Commenter Mark L asked whether or not I was “ignoring” rule-5 draftee Brian Broderick‘s performance thus far when considering the bullpen competition in response to a post previewing the Nats 3/15/11 game against the Mets.
I don’t know if i’m “ignoring” Broderick’s performances thus far … I just have a reaaaaaaly hard time believing he’ll be on the 25-man roster based on the inflexibility of keeping a rule5 guy, given the roster inflexibilities we already have with several other players. Here’s my reasoning:
- We have 3 guys who already essentially HAVE to stay on the 25-man roster because of a lack of options: Clippard, Burnett, and Henry Rodriguez. Two of these guys are bullpen mainstays and would have been there anyway, but the acquisition of Rodriguez has complicated matters for the team. As mentioned before, he showed up late for spring training and has not necessarily looked fantastic so far. If we could possibly find a way to DL him if he’s not ready to go on April 2nd (“tired arm?”) , a lot of problems would be avoided.
- We have a 4th guy in Coffey who signed a major league deal and has enough service time that he could (and probably would) refuse a AAA assignment, so he either stays on the 25-man roster or we light his $1.35M on fire.
- We have to have a loogy; Slaten seems almost certain to be that guy. I guess you could argue that we really don’t need a loogy, that Burnett could be that guy or even Gorzelanny if he gets bumped out of the rotation. But Burnett’s value is not as a one-out guy and Gorzelanny is a starter.
- Storen is supposed to be “the closer.” He may be struggling this spring but there’s nothing about his 2010 performance that says he does NOT deserve to be in that position for this team. Admittedly he does have options and can be sent down but i’d be awfully mad if we sent a first round draft pick down so we could keep some untested minor leaguer on the active roster.
So, if we keep Broderick, he’s the 7th guy in the pen and has to stay there all season.
That’s your 7 spots essentially wrapped up. So now here’s the rest of the picture and why this could become rather complicated for the team:
- If Gorzelanny struggles in the starter’s role, he has no options and would have to go to the bullpen. Who makes way? We can’t really cut Gorzelanny out right without admitting that the move backfired greatly for the team, having given up 3 decent prospects just a few months ago.
- If we want to use Gaudin, who has looked great so far in spring training, he’d have to be first added to 40-man (and then we’d have to drop someone else or move them to 60-day dl). And then he’s more or less stuck on the roster too; he’s got 5+ years of service time, no options and can reject an assignment back to AAA. Based on the fact that he signed a minor league deal with us, one could assume that he is ok with starting the season in AAA, but other teams have scouts too and might be taking notice of his achievements so far. However again, if Gaudin is the 7th guy who makes way for him?
- Balester: he certainly performed well last year; 28ks in 21 ip in the same role we’re talking about here. Before the rule5 draft I had him locked into that long-man role. Has he done anything this spring to cost him this spot? No but he has one more minor league option and may lose out nonetheless.
- Stammen; he clearly can give you innings since he’s always been a starter, and his advanced stats last year were not THAT bad. But he too has options and seems to be pitching his way to AAA this spring.
Honestly, I think what the Nats need to do is make a deal with StL, trade them someone for Broderick and then stash him at AAA til you need him. Return him to the starters role where he was 11-2 last year in AA and maybe we’ve found a real cheap 5th starter for the future.