Should the Royals trade Joakim Soria?

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The KC Star’s Sam Mellinger thinks they should at least consider it:

There’s something that’s been discussed in certain circles of Royals fans, and this offseason it should be out in the open. Soria is among the Royals’ very best trading chips, and they should look long and hard about using it . . . Tampa Bay needs a closer, and they’re stocked with young talent. St. Louis could certainly use Soria. The Cubs and Rangers, too. Look around. Soria would be an upgrade for just about every team in baseball, and the Royals could use an upgrade at most every position.

The idea animating this is a good one: closers are almost always overrated and overvalued. Not necessarily specific ones — Soria is about as good as it gets — but the value of the position itself is overvalued.  They don’t pitch a large number of innings, and while the ones they do pitch are often high-pressure and high-leverage, that’s not always the case.  How many of any given closer’s saves are of the three-run, one inning variety?  Can’t a lot of guys handle that?

Even if the answer to that last question is “well, not, not nearly as well as Soria,” who cares?  It’s not like five blown saves one way or the other makes or breaks the Royals next season.  A strong closer is huge in the playoffs, but the Royals will never even sniff the playoffs unless and until they find some better players at just about every position on the field.  The contenders Mellinger notes could all use a guy like him way more than the Royals could, and they all have talent to spare. It makes sense.

There are only two reasons not to trade Soria: (1) the fans will get depressed; and (2) Dayton Moore is the guy doing the trading.  Reason number one can mostly be discounted. The fans are already depressed, and that depression will only continue to deepen the longer the Royals continue to lose, even if they do have a great closer.

The second reason is a much bigger problem.  Can you trust Moore to get a decent return for the guy?  This is, after all, the man who actually gave up talent to pick up one of the worst players in all of baseball last summer. The kicker? One of the guys he gave up could very easily be on his way to being Soria’s successor in the pen if he had stuck around.

But even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile, and that’s enough of a reason for the Royals’ pig to start sniffin’ around.  If not this winter — when, to be fair, there will be a lot of closers to be had — then next summer when the contenders start to realize that their bullpens aren’t what they thought they’d be when they broke camp. 

Stephen Strasburg unlikely to pitch in the NLDS

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals walks off the field after an injury in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.

Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.

The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.

A.J. Cole fined, suspended five games for throwing at Jung Ho Kang

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Home plate umpire Jordan Baker ejects A.J. Cole #22 of the Washington Nationals in the third inning during the game at PNC Park on September 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.

Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.

Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.