Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Injuries lead to call-ups lead to Difficult Roster Decisions.


Got word this morning that the team is optioning the ineffective Ryan Perry back to AAA and bringing up veteran minor league FA signing Mike Gonzalez to take his place.  Luke Erickson notes the fact that 40-man member Atahualpa Severino was bypassed for this move, despite not requiring a subsequent 40-man roster move (the team transfered Drew Storen to the 60-day DL to make room).

This is the latest in a flurry of additions to the 40-man roster necessitated by a freak rash of injuries, and eventually will make for some rather difficult roster moves after the season is over.  As it stands right now, the team is now technically sitting at 45 guys on the 40-man roster (40 active or 15-day DL, 5 on the 60-day DL), meaning that at a minimum after the season 5 guys are going to have to make way.  Yes we have some free agents that will come off the books, but you generally need to operate your 40-man roster with some room to maneuver, especially considering some of the big prospect names that are going to be Rule-5 eligible this coming off-season (just to name a few; Danny Rosenbaum, Jeff Kobernus and Destin Hood).

Makes you wonder how the team feels about the two Major League contracts they handed out last draft?  Anthony Rendon is injured and likeout out for the season (again)  Matthew Purke only just got out of extended spring training to record his first start in Low-A.

Anyway; the real problem is the carnage that is likely to occur when the team has to designate a number of these mid-season additions.  Because as we designate them we run the risk of losing them to waiver claims.  I don’t think Carlos Maldonado is necessarily at risk, but certainly we didn’t need to expose someone like Sandy Leon or Corey Brown until absolutely necessary.

It makes you wonder if prior additions who are continually getting passed over for non 40-man candidates are either targets to get cut or were mistakes to begin with.  Why no Severino?  How about Carlos Rivera?  How long before the team summarily cuts Xavier Nady and his .500 OPS?

5 Responses to 'Injuries lead to call-ups lead to Difficult Roster Decisions.'

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  1. Is it really such a train wreck? They have eight free agents right off the bat (Wang, Jackson, Nady, Ankiel, Lidge, DeRosa, Tracy, Gonzalez). They may want to re-sign either Wang or Jackson; it’s hard to see any of the rest coming back. The obvious non-tender of the arbitration candidates is Lannan; they can’t run the risk of offering him arbitration because he’s likely to accept (he’s not getting arb money on the open market), even if only to spite Rizzo. Further, there is very little cost in cutting Perry and Maldonado. Even if you stop right there, that’s 11 spots better – 34 slots remaining, so six spots for free agents and/or Rule 5 protection. They can’t offer major league spots to this year’s draftees, so that’s not an issue.

    Even if you decide you need more roster slots, the end of the 40 man roster has more potential cuts. Severino is 27* and can’t get his WHIP below 1.5 in AAA. Bernadina is 27 and is a marginal major leaguer (at this point I’d keep Corey Brown over Bernadina, just because there is a *small* chance that Brown becomes a regular). Brown has only now played his way back onto the radar; the remainder of 2012 will be critical for him to hold his spot on the roster. Marrero and Moore also bear watching, although I think both stay for another year (especially if Moore becomes a non-embarrassing outfielder).

    Of the rest, Gorzelanny is solid, but as an arb 4 may not be solid enough to justify the potential expense. It will be interesting to see if they tender him at the deadline this year.

    John C.

    4 Jun 12 at 2:40 pm

  2. And FWIW, despite Rendon’s comment to a Texas newspaper the Nationals are pretty adamant that he is going to be playing by the beginning of August. He’s also an AFL candidate.

    John C.

    4 Jun 12 at 2:41 pm

  3. Good points all. I guess I should have also pointed out this issue: its barely June and all these moves have occurred. What happens if/when these 60-day DL guys come back? Ramos definitely done for season, Werth expected back late august … Kimball later in the year perhaps. But Storen isn’t that far away, nor is Marrero I think. And … what happens when all these 15-day guys come back? Lidge? Who makes way for Lidge? Of your current bullpen: Burnett, Clippard, Detwiler, HRodriguez and Gorzelanny all out of options. That leaves newly added Gonzalez and Stammen (who by the way is basically your best reliever) to make way. Stammen has options but you can’t dump him can you? That’ll mean they have to immediately designate the veteran Gonzalez. The same goes more or less for guys like DeRosa and Tracy; i guess you return one of the catchers to AAA but the other candidates to dump would be Bernadina (out of options) and Nady (veteran who would have to be designated as well).

    Nationals versus Rendon; i’m familiar with the statements made to the newspaper. Also concerning but for a different reason. Why is the player not on the same page as the team? Especially as important a player as Rendon? Major league deal, big time money, big time prospect. How can he not be on the same page as management with respect to his recovery? Not the first time i’ve been troubled by communication issues coming out of this front office (see Lannan demotion and entire Riggleman debacle).

    Todd Boss

    4 Jun 12 at 3:00 pm

  4. Excellent posts, John C and Todd. Very informative. I largely agree with John on the free agents—maybe the Nats re-sign Wang again, depending on his performance this season; and I’d love to have Jackson return, but if he keeps pitching this way he’ll demand (and get) an expensive, multi-year contract that the Nats may not want to take on.

    I’ll be very disappointed if they send Stammen down when Lidge gets back. This isn’t a loyalty issue. I thought the team had “wronged” Lannan by sending him down, but that initial reaction was naive on my part. Detwiler out-pitched him in the spring, and sending Lannan down was the right call. But, as Todd wrote, Stammen is about the best reliever on the team right now, and he’s earned his spot in that bullpen.


    5 Jun 12 at 10:28 am

  5. First of all, how refreshing is it to be concerned with having too many good players? Rizzon and Johnson have brought the team to this fine “pickle” and have the smarts, so I believe, to get the team out of the pickle if indeed it is in one.

    As to mis-commnication, Riggleman does not win the games in September, 2011 and he does not get the team to 1st place this year. It worked out. Rendon will play when he is deemed fit to play, end of story. Meanwhile, will Zimmerman shutout the Mets tonight?

    Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

    5 Jun 12 at 3:13 pm

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