Should The Nationals Sign Prince Fielder?

One offseason removed from signing Jayson Werth to a 7 year, $126 million contract, the Washington Nationals are looking poised to make another splash. They are going strong in the bidding for Prince Fielder, and considering that they are reworking their television contract to get at least double the amount of money they are currently receiving ($26 million/year), they certainly seem to have the money to do it.

So to answer the title of this post, if money isn’t an issue, why shouldn’t the Nationals pursue Fielder? He’s the best player left on the free agent market, and the free agent class of 2013 is relatively barren at first base. Fielder is young, powerful, and a star — surely he’d be a good investment?

As we all know, though, teams need to put more thought into their decisions than that. In particular, there are two important questions to answer before we can properly evaluate if pursuing Fielder is in the Nats’ best interests: how close are they to contention, and how would Fielder’s signing impact the rest of their roster?

The first question — how close the Nats are to contention — is surprisingly tricky to answer. The Nationals won 80 games last season, outperformed their preseason projections (which had pegged them as around a low-70s win team), but that performance doesn’t look like a fluke. They have a roster full of intriguing young players, leaving them very few holes in their daily lineup. Zimmerman and Werth are both stars (and should both perform better than they did last year), and Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa give the Nats a core that’s A) quite good, and B) cheap and under team control for a number of years.

It’s not like the Nationals’ pitching is weak, either. Their bullpen posted a 3.20 ERA and 3.66 FIP last season, and the key members of that group are all returning: Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Henry Rodriguez. Their rotation also looks particularly dominant, as Gio Gonzalez should thrive in the NL East and Stephen Strasburg will hopefully stay healthy. Jordan Zimmermann looks like he could become a front of the rotation starter (3.18 ERA, 3.16 FIP), and John Lannon and Chien-Ming Wang are more than capable #4 and #5 starters with some upside.

All this is to say, the Nationals are a good team. Even without Fielder, they look like they have the potential to be a mid-80s win team. The problem is that they’re also a very high variance team, meaning they have a large degree of uncertainty in their projections. Will Strasburg stay healthy all season long? How well will he pitch? How much will Werth and Zimmerman bounce back? How will their young players continue to develop? Their season could go any number of ways depending on the outcome of some of these questions.

Using Sky Kalkman’s WAR Calculator, I ran through some basic projections for the Nationals 2012 squad. I used the Bill James projections (which we all know are optimistic like woh), estimated playing time based on the Fan Projections, and tried to compensate when the results seemed waaay optimistic (e.g. Strasburg’s 2.88 ERA in 165 innings). Using this scenario — which assumes the Nationals sign Fielder and everyone on the team performs well — the Nationals project as around a 91-92 win team.

This is a very rosy projection, though, so I expect a more rigorous projection would put the Nationals somewhere in the 86-87 win level with Fielder. That’s good enough to be in playoff contention, but even that much of an improvement may not be enough to raise them higher than fourth in the NL East. The Phillies and Braves are both still dominant teams, and the Marlins look like they’ll have a similar talent level as the Nats (with Fielder) after all their offseason acquisitions. Those two clubs may end up dueling each other out for that final Wild Card slot.

But there’s one main problem with the Nationals signing Fielder: their roster construction. And no, I’m not talking about Adam LaRoche.

If the Nationals do sign Fielder, they will likely end up eating Adam LaRoche’s $8 million salary for 2012, either trading him away for peanuts or using him as a glorified bench player. But what will happen to the player that filled in so well for LaRoche last season, Michael Morse? Morse broke out last season and was the Nats’ best offensive player, hitting 31 homeruns and posting a .387 wOBA, and he’s under team control through the 2013 season. While Morse will likely regress in 2012, he still projects to around a .350-.360 wOBA and 2.5 WAR (he’s pretty horrible on defense). That’s not the type of player you want to just toss aside.

