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Hard not to like Fister trade for Nationals

Dec 3, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

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Mike Rizzo was determined to bolster the Nationals’ rotation this winter, and he didn’t sound too keen on going back to the same free-agent well he delved into the last two offseasons. No, it became obvious early on the Nats’ general manager wanted to acquire a starter via trade, perhaps one not all that dissimilar to the Dec. 2011 deal that brought Gio Gonzalez to D.C. for four young players.

Early speculation had Rizzo targeting two of the biggest names out there: Max Scherzer and David Price. Trouble is, Cy Young Award winners don’t come cheap, and Rizzo wasn’t about to deal away the likes of Anthony Rendon or Lucas Giolito to acquire one of those aces.

In Doug Fister, though, Rizzo found his ideal match: A rock-solid starter with multiple years of club control who could be had for second-tier talent.

Truth be told, it’s hard to imagine anyone could acquire a pitcher of Fister’s caliber for the seemingly low price the Nationals paid: Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and Robbie Ray.

Yes, Ray is a quality pitching prospect, a 22-year-old lefty with a golden arm. But the 2010 draft pick remains a long-term project and ranked only fifth in the Nationals’ farm system according to Baseball America, behind Giolito and A.J. Cole and on par with fellow lefty Sammy Solis.

Lombardozzi, while well-liked by teammates and fans alike, is destined for a career as a light-hitting utilityman, an infielder whom the Nationals didn’t trust to play shortstop at the big-league level. And Krol, while promising, was exposed a bit during the second half of his rookie season and remains far from a sure thing at this point.

What did the Nationals get in return for those three? Would you believe one of the 10 best starting pitchers in baseball? Yeah, seriously.

Fister may not boast the public accolades afforded his former teammates in Detroit, Scherzer and Justin Verlander, but he has been remarkably effective. His adjusted ERA over the last three seasons — taking into account ballpark factors — is tied with James Shields and Cole Hamels for sixth-best in the majors. That’s right behind Gio Gonzalez and right ahead of Jordan Zimmermann.

Want more? Fister’s 12.6 total WAR over the last three seasons ranks ninth among all big-league pitchers. His 4.1 WAR from this past season outranked anyone from the Nationals’ rotation.

He also boasts impressive October experience, having posted a 2.98 ERA in eight career postseason starts. The last six all were quality starts.

Fister is one of the sport’s best groundball pitchers; his 55 percent rate this year ranked third among qualifying pitchers. He’s also one of the game’s best at holding runners on base; opponents are only 16-for-30 in stolen base attempts against him over the last four seasons.

Now, the best part: Fister’s numbers should improve thanks to this trade. He gets to face NL lineups, building off his MLB-best 2.04 career ERA against the senior circuit. And he gets to induce all those groundballs in front of a Nationals infield that far outranks the Tigers’ foursome.

And, to top it all off, Fister will be wearing a Nationals uniform for at least the next two seasons. He’ll earn some nice raises through arbitration — likely $6 million to $7 million in 2014, then higher in 2015 — but he can’t become a free agent until the 2016 season.

Which means every member of the Nationals’ projected rotation — Stephen Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Fister, Ross Detwiler — is under club control for at least the next two seasons, with Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan ready and available if the need arises. That’s mighty impressive. On paper, of course.

Still, it seems all but certain Fister will be an upgrade over the two starters who essentially held his spot the last two years. Would you rather have Doug Fister for two years and roughly $15 million, or Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren for two years and $24 million? Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

Every acquisition, of course, looks good in December. The Haren signing was met with overwhelming support one year ago, and we all saw how that turned out.

But if Rizzo’s goal was to add a quality starter to his already-deep rotation, and not to give up too much either in dollars or prospects to do it, he certainly went to bed last night feeling mighty upbeat.

  1. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    I feel very content this morning — unusual for me, I know. Finally, another pitcher who can throw 200 innings, meaning a big plus for the BP. At least nine of the12 pitchers will be better as a result. Lombardozzi gone — although I was reconciled to having him stay — means an opportunity/necessity to get better, more athletic on the bench, even if it means Walters or Kobernus. Taylor Jordan is guaranteed to get needed experience at Syracuse before being thrown to the wolves on a full-time basis. Giolito need not be rushed. By signing Ohlendorf the Nats send a message to the rest of baseball: “Sign w/ us, you’ll get a chance and if you succeed you’ll be rewarded.” The Solis experiment in the BP seems more likely. With Ohlendorf, Roark and Stammen the Nats have redundancy that could be turned into trade chips. What’s not to like?

