The Nationals Move Espinosa, the Cubs' Center Field Question, and Other Bullets

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The Nationals Move Espinosa, the Cubs’ Center Field Question, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jon-jay-padres-outfieldMore later-in-the-day Bullets. What I’m finding on the weekends in a post-third-kid world is that accommodating the writing time I usually need in the mornings to pump out the Bullets (and whatever else might need covered that day) is nearly impossible. We have family activity stuff in the mornings on the weekends, and The Wife and I also both like to exercise in the mornings if possible. Weekdays are different, because the kiddos head to school (though The Littlest Girl will be home with me through January), and I can immediately plow into my day. Weekends? So far, it’s just not been doable.

Thus, later-in-the-day Bullets.

  • The Nationals didn’t take too long to clear up the apparent glut that Adam Eaton’s addition – and Trea Turner’s resulting move to shortstop – created on the roster Danny Espinosa is out, traded to the Angels for minor league pitchers Kyle McGowin and Austin Adams. Neither is currently held as a significant prospect. The deal instead was more about moving Espinosa (and his anticipated $5ish million salary) out, now that the Nats were otherwise covered. Espinosa has not been a terribly useful starter in the last few years, but might be an adequate utility guy (but it looks like he’ll be the Angels’ starting second baseman). That is to say, the hit to the Nationals’ projected 2017 performance is minimal.
  • We already know that Jon Jay’s role on the Cubs in 2017 figures to be complementary in nature, but even in managed doses, ZiPS does not project him all that well:

  • We’ll have more on Jay this offseason, obviously, but it’s interesting how much the last two seasons of injuries have turned things around for him. Consistently an above-average performer, Jay had a wrist issue in 2015 and then a broken arm in 2016. Sometimes, that’s what sinks a guy as he passes age 30, but sometimes it’s just a couple years of flukey stuff. Even if Jay performs relatively well, though, you should obviously be expecting a huge offensive step back for the Cubs in center field, between the Jay and Albert Almora Jr. platoon (because Dexter Fowler was excellent). I’d hope for overall a league-average bat, and then overall above average defense (Jay around average, Almora way above). I also think there’s a chance Almora breaks out and takes over; and I also think there’s a chance Joe Maddon decides he simply cannot sit one of Ben Zobrist or Javy Baez every day, and thus Jason Heyward winds up playing a fair bit of center field.
  • Although the Cubs did not select a player in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, they did net lefty Caleb Smith from the Brewers, who’d drafted him from the Yankees and immediately traded him to the Cubs for cash. The KATOH system (minor league stats-based projections) doesn’t see too much there for Smith, projecting him at just 0.8 WAR over his first six years in the big leagues. That was one of the lower projections in the draft. The 25-year-old lefty had a decent year as a starter in 2015 at AA, but was moved to the bullpen and repeated AA in 2016, where he posted very good but not ridiculous numbers. I can see why he’s not a KATOH favorite, and I can assume this one is much more of a scouting pick.
  • (Armando Rivero, the reliever the Cubs lost to the Braves in the draft, projects for 1.7 to 1.8 WAR over his first six years.)

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.