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Nats’ asking price high on Storen and Clippard

Dec 10, 2013, 12:01 PM EDT

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Though several clubs have expressed interest in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, the Nationals’ asking price remains high, with general manager Mike Rizzo seeking a major return for either reliever.

Both Storen and Clippard have been viewed as potential trade candidates since season’s end due to their escalating salaries and the Nationals’ excess of late-inning relievers. Their names have surfaced even more at the Winter Meetings, with more than one club broaching the subject with Rizzo, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The Cubs, in particular, recently initiated trade discussions, with team executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer viewing either Storen or Clippard as a potential closer in Chicago. But those talks haven’t moved beyond preliminary stages, according to sources, and may not advance at all given how much Rizzo is seeking in a deal.

While open to the possibility of trading either right-hander, the Nationals don’t feel any pressure to make a move and are comfortable entering spring training with Storen and Clippard remaining in their setup roles ahead of closer Rafael Soriano.

“We feel good about our seventh- and eighth-inning guys,” Rizzo said Monday.

The Nationals, if they keep everyone, would have one of baseball’s priciest bullpens. Soriano’s 2014 salary is $14 million (though $7 million of that money is deferred). Clippard could earn more than $6 million via arbitration after making $4 million this season. Storen is likely to see his salary rise to about $3.5 million after making $2.5 million this season. And the Nationals still expect to add a veteran left-hander, either through free agency or a trade, who would make seven figures.

  1. Mickey Vernon - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Soriano does not have closing stuff.

    • David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      Yes he does. He just didn’t for a portion of last year. If he can throw the slider, he can strike guys out. He was hanging it too often last year.

  2. Section 222 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Good to be open to dealing Clip and Storen, and good to have a high asking price. Both are proven relievers that should fetch way more than Cutter Dykstra, or even Ian Krol. I hope they are in the bullpen this year, but if a better bench bat than Scott Hairston and a future Tanner Roark are offered, I’ll understand if Rizzo makes a deal.

  3. Section 222 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    I understand the dislike of Soriano. I really do. His blown saves last year were infuriating. But to say that he doesn’t have closer stuff when he had the second most saves in the NL after Craig Kimbrell is just silly.

    • nats128 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      He had a 88% save record where 90% and above is that level the elite closers to achieve. The problem is he doesnt have over powering stuff and then has to rely on movement and location. The good news is that as ugly as some of his save opps were, he got 43 of them of 49.

      Kimbrel blew 3 saves. Soriano blew 6 saves. Not all blown saves become losses. Also its interesting to look at 1 run saves vs. 2 run saves vs. 3 run saves.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        Soriano entered 17 save situations with a 1 run lead. He was also 1 save away from elite status. 2 blown saves from poor fielding plays which includes the SF game where Bryce pulled up at the warning track and Nats lost.

      • nats128 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        Ghost, he also got 1 freebie when Span saved his behind. Doesnt all that even out?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        Yes, they probably do even out, but was 1 blown save from elite. By the way, no bigger blown save than the April 12th vs Atlanta and that was on Drew Storen’s record and also had a bad defensive play.

    • Hiram Hover - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      I won’t bother with saves as an individual stat, both because I don’t think it means that much and because Soriano has been in and out of that role over the last 3-4 years.

      If you look at his other stats since 2010, conventional, advanced, or sabremetric, Soriano has consistently been very good, but not elite – top 20% of relievers, but not top 5-10%,

      His 2010-13 #, inclusive, and where he ranks out of 213 qualifying relievers over that period:

      ERA – 2.67, 37th
      WHIP – 1.11, 35th
      FIP – 3.38, 79th

      There’s not a lot in those #s to intensely dislike. What people do seem to dislike are

      1. his salary (but relievers generally are overpaid, and that’s frankly management’s fault for paying it, not his for taking it), and

      2. his displacement of Drew Storen.

      • Section 222 - Dec 10, 2013 at 6:02 PM

        Right. The comment didn’t say “Soriano is not an elite closer. ” I wouldn’t say that he is. It said, he doesn’t have closer stuff — I think that’s silly. In addition to your reasons, which I agree are the main things that lead people to dislike him, I would add the following things, most of which I think are unfair:

        1. his supposed “surly attitude” — most closers have attitude, that’s kind of a prerequisite for the job.
        2. Untuck!
        3. His snarky comment about Bryce after Bryce misplayed a third out fly ball, even though he apologized and buried the hatchet with Bryce
        4. His supposed inability to pitch well in non-save situations — IIRC, the numbers don’t really bear this out.

