THE NatsGM Show #53 – Special Guest James Kaprielian


This week on Episode #53 of THE NatsGM Show we are proud to welcome former UCLA pitching superstar and current New York Yankees prospect, James Kaprielian!

We begin our conversation with James describing what it was like being drafted out of high school, capturing an NCAA championship while playing at UCLA, plus his experience pitching for Team USA and in the Cape Cod League.  Then James discusses being selected 16th overall in the MLB Draft by the Yankees last June, pitching against professional hitters and his goals for the offseason.

Thanks for downloading and a special thank you to James for joining me as a guest!

5 Trade Targets For The Washington Nationals This Offseason


Now that the Washington Nationals have supposedly settled on Dusty Baker as their field manager, it is time for Mike Rizzo and the front office to begin pinpointing specific players in other organizations who could bolster the 2016 roster.

All-Stars such as Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Gonzalez and Craig Kimbrel have been casually liked with Washington but would be major additions with significant prospect “collateral damage”.  Today I wish to highlight five more reasonable targets for the Nationals front office this offseason.

Jonathan Lucroy  Catcher

With a new general manager in office for Milwaukee, it feels like a logical time for the team to completely commit to a full rebuild by parting with any players of value under short-term contracts. This would include likely their best player Lucroy, although he is coming off a subpar season hitting .264/.326/.391 with 7 home runs in 103 games.

A solid contributor offensively, Lucroy has built his reputation as one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, especially in the pitching framing category. Only 29-years-old Lucroy is a quality above-average two-way catcher signed for $4 million this season and a team option for $5.2 million in 2017, making him one of the best bargains in baseball. He will be difficult to pry away from Milwaukee, but Lucroy would be a demonstrable upgrade for the Nationals (or most any other team) behind the dish next year.

Joaquin Benoit  RHP

Benoit has been one of the best late-inning relievers in baseball for nearly a decade, posting a career 3.84 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 8.9 K/9 and 3.63 BB/9 ratio over 970 innings pitched. Last season he provided the Padres with a 2.34 ERA, 8.68 K/9 and 3.17 BB/9 in 65.1 innings.

This 38-year-old reliever will make $8 million in 2016, after the Padres picked up his contract option this week, before becoming a free agent next winter. San Diego already has a healthy salary commitment to closer Craig Kimbrel, along with a tight mid-market budget, and could seek to redistribute Benoit’s salary to other weaknesses on their roster. Could a Benoit for Yunel Escobar swap interest both teams?

Jay Bruce  Right Field

The former consensus #1 prospect in baseball, Bruce has been a rather consistent performer since arriving in the majors in 2008, slugging 18+ homers each season. Unfortunately some minor injuries the past two years have hindered the 28-year-old’s all-around game, causing his defensive numbers and batting average to plummet. Last season Bruce hit only .226/.294/.434 against career averages of .248/.319/.462.

Scheduled to earn $12.5 million next season with a $13 million option for 2017, Cincinnati could seek to clear his salary from their payroll as they rebuild in hopes of challenging Chicago, Pittsburgh and St. Louis in future seasons. Bruce is still in his prime and a shrewd team should acquire him this winter, gambling that a change of scenery, impending free agency, and improved health allows him to return to the 30 home run hitter he was just two years ago.

Josh Reddick  Right Field

It simply would not be a Nationals trade column without linking them somehow to Oakland, right? But Reddick could be available this offseason, as the 28-year-old enters his last year of salary arbitration before entering free agency next winter.

Reddick is a quality left-handed hitting outfielder coming off a strong campaign in 2015, batting .272/.333/.449 with 20 home runs, 77 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases in 149 games played. In addition, Reddick has the reputation as a solid defender in right field. If Oakland feels like 2016 is a rebuilding year or Reddick will not sign long-term, they could look to deal him to fill other needs.

Francisco Rodriguez  RHP


Rodriguez, often referred to as K-Rod, will be one of the most heavily discussed trade targets this winter, as the Brewers have a deep bullpen, a tight payroll, and are unlikely to compete for the playoffs next season. As a reasonably paid closer (1-year $5.5 million with a 2017 option at $8 million) Rodriguez makes a logical target for Milwaukee to part with in order to receive prospects for the future.

