Yay or Nay on Free Agent Possibilities

The Nats seem to be in on some free agent acquisitions this offseason. They might end up signing a big name, they might not, but the guys are certainly out there. Ideally, they need a center fielder and a leadoff hitter, but they have question marks at middle infield, first base and the rotation as well. Here are a few of the names that keep popping up, and my thoughts on whether they should try to sign them:

Jose Reyes – The only question about Reyes, and it’s a big one, is health. But when he’s good, he’s one of the best leadoff hitters in the game (a lineup position the Nats deperately need) and a great SS (Sorry Desi, but at the moment that also appears to be a position of need). And he’ll be 29 this year, so even a 5 year deal wouldn’t seem too much. Verdict: Yay

Prince Fielder – He hits for power, a high average and OBP, and he’s only going to be 28 next year. He can field adequately, although he’s not a defensive stud. He is also overweight and there will be worries about how he ages, and concerns about injuries. He also doesn’t hit lefties great, which would be concerning if he gets any worse in that area as he gets older. But his age is a big deal, even a 7 year deal might include only a year or two of decline from being one of the best players in the league, something pretty rare for a free agent long term signing these days. And he’s hit .281/.406/.537 over the last three years, there just aren’t many bats like his in the league. Verdict: Yay

Albert Pujols – Maybe Albert really is 32, maybe he’s 34. Either way, he’s been the best hitter in baseball for the last decade, and this year he was great again. His .299/.366/.541 was his worst year ever, and even if he only does that and slightly worse for the next 5 seasons he’s going to be a perennial MVP candidate. Meanwhile, if you think those numbers are because he’s regressing, he actually hit .318/.383/.613 AFTER June 1, showing he just had a slow start and then was his typical amazing self. Yes, whoever signs him is going to have a few years at the end where he won’t be the same, maybe more than a few. They might also get another half a dozen years of a top 5 hitter. It’s a risk, but that risk is probably outweighed by the next 4 or 5 seasons. Verdict: Yay

Jimmy Rollins – Rollins is a capable shortstop, who is a big name former MVP with a World Series ring. But he’s a 32 shortstop, and he hasn’t really hit very well in a while. His OBP over the last three seasons is .316, and his OPS+ over that time is 91. He can still steal some bases and field his position, but he doesn’t have power anymore, and doesn’t get on base enough. He isn’t a leadoff hitter, and he isn’t, unlike the rest of us, getting any younger. He’s a decent 1 or 2 year stopgap for a strong contender, especially compared to most other free agent shortstops out there, but he’s not a building block. Verdict: Nay

Mark Buerhle – This guy eats innings as well as any pitcher this century, and he’s been around throwing 200+ a year for so long it’s hard to believe he’s only 32. He probably won’t be looking for a really long term deal, and 4 years seems both fair and relatively risk free. He doesn’t strike out a ton of guys, but doesn’t walk anyone either, and as long as there is a defense behind him, he’s going to continue to be a very good pitcher. Verdict: Yay

CJ Wilson – In September, he was considered the best free agent pitcher coming on to the market. Today, he might still have that title, but people are slightly less enthusiastic about him, it seems. A poor postseason doesn’t throw me off the Wilson train, but I’m still just one foot on, as I’ve always been. He’d be a good #2/3 type along with Zimmermann, behind Strasburg, but he is probably looking for an ace-like contract. He misses bats, which works anywhere, but he walks a TON of guys. He is also 31, and if he’s looking for that 6 or 7 year deal, he may not be great or even good for the whole thing. He could be spectacular for the contract as he doesn’t have the innings on his arm that other guys his age do, or he could have an AJ Burnett up and down contract in there thanks to his control issues. Still, if they did sign him, he wouldn’t have to carry the team as the ace, and would certainly improve the rotation immensely. Verdict: Meh

Coco Crisp – This name has come up in a few places recently for this team, mostly because they are clearly searching for a center fielder. Last year was a down year, he only hit .264/.314/.379, his worst line probably since 2006. But even with improvement, the guy has a 89 OPS+ over the last 6 seasons. He’s speedy and he’s more OBP than power, but he’s not really a leadoff hitter, and his ability to play CF is probably all that’s keeping him from being a bench guy right now, and at 32, it may not be for much longer. He seems like more of a stopgap guy who can play adequate defense than anything else, and I’m not sure the Nats need to go out and sign that. Verdict: Nay

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One Response to Yay or Nay on Free Agent Possibilities

  1. Dave M. says:

    “He isn’t a leadoff hitter, and he isn’t, unlike the rest of us, getting any younger.” Gold.

    The only player we don’t agree upon is Reyes, but that may just be because I personally don’t like him… as a fan, I would rather have Desi playing his heart out at SS than Reyes, whose “me first” attitude (remember how he left his last home game as a Met after one at-bat to secure the batting title) makes me queasy. I probably wouldn’t be too mad if he stayed healthy and helped us win a pennant (or two, or three) though.

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