Posts Tagged ‘free agency’

Washington Nationals Rumors: Give Me Some Mo

Wily Mo Pena Sticks With The Nats

Wily Mo Pena Sticks With The Nats

The World Series is over, free agents are filing by the dozens, and the rumor mill is HEATING UP. The Nationals have already taken part in two major transactions:

  • Nationals Deny Wily Mo Pena’s $5MM club option. Wily Mo Exercises $2MM Player Option: In an earlier post, I classified Wily Mo Pena as a has-been. Or is it a never-was. There are some out there who see Wily Mo as a young Adam Dunn. I see the similarities. Under ideal circumstances both will hit between .200 and .250 with 40+ HR and over 100 strikeouts. Things have not been ideal for Wily Mo in the past four years, especially since the Red Sox arguably ruined his career by benching him for two years, and partially because he’s been splitting his playing time with Willie Harris and Austin Kearns on the Nats. There are really two options for dealing with this guy. Either show some faith and tell him left field is his for one year, go prove yourself kid, or send him down to the minors where he can be an everyday guy, and at least work his way to some kind of respect for his next free agent period. Do not bench him because it would ruin what hope their is that he will turn his career around in any city.
  • Chad Cordero Becomes Free Agent: Dierkes summarizes this move well. “Nationals reliever Chad Cordero was outrighted to Triple A today.  He refused the assignment and is now a free agent.  This comes as no surprise, as GM Jim Bowden admitted in July that he would non-tender Cordero.” Cordero will be healthy in time for spring training. Unless the Nats are thinking about spending huge money on a guy like Francisco Rodriguez, Brian Fuentes, or Trevor Hoffman, which I don’t think they should, Cordero has to be re-signed. The Nats still have Joel Hanrahan, but CBS Sports Fantasy Analysis is right on when they say that “Hanrahan doesn’t get many save opportunities and doesn’t have the best stuff anyway. Think of him as a last-resort Fantasy option.” Cordero has proven that he can save a game, has a lower average ERA by about a point over Hanrahan, and is still only 26 years old. I stand by my analysis that Hanrahan/Cordero as an 8th/9th inning combo is potent enough for the Nats. They need to spend their money elsewhere anyway.

There have been two recent rumors that suggest that the Nationals may be ready to part with some big money and some big talent this offseason to become contenders sooner rather than later.

  • A Trade For Matt Holliday? Says Troy Renck of the Denver Post: “Holliday, who will be a free agent after next season, is monitoring the trade speculation. He turned down a multiyear contract offer last spring, and there has been no progress on a new deal since. The usual suspects will be involved for Holliday, namely Boston, the Phillies, Yankees, Angels, Mets and possibly even teams like the Royals and Nationals.” Well, it would take a huge amount of young talent and a huge contract extension. It would be a long shot for the Nats to pull the deal off and it would cost them a boatload. It would also mean a Wily Mo Pena decision. He would probably get the bench. Eh.
  • A.J. Burnett In DC? If A.J. Burnett opts-out of his contract and becomes a free agent, there will be several teams courting him. Jerry Crasnick over at ESPN believes “among the… teams that could be in the mix for Burnett: the [Blue Jays,] Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Red Sox, Orioles and Nationals.” This one makes more sense and seems more possible if the Nationals are willing to spend some cash. The Nationals would be smart to consider guys like Burnett and Freddy Garcia who have had some injuries in the recent past. Other teams will be a bit more hesitant, yet both are young enough to overcome physical hardship to win 15-20 games. The Nationals really need that and can afford to take a risk more than other teams can given their recent abismal performances. Again, Odalis Perez is no ace.

More on the Nats when it happens.

The Great Washington Nationals Overhaul: 08-09

“Congratulations to the Washington Nationals for not being the first to lose 100 games this year.” Those are the paraphrased words that can be found in in my colleague Patrick’s recent season wrapup for the Nats. Now the team is faced with an important off-season during which they will have to rebuild. There are some important things I’d like to note about the coming off-season. Please feel free to weigh in.

