Nats Trade Ray, et al For Doug Fister

In a trade reminiscent of two Decembers ago, the Nationals have traded LHPs Robbie Ray and Ian Krol along with utilityman Steve Lombardozzi for Tigers RHP Doug Fister.

Fister, who was not drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks but rather the Seattle Mariners in the 7th Round of the 2006 Draft, turns 30 in February but is only in his second year of arbitration eligibility. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2015 season, providing Washington with a in-his-prime pitcher who’s exceeded 200 innings twice in the past three seasons and averaged more than six innings per appearance for his career.

Trade reaction is generally in the direction of adulation (trust me, I wanted to use a stronger word than that; think Apple fans and Jobs) for Washington GM Mike Rizzo’s latest trade or disdain for Detroit GM Dave Dombrowksi.

Then there are those who take the contrarian point of view:

Have to believe Tigers know something about Fister the rest of us don’t. Dombrowski isn’t dumb.
— David Laurila, Fangraphs via Twitter (@DavidLaurilaQA)

Of course, like a hermaphrodite’s knife, this cuts both ways: maybe Rizzo knows something about Ray or Krol like he presumably did with Brad Peacock, who has underwhelmed relative to the expectations set from his rise from AA to the majors in 2011. This is de rigeur with any trade that seems lopsided at first blush, though ultimately, it’s really hard to say that Rizzo “won” the Gonzalez trade. Oakland GM Billy Beane did get a cost-controlled pitcher and catcher and used Peacock to acquire an underrated everyday third baseman, fulfilling his mission to get talent on the cheap [insert “Moneyball” reference here].

From our perspective, it’s yet another reminder that for all our yearnings to see “our guys” with a curly W cap in DC, there’s always the chance that they’ll make The Show elsewhere. While that may be disappointing to some, it’s the reality of a system that’s not been highly regarded in the aggregate in the past couple of years, yet has been generating major-leaguers nevertheless.

This is actually a good sign, evidence that the organization is in the “Replace/Reload Mode” that ultimately is the most important measure of a system: generating players that can play in MLB.

The Preliminary 2014 Watchlist, Part Two

2014 Watchlist
Perhaps the thing I’m most glad about when looking at this iteration is that the M*A*S*H category could very well be ditched in favor of breaking up the DSLers into arms and bats (yes, design does have an influence). There’s a certain sardonic timbre to it as I take a step back and look at this first pass that’s just not as applicable as it was a year ago. But some of the point of this exercise is to share the thought process (hence the previous parenthetical) before changing the “Watchlist and Player Reports” tab above.

Thus, I can tell you that I’ve already changed my mind of some these selections and those of the previous post, which I prefer to treat like a print publication that’s already left the building rather than editing the previous post. That may seem quaint, but it’s a byproduct of my professional training and experience as a Journalist and a newspaperman, respectively. Too many other sites — news or gossip — have the “get it first, fix it later if we have to” mentality. I’d rather be honest and finish the list as if it were done all at once. Besides, I’ve already copped to splitting it into two to maximize traffic ;-).

As always, let me know what you think in the comments…

RHPs LHPs DSL Guys M*A*S*H Notables (Bats) Notables (Arms)
Karns Ray Corredor Garcia Hood Rosenbaum
Barrett Solis Gutierrez W. Estevez Oduber E. Davis
Cole Purke Ortiz Kieboom Keyes Holland
Schwartz Mooneyham Mota Anderson Ramsey Grace
P. Encarnacion Lee Florentino Manuel Rauh
C. Davis Orlan Sanchez Gunter Dickson
Mendez Silvestre Yrizarri Masters R. Pena
Johansen Ott Reyes Yezzo Bacus
Voth Torres Franco Spann
Pivetta Valerio
K. Rodriguez
P. Valdez

The Preliminary 2014 Watchlist, Part One

I’m not sure why, but in assembling this first pass I had the distinct feeling that some of these names probably ought not to be listed, but are because either (A) I’m following the guidelines I’ve set up in years past (B) listing an established guy in a given position feels less disingenuous than slotting in a recent draft pick from a short-season simply because he’s new. I still believe that performance means something — though a lot less than most of us are willing to admit — and if he didn’t do well in Auburn or the GCL last summer, I need (want?) more evidence than merely being drafted.

