In win-now mode and only $45 million to work with, Washington has to be smart with their off-season moves. Most importantly, Mike Rizzo needs to avoid falling for some of the recently non-tendered players.
The non-tender deadline has come and gone with 59 players now free agents. Last week, I went over three recently non-tendered players the Nationals should target. This time around, I will be focusing on three non-tendered players Washington needs to avoid.
Since winning the World Series in 2016, the Chicago Cubs have slowly gone backward. After winning the NL Central this past year, Chicago was swept in the first round by the upstart Miami Marlins. With Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez all due for free agency in 2021, the front office has decided to cut costs and started with non-tendering Schwarber.
The number four pick in the 2012 draft, Schwarber never lived up to his draft stock. Through his six seasons in the majors, Schwarber is hitting .230, with121 homers, 279 RBIs, and an OPS of .816. He is a power threat, who does not hit for average and is a liability defensively. He has 29 career outfield assists but -12 DRS. He is worth -3.6 bdWAR.
The Nationals need a power threat in the lineup and Schwarber is just that. His peak came in 2019 when he hit .250, with 38 homers, but has failed to put those numbers together on a year to year basis. If the NL keeps the DH, Schwarber would be a perfect fit for many teams, but not in Washington. Schwarber isn’t the protection they are looking for behind Juan Soto. He has a career strikeout rate of 28% compared to only a 13% walk rate. Teams will be looking for Schwarber to replicate his 2019 season, but that is highly unlikely to happen.
In my opinion, this was the most shocking decision. As recently as 2019, David Dahl was named an All-Star while with the Colorado Rockies. The tenth pick in the 2012 draft had spent his entire career with the Rockies. In four seasons with the team, Dahl is hitting .286, with 38 homers, 142 RBIs, and an OPS of .828.
Offensively, Dahl is very potent at the plate, seen by his 2019 season when he hit .302, with 15 homers, 61 RBIs, and an OPS of .877. Unfortunately, he took a step back in 2020 due to injuries. He finished the season hitting .183, with nine RBIs, and an OPS of .470. Dahl’s 2019 and 2020 seasons have been the story of his career. He is a high upside player who sadly cannot stay healthy. This is a major reason why his time in Colorado has come to an end. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors broke down Dahl’s extensive injury history.
"Unfortunately for Dahl, injuries have hindered him time and time again. He’s had his spleen removed after suffering a laceration during a violent on-field collision, and he’s since dealt with stress reactions in his rib cage, a fractured foot, a high ankle sprain, multiple back injuries and most recently a shoulder injury. With all of those health concerns, perhaps the Rockies simply didn’t expect they could count on him to remain on the field in 2021, but a salary in the $2.5-2.6MM range doesn’t seem like much of a risk given the upside he carried over his remaining three years of club control."
With Colorado’s ownership deciding to be cheap, a highly talented player has reached free agency early. Dahl is a high-risk high reward player, but in win-now mode, the Nationals cannot afford someone who continually misses large stretches at a time. It is next to impossible to know for certain if a player’s injury problems are behind them. Dahl would be a much-needed bat in the lineup who would add protection for Juan Soto and Trea Turner. However, he strikes out a lot and suffers from home-road splits, typical of players who play their home games at Coors Field.
Injuries plagued the Nationals in 2020 and adding another injury-prone player to a roster with multiple veterans who had their seasons cut short in 2020 due to being hurt isn’t a smart decision. Dahl deserves a chance to prove that he can stay healthy, but Washington has too much at stake to take that risk.
Eddie Rosario was key member of the “Bomba Squad”, the Minnesota Twins team that set a single season team record with 307 homers, en route to a division title in 2019. Rosario crushed 32 bombs of his own, while hitting .278, with 109 RBIs, and an OPS of .800. A year after breaking out, Rosario took a step back, hitting .257, with 13 homers, 42 RBIs, and an OPS of .792. In the playoffs against the Houston Astros, Rosario completely disappeared, failing to record a hit or get on base.
Rosario plays inconsistent defense which has cost his team in the past. In the outfield, he has 53 outfield assists, four DRS and a UZR of 8.1. Despite his solid numbers, Rosario has been up and down over the last few years. In 2018, Rosario had nine outfield assists, eight DRS and a 3.1 UZR. He followed this up with eight outfield assists, -8 DRS, and a -5.6 UZR. This past year, Rosario slightly improved, posting five outfield assists, three DRS, and a 1.2 UZR. While he bounced back, Washington will need to avoid signing a player who has shown signs of regressing in the outfield. This was part of the reason they cut ties with Adam Eaton.
Rosario is a great complimentary piece for many contenders, but Washington needs to add a big bat to protect Soto. Rosario tends to disappear from time to time, as seen in the playoffs, and his up and down defense is a red flag. Washington is looking to shore up the defense and while his arm would be appreciated, his overall defense has been suspect.