In an article on the market for right-handed power hitters by Fangraphs.com's Dave Cameron, he mentions Washington Nationals' LF/1B Tyler Moore as "a low-cost alternative" to the established veteran hitters available this winter.
"Moore is the definition of trade bait," Cameron writes, "and as a 28 year old with a career WAR of -0.3, he’s probably not going to bring back much in return."
Before breaking down, in some detail, just why Moore might be a steal for some team out there with a roster spot for the 28-year-old slugger Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo once described as "country strong," Cameron detailed why he thought Moore might be on the move. There's no room on Washington's major league roster and Moore has no more options.
With Adam LaRoche leaving as a free agent to make room for Ryan Zimmerman at first base, "eliminating the need for a right-handed backup first baseman," in Cameron's opinion, and Steven Souza and Michael Taylor around to play the outfield behind Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth, "there’s little need for Moore to serve as a reserve there either."
All of that leads Cameron to write that, "... players don’t get much more likely to move this winter than Tyler Moore."
The top prospect at first in the Nationals' system, 25-year-old, left-handed hitting first baseman Matt Skole, is also available this winter.
Washington added right-hander A.J. Cole, outfielder Brian Goodwin, infielder Wilmer Difo and lefty Matt Grace to the 40-Man Roster on Thursday, but the Nationals left Skole unprotected, so he is now available for selection in the Rule 5 Draft if there are any teams out there willing to take a risk that he's ready to play a full season at the major league level?
Skole, the Nats' 2011 5th Round pick out of Georgia Tech, was ranked 4th overall in the organization by Baseball America heading into the 2014 campaign, in spite of the fact that he played just two games in 2013 after suffering a torn UCL in his left (non-throwing arm) and a fractured left wrist on a play at first for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.
The previous season, Skole was named the Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year for 2012 after a strong run at Low-A Hagerstown (.286/.438/.574, 18 2B, 27 HRs in 448 plate appearances) and High-A Potomac (.314/.355/.486, 10 doubles in 76 PAs).
He returned to the field in time for a second run in the Arizona Fall League late in 2013, putting up a .184/.375/.429 line in 15 games and 64 PAs in which he hit a double, triple and three home runs with 15 walks and 18 strikeouts in 15 games.
"I like Skole," Matt Williams told reporters this past March when the corner infielder spent time with the Nationals in Spring Training.
"He had a tough break last year. Saw him a little bit in the Fall League this year. He had just come back. Those were his first at bats. So I anticipate he will look for his timing early this Spring, because he really hasn't played in a year, so it's going to be tough on him early."
"Good opposite field power," Williams continued. "Reminds me a little bit of [Jim] Thome. The way that Jim Thome used to hit the ball the other way so well. Skole does that good and then he takes the ahead-in-the-count-fastball or the breaking ball and drives it to his pull side, but stays on the baseball well."
In a full season with the Double-A Eastern League's Senators this season, Skole posted a .241/.352/.399 line with 29 doubles and 14 HRs in 132 games and 544 PAs. The writers who cover the Senators for PennLive.com picked Skole as their team MVP.
If he's not selected in the Rule 5 Draft in December, or is selected and later returned, Skole will likely remain the top-ranked first base prospect in the Nationals' system heading into the 2015 campaign, and he'll likely start the season at Triple-A if he's with the Nats, so he'll be in a good position on the depth chart if Moore is actually traded this winter.