Part of my ambivalence is knowing that I have two “Notable” categories in which to put such conundrums, though most of these guys are position players. As I wrote last year: They’re a means of acknowledging the ones that don’t quite merit full-fledged watchlist treatment, but are often discussed or mentioned. I guess the real question is whether that’s more appropriate for the “old” guys or the “new” guys. I’m open to a discussion of that, with the reminder that we’re talking about people here and the players, their families, and their agents are reading.

Now, let’s revisit the caveats…

It’s not a depth chart… Obviously, when you arrange it the way I have — by the highest level played to date — it’s going to look like it at first glance. But when there’s a “tie,” I can either go alphabetical order or (for the most part) list the player that played more games at the position/level.

It’s (mostly) based on 2013 usage… I think folks can see that I’m playing a little fast and loose on this one this year… Jeff Kobernus actually played more outfield than infield, but second base has suddenly become a thin position in the minors, in large part because the Nats have been rotating IFs between 2B, 3B and/or SS

It’s preliminary… I like how Sickels takes feedback with his prospect lists, so part of the purpose of these posts is to listen to your comments (the other part is to keep the site fresh and visitors coming, duh).

C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Leon Bloxom Kobernus Walters Skole E. Perez
Nieto Pleffner Hague Martinson Dykstra Goodwin
P. Severino Marmolejos-Diaz Renda Difo J.C. Valdez Souza
Reistetter D. Eusebio Mejia Abreu Ward Burns
B. Miller
W. Ramos
E. Martinez
R. Encarnacion

Happy Thanksgiving

Apologies for the lack of posts lately, but that’s the nature of the offseason in the minors… sometimes there’s something to write about every day, and sometimes it’s like trying to find intelligent conversation on sports talk radio. (And as we saw this week with the Let’s Put A Roof On Nationals Park “story,” this kind of dead zone can be found in the majors, too).

My offline life has also been ultrabusy lately, though I’m expecting a bit of a lull for which I’ve been waiting to attack the next few projects… the 2014 Watchlist… the obligatory Top 10 lists… thoughts on the Top 10/20/25-or-6-to-4 lists of other prospect followers… and cover the Rule 5 draft (which is also a week later than last year).

Despite how much harder it’s been than in years past (see “ultrabusy” above), I still appreciate the opportunity to pass along information and commentary with the kind flair (perhaps not 37 pieces, but I digress) that I wouldn’t be allowed to do elsewhere (i.e. a mainstream newspaper or website). I’m thankful that people somehow like (or tolerate, if you ask my wife) this and appreciate the folks who visit, read, and comment.

As always, travel safe, show some plate discipline, and call your mother!

Nats Trade Abad To Oakland For OF John Wooten

Less than a week after being designated for assignment, LHP Fernando Abad has been traded from the Washington Nationals to the Oakland Athletics for OF John Wooten. It’s the third trade involving the two teams in 2013 (Mike Morse, Kurt Suzuki) and the fifth since 2011 (Suzuki in 2012, Gio Gonzalez in 2011).

As you might imagine for a 37th Round Draft pick, there is very little information on Wooten, aside from his bio from East Carolina University and his collegiate and minor-league statistics. He was not written up by either John Sickels or Baseball America in their 2013 prospect books.

He’s a former teammate of Dakota Bacus — acquired in the previous Washington-Oakland trade — at Beloit, where he hung a line of .257/.333/.430 with 20 HRs (4th best in the league) and 69 RBIs. With the Nats starved for power-hitting OFs (he’s 15 months younger than Brandon Miller), it seems likely that he’ll progress to Potomac and play one of the corner outfielder positions, presuming that he’s not shifted to 1B or slotted behind Estarlin Martinez or Shawn Pleffner on the organizational depth chart.

