Today we answer our first-ever Mailbag Monday questions. If you want your question to be answered in next week’s mailbag, make sure to @ us on Twitter @HalfStHighHeat! This week, blog contributor Matt Holleran and blog coordinator/podcast contributor Monty (@OnThePodSome) sits down and answers your pressing questions.
#1 “Does Cade Cavalli make an appearance/start in the majors this year?” – @1lovelyladyC
Matt – Cavalli has certainly lived up to the hype in his first professional action this year. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.77 ERA and has recorded 71 strikeouts in 40.2 innings pitched. After striking out 15 and allowing no hits in 7 innings over the weekend, Cavalli was promoted to AA Harrisburg on Monday. Despite his dominant start to the season and encouraging promotion, I don’t see the Nationals calling him up this year. At just 22, I don’t think the Nationals will want to rush Cavalli to the big leagues. Also, a promotion to the Major League roster would start Cavalli’s service clock, giving Washington less team control in the future. I doubt we’ll see him this season, but there’s a great chance we’ll see him pitching at Nationals Park in 2022.
Monty – I agree with Matt. I don’t think we want to rush him to the majors. An early promotion can sometimes be costly with big prospects. He just was promoted to AA Harrisburg, however, and if he dominates there over the next few months, I wouldn’t be super surprised if we saw him maybe get a start in September to give him a taste, but with the service clock, you really never know. I think chances are that we won’t see him until next year.
#2 “Who is gone first, Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Davey Martinez, Mike Rizzo?”-@NatsPost
Matt – If I had to rank them from most likely to be gone first to least, I’d go, Scherzer, Turner, Davey, Rizzo, Soto. As much as I love everything about Max Scherzer and what he has brought to this franchise, one way or another I think we are nearing the end of his time in D.C. With so many needs on offense and two underachieving, high-paid starters locked up for the near future, I just don’t see a way the Nationals can afford to bring Scherzer back after this season. Max will likely demand a contract similar to Justin Verlander’s, 2 year, $66 million deal he received in 2019, and it would be hard for the Nationals to allocate that amount of resources to a soon-to-be 36-year-old pitcher and still bring in enough offense to compete. Whether it’s through a trade or a mutual parting of ways at season’s end, unfortunately, I believe we are witnessing our final days of Mad Max in DC.
Monty – Max is one of my all-time favorite pitchers to watch and I don’t want to see him go. But everything Matt just said is correct. I would love to see Max stay a National forever but he seems to the most likely to be gone first, seeing as his deal expires after this season. Trea Turner trade rumors are also starting to pop up recently, given that his deal expires after 2022. I know Ryan (@WeAreAllShack) loves Trea but he’s adamant that a Turner trade would be best for the franchise moving forward in terms of return. I just don’t think Rizzo entertains offers on Trea because Rizzo will believe we can extend him.
#3 – “ Is the grip substance scandal as big a deal as some are making it? Does it compare to the Astros sign stealing or PEDs? Or is it baseball writers coming up with something to do in the middle of the summer?” – @shannythethird
Matt – Personally, I don’t think the foreign substance scandal can compare to the Astros sign-stealing. The fact of the matter is probably 90% of pitchers in baseball, maybe more, were or still are using this stuff. Two of the best starters in the game, Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole were both called out personally in a Sports Illustrated article that released today. I do think MLB is going to crack down hard on pitchers who continue to use it, so it will be interesting to see who starts to struggle in the near future.
Monty – The foreign substance issue is quite similar to PEDs in my opinion, with a lot less outrage. A few years ago, Trevor Bauer was calling out the Astros for their unnatural spin rates (To be clear, the Astros weren’t the only ones.) MLB did nothing and more pitchers (Bauer included) started using foreign substances to help generate more spin, because why not? If something is going to give you an edge and there are no consequences (at least in baseball terms), players are going to use that edge, whether it’s a foreign substance or PEDs. It should be a big deal but honestly, is it really baseball if there isn’t some sort of ongoing cheating scandal occurring?
#4 “As of now who would win MVP for both leagues? I’m very torn between Vladdy and Ohtani. Also is there any chance that you see Schwarber staying a Nat/ continuing being in the lead-off spot? Lastly, after the trade deadline is over will it be obvious if they intend on keeping Trea long term?” –@b_randonn
Matt – I’ll start by giving out my MVPs in both leagues. I agree with you in the A.L. on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The guy is hitting .344 with 21 home runs and an OPS of 1.137. As impressive as Ohtani is, Vladdy deserves it right now. In the N.L., I’d have to go with Jacob DeGrom. The guy has driven in more runs than he’s allowed this season. That’s just nuts to even think about. We’re witnessing potentially the best pitcher in baseball history, and I think he deserves to be awarded an MVP.
In regards to Schwarber in the leadoff spot, I’d love to see more of it. At this point with the inconsistency of the Washington offense, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Schwarber in the one hole is working right now, so I’d stick with it for a while. As for his future in Washington, I think there’s a good chance he’s back next season. Both sides have a mutual $11M option in 2022, and I think another season together could benefit both sides.
Finally, as much as I wish we would get some clarity on Trea Turner’s future this season, I just don’t see it happening. Turner’s going nowhere this season, and Washington likely will make at least an attempt at locking him up long-term this offseason. It remains to be seen how serious this attempt will be, but we’ll have to wait until at least October to get any type of clarity on how things will go moving forward.
Monty – If Ohtani stays anywhere close to what he’s doing on both sides of the ball, he’ll probably win the MVP. I’m just not sure if he’ll be able to continue because the physical toll of both positions is insane. I would love to see Vladimir Guerrero win MVP. Just last year many people were calling him a bust and now we’re talking MVP. For the NL, I agree with Matt, it has to be Jacob deGrom. If deGrom regresses at all, Ronald Acuna Jr might be in the conversation.
After last night’s game, there’s no question that Schwarber needs to stay in the lead off spot, at least against righties. I would love to see Schwarber back in DC next season, but I think he gets dealt for a B level prospect or two at the deadline. The Nats have a limited number of trade chips, and Schwarbs is one of them. They’ll need to take advantage of his production and get a promising prospect in return.
I fully believe that Mike Rizzo plans to extend Trea Turner. But whether that actually occurs is another story. The only thing that worries me with Trea is that his game is heavily reliant on speed, which is the first thing that goes as players get north of 30 years old. So we’ll see but I don’t think a deal will get done, especially with his recent production causing the price tag to rise.