  • The Nationals MUST re-sign Odalis Perez (SP). Though he did not win as many games as was expected (7-12), he is cheap, and most importantly he wants to be here. Not many clubs in the situation of the Nationals can boast a veteran pitcher who wants to stay despite the lack of contention. His influence on young pitchers has been phenomenal. Re-sign him now!
  • The Nats must let go of Aaron Boone. As a recent transplant from the New York area, I can sympathize with Boone. He gave me, along with millions of others, one of baseball’s greatest moments. But it is difficult to ignore the fact that he gets hurt an awful lot, and does not regularly make it through the season. His veteran influence will be missed, but there are others who can fill his shoes.
  • First draft pick this year goes to the Washington Nationals. Think about how similar the Nats of today are to the Devil Rays of the not-so-distant past. The youth movement is alive and well in DC.
  • A look at the Nationals depth chart reveals a strong set of position players, especially when you consider what guys like Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Emilio Bonifacio, Ryan Zimmerman, and even Nick Johnson will contribute in the near future- they are headed into their prime. There are several faces that need to go, though I’m not sure it will happen in this off-season. Outfielders Willie Harris and Ryan Langerhans are heading into their thirties, and neither have made the transition to the major leagues. The Red Sox ruined Wily Mo Pena by benching him for two years, and he doesn’t fit in DC anyway. Dmitri Young is (unfortunately) locked in through next season, but Nick Johnson is the present and the future. Young’s career is in a nose-dive.
  • Pitching is a much more difficult scenario. Though Perez should stay, he is not an ace. Tim Redding is washed up, and he must go. The rest of the staff is very young, and very under-prepared. It is likely that many of them would only be getting spot starts on just about any other major league team. But keep them, and keep them in the majors. They will mature as players, and some may become exceptional. In the meantime, sign two front end pitchers- not necessarily CC Sabathia type aces, but winners.
  • I have faith in the Nationals bullpen. They have been shaky, but not horrible as a whole, and the combo of Chad Cordero and Joel Hanrahan promises to be impressive in years to come.
  • So here’s my free-agent shopping list for the Washington Nationals this year:
  1. Odalis Perez (SP): Resign him.
  2. Ivan Rodriguez (C): He is not needed by the Yankees anymore since Jorge Posada will be back. Though Pudge is experiencing a downturn in career numbers, he has a tremendous talent for working with the young pitchers who make up the vast majority of the Nationals staff. He will contribute by getting on base, and he has always performed best on teams outside of the spotlight. He will also come at a bargain price after his mediocre performance in Pinstripes.
  3. Adam Dunn (LF): I rarely disagree with Tim Dierkes, but I simply do not believe the Nationals are at the beginning of a “long rebuilding process.” I think that they are nearing the end of one. Nats GM Jim Bowden likes Dunn (they were both Reds at one point) and wants to inject the team with power. That is exactly what the Nationals need. Dunn will drive in a ton of runs, create the kind of adrenaline and fan involvement that only a home-run hitter can, and he will help the Nationals grow into its big market. I don’t really know what there is not to like about Dunn in DC.
  4. Freddy Garcia (SP): Now is the perfect time for a club like the Nats to make a move on Garcia. He recently recovered from an injury and pitched fairly well for the Tigers in three games. He will be a major bargain given his time on the DL, but there will be teams after him, especially Detroit. If the Nationals make a bold move and outbid the bargain-hunters, promising Garcia the ace slot, he can be won. Remember, this is a guy with a world series ring who has won between 14 and 18 games five times. Go get him!
  5. Oliver Perez (SP): He has not yet mastered consistency, but he is still young- young enough to live up to the tremendous potential that this 180 strikeout season represents, but also old enough to help guide the younger pitchers. Perez will thrive where he can be a leader, as well as a student. He will also have a lot to learn if the Nationals can manage to pair him up with Pudge Rodriguez.

There are very few people who are willing to watch an atrocious baseball team. The Rays, Nats, and Royals can all attest to that. But Washington DC has the potential to be a massive market, particularly with the ease of travel that the Metro system offers. All that is required is some wise money spent along with continuous nurturing of the phenomenal youth movement taking place in the Nationals organization.

And in case anyone is interested, my prediction is Red Sox vs. Dodgers, Dodgers in 6.

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