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⚾️⚾️ The Morning Briefing: Nats make a handful of roster moves
Here are the latest headlines and analyses around the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball for today, November 15.
Good Morning Washington Nationals Fans,
Here are the latest headlines and analyses around the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball for today, November 15, 2023. I am Haden and let’s dive into the news.
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Leading today’s Morning Briefing: Nationals make some cuts and additions to the 40-man
I will not lie, it completely escaped me that yesterday was the protection deadline for the Rule 5 Draft when writing the briefing on Monday. The Nationals decided to protect four players yesterday: left-handed pitchers DJ Herz and Mitchell Parker and right-handed pitchers Cole Henry and Zach Brzykcy.
On Monday, I said Herz was getting protected without a doubt, but the others did not surprise me. All four are on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Nationals prospects. Herz and Parker both have a similar mold. Good stuff, poor control, and high-reliever risk. Henry and Brzykzy are both coming back from injury, with Henry coming back from TOS in 2023 and Brzykzy missing all of 2023 because of TJ surgery. Henry will likely get fast-tracked to the majors thanks to transitioning into a bullpen role at the end of last season. Brzykzy was one of, if not the highest-upside relievers before his injury, and will likely make his big-league debut at some point in 2023.
Prior to yesterday, the Nationals had one open 40-man roster spot. To clear the other three spots, the Nationals designated Dominic Smith and Cory Abbott for assignment. They also granted Andrés Machado an unconditional release so that he could pursue an opportunity overseas. This clears the way for the Nationals to add a reliever in free agency, as both had no remaining options, making them more likely to make the Opening Day roster if they survived the offseason.
Moving on from Smith was the right move, but it does not signal that the Nationals are going to make a splash by signing a first baseman. The Nationals could internally replace Smith with Joey Meneses or Riley Adams (or Stone Garrett). In my eyes, any signing at first base (or DH) would rely on how ready Mike Rizzo and the front office think James Wood and Dylan Crews are.
Think about it, with Crews and Wood on the roster, you’d have Lane Thomas, Stone Garrett, and Jacob Young who would still need to get at-bats. By sliding Meneses or Garrett to first, you open up a DH spot and theoretically are able to play four of those guys every day. Unless the Nationals win the Rhys Hoskins sweepstakes, is there really an option we’d rather have at first base?
Just doing the math, the Nationals would carry 13 pitchers, they need two catchers, and in this scenario, they’d have five outfielders. That leaves six infield spots. CJ Abrams, Luis García, Joey Meneses, and Ildemaro Vargas are all virtual locks to return. Sure, you can sign a first baseman, but wouldn’t it make more sense to either 1) sign an everyday third baseman or 2) sign a left-handed infielder? Matt Chapman is out of the question, and that leaves the only true everyday third baseman as Jeimer Candelario. A reunion makes sense, but I don’t think the Nationals can commit to the length of a contract that Candelario deserves. The Nationals could sign veterans like Josh Donaldson or Justin Turner, but one of those doesn’t have the Nationals vibe and the other can’t field at third base. They could look to Gio Urshela, who is coming off a serious pelvis injury.
If we are buying low on someone, why not buy low on Joey Wendle? He’s a versatile infielder who bats left-handed and would form a perfect platoon partner with Carter Kieboom. Wendle fits the Nationals mold as a high-contact, above-average defense infielder who adds a lot of versatility. And you allow Carter Kieboom to continue to hit .799 OPS against left-handed pitching like he did last season.
The Nats extend a pair of players
The Nationals signed one-year extensions with Tanner Rainey and Victor Robles to avoid arbitration, according to Andrew Golden of The Washington Post. Rainey was retained for $1.5M, identical to his 2023 salary. While the move virtually locks Rainey into a spot on the 2024 roster, the same cannot be said for Victor Robles. Robles still has an option remaining, meaning that despite the Nationals retaining him for the 2024 season, they could use him as a depth option and keep him in Triple-A Rochester for the season. With the non-tender deadline coming this Friday, the only remaining players in the danger zone are Jeter Downs and Alex Call.
In the Clubhouse returns
After taking the postseason off, In the Clubhouse is returning! We will be live on YouTube at a to-be-announced time tonight and you can listen at any time starting tomorrow here on the site.
ICYMI: Latest articles on the Nats Report
Even though it is the offseason, we have been extremely busy producing a lot of great content here on the Nats Report. Here are just a couple of the articles that we have published recently that you might have missed:
We are working on a lot of great Nationals-themed content all off-season so make sure that you are following us on all the major social media channels for the latest.
Featured Stories of the Day
MLB Manager of the Year awards announced via MLB Trade Rumors
Brewers promote bench coach to replace Counsell via MLB.com
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