Given the circumstances, I think we all can say that Mike Rizzo actually had a solid offseason. He wasn’t given a whole lot of money to spend, he’s on an expiring contract and Mark Lerner has shown he’s unwilling to do anything helpful or supportive of the team during this rebuild. It sounds like the Lerners are going to be around for a while though, partially due to their exorbitant asking price for the team and partially due to the MASN situation. Either way, they’re here for the foreseeable future, and quite frankly, much longer if you ask me. If I were looking to purchase the Nats, then under no circumstances would I be willing to pay top dollar for a franchise that is caught in limbo over their TV rights and TV revenues. There would need to be a steep discount, or I would be out. With commercial real estate going down the tubes, we can only hope that the Lerners eventually feel some financial pressure to sell the team. But I digress.
Most of us know about the guys that Rizzo has signed to MLB deals this offseason – Trevor Williams, Jeimer Candelario, Dominic Smith, Corey Dickerson and Stone Garrett – but I wanted to focus on a couple of the guys that he’s bringing into camp as non-roster invitees (and there will likely be more familiar names added to the mix). Specifically on the pitching side, Rizzo has brought in a couple of guys who really have a chance to make the team and who could really help the team this season. It’s no secret that the team isn’t going to push MacKenzie Gore or Cade Cavalli much past 125-150 innings pitched this season, and that’s assuming that both of them stay healthy for the entire year. That’s going to leave a whole lot of innings that need to be made up, and although Erasmo Ramirez and Paolo Espino are back, neither should be relied upon to step into the rotation for an elongated period of time. Rizzo also added a couple of relief options to the mix. On paper heading into Spring Training, the Nats likely have a full bullpen, but injuries always happen. That’s where a couple of these non-roster invitees might come into play.
The Nats just added Kuhl on a minor league deal over the weekend. Kuhl struggled last year with the Rockies, but a lot of those struggles came in the second half of the year when he dealt with some injuries. In the first half of the season, Kuhl posted a 4.11 ERA through 17 starts. Over his final 10 starts in the second half, he posted a 9.00 ERA. Kuhl has generally been a reliable, yet unspectacular starter over the course of his career. HIs career 4.74 ERA and 91 ERA+ is a solid depiction of what you’re going to get from him. But if we’re being honest, that’s a pretty solid upgrade over Erick Fedde who owns a career 5.41 ERA and 77 ERA+. From a depth perspective, adding Kuhl on a minor league deal was a no-brainer and as long as he stays with the organization, I would bet that he’s almost certain to make a couple of starts for the team this year.
Peralta is coming off two oddly successful years in Detroit where he pitched to a 2.93 ERA over the course of 132 innings pitched (19 starts, 47 games). I say oddly successful for two reasons: 1) his career numbers come nowhere close to matching that kind of success and 2) the analytics don’t back those numbers up. Peralta has a career 4.29 ERA throughout 10 years in the Majors. By all means, that’s a solid career, but again, that doesn’t gel with the 2.93 ERA that he’s posted over the past two seasons in his age 32 and age 33 seasons. On top of that, his xFIP over those two seasons was 4.99 and 4.79, so it would seem like he’s due for some regression this season. That’s also likely why he landed a minor league deal as opposed to getting a guaranteed deal from someone. Either way, Peralta is a great addition for the Nats on a minor league deal. He has experience starting and coming out of the bullpen, a lot like Ramirez and Espino, and would be able to eat some innings for the team if given the opportunity. A lot like Kuhl, Peralta probably figured the Nats would give him a great opportunity to break camp with the team which is why he was willing to take a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.
Colome is someone that Mike Rizzo has been after since the 2019 trade deadline when he was with the White Sox. Obviously that deal never happened, but 4 years later, Mike Rizzo finally got his guy. I guess? Colome isn’t the same guy he was back in 2019, hence the minor league contract, but he’s a veteran reliever with closing experience who could end up taking on some high leverage innings at the back end of the bullpen. He’s just two seasons removed from the 2020 shortened season where he put up a 0.81 ERA with 12 saves in 21 games. Granted, he’s coming off of a season in Colorado where he posted a 5.74 ERA, but his xFIP of 4.54 shows he actually pitched a bit better than that. He’s nothing special at this point in his career, but frankly, he’s probably still better than 2-3 guys that the Nats have on the 40-man roster right now.
The Nats also have Sean Doolittle and Francisco Perez coming into camp on Minor League deals. I’m not as excited about these two since Perez wasn’t overly impressive during his stint with the team and Doolittle is getting up there in age as he recovers from elbow surgery. Nonetheless, bullpen depth is a good thing, and if the Nats can stash either (or both) of these guys in AAA for a bit until a possible need arises, then I’m all for that.
With Spring Training still a couple of weeks away, it’s likely that the Nats will add a couple of more veterans on minor league deals with invites to Spring Training. There is still a lot of quality depth on the free agent market that can likely be had for cheap at this point, and with no benefit to tanking this upcoming season, the Nats should continue to add where they can.
Leave a Reply