    • alexva6 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:15 AM

      +1

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        Theo, like you I’m a tough customer to please. I was concerned Rizzo would pursue another question mark pitcher and overpay so I was hoping for no trades as I figured Rendon would be included in any trade.

        Well Rizzo didn’t overpay (probably underpaid where he should be searched for shoplifting) and he got a pitcher who has a proven track record that isn’t a reclamation project or a “hope and pray” type of player. Fister is the real deal.

        If you read my comments on August 17, 2011 when Seattle traded him to Detroit I was slightly agitated that Rizzo missed out on Fister then as Detroit stole him. 2nd time around is fine.

  2. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Plus one hoped-for benefit from the non-tender list: No one on this blog will be slavering for Rizzo to sign any of them.

  3. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    I was traveling yesterday and only learned of this trade late last night at PDX (letting out a bit of whoop which startled the folks sitting near me in the terminal). From everything I can see, this is a superb move by the Nats. It avoided dipping into a free agent pool that just wasn’t that impressive (and might well have cost a draft choice). It produced an established starter who isn’t a reclamation project (or otherwise coming off a down year). The cost is more than manageable (as several posters noted in last night’s thread). And it puts Doug Fister, a pitcher I’ve been very impressed with over the past couple of seasons, into a Nats uniform for at least two seasons. Wow. Good job, Mr. Rizzo.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      One add on: I also think the re-signing of Ross Ohlendorf is an excellent complement to the trade for Mr. Fister. In addition to the top four, the Nats now have at least four more pitchers with decent MLB starting experience to compete for the fifth rotation spot. And that also means you’ve still got some depth (whether stashed at AAA or in the bullpen) to fill-in as needed given the inevitable injuries (hopefully minor) and DL stints (hopefully short) for the eventual starting five. A good day all around in Nats land.

  4. mauimo22 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    In Rizzo We Trust!

    I think that Matt Williams is gonna surprise us all and help us as a club get better, doing the little things right and eliminating the silly mistakes and errors of a season ago. And he can certainly help Zim with his errors from 3rd base!

    Both Zim and LaRoche need to become more consistent and clutch hitters. There were too many times last season that these guys could not drive the ball deep or find a gap. Man on 3rd with one out? That should be an automatic run! Matt Williams will help us deliver these ducks on the pond and make sure they’re not lame ducks.

    Go Nats!!!

  5. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    Fister’s physical is all clean, right? I am surprised we got him for Lombo and co.

    Now sign Tanaka for fifth spot in rotation, put TJ as insurance in AAA, RD as long man/spot starter in bullpen, and Solis as lefty specialist.

    then move on to fixing lineup.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      Love your thinking, but not sure that’s going to happen.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        Yes, I doubt that myself. I think TJ/RD fight it out for fifth spot with TJ holding the edge.

  6. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    I think the unmentioned thing that is hilarious is an 18 year old blogger from SB Nation is the one that broke this story, he broke Nolasco as well. Well Done Chris Cotillo, well done.

  7. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    You know, Fister could have an ERA of over 4 (well above his career mark of 3.54) and it would STILL be a good deal for the Nats. That’s how good of a deal this is. I’m still amazed at how Rizzo did this.

  8. iconicwoodencap - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    +1 to all the praise for this trade. Being less familiar with this kind of situation, I have a question for the more learned insiders.

    How much impact does changing leagues have for a starting pitcher. It would seem to me there might be an initial drop-off in effectiveness as he pitches to unfamiliar batters. Is this an issue? If so, any thoughts on the timeframe for getting up to speed, so to speak?

    • MicheleS - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Doesn’t the pitcher always have the advantage?

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      Well Gio Gonzalez crossed over from the AL last year, remember. He had a 2.89 ERA. I don’t think it’s much of a factor.

    • NatsLady - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      Usually going from the AL to the NL is an advantage to the pitcher, because there is no DH. Also, Fister being a ground ball guy, suffered from the Tigers’ poor infield (Cabrera and Fielder at the corners). If RZ’s shoulder is good and Rendon is solid at 2B, Fister could actually improve.

