Spare Parts: Nationals get a jump on the reliever market

Plus: Avisail Garcia's return is a chance to reset for everybody, prospect promotions are in the works, and more

In what’s become a midseason tradition, the Washington Nationals have found themselves at the center of the proven-closer market. They acquired Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies in 2015,  Mark Melancon from the Pirates in 2016, and after dancing around David Robertson for months, they ended up going with Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson in a big deal with Oakland last year.

Doolittle’s been highly effective for the Nationals in the role this season, converting 18 saves in 19 opportunities. He’s got a 1.57 ERA and a 0.55 WHIP thanks in large part to a massive strikeout-to-walk ratio (43 to three over 30 innings).

And yet that didn’t stop Mike Rizzo from acquiring another team’s closer.

He beat the rest of the NL East into the reliever pool by acquiring Kelvin Herrera from the Kansas City Royals for three prospects (Kelvin Gutierrez, Blake Perkins and Yohanse Morel). None of the three prospects ranked in Baseball America’s top 10, but Herrera becomes a free agent at the end of the year. That hurts his value even if he’s been pitching well (1.05 ERA, 14-for-16 in save opportunities).

The deal caught Herrera by surprise because of the timing. While this isn’t the first trade that is aimed to fortify a contender — that goes for the Mariners’ acquisition of Denard Span and Alex Colome in late May — this is the deal that seems like it could kickstart the rumor mill.

The White Sox bullpen will be similarly for sale, but I’m guessing the most expendable guys like Joakim Soria and Xavier Cedeno will have to prove their newfound/rediscovered effectiveness all the way to the trade deadline.

The Royals, meanwhile, are hoping that they’re getting the worst year of the rebuild out of the way early.

Spare Parts

The White Sox and Avisail Garcia both got off to false starts, and while Garcia can’t erase the damage done before and during his absence, he can help with the talent disparity that’s suffocating the team this month.

Rick Hahn finally dropped his catch phrase on Eloy Jimenez,

“Before we got to spring training, we talked about various possible developmental paths for Eloy,” Hahn said. “A perfectly acceptable one would have been at age 20 or 21, spending the entire year in the Southern League. He still would have been on path to make a debut in the big leagues at a fairly young age.

“Based on how he continued (from) the end of last season down there and produced at a very high level, he’s starting to force that issue as the good ones do.”

[/studio audience cheers]

It’s always nice to hear Jose Abreu talk about something besides the White Sox’ latest loss. Here, he talks about his hitting mentor, who never made it to the big leagues.

JF: I read that while his bat was loud, he himself was quiet. Do you model the way you carry yourself off of that?

Abreu: [Nodding vigorously] Absolutely, absolutely, 100 percent. He is a really quiet guy but when he needs to say something, when he approaches to say something to you, it’s for a good reason. As we call him, “Titi,” he was quiet but when he needed to say something, when he wanted to give you some sort of advice, he will come to you and he will tell you exactly just what he wanted you to learn or to do.

Matt Davidson’s chase rate continues to draw closer to its historical standards — it’s up to 26.4 percent, which is 7.2 points lower than it was last year. Lorenzo Cain now has him beat, as he’s lopped 7.5 points off his chase rate.

The difference? Davidson needed his improvement to be rosterable. Cain was already a great player, and the headline tells the rest of the story.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Josh Nelson

Lorenzo Cain needs some more All-Star voting love.

MrTopaz

Regarding that Dayton Moore quote, I think Pnoles put it best when he asked, “did you even look at your roster before the season started?”

 The trade market fascinates me this year because I wonder if the Rockies (who are looking bad) would decide to bite the bullet and make Arenado available. If that were to happen, I wonder if we start seeing “White Sox surprisingly aggressive on Arenado” reports as we did with Machado, based on the same philosophy that you might have a better chance to sign a guy if he got to spend a year in the organization and see what you’re trying to do. And from what I’ve gathered creeping the good folks over at Purple Row, we might need that kind of advantage, because he supposedly wants to go home to the west coast.

Also, reading the comments over there is like stepping back in time two years. “OMFG, HOW DID THE BULLPEN BLOW ANOTHER GAME?!” or, “We’re so far back, I don’t know if there’s any trade we can make that would make a difference,” or “Our lineup is (X number) of genuine ball players and then nothing but crap!” It’s surprising, given how well the Rockies scored in  pnoles’s compelling article of a few years back about team WAR vs age, but I’m sure best friend of the podcast Dan Szymborski would say, there’s an important lesson about building your roster, there.

Josh Nelson

Speaking of Dan, it’s his birthday today.

Marty34

If the Rays make Snell available at the trade deadline the Sox should be at the front of the line of teams interested. Jimenez is the only untouchable for him, imo.

Smclean09

Is that a rumor? I dont see why they would do that.

Marty34

Heard some talk that they might. Bowden for one speculates the Yankees would make it worth the Rays while.

Trooper Galactus

Snell would cost three or four pretty decent prospects and we would still be a good two or three years from being competitive, but with fewer options available in the minors. I don’t know that it’s worthwhile for the White Sox to pursue that sort of player this early on.