Mar 172014
 

Rained-Out-2014The Nats got an extra day off (well, kind of) just before the one official off day in spring training with a rainout of the Nationals-Tigers game in Lakeland.

In a related story, the Nationals announced that Ross Detwiler has been dropped from the battle for the 5th starter’s spot and will being the season in the bullpen. As noted on Twitter, the logical deduction is that Sammy Solis will remain a starter.

Sure enough, within an hour or so, the Nats announced that Eury Perez and Steve Souza were optioned to Syracuse, Solis was optioned to Harrisburg, while Brian Goodwin, Mike Fontenot, and Koyie Hill were reassigned to minor-league camp.

While searching for the appropriate bulldog pic this post was being written, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reported that Hill was subsequently traded to the Phillies for a PTBNL or cash. Two days ago, the Nationals made a similar deal with the Royals for journeyman IF Brandon Laird.

While there may or may not be a relationship between those two trades, one could also infer that Chicago may be edging towards making a decision on Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto. Yesterday, Tyler Flowers was named the starting catcher for the White Sox, thus, the battle for who will back him up has been whittled down by one and there are rumors that Chicago is interested in Yankee backup Francisco Cervelli. Therefore, the trade of Hill may be a signal that Nieto is returning to the organization, which is not a particularly clairvoyant observation as Rule 5 position players are far less likely to “stick” than Rule 5 pitchers.

Feb 232014
 

Transactions for NPP
The Lobaton trade aside, it’s been a pretty quite month for minor-league transactions, but let’s get caught up anyway. Since the end of January, the Nats have signed the following players to minor-league contracts:

  • C Koyie Hill
  • RHP Luis Ayala
  • RHP Josh Roenicke
  • 2B Drew Rossi

Hill spent part of 2012 with Syracuse, batting .163 in 31 games before getting released in early August. The almost-35-y.o. was also invited to Spring Training and remains in camp as one of several catchers perhaps now vying for the backup spot with the Chiefs or Senators.

Ayala returns to Washington after pitching for the Mets, Twins, Marlins, Orioles and Braves from 2009 to 2013, spending all of 2010 in the minors. He was also invited to Spring Training and reportedly has the delusion impression he’ll make the club.

Roenicke has twice been waived in the past three seasons by Toronto and Colorado, spending all of 2013 with Minnesota where he went 3-1 with a save and line of 4.35/4.64/1.60 in 63 appearances. The 31-y.o. Maryland native is married to Nikki Desmond, sister of Ian, and is also in camp as a non-roster invitee.

Rossi is a non-drafted free agent with one season of professional experience, batting an even .300 over 20 games in 2011 as a 22-y.o. with Washington (PA) in the Frontier League. The now-25-y.o., who twice cut from Can-Am League teams in 2012 and 2013, is the son of veteran scout Phil Rossi.

Feb 132014
 

So Long
RHP Nathan Karns was dealt away today to the Tampa Bay Rays for backup catcher Jose Lobaton, LHP Felipe Rivero, and OF Drew Vettleson. The move is expected to put an end to one of the few position battles this spring and clouding the future for a pair of longtime backstops, Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon, who both have one option left.

To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Erik Davis was placed on the 60-man DL with what Washington officials are calling an elbow sprain.

Karns (2012) also becomes the sixth minors’ player or pitcher of the year to be traded since GM Mike Rizzo assumed the helm in 2009, following Derek Norris (2009), Tommy Milone (2010), Brad Peacock and Steve Lombrdozzi (2011), and Billy Burns (2013). (Perhaps the award should be nicknamed Kemmerich’s Cleats?)

Rivero was signed as an IFA in 2008 out of Venezuela and was ranked as Tampa Bay’s #17 prospect overall in the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. He was 9-7 in 23 starts with pitcher’s line of 3.40/3.88/1.37 for High-A Charlotte (FL) in the (usually) pitcher-friendly Florida State League.

He works off a 91-94 FB and features a sharp 12-6 curve and changeup. Both BA and this guy have noted that he has trouble maintaining his speed, which could signal a move to the bullpen. BA was projecting him to pitch for AA Montgomery, so the logical extension is a ticket to Harrisburg this summer.

