Wednesday at 8 PM was the deadline for teams to tender a contract to players under team control. A number of interesting names have been let go by their current teams, leading to some great candidates for the Nationals to consider signing.
59 players were non-tendered on Wednesday, with 56 of them reaching free agency (Three of them immediately re-signed with their team on a cheaper deal.) While most of these moves were anticipated, a few came as a surprise. The number of players non-tendered was expected, as owners are reeling from losses in revenue due to the COVID crisis. Looking to save money any way they can, 59 players paid the price.
The Nationals only have $45 million to work with and Mike Rizzo will need to be smart in his spending to help keep the Nationals contention window open. Luckily, there are now some cheaper options available that will help the team contend. Here are three non-tendered players the Nationals should set their sights on.
This one came as a surprise, especially after Adam Duvall hit 16 homers in 57 games for the Braves. Acquired in a trade with the Reds during the 2018 season, Duvall spent the majority of his time with Atlanta as a bench power bat. However, in 2020, he became a vital part of the team’s lineup. The 32-year-old finished the season hitting .237, with 16 homers, 33 RBIs, and an OPS of .833. He mostly plays outfield but also has experience at first. When in the outfield, Duvall has 42 career DRS compared to only one at first.
While he is better defensively in the outfield, Duvall can help fill a void at first. Eric Thames, Ryan Zimmerman, and Howie Kendrick are all free agents, making first base a priority. Duvall showed last year that he can still produce at the plate and would fill the team’s need for a power bench bat. If the NL keeps the DH intact, he would also be a great candidate for that rule. Additionally, Duvall can fill in in the outfield when needed. Duvall would be a cheaper alternative, with MLB Trade Rumors predicting he would make anywhere from $4.4 to $7.1 million.
A former top pitching prospect, Archie Bradley has made a name for himself as a reliable reliever. Between six seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cinncinati Reds, Bradley is 23-25, with a 3.91 ERA, 425 strikeouts, and a 3.65 FIP.
Washington is always looking for bullpen help and Bradley fits the bill. In Arizona, he was primarily used as the team’s set-up man, but he has closing experience. His peak came in 2017, when he went 3-3, with a 1.73 ERA, 79 strikeouts, and a 2.61 FIP. While he was still consistent in Arizona, he slowly started to regress after the 2017 season. The Diamondbacks flipped him to the Reds this past August and a change of scenery is what the veteran needed. In six relief appearances with the Reds, Bradley went 1-0, with a 1.17 ERA, six strikeouts, and a 3.32 FIP.
Something to note is in 2020 Bradleys K/9 dropped from 10.93 to 8.84. However, at the same time, he also lowered his BB/9 rate from 4.52 to 1.47. His hard-hit percentage dropped from 42.3% to 35.3%. After relying on strikeouts for the majority of his career, it is fascinating to see Bradley has slowly started to evolve.
Hanser Alberto thrives at getting on base. That is an essential skill that would benefit the Nationals because outside of Trea Turner and Juan Soto, Washington’s offense needs all of the help it can get. Behind those two, the team’s most consistent hitters were Yan Gomes and before he broke his wrist, Starlin Castro. A singles hitter to help out from the bottom of the lineup might be just what the team needs.
Alberto is a patchwork signing that would add another consistent bat to Washington’s line. After struggling to stay in the majors from 2015-2018, he found himself a home with the Orioles over the last two seasons. While in Baltimore, he hit .299, with 15 homers, 73 RBIs, and an OPS of .698. He mostly plays second base but can also play third. This would solve a huge problem for the Nationals, who have voids at both second and third. Starlin Castro who is returning from a broken wrist can now platoon at the hot corner with Carter Kieboom, allowing Alberto to man second.
Defensively, Alberto is average, posting four DRS and a 5.9 UZR at second in his career. He would be a defensive upgrade over Luis Garica who struggled to make the adjustment. In fact, signing Alberto to play second would allow for Garcia to continue to develop in the minors while adding a dependable bat to the lineup. Alberto lacks power, but right now Washington needs to add guys who can consistently get on base. Ideally, Alberto would hit at the bottom of the lineup because he lacks production, but he adds a threat to get on and set up the top of the order.