This is classic. Scott Boras was on Sirius/XM with Jim Bowden yesterday and the subject of Jayson Werth’s gigantic contract came up. Bowden — as is his admirable wont — cut through the courtesy stuff and simply told Boras “I just can’t believe you pulled that off.”
Boras, however, gave a long and seemingly thoughtful explanation as to how the Jayson Werth deal fit into the greater theory of Nationals baseballology. Or something:
“So, in doing that, and evaluating that, you have to say, ‘Is that player going to provide something to the franchise in addition to his performance?’ And I think this is where we look at major free agent signings, particularly with franchises like Washington, that in addition to the performance the player brings, which would probably be 23 to 25 HR’s, 90, 95 RBI’s, in addition to that, we have someone now that allows Bryce Harper’s arrival in the major leagues to be something that is more a function of his performance rather than a need to make sure the fanbase knows that we’re taking the next step. We also know that from the standpoint of attracting free agent pitchers, or attracting a closer, or attracting any other free agents, that we have an ownership that is now embedded in the market place as someone who is a destination that they know the ownership is committed…
“So, in addition to growing for the player’s performance, the brand in Washington is now a different brand. It is now an acknowledged brand. Their fans know it. Other players know it. And it provides a brand value to the franchise that did not exist prior to Jayson Werth signing.”
I don’t know about you, but I was in a trance by the third sentence, and I’m a trained baloney-detector. The Nats’ brass likely had no hope in resisting. That is, if they even realized what was going on. Indeed, they probably woke up, saw Boras’ last demand and had some vague but urgent sense that they had to give Werth $126 million. Like this guy.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.