Morse could play in left field for the Nationals next season, but he won’t be able to stay there for long; Bryce Harper is rising through the minors like a shot, and he could easily reach the majors by the end of 2012. Unless the Nationals think Harper can play centerfield — and all indications are that they want him in a corner outfield spot — then by signing Fielder, the Nationals may be making not one, but two players on their roster obsolete.

It may not be the sexiest move, but the best move for the Nationals could be to pass on Fielder and to reallocate those funds into signing a center fielder after the 2012 season. They have a glaring organizational hole in center, and they could arguably make their team just as good while taking on less risk and spending less money:

Of course, if the Nationals decide they have enough money to buy both Fielder and a centerfielder, then that changes things. But I find it hard to believe that a new television deal will give them that much flexibility, especially if they want to resign Ryan Zimmerman to another extension soon (FA after 2013). They could easily sign an elite centerfielder next offseason, keep Morse’s powerful bat around, and use their leftover money to improve their team in other areas. Or they could sign Fielder.

Signing Prince Fielder would allow the Nationals to go all-in and compete in 2012, but he would come at a steep price — not only monetarily, but also in negative externalities. His signing would considerably decrease Michael Morse’s value (both to the Nationals and via a trade), and it could make it difficult for the Nationals to improve their center field situation.

That’s not to say the Nationals shouldn’t sign Fielder — merely that these are the sort of variables that they need to consider in making their decision. I don’t think I’d do it if I were them, but only their front office knows how much budget space they anticipate having in the future. Either way, the Nationals should be an exciting, surprising team in 2012. For the first time in a while, their franchise is looking headed in a very positive direction.




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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.

88 Responses to “Should The Nationals Sign Prince Fielder?”

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  1. Another scenario: Werth moves to center and Harper plays right field. Werth played much of September in CF and while that eats at his WAR, as he’s a better defender in RF than CF, still is capable and brings enough value there to think it plausible, at least for this year. Then, next season they allow a then-32 y.o. (and potentially quite expensive) Morse to walk, sign a legit CF, and move Werth to left.

    Problem solved.

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  2. @mathewbrown says:

    I’d be more comfortable with Prince and Benadina for 2012 and beyond than Morse and good CF for 2013.

    1: Present value is always worth more than future value.
    2: There is doubt that all/any of those three CF will be available after 2012 and the Nats have no control over that.
    3: There are no realistic 1B options after 2012, and shifting Morse from LF (where his bat shines) to 1B (where his bat merely fits in with the rest of elite hitters) hurts his value as much as singing Prince does.

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    • brendan says:

      I think it’s misleading to say morse has more value in the OF than at 1B. for 2010-11 he has -20 UZR/150 in about 900 OF innings. SSS, but it’s likely he’d be worse than the positional adjustment between 1B and OF (5 runs).

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    • willl says:

      I think it is all but assured that BJ Upton becomes a free agent. There was talk last season that Upton would be DFA’d in the offseason, but his torrid September stopped all that talk. The Rays certainly cannot afford Upton on a ~$15mil/year contract.

      I also think it’s very unlikely that the Braves re-up Bourn, especially considering all the talk of the Braves going after Jones. It is a possibility though.

      Victorino does look like an extension candidate.

      But you are right, it’s an area where the Nats have no control. Maybe there’s potential for a Morse-Upton swap, with Upton promptly signing an extension? It makes a lot of sense for both parties.

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  3. Glomp says:

    It’s been bandied about that Werth could take over in center for a half a year or a whole year if Harper’s ready. You could then have a Morse/Werth/Harper OF along with Fielder at 1st. It would be a mediocre defensive outfield to be sure, and Werth isn’t a long-term answer in center, but for maybe a year or two it could work, until Morse walks in free agency after 2013/is traded. If Morse is out of the picture you could shift Werth or Harper to left and try to sign a centerfielder like Victorino or Bourne.

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  4. Easy. Harper to CF for a few years. He already played there often this year, why not?

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  5. D0nc0smic says:

    Just a comment on the article, I don’t think a 2.88 ERA in 165 innings is overly optimistic at all. Yes he could do worse than that, but I think there is an equal chance he does better.

