Category Archives: Washington Nationals Jerseys

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Going with this because a scout told Pirates beat writer (at The Athletic) Rob Biertempfel he could see it happening to clear up holes at first base and in the middle of their order, and I couldn’t think of anything else to put here. Plus in that article, Jim Bowden said he’s still big on Bell. And he’s good at talent evaluation.

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DECEMBER 24, 2020 – TWITTER:
Per sources: Pirates closing in on a trade of Josh Bell to the Nationals.

— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 24, 2020
First baseman Josh Bell has been traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Washington Nationals, a source tells ESPN. Two young pitchers headed back to Pittsburgh.

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— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 24, 2020
Can confirm that the Nationals are acquiring first baseman Josh Bell in a trade with the Pirates. Reported return to PIT is two young pitchers in Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean. @JMackeyPG was first to mention a deal was brewing.

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded first baseman Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals for pitching prospects Eddy Yean and Wil Crowe on Thursday.

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Crowe was the third-ranked prospect in the Nationals organization, and Yean ranked sixth, per MLB.com.

Jeff Passan of ESPN and Jon Heyman of MLB Network first reported the deal and the players involved.

Bell has spent his entire career with the Pirates, emerging as a power-hitting All-Star during the 2019 season. He struggled during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign, hitting .226/.305/.364 with eight home runs and 22 runs batted in, but the Nationals are banking on a bounce-back in a stronger lineup.

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The Pirates are moving on from Bell in what amounts to a long-term cash-saving measure. He has one year of arbitration remaining before he reaches free agency after the 2022 season.

The Pirates regularly have one of the lowest payrolls in the sport. Bell likely would have been out of their price range once he hit the open market, so they’re getting ahead off the curve by trading him—receiving more in return and punting on a 2021 campaign in which they were not expected to compete.

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The Nationals could be more likely to pay Bell over the long term, especially if he returns to 2019 form. If not, the opportunity cost is relatively low. He’s a dangerous power bat who can hit in the Nos. 4-6 slots but doesn’t bring much (if anything) defensively.

Washington desperately needed help at first base after Eric Thames struggled to fill the spot in 2020.

— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) December 24, 2020
According to the multiple reports above, the Nationals are acquiring Josh Bell, 28, from the Pirates in return for pitchers Wil Crowe and Eddy Yean.

Bell, a 2011 2nd Round pick by Pittsburgh, is coming off a .226/.305/.364 campaign in 2020 which saw the first baseman hit three doubles and eight homers in 57 games and 223 plate appearances, over which he was worth -0.4 fWAR in his fifth big league season in the Bucs’ lineup.

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In his last full season in 2019, Bell, a 6’4’’, switch-hitting, right-hand throwing first baseman, put up a .277/.367/.569 line, with career highs in doubles (37) and home runs (37), over 143 games and 613 PAs in a 2.5 fWAR campaign.

The Nationals are acquiring Bell, who has two years of team control left, in return for Crowe, 26, who made his MLB debut with the club in 2020, and Yean, 19, who signed for $100,000 out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2017.

Crowe was ranked No. 3 on the MLB Pipeline list of the Nats’ top prospects this year, while Yean, who pitched in the Gulf Coast and New York/Penn League’s in 2019, was ranked 6th overall in the organization.

GM Mike Rizzo talked last week about a power bat being the organization’s No. 1 priority this offseason, and mentioned finding one who could play first base or a corner outfield spot as the ideal addition. It looks like the first big move of the offseason is to add some middle-of-the-order pop at first base.

What’s next for Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office? What do you think of adding Bell to the mix in the nation’s capital? And the cost? The club just made the deal official…

“We are thrilled to be adding a player of Josh Bell’s caliber to our team,” Nationals’ President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo said in a press release today.

“He adds a switch-hitting power bat to our lineup. And we know Josh will be an outstanding addition to our clubhouse and our community.”

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The first year of Patrick Corbin’s six-year/$140M deal with the Washington Nationals ended with the left-hander tossing three scoreless innings in relief in Game 7 of the World Series, which the Nats won. Corbin’s second season in D.C. ended in disappointment as the club limped to a 24-36 finish in the 60-game 2020 campaign and missed out on the postseason altogether after winning it all in 2019.

