The Nats Are Broken, Let’s Fix Them, Part II

Last offseason I wrote one of my favorite posts using the brilliant wisdom of anonymous internet commenters to “fix” the Nationals in nine “brilliant” moves. Obviously this was tounge-in-cheek as the moves were insane and the results were terrible. Shockingly the Nationals ignored their ideas and went on to win 96 games, but still failed to win a playoff series. That sort of failure is unacceptable and I’m here to help.

This time I’ll be taking anonymous comments as tweeted out by the always helpful @MASNCommenter, but this time I’m really going to try to improve the team. On top of that the Lerner family has been fairly forthwith in their desire to cut payroll, so I’ll help them out there too, making sure these moves cut at least a little money out of their bloated budget. Finally, we will take these comments at their word, if they say a trade can happen, it will happen.

To track the difference in team quality I’m using the 2015 WAR projections on FanGraphs Depth Charts. In cases where a player is eligible for arbitration I’m using MLBTradeRumors’ arbitration projections and for free agents I’m using FanGraphs’ crowdsourced median projection contract.

With these rules and tools in mind let’s get on with the show, but not without a sincere thank you to those brilliant baseball minds who selflessly lend their assistance anonymously without asking for anything in return. As Kevin Durant once said “You the real MVP.”

 

1.

Since this tweet included “for starters” it seems like a perfect place to begin our offseason of dominance. Zimmerman was a great part of Nationals history, but the key word there is history. The Nats owe him a lot of money for someone who is stuck at first base and that’s not to mention the injury issues the past three seasons. Ramos can’t stay on the field either and even when he can he can’t come close to matching the production of Buster Posey. Posey is an annual MVP candidate on a fairly reasonable contract, perfect for our purposes. With the loss of Zimmerman the Nationals will need a new first baseman, but we’ll put a pin in that for now.

Players Added: Buster Posey

Players Removed: Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos

WAR Difference: 0.3 wins

Salary Difference: $0.7 million

 

2.

While we’re talking to the Giants we might as well swing our other deal with them. We’re packaging two lousy, overrated starting pitchers and a player to be named later for a three-time World Series champion. How could anyone say no to that? Bumgarner is a year younger than Strasburg and was just named World Series MVP. Meanwhile Strasburg has made exactly one postseason start and lost. This is a perfect move toward our goal to finally winning a playoff series. Gonzalez is collateral damage to get rid of that bum Strasburg, but all he did was get in the way of allowing Tanner Roark start a playoff game anyways, so it’s not a huge loss. We’ll need to add another starter, but with Blake Treinen, Taylor Jordan and A.J. Cole all in the wings that won’t be a big hurdle. And we get a huge savings in salary, so it’s a win-win-win.

Players Added: Madison Bumgarner, Blake Treinen

Players Removed: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez

WAR Difference: -1.8 wins, -1.5 wins total

Salary Difference: $11.85 million, $12.55 million total

 

3.

The Nationals have a big hole at second base that needed to be addressed and address it we have. Kendrick is one of the best offensive second baseman in baseball and was worth 5.4 rWAR last season. Detwiler meanwhile is dead money, taking up a chunk of payroll just to be an ill-used long man. The Angels have been said to be shopping Kendrick in the last year in his contract and Detwiler will help their struggling starting pitching corps. It seems to be a match made in heaven. Xavier Cedeno can take over as the third lefty in the pen behind Jerry Blevins and Matt Thornton.

Players Added: Howie Kendrick, Xavier Cedeno

Players Removed: Ross Detwiler

WAR Difference: 3.3 wins, 1.8 wins total

Salary Difference: $-6.7 million, $5.85 million total

 

4.

We’re just moving through the Western division teams as we help take some big unsightly contracts off the Rockies’ hands, while getting rid of one of our own in Werth. When healthy Tulowitzki is one of the best players in the game and Gonzalez is no slouch. With the Nationals seemingly at an impasse in contract extension talks with Desmond, it’s probably best to trade him now when they can still get something back in return before he leaves them next offseason. While Werth has been great the last couple years, he isn’t getting any younger and it’s best to sell high before he sees his value plummet. This also opens up right field for Bryce Harper.

Players Added: Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez

Players Removed: Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth

WAR Difference: 2.0 wins, 3.8 wins total

Salary Difference: $-4.0 million, $1.85 million total

 

5.

Now this may sound impossible, but that’s just because you don’t keep up with baseball news quite as well as this brilliant baseball mind. What many don’t know is that teams are allowed to trade the competitive balance draft choices that MLB doles out every year, as long as cash isn’t included in the deal. While the commenter didn’t specify which team the Nats will trade these two to it will have to be one of these twelve teams. This allows the Nats to garner huge savings in payroll while getting rid of two bad pieces and picking up a draft pick. Storen blew yet another playoff save in 2014 and is clearly standing in the way of more Nats playoff success. While Espinosa’s struggles at the plate just don’t make him a useful player in 2015. This is what we in the business call an addition by subtraction. Ryan Mattheus can take Storen’s spot in the pen and Pedro Florimon can take over the backup middle infield job.

Players Added: Danny Espinosa, Drew Storen

Players Removed: Ryan Mattheus, Pedro Florimon

WAR Difference: -0.8 wins, 3.0 wins total (Note: I halved Espinosa’s WAR projection to be in line with his backup role)

Salary Difference: $7.1 million, $8.95 million total

 

6.

I told you we would put a pin in that new first baseman and now it’s time. Adam Dunn is retired so we can’t bring him back, but we can finally bring Beast Mode back to DC. Fans will be happy, “Friends in Low Places” never has to be played during the seventh inning again and Morse’s World Series experience will help these Nats when they make their playoff push. As the commenter said the Nats never should have let Morse go in the first place and it’s about time he came home.

Players Added: Michael Morse

Players Removed: None

WAR Difference: 0.2 wins, 3.2 wins total

Salary Difference: $-7.0 million, $1.95 million total

And there we have it, a new and improved Nationals club that is ready for a long postseason run. Let’s take a look at the new 2015 Washington Nationals.

Starting Lineup:

  1. Anthony Rendon, 3B
  2. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
  3. Buster Posey, C
  4. Bryce Harper, RF
  5. Carlos Gonzalez, LF
  6. Howie Kendrick, 2B
  7. Michael Morse, 1B
  8. Denard Span, CF

Rotation:

  • Madison Bumgarner
  • Jordan Zimmermann
  • Doug Fister
  • Tanner Roark
  • Blake Treinen

Bench:

  • Steven Souza Jr.
  • Pedro Florimon
  • Kevin Frandsen
  • Jose Lobaton
  • Nate McLouth

Bullpen:

  • Closer – Tyler Clippard
  • Set Up Man – Matt Thornton
  • Set Up Man – Aaron Barrett
  • Middle Reliever – Ryan Mattheus
  • Middle Reliever – Jerry Blevins
  • LOOGY – Xavier Cedeno
  • Swing Man – Craig Stammen

That’s a good looking squad. It’s 3.2 projected wins better and will provide nearly $2.0 million in payroll relief. Yet again, Rizzo, you’re welcome.

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