This is the first of what I fear/suspect will be many posts this offseason to indicate that things have slowed down but not stopped (except maybe for the GM Meetings, but that’s another story).
There’s still two weeks until the Winter Meetings, which won’t quite have the same anticipation as a year ago since the Nats are ineligible for the lottery and cannot pick higher than 10th. Them’s the rules, which are tacitly saying “You have the money to spend money on free agents.”
That, of course, is a discussion for the sites covering the big clubs. I’m starting to put together the preliminary 2024 Watchlist and it’s pretty sparse aside from OFs and RHPs. My threat to automatically exclude guys over a certain age might make some categories a list of one or two while looking as empty as it ever was.
The upshot? The Nats will have to sign some FAs to plug some holes (1B, 3B, LF) and none of those FAs will be blocking anybody in the minors. First base is thinner than a supermodel on a hunger strike, and has been for nearly a decade. You can safely make a Duke Bros. bet that T.J. White will not be the last OF to convert to the position in the next 2-3 years.
2023 Rochester Red Wings
Somehow this got lost in the shuffle of the deadline for the Rule 5 deadline being moved up a week. That nobody noticed or said anything is also indicative of what AAA has become: a glorified taxi squad, especially for last-place teams like Washington.
Unlike last year, the Red Wings started cold and stayed cold. They briefly flirted with .500 and 5th place in June before settling down and into 8th place by July, where they finished in the second half and overall.
You will not be shocked to learn the Red Wings were the worst of both worlds – 19th on offense at 4.88 R/G (5.50 Lg. Avg.), 17th in pitching (5.97 R/G), and 13th in defense (.979 FA) with the most stolen bases allowed. And this was with a team that had plenty of “experience” – 27.1 vs. 26.3 for the flailers, 27.9 vs. 26.9 for the throwers.
The exploits of the two Jakes – Alu and Irvin – aside, both of whom graduated from prospect status by virtue of exceeding threshholds (if not age), there were actually three watchlisters who will probably maintain that status for 2024:
- Darren Baker, 2B/LF – .273/.338/.340, 19SB in 99G
- Drew Millas, C – .270/.362/.403, .993 FA, 27% CS
- Amos Willingham, RHRP – 3-1, 2.88/3.89/1.40
This is the first time there’s been a list at the AAA level that’s more than one or none for Washington since 2015. Folks interested in seeing the full team statistics can find them here. Pitching data can be found here