Vettleson is a 2010 HS pick (1st Rd., supplemental) out of Silverdale, WA and has moved up steadily in his first three years, progressing from advanced rookie Princeton in 2011 to Low-A Bowling Green in 2012 to High-A Charlotte in 2013. He suffered a bit of a power outage in FSL, which both BA and Sickels attributed to issues with plate discipline.

Defensively, Vettleson’s arm is considered above-average but his footwork is considered substandard. Like Rivero, Vettleson was considered on track to play at AA Montgomery, which could force either Caleb Ramsey or Randolph Oduber to repeat Potomac.

Feb 012014
 

Transactions for NPP 2

February has finally arrived… and so has the latest transaction post from Baseball America (and with any luck, my copy of the handbook is in the mail truck I can hear going by; yes, I’m that pathetic).

The Nats have recently signed the following players:

  • LHP Zach Jackson
  • RHP Juan Bermudez
  • RHP Warner Madrigal
  • OF Luis Perdomo

Jackson, who turns 31 in May, is among the plethora of LHPs that the Nats are stockpiling this season. He was originally drafted by Toronto in 2004 and has spent the majority of his career as a starter, making a total of 17 starts for Cleveland and Milwaukee in 2006, 2008, and 2009. He pitched exclusively as a reliever in 2013, making 33 appearances in AA and two in AAA in the Kansas City organization for a total mark of 2-1 with a 1.32 ERA and a WHIP of 0.98.

Bermudez appears to be an IFA, given his surname and the lack of an entry on any of the major baseball stats sites.

Madrigal, 30 next month, is returning to the U.S. after having been sold to the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League by the Arizona Diamondbacks last summer. He made 31 appearances and had a 2-0 record with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP He was originally signed by the Angels in 2001 as an outfielder and converted to pitching in 2006.

Presuming that BA did not misidentify the 29-y.o. RHP Luis M. Perdomo who pitched in AAA for Minnesota last season or the 20-y.o. RHP Luis D. Perdomo of the St. Louis Organization, then this one would also appear to be an IFA.

Jan 182014
 

Transactions for NPP
With a second transaction post this week from Baseball America (H/T to Ben Meyers for alerting me via Twitter), we have a few more moves to pass along:

SIGNED
• LHP Tyler Robertson
• IF Jamey Carroll
• IF Mike Fontenot
• OF-1B Joe Dunigan

RELEASED
• RHP Ben Grisz
• 2B Matt Foat

As noted in the comments, Robertson is a re-sign, having been waived to make room for Rule 5 additions in November. He was picked up on waivers from Minnesota as part of the Nationals’ spaghetti-on-the-wall attempts to find a LHRP last summer.

Carroll and Fontenot are veterans who will compete for bench roles as backup infielders. Both will be non-roster invitees to spring training, according.

Dunigan is a longtime Seattle farmhand who finally made it to AAA in 2013, only to lose nearly three months of the season to a broken jaw. He will most likely compete for a 1B-DH-LF role on the Chiefs.

Grisz and Foat were NDFAs signed in 2011 and 2012 out of Duke and USC, respectively. Grisz missed all of 2012 after developing Nationals elbow and made five scoreless appearances for Auburn in 2013. After an impressive 2012 in the GCL, Foat split time between Low-A Hagerstown and Auburn, compiling a combined line of .215/.295/.283 in 64 games.

Jan 092014
 

Catching Up On Transactions
It’s been nearly silent on the transaction front for the past 2-3 weeks. With yesterday’s post from BA, along with some tweets from the estimable Bill Ladson, we have a few moves to pass along:

  • Signed C Chris Snyder
  • Signed IF Taylor Wrenn
  • Re-signed IF Will Rhymes
  • Re-signed RHP Ryan Tatusko
  • Released RHP Michael Boyden
  • Released RHP Mike Mudron

Snyder is a former Arizona farmhand who spent 2013 catching for Los Angeles (AL) and Baltimore (MD) at the AAA, save for a nine-game stint for the Orioles last May. He also received an invitation to spring training.

Wrenn is the son of Diamondbacks scout Luke Wrenn and was drafted in 2011 by Cincinnati out of the Univ. of Tampa (yes, he was a teammate of Shawn Pleffner) but did not play until 2012. The Reds released him after that season despite a combined line of .285/.362/.350 in 35 games for Billings (Rookie) and three for Dayton (Low-A) at the age of 22. He played 59 games last summer for the Traverse City Beach Bums of the independent Frontier League and was picked up by the Rangers, who played him for six games in Low-A Hickory and 11 games in the Arizona League. He was granted free agency in November.

