Nationals Take a Small Risk in Dealing Risky Prospect

At the beginning of the year, the Nationals’ infield might have seemed a strength. Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Adam LaRoche, with Danny Espinosa in reserve? Especially if you told then’s version of yourself that LaRoche would resurge and Rendon would surge, you’d be happy with what you had.

Even with the injury to Zimmerman, you could argue that that a team with a 93% chance of making the playoffs might be fine with their current infield. Sure, Espinosa is hovering too close to replacement level for comfort, but they could win enough games with him in there to make the postseason, and Zimmerman might be healthy by then.

Then again, winning the division and making the postseason are two different things. This team needs to keep pace with the Braves. And so they traded Zach Walters for Asdrubal Cabrera.

And the upgrade over Danny Espinosa is undebatable. Though Espinosa has recovered some of his value from his nadir, and is showing some power and speed, there are two facets of his game that have not recovered. His league-average or better walk rate has not returned (5.6% BB%), and his glove is not rated well this year (-1.1 UZR). Cabrera should be able to match that defense with the shift from short, and his offense is just about league average these days.

They’re trading a potential shortstop for a couple months of a second baseman. You can’t debate that. Even as he’s moved on to other positions, Zach Walters played twice as many games at short than any other.

But even while you acknowledge the risk, you can point to the risk inherent in Walters. Not only as a prospect, but as a prospect with a low walk rate and a high strikeout rate. Prospects with that sort of a profile at 24 years old in Triple-A had an 88% bust rate according to Chris St. John’s work.

So, yeah, they took a chance. A chance that has about 12% likelihood of burning them.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


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9 Comments on "Nationals Take a Small Risk in Dealing Risky Prospect"


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Michael Jacko
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Michael Jacko
1 year 10 months ago

How does Walters project as a 3B or corner OF? Have to think he won’t stick at SS with Lindor coming through soon.

Chad Young
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Chad Young
1 year 10 months ago

I’d venture to guess he doesn’t “stick” anywhere, per se. If he pans out, it is most likely as a utility player. In the OF, he’d slot behind Brantley, Naquin and Ramsey, not to mention Frazier or Zimmer in the future. And there is not room for him in the IF.

Lutz
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Lutz
1 year 10 months ago

ZW did show some *promise* of better discipline recently with an 11:10 K:BB July in AAA.

You can throw out his MLB numbers… almost all PH.

stuck in a slump
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stuck in a slump
1 year 10 months ago

Walters’walk rate is 7.7% this year to go along with 42 extra base hits in a total of 304 PA’s. Seems to me like he might be ready for a break out.

ChrisNyden
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ChrisNyden
1 year 10 months ago

Indians also apparently covering the remainder of his salary. So, it’s basically trading Cabrera + ~$3.4MM for Walters. I imagine the Indians are hoping for a Neil Walker-kind of player.

mockcarr
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mockcarr
1 year 10 months ago

He exhibited no patience when he started either. He’s a longshot to play much in Cleveland if he can’t hack short though, isn’t he?

stuck in a slump
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stuck in a slump
1 year 10 months ago

More of a long shot at SS with Lindor in their system. I can see Chisenhall becoming expendable if Walters can pan out.

DT
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DT
1 year 10 months ago

As a Nats fan I like this deal – would much prefer to keep Espi than Walters as I would trade the pop in Walters’ bat for the defense.

I really cannot imagine Walters at SS but maybe his bat will develop for a corner outfield spot.

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