    • masterfishkeeper - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      It’s generally believed that the pitcher has the advantage switching leagues. Given that the umpires are shared by the leagues, the strike zone doesn’t change, and it’s harder for a hitter to hit against a pitcher he’s never seen before.

      As others have noted, his ERA should drop in the NL, without the DH. Washington’s defense should be better than Detroit’s too, so he’s got a chance to be really good.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:11 AM

        More good points on the acquisition. Unfortunately the Nats corner UZR was as bad as Detroit’s which is hard to believe that could be the case when comparing Miggy/Prince to RZim/ALR but it’s fact.

        I believe this is where Matt Williams and the new defensive coordinator will pay dividends and must improve on infield corner D. If they do, expect even better numbers from Fister and Taylor Jordan.

  9. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Fister’s Pitchf/x

    Do velocity numbers raise a flag for anyone? I just see some negative differences in velocity for some of his pitches but I don’t know how meaningful that is.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      He’s not a fireballer. He’s a groundball finesse pitcher who hits his spots and creates movement. It’s a smart divergence for Rizzo. It’s clearly not all about Velo!

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      Fastball velocity is the only one you should care about. His fastball velocity in 2013 was 88.6. It’s down a tick from 2012, but his career average fastball is 88.8. So it’s not significant. Hitters actually did worse against his fastball this year than they have any year except 2011.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      great, thanks for putting some uneasy feelings to rest guys.

  10. MicheleS - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Considering Tigers fans are throwing a hissy fit and the Braves fans are ticked off and Phillie fans are just resigned to another terrible year, this trade makes me happy

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      Oh yes, that shot an arrow in the hearts of many Barves fans. They have lots of issues for 2014 and all of a sudden they are looking more “righthanded” with the loss of McCann.

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    With the addition of Fister and signing Ohlie, the Nats payroll projection is about $127 million. You have to believe Rizzo will spend $4 to $5 million overhauling the bench.

    Still a possibility of trading Stammen or Clippard from the bullpen I believe and hope it’s not Clippard.

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      Stammen is stlll very affordable. He’s only due 1.5 mil. There is no reason to trade him. I’m also not sold that Clippard will be traded. Rizzo said he knew the payroll would go up and that’s part of a winning team and that the Lerners are willing to pay it. Rizzo saw first-hand last year how important the bullpen is (see: difference from 2012 to 2013). Trading away your best relief pitcher isn’t smart.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:14 AM

        David, with Ohlie signed and the need for lefties in the bullpen I think Stammen could be the odd man out and good trade bait. The fact he is cost controlled makes him more desirable.

  12. natsjackinfl - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    On another note, how much fun is it going to be watching A Pierzynski and Brian McCann square off when the Bosox and Yankees get together next season?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      I’m just glad McCann is far away from the NL East. Speaking if the AL East the Os as I predicted dumped salary and traded Jim Johnson. What a scammer up there.

    • knoxvillenat - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      Missed that Bosox signing of AJ……how many years, how many $$$$$?

  13. dcnatz - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Hello everyone…..I read the articles and comments here regularly, but this is my first time post. I’ve been a regular over on FedBaseball, MASN and the official Nationals site for years. Looking forward to entering the discussions here and hopefully adding to what I see as well thought out and discussed topics.

  14. dcnatz - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    I love this trade…..two things that have not been discussed very much, are the facts that I believe this opens a spot on the 40 Man Roster, AND if my memory serves me correctly, Fister is a gem at holding runners and not allowing steals…..a weakness that most Nats pitchers possess. SIAP by one of the other regulars here….if so, I obviously missed it.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Yes, we move fast here and I covered the 40 man vacancy which is a bonus and someone posted up an ESPN link on how proficient Fister is at holding runners.

      Good that you hit some key points.

      Welcome aboard! You were a courageous person to post on the Nats site.

  15. water47 - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Ghost,

    Speaking of reclamation projects. They are appropriate in certain situations. Lately, they have been signing players to fill real needs and that is a tough gamble. But now, with this signing, I think the Nats are poised to make a few reasonable gambles. How about Andrew Bailey? He will not be back until next year and by then Soriano will be gone and the cost of Storen and Clip will make it tough to keep both.

