Rival evaluators react to Nats' offseason moves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - A key figure in the National League East for the last four years has decided to step away from the game.

Roy Halladay has just taken to the podium in the media room at the Swan and Dolphin resort to announce his retirement, marking the end of a tremendous 16-year career.

Halladay will finish with a record of 203-105 and a career 3.38 ERA. He won two Cy Young awards, finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting seven times and was an eight-time All-Star.

Is he a Hall of Famer? Talk about a tough call there. He'd get my vote, if I had one.

Halladay was perhaps the best starter in the majors between 2008 and 2011, winning 77 games and posting a 2.59 ERA. He averaged 242 innings per season over those four years.

Meanwhile, I talked to a few rival evaluators within the last 24 hours and asked them their opinion on what the Nationals have done so far this offseason.

To recap the moves, the Nats acquired right-hander Doug Fister from the Tigers for infielder Steve Lombardozzi, left-handed reliever Ian Krol and left-handed prospect Robbie Ray, and agreed to terms with outfielder Nate McLouth on a two-year deal worth a reported $10.75 million with a team option for 2016.

In Fister, the Nats get a guy who can slide into the middle of their rotation and is arguably one of the most underrated starters in the majors. In McLouth, they get a fourth outfielder who can play any outfield spot, provides a solid left-handed bat off the bench and brings quality speed and defense.

The Fister move is one that still has some evaluators around the league shaking their heads, feeling that the Nationals got far more than they gave up.

"It's still hard to wrap my mind around it," one rival executive said. "That could end up being the steal of the offseason."

Ray probably won't be major league-ready until 2015, and Lombardozzi and Krol were pieces on the back end of the Nats roster. The executive applauded Mike Rizzo for getting a quality big league starter without giving up major contributors on the big league roster or top prospects.

Another evaluator pointed to Fister's two more years of team control and the relatively modest sum he'll earn through arbitration in that time. It could end up costing the Nationals around $17-19 million for Fister over these two years.

"In this market, that's a steal," he said.

Some have mentioned that they felt the Nats overpaid for McLouth at more than $5 million per season, but one evaluator doesn't see things that way. He pointed to the fact that McLouth had a 2.5 WAR last season, and said that teams are paying about $5-6 million per win on the market this offseason.

McLouth's production dropped off in the second half of the 2013 season, but injuries didn't appear to be a problem there.

A source within the Orioles organization said that the O's were interested in bringing McLouth back, but weren't ready to give him the starting left field job. The source applauded the Nats for the McLouth signing, noting that they clearly have money to spend and saying he feels McLouth is a great fit for what the Nats needed.

"He'll be great for them," he said.

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