On Friday, the Washington Nationals and the rest of Major League Baseball were forced to vote to either contract their discretion-eligible players through the 2023 season, or not tender and make them free agents this winter. The Nationals don’t have much in the way of everyday players or core players, so it was always going to be interesting to see what part of the roster they would pick on the day. There were ten players who were eligible for the option, and the Nats were offering eight of the ten contracts. Among those not offered were RHP, and former first round pick, Erick Fedde and 1B/DH Lucas Voit, who was acquired in the Juan Soto trade in August. Voit could still be rehabilitated for less than what was projected in the referee, but Fedde’s time with the team is likely to be over, given that the organization once again fails to adequately train and improve.
Erick Fedde was drafted 18th overall by the Nationals in 2014 out of UNLV. In his college career, Fedde posted a respectable 3.18 ERA in 263 innings, but his final year catapulted him into the first round as he posted a 1.76 ERA and 1.03 ERA in 76.2 innings. Fedde made his major league debut with the Nationals in 2017, but struggled to stick at first as the Nationals already had the likes of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and others. They also follow their departures, and the need to start a new position is strongly supported. In his time across 6 major league seasons, Fedde never posted an ERA below 4.29, and was in the 5+ league most of the time.
Now this is not a post intended to bash Erick Fedde, but rather to highlight the organization’s inability to develop and develop players, especially early in the cycle. Players like Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon cover a lot of passes, but Rendon outplayed them all on the road in 2011, and Strasburg and Harper were even further back. It’s been over a decade since the Nationals produced a quality first-round pick.
There are certain mitigating circumstances that occur, such as injuries for example. That’s why you won’t hear me criticize picks like Mason Denaburg, who has undergone several major arm surgeries in the past few years. And not every first-round draft pick is guaranteed to have success, so it’s unreasonable to expect a 100% success rate in drafts. But do the Nats too who things in the past decade?
Here is the Nationals first round list with Anthony Rendon in 2011:
- 2011 – RHP Alex Meyer
- 2011 – Brian Goodwin
- 2012 – RHP Lucas Giolito
- 2014 – RHP Erick Fedde
- 2016 – INF Carter Kieboom
- 2016 – RHP Dane Dunning
- 2017 – LHP Seth Romero
- 2018 – RHP Mason Denaburg
- 2019 – RHP Jackson Rutledge
- 2020 – RHP Cade Cavalli
- 2021 – INF Brady House
- 2022 – About Elijah Green
Now it is obviously too early to judge Rutledge, Cavalli, House or Green. And as we’ve pointed out, it’s also a bit unfair to judge Denaburg, but it also doesn’t seem like the Nationals can hope to bring him to the major league level anytime soon, so he’s missing another draft in all things. Of the rest, Lucas Giolito stands out, but he and Dan Dunning were put in Chicago’s infamous Adam Eaton trade. Giolito made only two starts for the Nationals, and they weren’t big before he was dealt. I don’t think you can give the Nationals any credit, really, as Giolito was statistically the worst pitcher in baseball in 2018 with Chicago, his first full season, before he and the White Sox figured it out and went on to three straight. times with a sub-3.60 ERA.
Also worth mentioning is Seth Romero, who the Nationals didn’t pitch this past Friday. However, this decision was likely due to repeated questions in Romero’s field and multiple DWI’s. The organization has always had strict conditions for off-site issues, as they should.
So eight geese before 2019, I’d give the Nationals a solid 0 for 8. If you want to argue that Giolito doesn’t count, he’s still 0 for 7. And no, I don’t believe Carter Kieboom will be a major player in the way of a player partnership, at least with this team.
This is one of the many reasons why I have always been critical of decision-making, especially the design of the toilets and developments we are currently using at Nats. There was effectively no evidence of talent, and that’s not the first time round. Now the Nationals have restocked their scouting staff and analytical staff, but the decision still exists as to whether or not it will be a success.
Erick Fedde turns out to be the latest in a long line of talented players the Nationals have been unable to develop. Augustine Voth also found immediate success elsewhere in his release. Perhaps the same thing could have happened to Fedde, but it certainly wasn’t here.