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    • cable fixer says:

      ha i thought the same thing and now i’m paranoid i might be pulling the trigger on him in fantasy drafts way too soon…

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  6. Okra says:

    Nice article. I think the Nats would be better off giving Edwin Jackson $50MM (instead of giving Prince $150MM) while using Wang as a 6th starter/long relief. Then go and trade for Dexter Fowler, Adam Jones, or Peter Bourjos … they have the pieces to do it. I think this would make them a playoff contender this year while still leaving them with a bright future.

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  7. Nick V says:

    Is a 2.88 ERA in 165 IP really THAT optimistic for Strasburg? Each of the last 3 years there have been from 9 to 12 pitchers with a 2.88 ERA or less, and it seems like (looking at the last 2 and 3 years combined) it would put him in the company of top ten types, but not crazily (Cole Hamels had a similar ERA over 2010-2011, Lincecum over 2009-2010). Sure that’s optimistic, but “waaay”?

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  8. @mathewbrown says:

    Harper or Werth in CF is not a realistic answer. Nats org and other scouts agree that neither can handle it full time. They can be used as a fill-in or a stopgap, but that’s it.

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    • Have any documentation on “Nats org” that don’t think Werth can handle CF? Davey Johnson seems to think he can handle it. Not being contrarian, but if you have documentation I’d be interested in reading it.

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      • @mathewbrown says:

        He played 19 games there in 2011 for 151 (and change) innings. That’s all the documentation I’m going on. If he was a full time CF, they’d have played him at CF before now. It’s not exactly like that position was blocked by talent. The quotes from Rizzo and Johnson supporting him playing there mean less to me than the actions they take.

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      • NatsTown says:

        @mathewbrown:

        The Nats had all three OF options technically available to Werth when he arrived for 2011, it made sense to play him where he offered the greatest value. If you’re gonna be starting Werth alongside guys like Ankiel, Bernadina and Nix, it makes sense to have him in right where his skills can be maximized, because two of the other guys can handle center. There’s no benefit to be derived from moving Werth to center, as that would just move Bernadina or Ankiel to right. Lose/lose.

        However, if moving him to center gives you the opportunity to start him alongside Morse and Harper with Fielder at 1B, the calculation is quite different.

        As Dave said, Davey Johnson is on record as being comfortable with Werth in CF for at least a while.

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      • 44 says:

        Davey Johnson played HoJo at SS, who obviously had no business there. He’s a Earl Weaver disciple.

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    • willl says:

      “They can be used as a fill-in or a stopgap, but that’s it.”

      stop·gap
      ? ?[stop-gap]
      noun
      1.
      something that fills the place of something else that is lacking; temporary substitute; makeshift: Candles are a stopgap when the electricity fails.

      Isn’t that exactly what the Nats are hoping to do with Werth in CF? Use him there until a better option arises? I don’t think anyone is arguing that Werth should play CF until his contract expires in 6 years, but rather play there one season or two (at most) until they can acquire/develop a better solution.

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      • @mathewbrown says:

        September with him auditioning for CF was a stopgap. A full season there is a suicide mission.

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      • willl says:

        Over the past 4 years Werth is exactly 0.0 UZR in CF. Granted it’s only 618 innings, but I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest his defense there is awful. Below average, sure, but not “suicidal”

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  9. BX says:

    Or let the logjam problem sort itself out. Or, use Bernadina as a stopgap option, acknowledge that 2012 is a fringe contention year/buildup to 2013, and sign a CF next offseason. A potential trade of Morse makes lots of sense.

    Call teams in need of a 1B (Tampa Bay, Texas, Milwaukee, etc.). Morse is cheap and represents an upgrade for all three of those teams.

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    • BX says:

      And, if the Nats are contending midseason and CF looks like an obvious hole, go trade for a stopgap CF at the deadline.