Contract status aside, the 33-year-old reliever quietly had yet another strong season for the Brewers in 2015, posting a 2.21 ERA, 2.91 FIP and 62 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched, not to mention going 38 for 40 in save opportunities. Certainly he does not have the power stuff of the “ideal” closer, but the numbers speak for themselves, K-Rod is an above-average late-inning reliever.

5 Free Agent Targets For The Washington Nationals This Winter


Now that the schedule says November, it is time to focus toward the likely frenetic offseason ahead for the Washington Nationals front office. Without completely overhauling the roster, the team has obvious needs in the bullpen, a left-handed hitter with power to compliment Bryce Harper and depth for the bench.

While superstars such as Jason Heyward, Matt Wieters and Ben Zobrist have been casually linked to Washington, today I want to highlight five players with smaller contract demands who could be excellent additions to the 2016 Nationals.

Colby Rasmus OF

The 29-year-old Rasmus rebounded from a subpar 2014 with a strong season for the Astros, batting .238/.314/.475 with 25 home runs and 61 runs batted in. In addition he split time between all three outfield positions last season, with impressive statistics in center field and mediocre results in the corners. Houston is supposedly on the fence about giving a qualifying offer to the left-handed free swinger. If the Astros decline to offer a QO, Rasmus might be a solid addition for Washington in either center field or right field while batting 6th in the order.

Darren O’Day RHP

O’Day is coming off a near-dominant four year stretch for the Orioles, pitching 60+ innings per year with an ERA never above 2.28. Despite his lack of experience as a closer, the 33-year-old is likely the best reliever on the market this winter and will be expecting a 3-4 year contract worth $7-9 million per season. It would be a splurge, but the Nationals have the available payroll (and need) to sign O’Day.

Shawn Kelley RHP

An underrated right-handed reliever, Kelley quietly provided San Diego with 51.1 innings of solid relief in 2015, with a 2.45 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 11.05 K/9 ratio and a 2.63 BB/9. The 31-year-old reliever enters free agency looking to convert last seasons’ success, and his career 10.22 K/9 verses 3.07 BB/9, into a lucrative multiyear pact. New manager Bud Black is familiar with Kelley from their time in San Diego – a reunion on a reasonable two year contract might be a solid move for both parties.

Dexter Fowler OF

Still only 29, Fowler enters free agency this winter as an interesting case – his prospect pedigree and obvious physical tools scream superstar, yet his statistics portray him as closer to an above-average regular. Fowler possesses a .267/.363/.418 career batting line and the reputation as a mediocre defender in center field.

The market for outfielders feels deep this year but Fowler will assuredly use Melky Cabrera’s (3yrs $42million) and Nick Markakis’s (4yrs $44million) contracts from last winter as the starting point in his negotiations. The switch-hitting Fowler, with a career .363 on-base percentage, would be an ideal fit atop the Nationals lineup.

Antonio Bastardo LHP

The now 30-year-old pitcher has spent his entire seven year career pitching in Pennsylvania, the first six years in Philadelphia before last season in Pittsburgh. A dominant left-handed reliever, Bastardo posted a 2.98 ERA, 3.33 FIP, and 10.05 K/9 ratio over 57.1 innings in 2015. After five consecutive seasons of 42+ innings pitched and a career 3.58 ERA, Bastardo will seek to match or exceed Zach Duke’s contract from last offseason (3yrs $15 million).

THE NatsGM Show Episode #52 – Guest Ryan Parker


THE NatsGM Show Episode #52 is now available and we are proud to welcome back to the program Baseball Prospectus author and hitting guru, Ryan Parker.

Ryan joins me to recap his recent trip to the 2015 Perfect Game WWBA event in Jupiter, Florida.  He discusses the overwhelming nature and size of the event, running into Jason Parks and coaching against Fred McGriff.  Then he shares his thoughts on several top hitting prospects including Carlos Cortes, Joe Rizzo and Carter Kieboom.  Finally Ryan talks about the evolution of Bryce Harper in 2015, Danny Espinosa’s decision to remain a switch-hitter and his pick to win the World Series.

Thanks to Ryan for returning to the show and to you for listening… Enjoy!