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      I’d rather go after Eric O’Flaherty if we’re taking a risk. I’d also take a flyer on Daniel Hudson.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        Two back-to-back TJS do not sound good. He is likely gonna be a FA until next off-season.

      • jd - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:32 AM

        David,

        Totally agree. very little risk and I like the upsides.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      Reclamation projects are great if they come with MiLB options. Bailey is interesting for sure. Rizzo has 2 reclamation projects and they are LaRoche and to a lesser extent Hairston.

      The LaRoche gamble is the biggest one Rizzo is taking. With his defensive range regression and the 2013 offensive issues we have to hope this internal reclamation pays off.

      Rizzo learned that even Garza and Ubaldo might have been too risky. After Wang, EJax and Haren, Rizzo wanted a surer thing in Fister and got him!

      • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        The good news re: LaRoche’s defense is that he’s had bad defensive seasons before (worse than 2013 even) and rebounded to post very good defensive years. So that might not be age or something irreversible.

        He’s never had a year as bad as 2013 offensively (except his injured 2011), so he’s in uncharted waters there.

  16. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    I know our bullpen is far from set but I think we should look into improving lineup now. If Rizzo can get creative and upgrade 1B, that would be nice. I just don’t see many options for that and hope for ALR to bounce back to better numbers than 2013.

  17. Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

    At least, according to one commenter, presumably a Tigers fan, on Dakota Gardner’s blog last night, “FYI Nats fans. .this guy can field his position like a shortstop and hits too!! You’ll LOVE him!”

  18. Section 222 - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Ghost mentioned the new defensive coordinator. That’s definitely an added bonus to this trade. The Nats will likely employ shifts and data based defensive positioning much more this year. That helps groundball pitchers, and Fister is a groundball pitcher. I’m assuming the Tigers didn’t do much shifting (or if they did it didn’t matter because of the lack of mobility of their corner infielders). So this should give Fister an added boost as he moves to the NL.

    I set my DVR to record Hot Stove, Inside MLB, Clubhouse Confidential, and MLB Tonight today. Looking forward to some Nats-centric discussion. Those guys almost always favor experienced players over prospects (except if it’s a No. 1 prospect like Wil Myers), so I’m guessing they will really like the trade from the Nats point of view.

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      I watched Hot Stove and they only talked about what it meant for the Tigers. They didn’t talk about us AT ALL.

      • Section 222 - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:50 AM

        that’s pathetic.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:52 AM

        Jim Duquette on Fister to Nats on Hot Stove

        Inquiring minds, an’ a’ that.

  19. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Most of us think Rizzo still needs to spend real money ($4MM?) on a veteran backup catcher. If he’s truly concerned about his budget he could spin Soriano (eat the deferred money?) for a decent bench player. If Pfister gives him 200+ innings he needs one less 70+ innings relief pitcher.

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      I’m not sure why people think he’s worried about the budget. He’s said he’s not. We’ve not seen any cost-cutting measures. I mean, I’m sure there’s a limit to how much the Lerners will spend at some point, but it doesn’t seem like we’re there yet.

      • Theophilus T.S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:52 AM

        I agree with you. My euphoria is ebbing and I’m lapsing into wishful thinking.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:53 AM

        Well, they won’t put out the $300,000,000 for a new roof.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:55 AM

        It’s not so much the budget as it is the depth in the front of the bullpen that I referred to. Nice to have surplus and I think Rizzo has another trade chip now that he re-signed Ohlie.

  20. hitmeimopen - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    While I like this trade, I would caution anyone uttering phrases such as ‘best rotation in the league’ before it’s proven. What I saw this past season in Gio and Stras are two woefully deficient youngsters who are prone to lose their cool at the first sign of adversity.
    Will having a moundmate like Fister around give them an example of how it’s done? Maybe, but I thought that was Haren’s fringe benefit and it never really showed.
    I would be more concerned about the two untouchables in the rotation we already have than start glowing about any trade to bolster it. Kinda like polishing a turd in a way.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:04 AM

      That’s a valid concern, obviously, but I think you do them both a slight disservice to say it didn’t improve. Strasburg seemed to make a noticeable effort to “pick up” his infielders after errors, after that one notorious meltdown. I think it’s just Gio’s personality to get worked up–he’s an emotional player. So he may just be like that forever. But it didn’t keep him from winning 21 games, so it is not a fatal flaw.