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  10. Baltar says:

    This is an excellent analysis.
    Considerations beyond just the addition of the free agent’s expected WAR are rarely given more than lip service but you have examined them in depth.
    You also deserve credit for balance. You clearly considered all the facts, rather than cherry-picking stats to support a conclusion.
    FanGraphs, please give us more articles like this one.

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  11. craigtyle says:

    Tangential question for the group:

    Why do people think the Marlins have shown no interest — they reportedly were the finalist for Pujols. If they felt he was a good fit, why not Fielder?

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    • Steve says:

      They want hispanic players.

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    • BX says:

      Fielder doesn’t represent enough of an upgrade over Gaby Sanchez to justify throwing 150MM++; Pujols does.

      Remember, Pujols is a significantly better player than Fielder. Pujols alone is capable of putting the Marlins near the top of the NL East; Fielder in Miami doesn’t really alter the dynamic of the NL East (Fielder in Washington replacing LaRoche does, since you’re replacing replacement level with Prince Fielder).

      Marginal value of a win here.

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      • Travis L says:

        On the other hand, they’d be paying Albert until he’s 42, and Prince until he’s 35. (assuming an equiv to Angels deal for AP, and 7 yr deal for Prince).

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      • Brian says:

        Prince put up a higher WAR than Albert last year, and a higher wOBA. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that Albert is currently a significantly better player based on that information.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        So, a “prime” Prince is slightly better than a struggling and injured Albert. That’s what 2011 showed us.

        Now, the question for 2012 is whether Albert will return to previous form and health.

        Fielder tops out at 6.5 WAR. In other words having a great offensive season combined with his best defensive season, etc.

        Pujols, even at current age, can still produce 8 WAR given offense, defense, baserunning, etc. Even if they’re equal hitters, Albert provides an extra WAR or so on the bases and in the field.

        That doesn;t mean I am saying that Prince isn’t a great player. It’s just saying that Prince is likely to be negative on defense and the bases, so even if he is an equal hitter to Pujols, he’ll be less valuable. Pujols has a chance to be neutral or positive both on defense and the bases.

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    • Jon says:

      The Pujols signing was at least partially about being able to market him to the large Hispanic population in Miami. Fielder doesn’t have the same marketing advantage for them and they probably have questions about his body type (though he has been very durable so far) breaking down as he gets older.

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      • AJS says:

        Miami has about 800,000 Cubans and 50,000 Dominicans. Plus, Pujols moved to the US when he was in high school. I’m not convinced his Hispanic marketability played a large role in their desire to sign him.

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      • DD says:

        Can Fielder talk in Spanish in the commercials/quotes on the billboards?

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      • Ronin says:

        I am sure they could teach Prince a couple of phrases in Spanish for commercials such as “Meet me at the Park!” or other BS that they say in commercials. And they can translate anyone’s quotes into Spanish if they are putting it up on a billboard. Plus the whole Latinos only root for Latinos thing is overrated especially when you take into account the fact that Latinos from certain countries/ethnic groups have traditional rivalries/dislikes of other Latin countries/ethnic groups; much like White, Asian, and African cultures do. Weird how we are all so much a like eh?

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  12. Sean says:

    There have also been rumors that Zimmerman will not be able to stick around at third and might go to first in the future. Also, I think there is a bit of a risk that Fielder won’t be able to play in the field in 6 or 7 years. If they sign him to a long contract and a no trade clause like he wants, they might have a problem. I suppose, it comes down to whether or not they think Fielder puts them over the top to compete for a WS. In that case, the problems are obviously worth it.

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    • D0nc0smic says:

      I don’t think the rumors that Zimmerman might move to first base were created by anyone who has ever seen Ryan Zimmerman play baseball. While third is a tough defensive position, there are plenty of older players with reduced range that play there on a regular basis. I think a 40 year old Ryan Zimmerman is still probably good enough defensively at third to make his bat worth keeping there.

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  13. Colm says:

    I’m pretty sure that link is to the wrong Jordan Zimmerman (the one with a single “n” at the end of his name).

