Nationals Arm Race

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

Post rule-5 Move Reactions


Rutledge amazingly gets added to the 40-man. Photo via BA

So, in the wake of my big Rule-5 preview … i didn’t think the team was going to do much.

But they did a lot. Lets talk about the players added and the players removed.


  • Jake Alu inf
  • Matt Cronin lhp
  • Jeremy De La Rosa of
  • Jose Ferrer lhp
  • Jake Irvin rhp
  • Jackson Rutledge rhp

Alu: I thought Alu was a decent candidate for his AAA success, but was thinking perhaps the team would let him slide as someone who was perhaps seen as “undersized utility guy.” Clearly they favor him more, and this gives us more evidence that Alu is going to compete straight up with Kieboom this coming spring.

Cronin: So, in my preview I thought Cronin was the only “lock” to get added, based on his plug-n-play and his success in AAA. So, no surprise here.

De La Rosa: surprised he got added. The guy is only 20 and hit .197 in a few games in High-A. Yes he raked in Low-A; read that sentence again: he’s 20. Who is going to draft his guy and have him stay on a 25-man roster all year? I’m not doubting the guy’s ability, i just can’t believe someone would waste a roster spot on a 20yr old OF like him. If he was an arm? Sure. so we’re going to have at least one 40-man player in High-A next spring.

Ferrer: I didn’t think he was really a viable candidate since he was in High-A most of the year. Again, who would pick a guy who had only demonstrated he could succeed in A ball? Nonetheless, he’s here.

Irvin: Honestly, I didn’t think his AA numbers merited a spot. But, perhaps the Nats are thinking about his pedigree instead of his performance.

Rutledge: the most amazing selection of all. Reminder: he had a .4.90 ERA in LOW-A this year. This is entirely a protection based on protecting a big bonus and not the player on the field. You can generally count on one hand the number of 40-man players in A ball in a given year … and our team is set to have two of them in 2023. Amazing.

Now, lets be honest. I’m not “mad” about any of these additions. I’m always up for protecting our players instead of letting them go. I’m just kind of surprised that some of these guys got picked, knowing what we know about rule5.

Biggest surprises not to get protected? Millas of course, given our catching depth. Nobody else really; the only other guy i mentioned as being in the realm ofpossible to get protected was Brill.

Lets talk about who the team dumped to get here. Two days ago we were at 39/40 on the 40-man; now we have 6 new guys.

  • Seth Romero mercifully cut after yet another disgression: we’ll have a separate post-mortem post.
  • Tommy Romero dfa’d: no surprise here; he was perhaps 3rd or 4th on my list of “next guy to get the DFA.”
  • Jackson Tetreault: cut not because he merited it .. but because he’s hurt and thus passed easily through waivers. More importantly (and this is the exact same situation with Lee) … Tetreault was eligible to be outrighted against his will once he passed through waivers. So this (and Lee) were strategic outrights, knowing they’d be guaranteed to still be with the org. Well done .. and another example of how the roster rules continually screw pre-arb players in this sport.
  • Evan Lee: See Tetreault; Lee has a left flexor strain, a huge red flag for teams in the modern Tommy John happy era.
  • Yadiel Hernandez: The one that really shocked me. I mean, i had him possibly penciled in as the starting LF next season based on his bat. But then again, maybe this was a calculated gamble by the team to DFA a player who they could outright and control, as with Tetreault and Lee. The cuban sticks with the team but is bound for AAA once again, a situation that has to be a huge bummer for him.

Something tells me we’ll be seeing Tetreault, Lee, and Hernandez again. But not for a while. At least we retain them.

More interesting is why the team bothered to keep rif-raf on the 40-man like:

  • Fox, who went 2-28 in the majors and a middling .241 in the minors
  • Palacios, who posted a 46 OPS+ in a completely replaceable position.
  • Weems, who posted a 5.22 ERA in the bullpen as a RHP middle reliever.
  • Garrett, who gave up 7 runs in 9 innings
  • Antuna, who continues to have 9 lives, hitting .215 in High-A. He has one option remaining until finally this arrogant decision can be put behind us when, after he again flirts with the Mendoza line in the minors in 2023, he’ll be forced to be DFA’d thanks to the exhausting of waivers in the spring of 2024.