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      Lol. You just called a starter with a career 2.97 ERA and a 21 game winner a “turd.”

  21. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Sec 3, that’s the MLB.com thing, not the MLB Network show. But good to see.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 10:56 AM

      Oh. Thanks, I don’t follow either one. I saw it says “Hot Stove” on the page, but on further consideration, that’s probably not a trademarked term, I suppose.

  22. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    Mike Rizzo will be on Hot Stove tomorrow morning. So it appears they’ll talk about us then.

    • Section 222 - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      Good to know. I expect Brian Kenny will talk about the Nats, or at least about Fister, on his show. He seems to delve into the trade or signing of the day on his Clubhouse Confidential show. Now if Ellsbury or Cano signs today all bets are off.

  23. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Boz’s article:

    “For a team with October ambitions but occasional cases of nerves under pressure, the Nats also liked Fister’s makeup. In the 2012 World Series, Fister was hit in the head by a line drive that bounced all the way to the Tigers centerfielder. The only question seemed to be how badly Fister was hurt, whether he would been to be carried off on a stretcher. When Manager Jim Leyland got to the mound to find out if his pitcher had a concussion, Fister was ready, rattling of where they were, “second game of the World Series” and everything except what he’d had for breakfast. “You’re not going to take me out of the game,” he said.

    Fister walked a man then retired the next dozen Giants in a row. “I just felt bad for the baseball,” the Tigers’ Delmon Young said.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/doug-fister-trade-means-washington-nationals-gm-mike-rizzo-has-had-good-offseason-already/2013/12/03/3593faa2-5c2b-11e3-95c2-13623eb2b0e1_story.html

  24. Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    I was always enamored with Kyle Lohse and now Rizzo got a pitcher who is slightly better and younger and more cost contained in Fister.

    I’m smiling from ear to ear as this is the acquisition to add a +4 to the W column while giving the Nats depth for the #5 and front of the bullpen.

    2 years of team control and that all important Free Agent comp pick bonus!

    By shedding Lombo it’s addition by subtraction on the bench. Rizzo has many options on filling the bench holes which is really his only remaining challenge plus another lefty bullpen arm.

    • Section 222 - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      I was about to rib you on the Fister is “slightly better” than Lohse comment. But then I looked at the Fangraphs chart that someone linked to yesterday:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/nationals-steal-doug-fister-from-tigers/

      You’re absolutely right, Fister has the 13th best total RA-9 WAR over the past 3 years and Lohse is 16th. Fister is also slightly better than R.A. Dickey 14th), Max Scherzer (15th), Annibal Sanchez (17th), and Matt Cain (18th). Hats off to you Mike Rizzo!

  25. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    James Wagner ‏@JamesWagnerWP 4s
    Mike Rizzo says the Nats were originally interested in Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello & Doug Fister. Narrowed down to Fister after GM meetings.

    I think Rizzo made the right choice, given what Scherzer would’ve costed. And Fister is more battle tested and proven than Porcello.

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      Byron Kerr ‏@masnKerr 11s
      Rizzo thought Fister was an “undervalued asset” and got great sabremetric reports on him from #Nats staff

      And here you thought they don’t pay attention to the metrics.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      But with those three, I think you can go to a six man rotation. Wow. That would be intimidating.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      “would have costed?” David, you are better than that.

      • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:16 AM

        Yes, ignore my poor grammar. I occasionally type worse than I speak.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:18 AM

        At least he didn’t write “would of costed.”

  26. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 1m
    Rizzo says #Nats made it clear to teams they weren’t willing to part with a “handful” of prospects in a trade, including Rendon and Giolito

  27. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 32s
    Asked about #Nats’ No. 5 rotation spot, Rizzo declines to say Detwiler has the inside track for job. Makes it sound like an open competition

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 19s
      Rizzo says the Nats are “comfortable” with the depth they’ve got for the fifth rotation spot.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      I’m not surprised Rizzo is being coy about Detwiler — the guy was essentially inactive for the last two months of the season. I’m hopeful Detwiler shows up in ST healthy. A 4-1 RH/LH split in the rotation is not as good as a 3-2 split, and II don’t see any other LH starters on the horizon.