More Minor-League Signings (UPDATED)

While perhaps stealing the thunder from the next Baseball America transactions post, its primary author Matt Eddy relayed the following signings via the twitters yesterday:

  • RHP Daniel Stange
  • IF Melvin Dorta (re-sign)
  • RHP Chris Young (re-sign)
  • C Jeyner Baez
  • RHP Gabriel Alfaro

OK, now put down your beverage because Stange was originally drafted by… wait for it… the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 7th round of the 2006 Draft. He spent 2013 in the Angels organization, making 26 appearances for AAA Salt Lake with a record of 4-1 with five saves and an ERA of 5.06. He allowed 16 runs on 31 hits over 26⅔ innings while while walking 13 and striking out 30. He made three relief appearances for the Angels in his second MLB stint (the first was in 2010), and was hit hard in his first outing, walking a pair and giving up a walkoff blast in a 14-11 loss to Texas. His second and third outings were scoreless, pitching an inning in an 8-2 win and getting the last out in the top of the 9th in a 6-5 loss (both games vs. Toronto).

Dorta, like Sean McCauley last week, was a player-coach for the Senators in 2013 and looks to be re-upping for the same duty in 2014.

Young, who was signed to a similar deal last offseason, made seven starts for Syracuse and was pounded like a drum to the tune of 31 runs on 50 hits (including nine HR) over 32 innings before going on the DL for most of the season (he made one appearance in the GCL and one in the NYPL in August and September respectively). He reportedly has had surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which nerves and/or blood vessels become compressed in the space between the collarbone and the first (thoracic) rib and causes pain and weakness in the shoulder.

Finally, as noted by Eddy first, the Nationals have released RHP Yunesky Maya after four less-than-stellar seasons. Signed as an IFA in July 2010 to a four-year/$6M contract, Maya made just 16 appearances in the major leagues, 15 of which came in 2010 and 2011. He made 76 of his 79 starts in the minors for Syracuse over the past four seasons and went 24-28 with an ERA of 4.13 over 453⅓ innings with 456 hits and 44 HRs allowed.

The latest BA transaction post was published on Monday. Additions are in blue

…The presumption is that Baez is an IFA, given the surname and the lack of an entry on

…WaPo Nats beat writer Adam Kilgore had the story on Alfaro last week, along with details on the Young contract.

Winter League Update

Monday Morning Box Scores
Time for our semi-weekly update on how the notable Nationals minor-leaguers are doing in the winter leagues. All statistics as of 11/23/2013, 1:19 a.m. EST.


Francisco Soriano DWL 5 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .000 .000 .000 1
Jose Lozada PWL 4 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 0
Michael Taylor PWL 15 57 7 24 3 1 2 5 4 15 .421 .476 .614 2
Adrian Sanchez VWL 20 46 4 11 3 0 0 2 1 8 .239 .271 .304 0
Sandy Leon VWL 18 60 9 17 1 1 1 5 9 16 .283 .377 .383 1
Zach Walters VWL 15 50 6 12 1 0 3 6 6 19 .240 .321 .440 0
Corey Brown VWL 9 27 5 8 3 0 0 5 8 10 .296 .472 .407 0


Yunesky Maya DWL 2 3 0 3.45 6 6 31⅓ 33 15 12 2 5 25 1.21
Rafael Martin MWL 1 1 0 5.28 12 0 15⅓ 17 11 9 3 4 13 1.37
Christian Garcia MWL 0 0 0 2.16 5 0 8⅓ 4 2 2 0 6 8 1.20
Tyler Herron PWL 0 0 7 0.00 9 0 9⅓ 3 0 0 0 4 10 0.75
Danny Rosenbaum VWL 2 2 0 4.28 7 6 27⅓ 36 14 13 3 8 15 1.61

Barrett, Solis & Taylor Added To 40-Man Roster

A couple of mild surprises this year as the Nationals dropped a pair of journeymen lefties in favor of adding RHP Aaron Barrett, LHP Sammy Solis, and OF Michael Taylor to the 40-man roster to avoid exposure to the Rule 5 draft next month.

Barrett was probably the lesser of the two surprises, given his age (almost 26) and function (reliever). As noted yesterday, Barrett seemed a possibility due to the precedent of Erik Davis a year ago, but with his merely average fastball velocity (low 90s) there was reason for doubt. His plus slider — rated as the best in the organization by Baseball America for two years’ running — was apparently deemed to valuable to risk losing.

