Nationals Arm Race

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

Who comes off the 40-man?


JD Martin's days could be numbered with the team. Photo courtesy of

1/19/11 Update: with the signing of reliever Todd Coffey, the team now appears to be three men over the limit.  Oh, and about 2 hours later the signing of infielder Jerry Hairston now requiring four guys to be dropped or traded.  One player has been cleared off the 40-man; the predicted JD Martin given his outright release unfortunately later in the afternoon.

Unless I’ve forgotten how to count, and unless I really do not understand the 40-man roster rules, the Nationals have been over the limit for nearly two weeks now.  They signed Adam LaRoche on 1/4/11, then made the announcement official on 1/7/11Answer: per Zuckerman’s posting today, “corresponding [40-man roster] moves don’t have to be made until the contract for the new player is formally processed at MLB headquarters in New York.”  LaRoche’s contract didn’t hit NY til today, so the Martin release is the corresponding move.  Still 3 to go.

Yet, here we are on 1/19/11 and no corresponding move has occurred yet.  The Nationals’ 40-man roster has been above 40 ever since.  I believe teams have to make immediate moves but do not have to make them public; a player could have been designated for assignment on 1/7/11, at which point the team has 10 days to actually decide what to do with him.  So perhaps tomorrow 1/19/11 (since we had a holiday mixed in there?) we’ll have an answer.

Likewise, Tom Gorzelanny will also require a corresponding move, since none of the 3 players traded for him were on the 40-man to start with.  With his addition (yes the trade has been announced but it will not be official until all physicals are passed) we’ll be at 42 (43 with the Coffey signing).

So, who on the current 40-man roster is next to go?  If we need to clear four spots without a major trade, then my initial guesses are:

1. Justin Maxwell: I know that Maxwell is a local and is a fan favorite, but the fact remains that we now have at least 5 outfielders with major league time last year (Werth, Ankiel, Morgan, Bernadina, and Morse) that seem to be ahead of Maxwell on the depth chart, plus a 6th outfielder prospect who will get a look prior to Maxwell at this point (CBrown).  He’s never produced at the MLB level and is now far too old to be considered a prospect.

2. J.D. Martin: Martin is probably the right-handed starter version of Maxwell.  He’s fallen down the depth chart, his name isn’t being mentioned as even competing for a rotation spot out of spring, and the argument can be made that he’s not in the top 5 players to make the AAA rotation.  He’s always had ok numbers when he’s pitched in the majors but in a power-arm league, spots for soft-tossing slight-of-frame right handers are limited.

3. The third and fourth spots are tougher.  I think #3 may end up being someone like Luis Atilano.  Mediocre MLB numbers in 2010, coming off of injury, he probably can sneak through waivers as Chico did and get assigned to AAA to try to get back.  He’ll be 26, slightly older than you want in a prospect, and he’s clearly not in the MLB rotation battle for 2011.

4. Atahualpa Severino: he has no mlb experience and is behind Slaten in the loogy battle right now.  However, other teams may see that we just added him to the 40-man last year and might take a look.  He’s a bit old for a prospect with no MLB time and he could slip through waivers.

This 4th spot is a stretch though, and I think honestly a better way to clear space may be a set of prospects trade for a veteran.  I don’t see at this point how Morse or Detwiler makes the 25-man roster, so perhaps we should look instead to package these guys for a player.

Other candidates (and their reasons for keeping them over Atilano and Martin right now) could be Mock (lively fastball, good stuff and a favorite of the organization), Martis (still young and still could prosper),  and Marrero (still too early to give up on him; needs one more season to prove he belongs but he’s clearly blocked for 2 years by LaRoche; could be a trade candidate).

5 Responses to 'Who comes off the 40-man?'

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  1. Have you done any analysis on Severino in your blog? I confess, other than the very unusual name, I know absolutely nothing about him, and I try to keep up with these things.
    Whenever I hear about a trade, my first thought is of Marrero, as he can really hit, but plays DH quality defense. A perfect candidate for the American League.

    Mark L

    21 Jan 11 at 8:12 am

  2. Um, probably not in the blog, but I know of him. Essentially he’s a DSL graduate (possibly the best one we’ve had in a while) who is short, stocky, lefty and brings some heat. He’s essentially limited to a LOOGY role competition, hence his addition to the 40-man when he became rule5 eligible in November 2009 but even despite doing decently well in AAA last year didn’t get a 9/1 call-up.

    He was in the BBA top 30 prospects for us post 2009 season (in which he got hurt so it hindered his development a bit).

    I think his role for 2011 will be as a “spare part” in Syracuse, since we just gave Slaten a decent amount of money for 2011 and essentially guaranteed him the Loogy role. If Slaten is ineffective or gets hurt, we call him up. If not, I think perhaps he becomes a DFA candidate. He’s 26 now, plays all next year at 26. That’s getting up there for most prospects but (as you pointed out) relievers are different from hitters.

    I would keep Marrero for one more year before flipping him. He’s blocked by LaRoche for 2 years yes, but he’s only 22 and i think its too early to trade him. I wish he could play another position though … you are right though. But who wants to bring up a DH-only player who isn’t a guarantee to hit 40 homers? So i’d look at teams with perhaps 1B vacancies that could use a decent hitter … they’re all over the AL no doubt (I did similar analysis here in this blog prepping for Dunn’s departure, though my prediction was wrong).

    Now, do I think we should look to package some of our AAA starters (Mock, Martis, Atilano, perhaps even detwiler)? Yes absolutely. We’re going to have a massive surplus of these guys, along with mid-level relievers with decent advanced stats (Stammen, Balester) and I think we could leverage them for a starter prospect or perhaps some backup in positions where we need it (center field, middle infield).

    Todd Boss

    21 Jan 11 at 1:55 pm

  3. Thanks. I think the next big star coming out of the DSL will be Eury Perez, it’ll be fun to watch him in Woodbridge this year.

    Mark L

    21 Jan 11 at 2:18 pm

  4. Glad you’re back, I was told a couple of times earlier that your site was no longer around. It’s good that you’re here.

    Mark L

    27 Jan 11 at 3:22 pm

  5. The server that runs this site (as well as my company’s email, website, etc) is located in my house. So, it is subject to the vagarities of Dominion power (out from 10:30pm to 4pm the next day during the snow).

    But i’ve also had outages for Verizon fios service interruptions, the maid blowing fuses while vacuuming in my den, and just plain old server failures.

    I like blogging about the nats; i won’t get rid of this page. In fact i’m working on something for the minor league rotations.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jan 11 at 2:35 pm

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