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  14. short says:

    Awesome piece. I’ve been making this argument (though with less hard analysis) for months now. The WAR gain from signing Fielder is less on the Nationals than on other teams in the running for the first baseman, due to their situation at first base. The notion of an outfield with Werth in center and Morse in — well, anywhere is a nightmare for the team’s pitching. The last thing they should do to their fragile-yet-talented young rotation is run that kind of defense out behind them every day.

    I haven’t found any reports on Yoennis Cespedas’ defense — if they exist — but I think they should be among the suitors for his services. If he’s a true CF the Nats should look to spend their dollars there rather than Fielder.

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  15. David says:

    There’s actually an easy solution. Trade LaRoche + $__MM to the Rays for BJ Upton. Sure Tampa doesn’t want to pay LaRoche, but they have the need for his bat and there’s got to be _some_ dollar value that would make it worthwhile.

    Then the Nats play Morse/Upton/Werth across the OF for most of the season. That gives them the whole season to evaluate the defensive abilities of Morse in LF, Werth in CF when they want to, Harper in CF if they want to, Harper’s bat in the majors, etc … and if they like what they see they can let Upton walk next year.

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    • DD says:

      They may take Morse AND LaRoche and $7 mil. MAYBE that is enough for Upton. And you’re only getting one year of Upton there.

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      • willl says:

        What’s the logic behind that?

        Morse is under team control for 2 more seasons. Over the last two years he’s posted the 17th highest wOBA. His WAR has been undercut by his pretty awful OF defense. Even so, he was worth 3.4 WAR last year. A full season at 1B would see his WAR rise 0.5-1.0 WAR.

        Upton, on the other hand, is a one year rental. He’s been pretty consistent the last two years, so it’s fair to expect another 4.0 WAR season from him.

        If I were the Nats, I’d have a hard time trading ONLY Morse for Upton, forget LaRoche and $7mil.

        2 years of Morse > 1 year of Upton

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      • warren g says:

        troll. please moderate.

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      • DD says:

        If they could trade Morse for Upton, why haven’t they done it yet?

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  16. Chris from Bothell says:

    I’m still wondering what team he should go to. I’ve heard excellent arguments against, that I agree with, for a couple of the so-called frontrunners (Mariners, now Nationals). There’s plenty of teams where the argument against is easy (last-place teams, teams with solid 1b/DH already, low-revenue teams).

    But I haven’t seen a convincing argument yet, using $/WAR, existing roster, potential future budget room, etc. that says where Fielder should end up.

    Is there an article forthcoming that will argue against the Cubs, Cards or Marlins too? I notice some argument against the Marlins in the comments up above already…

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  17. guesswork says:

    There’s a relatively easy solution for guessing wins from Bill James’ optimistic projections. Use that WAR calculator on all 30 teams (no idea how much that effort takes), get a win total for all 30 teams, and normalize. If his projections are indeed optimistic, then all the teams combined will have more than 2430 wins.

    This of course assumes that James is equally optimistic for all teams.

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  18. Otter says:

    I think the Nats are much further away from competing that this article suggests. Morse probably had a career year (does anyone here think a .344 BABIP is going to happen again?), Ian Desmond is still playing short I believe and while Espinosa’s WAR looks nice, it’s only because he plays second base. While I think it’s reasonable to expect better years from Zimmerman and the addition of Gio along with the return of Strasburg will lead to improvement… this is probably still an 81 win team if everyone is healthy.

    I think the Nats are a team without much direction right now. They should be building for 2013 and 2014, but it seems as if they’re building for 2011 still. They remind me more of the Cubs or Mets than the Braves or Indians.

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    • NatsTown says:

      Morse’s career BABIP is .346. 2011 may be less of an outlier than you think.