Even without a strong AFL campaign, chances were Solis would have been protected. The question now is how much longer they’ll wait for him to develop into a starter, especially after not one but two lefthanded relievers were jettisoned. With zero AA experience, and only one year removed from Tommy John surgery, the odds are still good that he’ll pitch every fifth day in Harrisburg for at least a couple of months next season.

Taylor was a bit of a shock because there’s no question that his hitting tools are not major-league ready. It’s possible another team would have taken him, but it’s highly improbable they would have kept him. What now occurs to me — and should have previously — is that his addition gives the team leverage in any possible trade scenario involving either Denard Span or Brian Goodwin. Of course, Occam’s Razor also suggests that the team simply covets his skillset and wanted to eliminate any possible disruption to their plans for him in 2014.

Rule 5 Thoughts

The deadline for teams to file their reserve lists, a.k.a. the day the 40-man rosters have to be set for the Rule 5 draft, is today. This, of course, means it’s time for the annual gnashing our metaphorical teeth over the infinitesmal chance of a “losing” someone significant to another organization (never mind that may actually be better for the player).

Quotes, of course, because nearly every player the Nationals have had selected in the MLB phase since the rules changed in 2007  has been returned and vice-versa. For example, last year Danny Rosenbaum and Jeff Kobernus were selected and both were eventually returned. Two years ago, it was Erik Komatsu and Brad Meyers who were taken and ultimately returned, though both had surgery, which usually happens before the draft.

The rules are pretty simple: Players that signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years or players that signed at 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years — if they’re not on the 40-man by tonight, they’re eligible. This basically boils down to 2010 college picks and 2009 high-schoolers and IFAs, though as noted in the comments, the age 19 thing is as of June 5th of the player’s draft year, so there are some exceptions (e.g. HS pick who was an “academic redshirt”).


Aaron Barrett* Colin Bates Matt Grace* Ricky Hague* Neil Holland
Kevin Keyes* Cole Leonida Jason Martinson Estarlin Martinez Silvio Medina
Christian Meza Randolph Oduber Wander Ramos Adderling Ruiz Cameron Selik
Sammy Solis* Michael Taylor*

The asterisks are 2013 watchlist players, the italics for the pitcher who was hurt. I focus on the first-timers because subsequently eligible players are rarely taken. In fact nearly a quarter of last year’s first-timers are no longer with the organization.

Folks perhaps more obsessed with the Draft than I am may look at this group of players as something of an indictment of the Class of 2010, given that so few of these players have touched AA, never mind AAA. There is still hope for this class to produce more than just one major-leaguer (Harper) with A.J. Cole, Robbie Ray and Solis still in striking distance.

Indeed, it would seem that Solis may be the only player here placed on the 40-man to be protected. You could make the case for Aaron Barrett, too, citing the example of Erik Davis a year ago. What will be more interesting is who will eventually be moved off, though I’ll defer to the folks more versed in roster manuevering to speculate about that.

Minor-League Signings

It’s been largely quiet on the transaction front thus far in the offseason, but there were a couple of signings released in yesterday’s dispatch from Baseball America to pass along:

  • RHP Carlos Acevedo
  • IF Josh Johnson (re-signed)
  • CA Sean McCauley (re-signed)

It’s not entirely clear if it’s this Carlos Acevedo that was signed or another RHP with the same name. If it is the former Cleveland farmhand (who has not pitched since 2011), it’s likely the Nats are repeating what they did with Raul Ruiz, who pitched in the DSL in 2012, one year removed from three seasons in the VSL (2008-2010) with Pittsburgh. Ruiz pitched well (1.77 ERA/3.30 FIP/1.13 WHIP), but was 21 years old. and was released last December. Acevedo turns 21 in January and is also from Venezuela.

McCauley was a player-coach for Potomac last season and appears to be headed towards the same assignment in 2014. He was never activated and has not played professionally since 2009.

Johnson, who was originally drafted by Kansas City in 2004, has been a Washington minor-leaguer since the 2010 season. He spent 2013 splitting time between Harrisburg and Syracuse, batting .267/.350/.453 in 53 games for the Senators and .341/.458/.466 in 35 games for the Chiefs.