      • Jw - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM

        Best case for Detwiler: bullpen. Worst case: Pattersoned.

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Yeah, I think with Det it’s not so much coy as cautious, for the reasons Theo says.

  28. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 6s
    Rizzo says Anthony Rendon will go into spring as the #Nats’ starting second baseman, but there will be competition at that spot w/ Espinosa.

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      Tho one wonders what Danny could do to win the job, or what Rendon would have to do to lose it.

      • letswin3 - Dec 3, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        I’m pretty sure that the only way Rendon can lose his position to Danny is to tell a joke during a ST team meeting that includes Matt William’s mother in the punchline.

  29. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Adam Kilgore ‏@AdamKilgoreWP 2m
    Boz asked Rizzo about Cano: Answer: “We’re going to do what we have to do to improve the ball club.” Less of a “no” than I expected.

    Well that is interesting.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      I don’t see much point in his saying “no” on Cano right out loud. Let the rest of the GMs wonder if he might be in.

      It’s way too much money and time now, of course–$250 million and 9 years?? Don’t think so.

      I wanted Cano this time last year, when he would have been a 1-year rental but they might have taken a package that included Espinosa. Then take the draft pick when he leaves, and put Rendon in.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        All water over the damned now, of course.

      • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:44 AM

        His price will come down. Rumors have it the Yankees refuse to go near 200M. 180 is their absolute cap. So if we could get Cano for 8/200, would you do it? I’d still say no. But would Mike Rizzo still say no?

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:48 AM

        ” So if we could get Cano for 8/200, would you do it? I’d still say no. But would Mike Rizzo still say no?”

        More to the point, would the Lerners? It depends on how it was structured. If he would take it stretched out over a longer time, then hell yeah. But at $25M per, flat out, until he’s 40 years old? Not so sure. Maybe. Dude can rake.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        bottom line, our position players have to mature. we can’t be borrowing talent from FA or trade all the time.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        But still …

        Span
        Harper
        Cano
        Zimmerman
        Werth
        LaRoche
        Desmond
        Ramos
        Zimmernann/Gonzales/Strasburg/Fister/(Roark | Jordan | Detwiler)

  30. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    I’m not convinced Espinosa makes the roster. I think his best hope is to show competence at the AAA level and get traded. On the other hand, Zimmerman’s pattern is to spend a few weeks on the DL every season and, at some point, to take a 30-day nap at the plate. So there should be opportunities for Espinosa to get some ABs.

    • alexva6 - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      he provides gold glove defense at 2nd and short.

      he only has to hit a little bit to be a valuable substitute, I see him having a bounce back year.

  31. natsfan1a - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Way behind on posts and comments but saw (and liked) the news in the paper this a.m. As we all know, I don’t do armchair GM, but I did remark to my hubby this a.m. that bullpen and bench were likely still on the “to do” list for Rizzo. (He’s like, yeah, whatever, pass the milk.)

    • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      Well Mike Rizzo said almost point-blank that he wants a free agent lefty. He said he likes our internal options (Det, Cedeno, Solis) but he wants to upgrade the position anyway.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        so our RH bullpen is pretty much set, right? Clip, Storen, Soriano, Stammen, Roark/Ohly? lefty is likely to be Solis and RD?

        Bench still needs multiple pieces I think.

  32. David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    I don’t see Solis making the team out of Spring Training. He needs to pitch above A-Ball. He could be up early though. Maybe after whatever the date is to assure another year of team control.

    • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      if he is eventually going to end up in the bullpen, there is not much point in trying to get another year of control. if he were to start or something, I can understand.

      • David Proctor - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

        He would eventually start, but not in 2014.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        What’s the likelihood of that happening?

        anyways, I prefer signing a Howell or a O’Flaherty to handing it to Solis right now.

  33. philipd763 - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Fister trade, Olendorf signing…….both good deals for the Nationals. Things are looking up. Davey is gone and Matt Williams is here, a big upgrade in my opinion. Furthermore, Henry Rodriguez is gone and that’s a huge addition by subtraction.

  34. Manassas Nats Fan - Dec 3, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    I was thinking if the price was low enough, how about Garrett Jones as a left handed bench man?

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