The Washington Nationals Trade Chris Bostick to Pittsburgh

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In a slightly overlooked part of Joe Ross’s return from the disabled list, last week the Washington Nationals designated minor league infielder Chris Bostick for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.  Then Monday, in a related move, Washington traded Bostick to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for catching prospect Taylor Gushue and cash considerations.

The 23-year-old Bostick split time this year between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse, hitting .250/.313/.386 with eight homers and 11 steals.  Acquired as part of the Ross Detwiler trade, Bostick showed promise in 2015 splitting time between High-A and Double-A, batting .258/.312/.398 with 12 home runs, 42 extra base hits and 31 stolen bases.  He possesses above-average to plus speed, and average raw pull power, but his inability to consistently make contact hinders his overall offensive profile.

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Defensively Bostick does not project particularly well at any one position, as his fringe-average arm and mediocre hands makes him a liability in the infield.  In addition, he does not have enough arm strength for right field or center field, making him profile as a left fielder.  With experience, one would expect Bostick to play an average or better left field, but his offense do not profile at a corner position.  Hence the scout’s conundrum with Bostick is he does not hit enough to be a starter in the outfield and is not a good enough defender to play in the infield.  So while I believe in his ability to be a versatile National League bench player, this is likely also his eventual ceiling.

In return for Bostick, Washington receives the 22-year-old Gushue, Pittsburgh’s 4th round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft from the University of Florida.  Gushue spent this season at High-A, hitting .226/.282/.357 with 8 home runs and 38 runs batted in over 90 games played.  Gushue, a switch-hitter, flashes good raw pull power, but his barrel skills and hit tool need significant improvement.

Listed at 6-1 215lbs, Gushue is rather athletic for a catcher, possessing good receiving skills plus an average or better throwing arm.  His footwork and ability to block pitches need refinement, as they were raw coming out of college.  His career caught stealing percentage is below-average at 25%, likely in part due to his sloppy feet.   Gushue has an intriguing package of raw tools, but his inability to make consistent contact likely limits his upside to a backup catcher or career option lingering at Triple-A.

Overall I was disappointed by the team’s original decision to designate Bostick for assignment, as he has long been a sleeper of mine and I believe there are more expendable players currently on the 40-man roster.  Considering the team recently traded another infield prospect, Max Schrock, I would have preferred to part with relievers Rafael Martin, Matt Grace or Yusmeiro Petit rather than Bostick.

However, considering the circumstances involved in trading a designated for assignment prospect in late September, the Nationals did well to receive an intriguing catching prospect and cash in return for Bostick.  Washington has done a nice job in recent years developing catching prospects, and I am intrigued to see if the organization can develop Gushue’s skills into a potential major leaguer.  With the obvious caveat that I disagreed with the original decision, Washington’s front office made a solid trade getting Taylor Gushue for Chris Bostick.

NatsGM Grade     ->     B-

THE NatsGM Show #78 – Special Guest Meg Rowley

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THE NatsGM Show Episode #78 has dropped like a dumbbell at the gym and we are proud to welcome Baseball Prospectus author Meg Rowley to the show!

This week Meg and I begin by discussing the current state of the Seattle Mariners, the overall success of this season and what the future looks like for the franchise.  Next we go “Old School” and talk mid-90s Seattle baseball, specifically Ken Griffey Jr., how A-Rod is viewed by Mariners’ fans today and the case for Edgar Martinez to be enshrined in Cooperstown.  Finally, Meg gives her thoughts on the new Fox series “Pitch” and the strengths and weaknesses of the show.

Special Thank You to Meg for joining us and to our Sponsor, No Halftime, for their promotional considerations.  Please consider Rating & Reviewing the show on iTunes and thanks for listening!

THE NatsGM Show #77 – Guest Harry Pavlidis

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On Episode #77 of THE NatsGM Show we are proud to welcome Director of Technology at Baseball Prospectus, Founder of Pitch Info and friend of the Podcast, Harry Pavlidis!

During our interview Harry describes his newest research he presented at SaberSeminar involving Catchers & Game Calling.  First he explains how this research was a byproduct of last year’s groundbreaking work Deserved Run Average, what this new metric encompasses and what we can learn from this data.  Next we discuss Washington Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos spot atop this new metric and what makes him such a strong defender.  Finally Harry answers my queries about the game calling skills of Ivan Rodriguez, Jose Lobaton, Matt Wieters, Caleb Joseph and several other prominent catchers.

Thanks to Harry Pavlidis for returning to the show and to No Halftime for sponsoring our interview.  Thanks to you for listening!

Where Has Yusmeiro Petit Gone?

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Last night, lost amongst the potentially tragic news concerning Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg, I began to wonder why Yusmeiro Petit did not pitch – after all, a starter leaving abruptly in the 3rd inning and the bullpen needing to cover multiple innings is precisely the reason Petit was signed last offseason.  Without question the expanded September roster alters bullpen roles, but Petit has not pitched since August 27th, leaving one to ponder what his role might be, if any, in the playoffs and into next season.

The nearly 32-year-old Petit has pitched sufficiently for Washington this season in long relief, posting a 3.99 ERA with 60 hits and 13 walks allowed against 45 strikeouts in 58.2 innings.  It has been a a tale of two seasons for Petit, who posted a 2.62 ERA and .684 OPS against in the 1st half verses an 8.36 ERA with a .977 OPS against in the 2nd half.  Some of this can be explained by situations calling for him to “wear it” to save the bullpen, but Petit has struggled recently to limit home runs (1.69 HR/9) and hard contact.

Last December Washington signed Petit to a 1-year $2.5 million contract, with a team option for $3 million in 2017 or a $500,000 buyout.  Essentially the Nationals must decide if Petit is worth $2.5 million in 2017 and even more specifically, if he is worth $2 million more than cheaper options like A.J. Cole, Sammy Solis and others already on the 40-man roster.  But even before this decision is made, Washington must decide if Petit will be a part of their 25-man playoff roster.

During the playoffs, due to the number of off days, teams often will reconfigure their pitching staff to have only 3 starters in the opening 5-game series and 4 starters in the 7-game series.  This allows managers to either add another hitter to supplement his bench or an 8th (or 9th) man in the bullpen.  5 bullpen positions seem presently spoken for, as Mark Melancon, Blake Treinen, Shawn Kelley, Koda Glover and Marc Rzepczynski are locks.  Veterans Matt Belisle and Oliver Perez are also likely to also make the roster.  This leaves only 1 or 2 spots available and pitchers like Sean Burnett, A.J. Cole, Lucas Giolito, Matt Grace, Trevor Gott, Mat Latos, Reynaldo Lopez, Joe Ross and Rafael Martin competing with Petit.  His biggest strength, Petit’s ability to pitch multiple innings, is not quite as valuable in October and Washington could prefer someone with different skills.

Assuming he is not injured, it feels safe to assume manager Dusty Baker has lost confidence in Petit, as he has not pitched in 10+ days and last night’s game provided a tailor-made scenario for him to appear.  Therefore, unless the Nationals’ go with a 9-man bullpen and Joe Ross is unable to return, it seems unlikely Petit makes the roster.  And if Petit is indeed bumped, it is difficult to see Washington deciding to bring him back next season, likely preferring to use the $2 million to bolster an offer to a closer or left-handed relief ace.

Overlooked during Strasburg’s early exit Wednesday, the team unintentionally unveiled part of their offseason plans, and it appears Yusmeiro Petit is on the outside looking in.