Nationals Today – 1/21


I’ve been thinking today about competition and what it really means for the Nationals. I touched on this a bit yesterday, but one major factor that will be present at spring training this year that hasn’t been in Viera in years past are true competitions for roster spots.

Rizzo did a great job this winter of bringing not only elite talent (Jayson Werth), or talent to fill specific holes (Adam LaRoche), he also brought in depth to sure up spots of weakness. A perfect example of this is with the starting rotation. Rizzo was not able to land the elite talent he wanted, so instead he added more depth to create competition for a spot among the starters he already had. While he doesn’t have any Cy Young candidates on the mound, he now has eight guys pitching just to keep their job.

That’s one way to demand the best out of everyone. Another upside of this competition is that you are covered if you make the wrong bets. For instance, the club bet on Adam Kennedy to be a utility/back up infielder last year. He didn’t work out quite as they had hoped, both with personality and production…

however there wasn’t really much they could do, they were limited in their options. This year wil be a different story.

FanGraphs Names Top Ten Nationals Prospects

You can see the whole list here. I think the most interesting part of this list is that they put A.J. Cole as the clubs third overall prospect. The club signed Cole with a $2 million contract to sway him away from attending the University of Miami. He’s an exciting arm, who still has a lot of development to go through. Here’s what Marc Hulet had to say:

Cole pitched just one inning during his pro debut but could open 2011 in low-A ball if he has a strong spring. He is rail thin and his delivery has some effort to it so the organization will want to be cautious with this talented arm. He throws with a three-quarter arm angle and has a long stride. He has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter but Cole also has a long way to go.

Another surprise in this list was that they put Sammy Solis ahead of Wilson Ramos.

Chris Young Signs With The Mets

We saw yesterday that Carl Pavano signed with the Minnesota Twins for $16.5 million over two years, a price that the Nationals were probably smart to match, despite their desire for more starting pitching. Today we saw another previous free-agent pitching target, Chris Young, sign with a divisional opponent, the New York Mets.

Young’s deal is reportedly a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.1 million, he will also be able to earn $4.5 million in incentives. While this deal is more in the ballpark for something the Nats may have been looking for, I believe that while the trade for Tom Gorzelanny has less upside than this move, it has much more stability due to Young’s injury history.

The AP reports that the terms of the deal say Young will earn his full $4.5 million if he makes 31 starts and pitches 180 innings.

You should check out… 

Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons sits down with Bryce Harper…
Over at Big League Stew they ask how much will the Phillies miss Jayson Werth? 
Scott Pianowski asks the burning questions about the Nationals from a fantasy stand point…