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Looking back on the second year of his contract with the Nationals, immediately after he’d completed the season with a (2-7) record in 11 starts, over which he’d put up a 4.66 ERA, a 4.17 FIP, 18 walks (2.47 BB/9), 60 Ks (8.22 K/9), and a .308/.349/.489 line against in 65 2⁄3 IP, (after he posted a 3.25 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, 3.12 BB/9, 10.60 K/9, and .227/.293/.375 line against in 33 starts and 202 IP in ‘19), the lefty said things clearly did not go how he or teammates in the nation’s capital wanted it to go.

Patrick Corbin, Filthy 82mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/wCNWF6lgO8

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— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 26, 2020
“Obviously I think a lot of us would have wanted things to have gone differently,” the 31-year-old southpaw said, “… but you try to look at some positives, and finishing on a strong note, and ending this season healthy was definitely a big thing for me. So … just going to hopefully prepare for a normal offseason and a normal spring next year, and get ready for next season.”

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Corbin went winless in his final eight outings (0-7, with a 5.48 ERA and .338/.381/.541 line against in 47 2⁄3 IP over that stretch), so the fact that he was calling a seven-inning start in his final appearance, which saw him give up 10 hits and 3 ER in a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets, a positive finish, says a lot about how things went in 2020 overall.

The 85 total hits Corbin allowed on the season were the most in the majors in the truncated campaign, and the eight-year veteran saw opposing hitters’ exit velocity go up (90.7 MPH —up from 89.9 in ‘19), and his hard-hit% rise (from 38.7% in ‘19 to 44.2% in ‘20), while hitters’ average on his sinker was significantly up (.378 vs .280), as was the average against his four-seamer fastball (.415 from .232), with the BAA on his slider (.198 in ‘20 vs .158 in ‘19) up, but a bit less dramatically.

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Hitters had a .240 AVG on his changeup, down from .370 in 2019, and a .429 AVG on his curveball, up from .214, though they accounted for just 7.7% of the pitches he threw this season between the two of his five offerings.

“He struggled with his location at times, he has mentioned that,” manager Davey Martinez said before Corbin’s final 2020 outing.

Patrick Corbin, Wicked 81mph Slider…and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/8HpMAF1QSK

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— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 12, 2020
“He said his sinker sometimes didn’t sink, it just flattened out, trying to go in,” Martinez said.

“This is something that he knows coming into next year. He is going to be fine. His slider is his go-to pitch.

“He threw it, he threw it well, so I think the rest with him is going to help him out a lot.”

Corbin told reporters that he was hoping for a return to some sense of normalcy in 2021 after the late start, COVID restrictions, and all the testing/safety protocols in 2020.

“I just — maybe all year the ball just wasn’t coming out as it normally does,” he explained, “… and not really sure why that was. So, I just want to go into next year, hopefully, like I said, a normal season where you’re able to build up, get your arm strength there and be ready to make 33 starts. That’s kind of what I’m looking at, and obviously it’s a disappointment for us this season.”

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Having the season start late and end early for the Nationals, Corbin suggested, could be a positive in the end after he and his teammates endured that long run to the Fall Classic in 2019.

“Yeah I mean, we played an extra month last year,” he said.

“I think this year it will help. I mean, we did have a lot of time coming into this year, we had more time than we expected, so like I said, I just hope things are normal going into next season, and we are able to have a normal offseason, normal Spring Training and be ready to go.”

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There was never quite a Jefry Rodriguez Narrative in Washington. That would have required him being a fixed part of the Nationals’ plans — not a fringe pitcher who, in November 2018, was traded to the Cleveland Indians in the deal that netted catcher Yan Gomes. But before and after Rodriguez left, there was mixed messaging about whether he was a future starter or reliever.

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And now, at last, it could all get cleared up this spring.

The Nationals have signed Rodriguez to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, according to two people with knowledge of the agreement. Rodriguez struggled with Cleveland in 2019, missed 2020 with back and shoulder injuries and was non-tendered this month. He battled poor command, too, though it was health that limited him to eight starts and two relief appearances. Then he returned to Washington for an outside chance to make the club.

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But there are additional wrinkles after Ross opted out of playing in 2020. By doing so, he forfeited his salary — also an agreed-upon $1.5 million — and a full year of major league service time. As a result, he will be arbitration eligible for a fourth time after next season. That will delay his ability to become a free agent, giving the Nationals an extra year of team control. Ross was acquired in the 2014 trade that also brought Trea Turner to Washington.

