As the Washington Nationals balance the power in their lineup, throwing money at Brandon Moss was not the answer. Here is why.
In what has been an odd trend this hot stove season, power hitters did not draw big money. Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo went back to the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles after their asking price plummeted to a Wal-Mart value deal for their clubs.
Matt Wieters, who expected millions, is still out there in the market. His price and markets to play in dwindle by the day. No, the Nats are not interested; we think.
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With most attention going to pitching, particularly closers, those who mash baseballs are on the short end of the proverbial stick.
For the Royals, they had a need for Moss. Washington? Not so much.
For one, the Nats payroll flexibility is nearly gone. With $151 million already on the books—and, no set closer—Washington is smart not to spend that amount on a bench player. They have Daniel Murphy and Clint Robinson to fill in at first when Ryan Zimmerman needs a rest or is injured.
When they re-signed Stephen Drew, the depth the Nats needed after the trade of Danny Espinosa to the bench returned. In a glut of one-dimensional power-hitting outfield first baseman, there was never a need to fill. Jayson Werth and Zimmerman are high-cost players already on the roster.
Although Werth produced at league-average in 2016 with his Adjusted OPS+ of 99, Zimmerman struggled most of the season. Lashing lasers all over the field, most drives found the waiting gloves of other teams. When you hit .218, it is a bad year no matter how you look at it.
Moss is a journeyman player who found success last year with the St. Louis Cardinals. Although his Adjusted OPS+ of 105 beats Zimmerman’s 69, Moss whiffed 141 times and posted a batting average of .225. If you want to replace Zimmerman, using a virtual clone to do it is not smart.
Because of those financial constraints, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was creative in signing Drew to an incentive-laden deal and doing the same with pitcher Vance Worley. As the team tries to repeat as National League East championships, it is important to find those missing pieces as cheaply as possible.
The Nats must spend smart money. Moss does not fit that description for Washington.