Nationals Arm Race

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

Spring Training 2022 NRI Disposition

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Maikel Franco makes the team as an NRI and will start at 3B. Photo via

Thanks to the compressed Spring Training in 2022, we never did the navel gazing “which NRI may make the team?” after the team announced all its NRIs and MLFA signings.

But, now that the dust has settled, we did want to identify the NRIs and note which of them actually did make the team to have continuity with this analysis year over year.

Here’s past posts by year: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

Why do we care about NRIs? Because there’s a high likelihood we’ll see these guys either make the roster or get called up later on this year. And this year is no different. Since the 2015 season (not including 2022):

  • 9 NRIs have made the 25-man roster straight out of Spring Training (and Guthrie technically made it 10 since he got called up a few days later and was always intended to be the 5th starter in 2017).  Basically every year an NRI has made the roster for six seasons running.
  • 29 NRIs eventually played for the MLB team at some point that same season they were in spring training.

So its likely that we’re going to see a lot of these NRIs at some point in the future.  Like, on average at least 4-5 of these NRIs are going to play for this team in 2022.

So, who were the NRIs this year? By position:

  • Starters: Rutledge, Cavalli, Jefry Rodriguez, Anibal Sanchez,
  • Righty Relievers: Arano, Edwards, Garrett, Weems, Ramierz
  • Lefty Relievers: Avilan, Baldonado, Cronin, Fry
  • Catchers: Hermann, Millas, Pineda, Gushue
  • Infielders: Cluff, Franco, Noll, Sanchez, Dee-gordon, Urena, Young
  • Outfielders: Parra

So, Opening day NRIs to make roster and the circumstances behind each

  • Anibal Sanchez; 3rd starter. It became clear early in spring that Strasburg wasn’t going to be ready and we needed another starter that we weren’t necessarily counting on. Several of the existing starters on the 40-man roster (Lee, Romero, Carrillo) really had no realistic shot of making a MLB roster, which left just six healthy starters on the entire 40-man roster from which to choose. Sanchez pitched here before and signed on as a MLFA with the NRI, and he ended up winning a spot easily in the rotation.
  • Victor Arano, rhp reliever. When Harris couldn’t answer the call, there was a major spot opened up in the back half of our bullpen, and Arano siezed it. Arano was a pretty adept MLFA signing; the guy has a career 159 ERA+ and dominated for the Phillies as an 8th inning guy in 2018. He outpitched a slew of RHP relievers on our 40-man to earn a spot, essentially beating out Gabe Klobotis for the spot.
  • Dee Gordon-Strange, 2B and OF. When it became clear Garcia wasn’t making the team, the middle infield situation cleared up a bit. Then, When Adrianza got hurt, it became clear the team needed another middle infielder. Gordon-Strange’s positional flexibility will likely keep him on the roster for a bit.
  • Maikel Franco, 3B. This one is pretty clear. Kieboom hurts his elbow, the team needs a 3B, and they just happened to have one on a MLFA/NRI deal.

Which of the rest of the NRIs might we see this year? Quick speculation, but i’ll bet we see at least a couple more of the RHP relievers (Edwards, Garrett), perhaps a return for Baldonado, maybe a middle infielder like Cluff, certainly Parra at some point, and then Cavalli halfway through the season.

Written by Todd Boss

April 5th, 2022 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Nats in General

One Response to 'Spring Training 2022 NRI Disposition'

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  1. I think this conversation will be very different in about 2-3 weeks. The Nats announced their roster and they now have to offload three 40 man spots to make everything work.

    Mark L

    5 Apr 22 at 6:34 pm

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