interested in a reunion with Chapman this offseason. However, the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, and Nationals all could make a significant push to sign him. Any of those teams could make a case to sign him, but ultimately I believe the Washington Nationals will pull it off. Washington won’t re-sign Jonathon Papelbon after his terrible 2016 season which means the team has a need for a big-time closer like Chapman. Washington seems one piece away from being a world series contender and Chapman could be the guy to finally get them there.

Prediction: Signs with the Nationals

6. Ian Desmond – Shortstop/Outfielder – Former Team: Texas Rangers

Nobody rebuilt their free agent value more than Desmond did this past season as he hit .285 in 22 home runs in his one season with the Rangers. He has played shortstop most of his career, but he was an everyday center fielder for Texas last season. It is his powerful bat that teams desire, yet his position versatility will certainly help him as well. The Indians, Astros, Rangers, Orioles, and Braves all will have interest in Desmond. I could certainly see him returning to the Rangers or even bolting for the Astros or Indians. However, Baltimore seems like the team that could make the strongest push for Desmond. The Orioles don’t necessarily have a need in center field or at shortstop, but Desmond did play some left field last season and the Orioles have a big need at that position. I don’t see Desmond replacing Adam Jones in center field, yet Desmond could be an upgrade at shortstop or in left field for Baltimore.

Prediction: Signs with the Orioles

7. Mark Trumbo – Outfielder/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Baltimore Orioles

Mark Trumbo smacked a whopping 47 home runs last season which majorly improved his free agent value for this offseason. He does bring a lot of offensive ability and he was a starting outfielder last year for the Orioles, but his limited defensive capabilities make him a likely candidate for a full-time designated hitter job. There won’t be too many teams interested in him this offseason as basically only the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Braves are in the mix. The Orioles could try and re-sign him and Trumbo would likely come back, but the question is if Baltimore really wants him back that much. The Blue Jays are certainly a team to watch out for because they like power bats and they have a need at both right field and 1st base. Trumbo could play either of those positions and he would be a good signing for the Blue Jays because he is a solid middle of the lineup hitter.

Prediction: Signs with the Blue Jays

8. Dexter Fowler – Outfielder – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Fowler is a tremendous leadoff hitter because of his tremendous speed and ability and to get on base. He had a solid year with a .276 average and 13 home runs for the Cubs which puts him in line to get paid a pretty good contract. The Cardinals, Rangers, White Sox, and Braves all could have interest in Fowler this offseason. However, I don’t really see him leaving the Cubs. He seems to like playing for Chicago and they won’t be the same team without him leading off their lineup.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

9. Mike Napoli – 1st baseman – Former Team: Cleveland Indians

Mike Napoli really helped his free agent value by proving that he still has tons of power as he hit 34 home runs for the Indians last season. He also is a terrific defensive player which will help give some confidence to teams about signing him. Toronto, Minnesota, and Seattle could have interest in Napoli on a short-term deal. However, Indians manager Terry Francona has a good connection with Napoli and the team will likely have a lot of interest in bringing him back. His offensive consistency is a little bit concerning, but I don’t see much of a scenario where Napoli leaves Cleveland.

10. Mark Melancon – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Washington Nationals

Mark Melancon doesn’t have the power arm that Jansen and Chapman have, but if you look at the stats Melancon has been just as productive as those guys have been in recent years. Melancon had a 1.64 ERA last season and 47 saves with the Pirates and the Nationals and the Dodgers, Nationals, Giants, and Diamondbacks all could have interest in him. The Nationals probably want to sign either Jansen/Chapman since they are younger and they are harder-throwing closers. However, I believe the Giants could make a strong push to sign Melancon. It’s no secret that the Giants bullpen was terrible last season and it’s also no secret that the Giants are going to try to sign either Jansen, Chapman, or Melancon to fill their closer’s role. I can’t really see the Giants spending outbiding the Nationals, Dodgers, and Cubs for Chapman and Jansen, so it appears they’ll be stuck signing Melancon and I’m sure they’re fine with that.

Prediction: Signs with the Giants

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