Washington Nationals' Biggest Winners and Losers of the Offseason so Far
The Washington Nationals' offseason has kicked into high gear.
The team has completed multiple hirings, trades and free-agent signings since the MLB regular season ended. Most of these have occurred in the last month or so.
So who won and who lost from all these wheelings and dealings?
To answer that question, here is a list of the Washington Nationals' biggest winners and losers of the offseason so far.
Note: All statistics courtesy of MLB.com unless noted otherwise.
Winner: Matt Williams
It's been a good offseason for Matt Williams.
Not only did Williams get hired to the first managerial position of his coaching career, but he landed quite possibly the most coveted job opening of the MLB offseason.
Williams is comfortable with the expectations that accompany such a high-profile club, as he told Alex Pavlovic of San Jose Mercury News on Dec. 11:
I'm the new dude, yeah. All the pressure that comes along with (expectations) is good. We're embracing that and I'm exited [sic] about that.
Winning is always worth getting excited about.
Winner: Steve McCatty
Steve McCatty will return as the Washington Nationals' pitching coach, according to the team's website. For the 2014 season, McCatty will experience an embarrassment of riches.
The team's blockbuster trade with the Detroit Tigers brings another stud pitcher into McCatty's stable. Doug Fister will most likely fill the fourth spot in the Nats' rotation, significantly strengthening the group from last year.
To say the Nationals' starting rotation is actually stronger than it was in 2013 is quite a statement, considering the Nationals were ranked seventh in MLB in starter ERA for the 2013 season. But adding Fister should actually improve this group, and McCatty will reap the rewards.
Winners: Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Denard Span
It turns out that the trio of Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Denard Span will not be traded by the Washington Nationals.
Nats GM Mike Rizzo killed the trade buzz on Dec. 10, according to Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com:
We haven’t been fielding all that many calls on Clippard and Storen. There’s a lot of ‘lobby talk,’ I call it, about it. But there’s been actually no offer, no trade scenario that’s official, that included Clippard or Storen. Or Span.
This, of course, is a rebuttal to the trade rumors surrounding Washington's two relievers as well as their center fielder, according to MLBTradeRumors.com. As a result, Clippard, Storen and Span can rest easy, knowing they will remain on a winning baseball team for the time being.
Loser: Ross Detwiler
Despite an injury-plagued 2013 season, 27-year-old Ross Detwiler was considered a lock to be the fifth starter in the Nationals' rotation, while most of the competition would focus on the fourth spot in the rotation.
With the addition of Doug Fister, however, the glut of starting pitchers in Washington's rotation will migrate to the fifth and final spot.
As a result, Detwiler will now have to compete with several other starters for a job once practically guaranteed to be his. This list includes Ross Ohlendorf, Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark and Nate Karns.
Happy New Year, Ross.
Both: Danny Espinosa
The Nationals traded a second baseman to the Detroit Tigers as a part of the deal to acquire starting pitcher Doug Fister. But the second baseman in question was named Steve Lombardozzi, not Danny Espinosa. This means that Espinosa will not be given a fresh start after floundering in the Nationals' system during the 2013 season.
Perhaps a shot with a new team would have been the best way to erase the memory of a painful season. Espinosa batted .158 in 158 at-bats over 44 games, while hitting three home runs, driving in 12 runs and scoring 11 runs. Espinosa had only four walks versus 47 strikeouts and compiled a .193 on-base percentage with a .272 slugging percentage
The California native did not fare much better in the minors. He hit .216 in 283 at-bats over 75 games with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, with two home runs, 22 RBI and 32 runs scored. Espinosa had 19 walks and 101 strikeouts for a .280 on-base percentage, to go with a .286 slugging percentage.
But by not being traded from the Nationals, Espinosa will be given a second chance with the team he debuted with in 2010. For the 2014 season, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo envisions Espinosa as a super utility infielder, as he told Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post on Dec. 9:
I think Danny Espinosa could go and play third base extremely well. A guy who can play shortstop the way he plays shortstop and a guy who can play second base the way he plays second, I have all the confidence in the world that he can go to third and handle the position defensively.
Espinosa may view his role as a substitute as a loss. But the fact that he still has a chance to contribute to a major league roster should be viewed as a win.