      I don’t really understand your argument. Their Pythagorean win total for 2011 was around 78 or 79 wins. You don’t seem to be much of a fan of Desmond or Espinosa, but you don’t expect them to decline from their 2011 production I assume, given their youth. You say that you expect improvement from Zimmerman and the additions of Gio and a full season of Strasburg. You don’t mention Werth either- he can really only improve on his dreadful 2011, but lets assume he repeats it. You don’t mention the potential addition of a healthy LaRoche either, but again let’s ignore that for argument’s sake. The only place where you expect regression as far as I can tell is Morse. I would probably add Clippard to that list, although as I said I don’t expect much regression from Morse.

      So basically you think Zimmerman improvement + Gio + Strasburg – Morse regression = one or two extra wins. Is that correct? That seems a little low to me.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Gio walks a lot of guys. He seems like a prime candidate for Oliver Perez syndrome if you ask me. Maybe not next year, but I don’t expect 5 WAR from him. Maybe 3. going from the AL West in 2011 in Oakland to the NL east in 2012 in Washington isn’t likely as much of a “he’ll have better stats in the NL” situation as you’d think. It’s not like he’s going from the AL East to the NL West and New York to PETCO.

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      • NatsTown says:

        I don’t think Gio has to be a 5 WAR pitcher for the Nats to improve by more than a game or two. Using 2011, when they were outscored by 14 runs, as the starting point, they’re adding 130-140 innings of Strasburg. hopefully 50 more games of Zimmerman, and likely Harper in the mix at some point. The only regular starter over 30 is Werth and he really (hopefully?) can’t regress much past his 2011 numbers. Maybe you get some regression from Morse and the bullpen, but on balance it still seems like they’re adding more than a win or two, even if Gio is only a 2-3 WAR pitcher, which is also what I expect. Of course I’m a fan of the team so I’m not without bias. Where do you see the dropoff from 2011?

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  19. ms says:

    Ian Desmond is “quite good”? I hear this a lot and I really don’t see it. Agree on Ramos and Espinosa though, and I guess there is some value in 1.4WAR with some upside at SS for cheap. I think the Nats might be better off trading Desmond if there is some sort of perception that he is quite good, and then signing a SS from the scrap heap…Desmond isn’t much better and he will be on said scrap heap in about 2 years if he doesn’t improve.

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    • DD says:

      Espinosa came up as a SS, and can play there full time. He is blocked by Desmond.

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      • David says:

        2 of Espinosa, Desmond, and Lombardozzi will play 2B and SS. Desmond is the senior of the bunch, but if he has another year like 2011 I wouldn’t count of him sticking around

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      • ms says:

        In that case, I might shop Desmond while the perception that he is more than he is lasts. Thanks for the heads up, did not know Espinosa could play SS.

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  20. timtebow says:

    there were talks earlier of span for storen. could the nationals sign fielder and try to trade for span with a package centering around morse?

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  21. Drew says:

    Not sure how Rodriguez is a “key member” of their bullpen. Yeah he had the 3rd most innings, but there were also 6 relievers who had a higher leverage index. If you watched any of their games you would know he was almost NEVER put in during a pressure situation. And I don’t blame them. Would you put a guy in with the game on the line who walked over 6 guys per 9 innings?

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  22. Neil says:

    Can Espinosa move to CF? Rendon will overtake him at 2nd in 2 years anyway.

    Just no way that Morse is worth taking the chance on, if the prize is Prince.

    He was 29 and his breakthrough year was a 3.0 WAR player. You already have high K guys in the Espinosa, Desmond, and Werth.

    Morse is the classic sale high guy. Move him to an AL team and pocket the 10-12M he’d make in arbritration over the next 2 years.

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  23. shibboleth says:

    I leave the answer to the titled question to those more knowledgeable than I. But I know this: If Fielder goes to Washington, then Angelos should fire himself.

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  24. peric says:

    Its Bernadina not Bernadino. And fan graphs should at the very least be aware that Brian Goodwin, Eury Perez, and perhaps even Corey Brown might be under consideration by that point?