  4. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Jon Heyman ‏@JonHeymanCBS 24s
    at least 7 teams in eric chavez market: rangers, rays, pirates, yankees, nats, dbacks, braves

    We’re listed!

  5. Sonny G 10 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Glad Rizzo’s asking price is high. He better have equal or better replacements before he pulls the trigger, though. And I don’t mean potential replacements. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. No going backwards at this point.

    • scnatsfan - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      Agree. No need to move either especially with Mattheus struggles last year. You can never have too many good arms. Unless the deal blows you away then walk away from it.

  6. MicheleS - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    I get why other teams want Clippard and Storen, but really, we need a solid bullpen, Last year being an example of why. We don’t know if Matheus is healed or even ready, the kids in the minors might not be ready, and let’s face it Soriano may be gone after 2014 (not sure how that option for 2015 works) and we will need a closer.

    • letswin3 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      I’m honestly excited to see what Storen does in ’14. He’s obviously changed his delivery, and I think his entire pitching philosophy is in transition too. And, with a little confidence restored, he just might be the closer again in ’15. But that’s a long way off. Let’s just see how things shake out next summer…… but I have a hunch that we may just see some restoration of the efficiency that he showed in ’12.

  7. scnatsfan - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Buzz seems like O’Flaherty is returning to ATL; I wsa hoping his TJ was successful when we were looking at him, now I hope for… (better not said).

  8. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 1m
    Source: 6-7 teams in on Matt Thornton. #Nationals among them.

    • David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      His ERA has gone up 3 straight years, so that’s a concern. But his numbers against lefties are still phenomenal. Only a .638 OPS against him. He’d be a pure LOOGY at this point, I think.

  9. Eugene in Oregon - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Getting caught up on baseball somewhat late this a.m. because of other commitments, but reading through 12-hours’ worth of this blog, MLBTradeRumors, and Twitter posts, you really get a feel for the circular nature of so much of the reporting on the Winter Meetings. Then, despite all the rumors of ‘strong interest’ or ‘intense negotiations’ very little actually happens. Not complaining; that’s just the nature of the beast. In any event, just hoping that the Nats come away with at least a good LH reliever (J.P. Howell or rough equivalent) before all the good ones are taken. Anything more would seem to me to be just a nice lagniappe.

  10. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    William Ladson ‏@washingnats 14s
    #Nats MGR Matt Williams wants Davey Johnson to attend spring training and talk baseball. It’s not known if Johnson will attend.

    That seems like it would be awkward.

    • ArVAFan - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      It’s not as if Davey got fired. He retired from active managing before Matt was hired, and is still on the payroll as a consultant. Spring training seems like a safe place for Matt to listen, learn, filter–and then make his own judgments going forward. And it would be completely different if Davey were asking vs. Matt asking. Now *that* would be awkward.

      That also assumes Mr. Ladson got the facts/rumor correct.

      • David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        Numerous people have reported that Matt Williams personally asked Davey to come to spring training to “pick his brain.” Davey hasn’t responded yet because he doesn’t want to step on toes.

  11. NatsLady - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 6m
    Source: 6-7 teams in on Matt Thornton. #Nationals among them.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=thornma01&year=&t=p

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      His curve looks like further regression but still has decent numbers. Howell is still best available IMO.

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

        His overall numbers have declined, but his numbers against lefties are still excellent. He would need to be a LOOGY and not a setup man at this point in his career. It sounds like Williams wants a setup man, though.

  12. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 12m
    How prepared is Matt Williams? He’s already mapped out the first 25 days of spring training down to the last detail.

  13. David Proctor - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Dan Kolko ‏@masnKolko 23s
    As far as LH relievers, Williams ideally wants 2 – a long reliever and a set-up type who can also get right-handers out, work a full inning

    Sounds like Davey

    • NatsLady - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      Davey had a good idea there, IMO. Just never worked because (a) Zach Duke and (b) you can’t reliably predict when you will need a long reliever (except in September).

      That’s also why his concept of an “A” and a “B” bullpen never really flew. Again, a good idea in theory, but in practice the games–and the weather, and the starting pitchers–are too unpredictable to pre-ordain how you are going to line them up. At best, you can assign “roles” so that relievers have a chance to prepare, even if their preparation is only an inning or so to plan on who they’ll face.

      • nats128 - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Did Davey ever have a A&B bullpen or is that he always had to carry complete garbage? I think its guys you can count on and guys you cant.

        I felt sorry for Davey as Storen wasnt ready to begin the season and Henry Rodriguez never should have been part of the 2013 Nats. Zach Duke never worked out for the Nats which gave Davey 3 guys he couldnt depend on.

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