⚾️⚾️ The Morning Briefing: Nats and players come to terms before arbitration deadline
Here are the latest headlines and analyses around the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball for today, January 12.
Good Morning Washington Nationals Fans,
Here are the latest headlines and analyses around the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball for today, January 12, 2024.
Welcome to the Morning Briefing. I am back for another edition, breaking down the latest Nationals news.
Leading today’s Morning Briefing: Nats come to terms with four key players
The Nationals have come to terms with outfielder Lane Thomas ($5.45M), relievers Kyle Finnegan ($5.1M) and Hunter Harvey ($2.325M), and Luis García ($1.95M) according to Andrew Golden of the Washington Post. The Nationals saved significant money relative to the public projections of these contracts by MLB Trade Rumors, most notably with Thomas and García, who were projected to earn $7M and $2.4M respectively.
With the clarity on everyone’s contract, the Nationals’ luxury tax payroll now sits at $123M according to RosterResource. Of course, almost half of that is taken up by Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin alone. As the free agent market continues to thin out, it looks like the Nationals are less likely to go out and make any significant signings.
The front office is buying into the idea that the current players on and off the 40-man continuing to develop is all they need. In the bullpen that ranked 27th in ERA, you have Harvey, Finnegan, and Tanner Rainey who each have high-leverage experience. Robert Garcia was the second most valuable reliever by fWAR. Dylan Floro is a great setup arm. Maybe Joan Adon finds more consistency in the bullpen where he would not have to face batters twice?
I know the shine on Josiah Gray has worn off since the Nationals acquired him in the Trea Turner-Max Scherzer deal. Still, he took a massive step forward in 2023, going from one of the most homer-prone pitchers in baseball to above-average in that respect. MacKenzie Gore set a career-high in innings last season and will have his first full workload season in 2024. I think Jake Irvin is a pitch mix adjustment away from being a serviceable back-of-the-rotation starter.
You hope that CJ Abrams, Keibert Ruiz, and García continue to improve, with Lane Thomas and Stone Garrett replicating their level of production again in 2023. Maybe Joey Meneses’s knee injury was the problem, and he is more like his two-month rampage in 2022. You hope that Jacob Young is the player he was in 2023 and that James Wood comes up and destroys baseballs.
But if anyone falters or merely stays the same? Then this team is likely worse than they were in 2023.
The Chicago Cubs signed Shota Imanaga to a four-year, $53M deal. Imanaga was one of the more intriguing free agents on the market this offseason thanks to his outlier fastball in terms of induced vertical break and velocity from the left side. Home runs have been an issue for him, which was the only real sign of trouble for the 30-year-old.
The Yankees signed right-handed starter Marcus Stroman to a two-year $37M deal. Stroman had a rough second half in 2023 after rushing back from injury but picks up an extra $16M for opting out of his contract with the Cubs.
The Cubs also flipped hyped recent draftees Jackson Ferris and Zyhir Hope for right-handed reliever Yency Almonte and first base prospect Michael Busch from the Dodgers. Busch has been one of the most hyped pure-hitting prospects in recent memory but lacks the glove to be an everyday option at second or third base, and the Dodgers happen to have a future Hall of Famer at first base. Almonte has been a serviceable middle reliever for the Dodgers, and figures to add depth to the Cubs bullpen. In Ferris, the Dodgers get an intriguing 2022 draft pick with an elite slider and solid fastball but has thrown just 56 innings since being drafted. Hope is a two-way prospect out of Stafford, VA, whose best tools are his arm strength and sprint speed.
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