    However, the Nationals will do everything in their power to sign still young, high ceiling BJ Upton. Outside of the Trop he may become the next Matt Kemp. Signing Fielder only ENHANCES their chances of making that happen by making the team more attractive to players like Upton and the others you list. Otherwise, like Grienke who was offered a lucrative extension to accept a trade (Remember that Fangraphs?), Cliff Lee, Mark Texiera they will say NO. Money or no money.

    Bottom line it is more advantageous to the Nationals to sign Fielder. The positive benefits and potential outcomes far and away outweigh the risks. Its the number of years.

    Besides, the Nats are way too “white” at this point. The paucity of African Americans is glaring. The Morgan vs. Werth fiasco underscores that. Purely for mercenary marketing reasons the Lerner’s should sign Werth. Period.

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  25. peric says:

    Hard analysis? Looks pretty crappy to me. Bernadino? ;) Doesn’t even know what the Nats have and don’t have. Poor attempt at analysis by Fangraphs. POOR.

    You have to look at Fielder from the perspective of park and defense neutral stats. Fielder is a LEFT HANDED BAT (Something the Nats have an alarming lack of! How about that fan graphs? In a park that statistically is friendly to left-handed bats?) that is elite. He is in the same tier with Votto, Pujols, and Berkman. Morse is two tiers below with Freeman of the Braves. Morse is really good but he is also right handed. With Zimmerman, Werth, Desmond, Espinosa (has yet to prove he can be a switch hitter in the majors), Ramos and Rendon on the way? THERE ARE NO left handed impact bats in the Nats system right now other than Harper. And he’s a rookie. The next closest might be Matt Skole but he is a long way off. Fielder might just be entering his prime at age 27. So, his non-defense and park neutral WAR could go even higher. Maybe a lot higher. Morse on the other hand is now over 30 and in his prime. And please don’t even mention Adam LaRoche you need only to go stats corner to find that your silly assertion that Seth Smith is average is NOT and is above while strike out guy LaRoche is the epitome of average or below.

    With the acquisition of Fielder other trades are likely to occur. Free agents more inclined to sign.

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    • IvanGrushenko says:

      Pujols and Fielder are on the same level? Really? So Prince is an inner circle HOF and one of the top 30 players of all time? I never knew this.

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  26. Westside guy says:

    “Should The Nationals Sign Prince Fielder?”

    YES!

    As a Mariners fan, I really want some other team to sign the guy – I’m getting tired of every beat writer in the northwest droning on and on about Fielder…

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  27. MC says:

    The Nats should talk trade with the Rays, centered around Morse for Upton, with additional pieces as necessary. Rays get a first baseman, Nats get a CF. Jennings can move to CF for the Rays.

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    • Socrates says:

      not bad, but even for one year of Upton, they are going to need more than Morse. Maybe Morse and LaRoche (Nat’s pay $6M and Rays pay $2M). This gives them an OF replacement for Upton (Morse to LF) and a 1B. If LaRoche doesnt work out they can move Morse to 1B. If they prefer another OF instead give them Bernadina instead of LaRoche.

      Another idea is moving Morse to Cleveland. They are desperate for a righty who can play 1B and OF. Half their roster are lefties (Kipnis, Chisenhall, Brantley, Sizemore, Hafner, Choo) and their sole righty (LaPorta) has been a huge disappointment. Morse can play 1B and DH (once Hafner gets hurt). I am not sure what we would want from them. Brantley (good team control) is a CFer although he is certainly not of the caliber of Upton (he really isnt much better than Bernadina).

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    • Socrates says:

      At 5’9″ 185 vs 6’2″ 210 I think that there are definitely differences. Desmond definitely disappointed, but to say that their upside is the same is really missing the forest.

      Casilla has consistently posted ISO below .100 and has a .085 for his career. Desmond has consistently posted in the .150 range. As his skills mature, he is going to start making better contact. Casilla will never make better contact. He will always be a guy who’s best season are around wOBA .300, while Desmond will have the chance every season to post .wOBAs in the .325 to .350 range.

