THE NatsGM Show returns for Episode #123 and we are proud to welcome Host of The Morning Blitz weekdays & Chin Music Saturday mornings on The Team 980, Al Galdi!
Our conversation begins with Al describing his 15+ year career working for The Team 980 and some of his most memorable moments. Next Al gives his take on the Washington Redskins and acquiring Alex Smith, plus his thoughts on the 2018 Washington Nationals. Finally Al shares his favorite DC sports athlete, most underrated pro wrestler all-time & his favorite sports moment in a game of “Rapid Fire“!
Thanks to Al for graciously joining the show, and to you for downloading!
In the 1st of what is expected to be a monthly recurring series, Washington Nationals prospect Gabe Klobosits returns to THE NatsGM Show. Gabe describes his excitement at being ranked the #18 prospect in Washington’s system by MLB.com, his drive from Texas to Florida for spring training and the beginning of camp. In addition, Gabe discusses his goals for spring training, explains what he works on when “throwing a bullpen” and speaks proudly of Auburn football’s chances in 2018.
Thanks to Gabe for joining us and agreeing to an ongoing set of interviews during this upcoming season. Also, thank you for downloading!
Monday news broke and Wednesday it was confirmed – The Washington Nationals had reached agreement on a 1-year $1 million contract with free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. In a corresponding move, Washington placed Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list in order to create space on the 40-man roster for Benoit.
The 40-year-old right-hander split last season with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, throwing 50.1 innings over 52 appearances with a 4.65 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 1.291 WHIP and 46 strikeouts against 22 walks. Benoit was solid for Philadelphia early in the year (4.07 ERA, 3.80 FIP) but collapsed in the Iron City, allowing 9 runs, 11 hits and 6 walks in only 8.1 innings for the Pirates. For his 16-year major league career, Benoit has been a productive late-inning reliever, with a 3.83 ERA, 1.235 WHIP and 53 saves over 1,068 innings pitched. Benoit primarily relies on his 94-95mph fastball and a mid-80s changeup, while mixing in the occasional slider. While his velocity and swinging strike percentage (13.3%) remained strong in 2017, it is concerning his walk rate and home runs allowed have elevated over career norms in both 2016 and 2017. These flaws must subside if the veteran wishes to remain a productive major league reliever.
Benoit provides Washington’s bullpen with something it lacked without him, namely a consistent right-handed reliever who can bolster the middle relief corps. Certainly Koda Glover, Shawn Kelley and perhaps even Austin Adams could fill this role in 2018, but all three come with significantly more risk than Benoit. One could argue all three come with more potential upside, but Benoit’s reliability and higher “floor” makes him a solid addition to Washington’s relief corps. Also, Benoit’s career 8.9 K/9 ratio makes him a nice contrast to fellow free agent signee and groundball producing machine Brandon Kintzler in a setup capacity ahead of Ryan Madson and closer Sean Doolittle.
In general, it is difficult to quibble with signing a durable reliever for only $1 million and Benoit should give the Nationals quality production this season. Washington capitalized on the slow free agent market to add a reliable pitcher on a below-market contract. However, I must caution Benoit is no longer an elite reliever like he was from 2010-2015, but a pitcher who should provide 45-50 innings of league-average results. If expectations are kept with this in mind, Washington’s front office just acquired additional depth for only a $1 million commitment, a quality and logical move.
NatsGM Grade -> B
Late Monday, after several weeks of relative inactivity, the Washington Nationals acquired Matt Reynolds from division foe the New York Mets for cash considerations. The Mets designated him for assignment last week in order to create a roster spot for free agent signee Todd Frazier. Reynolds immediately finds himself on Washington’s 40-man roster, occupying the recently vacated spot by Raudy Read, who will serve an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drug use.
The 27-year-old Reynolds was the Mets’ 2012 2nd round pick from the University of Arkansas who has split the past two seasons between AAA and the majors. The right-handed hitting and throwing Reynolds is a career .279/.346/.396 hitter over 508 minor league games, with 26 home runs and 58 stolen bases. In the majors he has struggled, hitting .228/.300/.351 over only 202 at-bats, along with an alarming 54.6% ground ball rate and a paltry 28.5% fly ball ratio. He works the count, will take a walk and scouts believe there is some thump in his bat, but the predominance of ground balls limits his offensive potential.
Defensively Reynolds is extremely versatile, as he has played each defensive position besides catcher in the past two seasons. He has decent speed and athleticism, along with a solid throwing arm and plenty of #Want, allowing him to outplay his physical tools. He is a below-average defender at the up-the-middle positions (shortstop, second base and center field) and passable at the corner infield and outfield positions. In this era of 12 and 13 man pitching staffs, Reynolds’ defensive flexibility make him a quality 25th man on a National League team.
Obviously it is difficult to quibble with any acquisition that costs only cash considerations, but I do find the trade slightly intriguing – Washington’s offense seems relatively spoken for and the presence of similarly versatile Wilmer Difo, Howie Kendrick and Adrian Sanchez already on the 40-man roster make Reynolds feel somewhat redundant. Reynolds has a minor league option remaining, so the organization is likely targeting him for Triple-A and to act as insurance for the major league roster. In addition, do not be surprised if Washington tries to sneak Reynolds through waivers prior to Opening Day to clear a roster spot while keeping him in the organization.
Overall there is a bit of potential upside with Matt Reynolds if he can learn to consistently lift the ball. Perhaps a change of scenery and a fresh opportunity with a new team, the first of his career, will allow him to blossom offensively. I do not expect this to happen, but understand Washington’s front office gambling that the Mets’ underestimated Reynolds’ long-term potential. Considering the minimal cost, I like this wager for the Nationals.
NatsGM Grade -> B