Ken Rosenthal has a new column up on Fox Sports discussing the confusing offseason of the Washington Nationals. In the piece, Rosenthal casually mentions that the Nationals offered both Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond to the Seattle Mariners for Taijuan Walker and Brad Miller. If you don’t think that’s crazy enough, consider this – the Mariners rejected the trade.
The Nats indeed are open to moving Zimmermann and Desmond, perhaps even in the same deal. They recently engaged in multiple conversations about both players with the Mariners, according to major-league sources. One of the many ideas the Nats proposed was Zimmermann and Desmond for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Brad Miller, sources said.
The Mariners balked, unwilling to absorb $27.5 million in salary when they still need to find a right fielder for next season. They also did not want to yield five years of control on Miller and six on Walker while potentially getting both Zimmermann and Desmond for only one year, sources said.
It’s silly to say that Seattle would be getting Zimmermann and Desmond for “only one year”, because would be lead pipe locks to receive qualifying offers from the Mariners, leading to the team picking up a pair of compensation picks if the players sign elsewhere.
Also, consider this – Seattle is still hesitant to move Walker, who threw just 129 1/3 innings in 201 (including a brief stint in the AFL). Walker also missed a good chunk of the season because of shoulder inflammation, and left the AFL under mysterious circumstances that has caused several in the industry to question is makeup. Is he the next Felix Hernandez (who, by the way, had 465 2/3 major league innings under his belt before he turned 22. Walker has 53, which includes 23 innings after his 22nd birthday this past August), or the next Ryan Anderson (a top prospect turned bust when his shoulder blew up)?
As for Brad Miller, he’s already 25, and has a career .241/.302/.389 line in 746 major league plate appearances. He already began to lose playing time at shortstop to Chris Taylor last season, spelling Robinson Cano at second and Kyle Seager at third at times. Desmond is an upgrade over both Miller and Taylor, and when he leaves, you’ve still got Taylor in the fold for longer than you’d have Miller.
Then again, there’s the Nationals, who seem to be hedging their bets for contention in 2015 and beyond. Zimmermann and Desmond are both free agents after this season, and both will likely get contracts that exceed Washington’s ability to spend. Why not weaken your team just a bit in 2015, considering how awful the NL East looks, at hopes of contending past this season as well? The club still has Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Stephen Strasburg in their rotation, though those players all will be hitting free agency between 2015 and 2017. If Zimmermann and Desmond walk for only draft pick compensation, the club will have a couple more gaping holes on their roster in 2016, considering Fister and Denard Span are both also primed to leave town.
Both clubs seem to have the same mindset – compete in 2015 without damaging their future potential at contention. However, both are firmly positioned to compete more strongly now than later, and this nixed trade seemingly implies that both teams are more concerned about the future than 2015. I don’t get it.