The confetti hasn’t all landed on Constitution Avenue, and the issues about who will be a Nat next spring are raw. With baseball’s free firm underway, the long, sluggish process of constructing another team that could compete for– it still feels ridiculous to type this– another championship is currently starting.
For fans, this is emotional. For gamers and the team, it is financial. Nationals fans would like for Rendon’s heart to be filled with such warmth about Washington and what this group accomplished together that he would simply sign the offer the Nats currently extended him: 7 years, $210-215 million. It doesn’t work that method.
, and get ahead on(re -)constructing a championship-caliber lineup. When General Manager Mike Rizzo and his personnel set about building the 2019 team, they had dueling concerns: put together a team that might win a division(or more), but stay listed below baseball’s” competitive balance tax” limit, the payroll number above which teams are taxed. Think what? They did it! The Nats’payroll for 2019 did not surpass$206 million. That matters moving forward. Strip down what comes off the books for 2020, since that matters, too. Rendon, Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Yan Gomes, Matt Adams, Brian Dozier and Howie Kendrick are all totally free agents. Some might return. Others definitely will leave. But that’s approximately $85 million off the books right there.
(Note: I say”roughly, “due to the fact that a few of this is unknowable without seeing the open books. Max Scherzer, for example, signed a seven-year,$210-million handle the Nationals back in 2015. The mathematics appears easy. He must count$30 million towards the tax threshold every year, right? Well, he doesn’t. According to 2 individuals with understanding of Scherzer’s contract, he is due $35 million in 2020, but all of that money is deferred. Sort everything out, and MLB counts Scherzer at about $28.7 million. The financial semantics in all this leaves us doing informed guesswork, nothing more.)
Washington’s big-ticket products are, of course, Strasburg and Rendon. Let’s take them in
that order. Strasburg’s seven-year,$ 175-million extension started in 2017 and consisted of the opt-out that he worked out over the weekend. The view of the Strasburg camp, led by agent Scott Boras, is that the Nats got him at a deal rate– a claim that holds up provided he just led the National League in innings pitched, was called the World Series MVP and had a 3.15 ERA over those 3 seasons.
Now, to keep him, the Nats will have to pay him more like they had competition from the other 29 teams, which they will. Scherzer turned 31 in the very first year of his deal with the Nats. Strasburg will turn 32 in the middle of next summer season. It’s not unreasonable to think something similar to Scherzer’s contract– 7 years, $210 million– would be what Boras is seeking. Strasburg’s a year older, so possibly the Nats want one fewer year.
Either method, work something out. Strasburg moved his family here year-round. Over last winter, he exercised at Nationals Park and tossed bullpen sessions at Georgetown. He is comfy, and that matters. It’s difficult to envision Strasburg asking Boras to opt for the biggest paycheck, despite club.
This is a problem, but it appears solvable.
Forecast: Strasburg remains a National. Rendon’s circumstance is harder to decipher, and distinctly so. Start with this: The eight-year,$ 260-million offer signed by Colorado 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado prior to this season no longer appears so out of Rendon’s reach. Yes, Rendon turns 30 next year, and Arenado was simply 28 in the very first year of his agreement. But after Rendon’s.328/.413/.590 postseason– which followed a. 319/.412/.598 regular season in which he led the NL in RBI– a typical annual worth of $35 million ends up being more sensible.
The question for the Nationals: Can they go up from their current offer? Would they accept not delay money into the future? That’s a method they use in nearly all settlements however one that does not adventure Rendon, according to multiple people acquainted with his thinking.
And would the Nationals — at somewhere around$65 million every year– be able to bring
back both Strasburg and Rendon?
The prediction: Rendon goes somewhere else. It’s such a complicated formula, since if you look beyond next year– sometimes well beyond– there would be potential extensions for shortstop Trea Turner and outfielders Juan Soto and Victor Robles. That’s the very best part of the Nats’ lineup building at the moment: Because Soto and Robles aren’t even qualified for arbitration yet, and Adam Eaton just had a team-friendly $9.5-million choice selected up for 2020, the whole starting outfield will cost around $11 million. That leaves flexibility somewhere else.
Another question: Will the ownership of the Lerner household permit Rizzo and his personnel to go beyond the tax limit once again? This seems major. It’s actually kind of small.
I’m a big believer that the dangers of the tax are overemphasized by clubs. Go beyond the threshold 3 years in a row, and a club is taxed at a 50-percent rate. That’s simply on the excess, the amount by which it exceeds the threshold. So for example, in 2020, when the limit bumps as much as $208 million, a 3rd time violator that invests $220 million in payroll would cost itself $6 million in taxes. It’s not a huge offer– and it’s even less an issue for the Nats. Their tax rate resets due to the fact that they were under the threshold in 2019. The next time they blow past the limit, they would be taxed at just 20 percent.
All of which is a long-winded method of saying if the goal is to complete for a title, do not let the competitive balance tax be an impediment.
There are other concerns. In that $ 85 million or two that will come off the books, the Nats need to discover a very first baseman. Club authorities stated throughout the postseason they would be open– extremely open– to reviving both Zimmerman and Kendrick to share, in some fashion, the very first base job, although one is 35 and the other is 36 and they both hit right-handed. Even if Strasburg comes back, they’ll require another starting pitcher (Austin Voth? Joe Ross?). There are bullpen concerns to correct, however when has that not been the case?
The point: The service and the offseason it involves is here. It’s unlike any the Nationals have actually performed previously, and not even if they have 2 homegrown stars as free agents. For the very first time, they’re attempting to reassemble a World Series winner. For the team, that includes monetary and baseball examinations. For the fans, it includes feelings. Less than a week after winning the World Series, that’s hard.
When General Manager Mike Rizzo and his personnel went about constructing the 2019 group, they had dueling concerns: put together a squad that might win a division(or more), however remain below baseball’s” competitive balance tax” threshold, the payroll number above which teams are taxed. Washington’s big-ticket items are, of course, Strasburg and Rendon. Strasburg’s seven-year,$ 175-million extension kicked in 2017 and included the opt-out that he exercised over the weekend. Another question: Will the ownership of the Lerner family enable Rizzo and his personnel to surpass the tax limit once again? I’m a huge believer that the risks of the tax are overstated by clubs.