      It might be fair to say:
      past Desmond = past Casilla
      but then you also have to say
      future Desmond is likely > than the future Casilla

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      • Ryan says:

        Desmond’s ISO since coming up in 2009.
        .280
        .124
        .104

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      • MauerPower says:

        Since 2009 the league average O-Swing% has been 28.3%, Desmond been 3% worse over that span, Casilla has been right there. His O-Contact% has been slightly better than league average but his K% has still been roughly 3% worse than average over that same span. Casilla has about half the amount of PAs over that time frame. Desmond’s BABIP over that time frame has been consistent as well so it’s not like he’s been hit with bad luck. Finally, Casilla is only one year older than Desmond and only has 1.5 more years of ML time. The point is, Desmond really isn’t that good.

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  28. Socrates says:

    It already appears certain that Werth is going to play CF. Honestly, I think that Werth should probably go to RF with Bernadina in CF until Harper comes up anyway. Once Harper is up they can determine who is better in CF and the other plays RF.

    The truth is the Morse, 1) actually isn’t a very good 1B either, and 2) his bat might be in line for more of a fall off than to a wOBA of .360. He adds more in LF than Bernadina does in CF.

    In 2013, we get $8M back on LaRoche and can address CF. In 2014, we either pay a huge some to Zimmerman (probably have to overpay by a good bit) or we go to Rendon (depending on his development). The point is that we have money that comes off the books.

    The long story short is that the budget is probably going to have to approach $90M instead of $65M if we are going to compete with Philly, Miami, and Atlanta.

    (as an aside, is everyone overrating Atlanta? I have always been a fan, but they seem to be in a tough spot right now. Despite having Uggla, McCann, Bourn, they have a only slightly above average lineup. Pitching they still have a very good pen, but their rotation is far from certain. Jurrjens has been on and off the DL and may not even be on the team. There are serious concerns about Hanson, Hudson only gets older, Beachy and Minor are bound to hit speed bumps, and the young guys Teheran and Delgado, still have to prove themselves. I actually dont think they are the clear #2 in the NL East. I think that Miami is right there with them (after the acquisitions, and the Nats will be if they sign Fielder).

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Last year atlanta was top 5 in wins in the majors most of the year despite horrible first halfs (or entire seasons) from Heyward, Uggla, and Lowe. Atlanta has a deep, young rotation, a young, talented pen, and a pretty good lineup. There isn’t a single huge bat, although heyward still has that potential, Uggla should have 30HR power again, plus they can trade with their pitching depth. I figure most of Atlanta’s players either replicate their 2011 or get better (due to youth in most cases, or because it’s nearly impossible for Uggla to be that horrible again for the first half).

      Personally I think people overrate the Phillies. Halladay and Lee are past their prime but still obviously really good. Hamels has bone chips, Utley is old and injury prone. Rollins is old. Howard is declining, aging, and coming off an injury. The Phillies are just an old team. Is there really any reason to believe Worley isn’t just an other JA Happ? Who else do they have that isn’t old?

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        You look at Atlanta’s concerns. Obviously Chipper misses time, obviously Hanson and Jurrjens are injury concerns, obviously Hudson is old, the young guys will hit speed bumps as you said, maybe Heyward doesn’t bounce back. However, do you take those? Those are about the same amount/type of concerns every team has.

        Take those, then look at the Marlins concerns. Buehrle is going into his age 33 season, and has generally been trending down for about 5 years. Johnson, the Marlins clear ace, is as much or more of an injury risk than any of Atlanta’s pitchers. Zambrano is Zambrano. Guillen is a nut. Hanley and Reyes both have injury/inconsistency issues.

        In other words, Atlanta has problems, but most of their problems are normal problems with mostly non-essential players (as in, if Jurrjens goes down, someone will likely be there to nearly replicate his production, if Johnson goes down for the fish, not so much). The marlins has more concerns with more high profile players.

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  29. Harv says:

    Davey Johnson put Kevin Mitchell at SS

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