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With Ross’s deal out of the way, the Nationals have two more arbitration-eligible players in Turner and Juan Soto. They happen to be franchise cornerstones. Turner, a 27-year-old shortstop, is in his third year of eligibility and was set to make $7.45 million in 2020 before salaries were prorated. Soto, a 22-year-old phenom, is in line to be Super Two eligible and is due for a big raise on the $629,400 salary assigned to him by the Nationals this past year.

Spencer Kieboom built his life around baseball. Then he quietly walked away.

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Washington can negotiate salaries with either player at any time. But if they don’t agree before 7 p.m. Wednesday — the non-tender deadline — the Nationals will have to officially tender contracts to Turner and Soto. This is one of the bigger formalities of baseball’s offseason. The club is of course interested in retaining its two best hitters. Devising long-term contracts for Turner and Soto comes at different phases of the team’s five-year plan. In the meantime, though, they’ll have to go through the arbitration process and negotiate with a pair of young stars who tore through the pandemic-shortened season.

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That leaves a lot of details to be worked out. Ross’s deal followed the logic that, without playing in 2020, his initial salary for that season was transferrable. It thus makes sense that he was first to settle with the Nationals.

Without Ross this past summer, the club leaned on Austin Voth and Erick Fedde to round out its rotation. Prospects Wil Crowe and Ben Braymer got shots to start, too. But after Voth fumbled an opportunity, and with Fedde serving well in a do-everything role, it’s likely that Ross has the inside track for a rotation spot. He was the last-minute fill-in for Max Scherzer in Game 5 of the World Series in 2019. He was trending in the right direction before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017. He was solid for parts of 2019, working his sinker-slider combo, and could slot in behind Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and an undetermined fourth starter whenever the season begins.

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The start date, like everything else, is solidly up in the air. So is whether there will be a universal designated hitter and how big the playoff field will be. Ross, on the other hand, knows how much money he’ll make if everything goes as planned. That’s one small box to check off.

Will that really show whether the Nationals view him as a starter or reliever? Maybe not. Nonroster invitees have to impress enough to earn a coveted 40-man roster spot. The Nationals padded their rotation depth by adding Rogelio Armenteros off waivers Dec. 7. They otherwise have Wil Crowe and Ben Braymer after Kyle McGowin, once a depth starter stashed in the minors, was moved to the bullpen in 2020. So Rodriguez could arrive in the spring, throw a bit and be gone by the regular season, off to find another chance. But how he is used in West Palm Beach, Fla., will be telling. With a few backfield workouts, a few scrimmages, the mystery of Jefry Rodriguez should fade.

First, a short history: At the general managers’ meetings in November 2018, The Washington Post asked Mike Rizzo about adding a versatile, multi-inning reliever. Josh Hader had just lit up the playoffs for Milwaukee. It built on what Andrew Miller did for Cleveland in 2016, fitting the trend of shorter starts and more creative bullpen usage. Rizzo entertained the idea.

Well, he sort of did.

“Sure, I’d love that,” he said, sarcastically hinting that pitchers such as Hader and Miller are a rare find. “Who do you have in mind?”

That’s when a reporter suggested Rodriguez.

“Jefry’s certainly got good stuff, multi-innings, rubber arm, can bounce back. I still see him as a real good starting piece for us,” Rizzo said. “To me, the industry, us as an industry, we develop more relievers than starters. I like to get pitchers that have the capacity to start every opportunity to start, keep them stretched out.”

Now fast-forward three weeks, right after Rizzo traded Rodriguez and outfielder Daniel Johnson for Gomes. When asked about dealing Rodriguez, thus thinning the Nationals’ rotation depth, Rizzo took a slight turn.

“It’s one starting candidate we don’t have anymore,” Rizzo said. “We thought Jefry’s primary role on our team in the future was going to be in the bullpen.”

 

At the time, this was either the truth or post-trade spin. Perhaps it was some combination of the two.

But even before Rizzo’s parting comments, it was fair to ask whether Rodriguez could flip to the bullpen. He has a mid-90s fastball and a decent curve, and he hasn’t developed a second off-speed pitch. The Nationals briefly tested him as a reliever in 2019. As they did, Manager Dave Martinez daydreamed — out loud — about Rodriguez becoming Dellin Betances, a four-time all-star then with the New York Yankees. The logic was that, with only a few outs to record, Rodriguez’s velocity could tick up and overpower hitters. It was a big ask.