Rhymes and Tatusko were teammates for the Syracuse Chiefs in 2013 and will likely resume their roles as utility infielder and swingman, respectively.

Boyden and Mudron were the Nats’ 31st and 32nd Round picks in 2012 out of the Univ. of Maryland and Cal State San Berandino, respectively.

Dec 222013
 

Transactions for NPP 2There have been two transaction posts this week, no doubt yesterday’s coming early thanks to the forthcoming holidays. Here’s a rundown of the guys that were signed for the period of Dec. 6-20:

  • RHP Angher Cespedes
  • LHP Melvin Morel
  • C Mitch Canham
  • SS Emmanuel Burriss

Given the surname and the lack of any listing on baseball-reference.com, the presumption is that Cespedes and Morel are IFAs, but absent any biographical data, that’s the extent of any inferences thatn can be reasonably made.

Canham was originally drafted and signed by the San Diego Padres in 2007 but has played the past three seasons with three different organizatons, as well as sizable stint with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League in the summer of 2012.

Burris is also a AAA veteran who’s spent most of the past six seasons at the level for San Francisco and Cincinnati, batting .241/.294/.266 in 108 games (the most played in a single season since 2007) for Louisville.

Dec 142013
 

Catching Up On TransactionsWith the signing of OF Nat McLouth, OF Corey Brown has been designated for assignment, perhaps ending a three-year run as talk radio’s “that guy in Syracuse we should call up.” Brown was acquired along with H-Bomb, er, Henry Rodriguez in December 2010 for OF Josh Willingham in one of the first A’s-Nats trades executed by GM Mike Rizzo.

Brown, of course, could be outrighted which has been the fate of several of the last few DFAs, including Tyler Robertson, who was moved along with Fernando Abad to make room for the trio of Aaron Barrett, Steve Souza Jr. and Michael Taylor at the Nov. 20 deadline.

Yesterday, the Nationals formally announced the signings of RHP Manny Delcarmen, 1B Brock Peterson, and C Brian Jeroloman to minor-league contracts with invites to spring training. Since our last transaction post, the Nationals have also signed 2B Oscar Tejeda and RHP Kelvin Perez.

Delcarmen is arguably the most notable of the bunch, thanks to his tenure with the Boston Red Sox and having once possessed an upper-90s fastball, that has eluded him since his trade from Boston to Colorado in August 2010. Not coincidentally, the 31-y.o. (turns 32 in February) has bounced from the Mariners to the Rangers to the Yankees to the Orioles over the last three seasons, pitching at the AAA level. His 48 appearances for Norfolk is the most since his final MLB season in 2010.

Tejeda, who turns 24 on Boxing Day, is the youngest of the bunch and is most likely ticketed for Harrisburg while the 30-y.o. Peterson seems a near-lock to assume 1B/DH duties for Syracuse. Perez and Jeroloman fit the description of interchangeable between AA and AAA, though both 28-y.o.’s have spent more time AA than AAA thus far in their careers.

Dec 112013
 

For the fourth time this year — and the sixth time since 2011 — Washington and Oakland have consummated a trade. This time, it’s 2013 Minor League Player of the Year Billy Burns headed for the Left Coast in favor of lefthanded reliever Jerry Blevins.

It’s hardly been a secret that the Nats have been pursuing a major-league southpaw for more than a year now, signing the likes of Fernando Abad and Bobby Bramhall last offseason, trading for and promoting Ian Krol, and claiming Xavier Cedeno and Tyler Robertson on waivers during the season. Only Cedeno and Robertson remain from that quintet (sextet, if you want to include the midseason dalliance with J.C. Romero).

As is common with Rizzo trades, Blevins remains under team control for another two seasons — like Doug Fister, who was acquired less than three weeks ago, he’s arbitration-eligible — as the A’s seemed willing to part with the 30-y.o. veteran as a cost-savings measure, despite having made 281 appearances over the past seven seasons for Oakland.

While it may appear that Rizzo has gotten his man, I wouldn’t rule out Washington acquiring one or more southpaws in tomorrow’s Rule 5 draft (don’t forget the PTBNL in the David DeJesus flip was a LHP), even if neither Matt Grace nor Danny Rosenbaum are taken.

Dec 032013
 

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.