More moves have to be coming, including some non-tenders (a separate post on that forth coming as well), because the team has to get some reinforcements this off-season besides 20yr olds who hit .190 in high-A (ahem, De La Rosa). Right?

Written by Todd Boss

November 15th, 2022 at 9:04 pm

7 Responses to 'Post rule-5 Move Reactions'

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  1. Can someone explain why Yasel Antuna is still on the 40 man? This is so dumb.

    Mark L

    16 Nov 22 at 4:46 am

  2. First, it should be noted that none of these moves changed the future of this franchise one iota.

    Second, that’s the problem. The 2022 season was an unmitigated disaster. The Nats lost 107 games and traded a generational talent. They’ve GOT to do some things differently, adapt or die. But SO MANY of the moves that the Nats made on Tuesday, as well as the ones they didn’t (Antuna), smack of NOTHING’S CHANGED. Rizzo has dug in his heels and doubled down on the same types of bad personnel decisions that have gotten us so deeply in this ditch. I can guarantee you that he won’t non-tender Robles and would be willing to bet that he won’t non-tender Fedde either, who should have been non-tendered two years ago. Sigh.

    Rizzo is a terrific trader. What little glimmer of hope the franchise has right now is due to the trades with the Padres and Dodgers (although I know some are already questioning whether he got enough for Trea + Max as most of the second-tier guys in the trade have been awful). But the franchise is in the ditch right now because of a decade of internal drafting and development futility. And their only true everyday-regular success on the Latin front has been Soto. Maybe Garcia will also make it, but his stat line at the moment is trending in a frightening Robles-like direction. He also managed to get to the majors with fundamentals at shortstop worse than those of most high schoolers who play the position in this area (seriously).

    The Nats made a big show of turnover last offseason in player personnel/development. That’s a much-needed start. But if DeJon Watson is trying to nudge Rizzo in some different directions, the personnel decisions this week sure don’t make it look like Riz is listening. There’s nothing intelligent about protecting a guy with a 4.90 ERA in A ball. He’s NOT going to be drafted!!! If the Rockies can keep exposing Riley Pint (#4 overall pick) and no one takes him, they’re sure not gonna take Rutledge. Or Adon. Or Lee. Or all the other guys we’ve senselessly added in previous years.



    16 Nov 22 at 8:05 am

  3. Todd, I agree with being shocked by Yadiel Hernandez showing up on the cut list. I’m surprised that another team didn’t claim him, particularly since he still has two options left. He’s no superstar, but he posted a 108 OPS+ last season. I would bet that he still makes the big club out of spring training . . . and gets readded to the 40-man.

    And to be clear, just because I think it’s nuts to add Rutledge and de la Rosa to the 40-man right now doesn’t mean that I don’t think they have a chance to be contributing major leaguers. It simply means that I don’t believe that any other team would pick them right now and keep them on their MLB roster for all of 2023, which is the Rule 5 requirement.

    There’s a small chance that Ferrer might have been taken, but there are also a bunch of guys with similar stats in Rule 5 every year, and it’s rare for any of them to be picked. Adding him was unnecessary but sort of defensible. But it’s much more likely that Millas would be picked than it would for Ferrer to go.

    I agree with Todd that Irvin’s AA numbers didn’t merit addition. Those numbers were worse than those of Sterling Sharp the year he was picked, and of course he didn’t stick with the Marlins and was returned. Irvin may well be one of many starters who get an audition with the big club in 2023, so I don’t hate adding him, but I also don’t think it was necessary.

    The only necessary moves were Cronin and maybe Alu. That’s the real problem here — the Nats (Rizzo) making unnecessary moves that clutter the 40-man and limit their flexibility . . . while also refusing to deal with the real clutter on the 40-man.


    16 Nov 22 at 9:07 am

  4. they paid Antuna millions, he has tools if not skills, he is not causing them to release anyone of consequence. that’s all I’ve got.


    16 Nov 22 at 11:18 am

  5. Antuna and Rutledge are sunk costs. Maybe Rizzo needs to go take an economics class, because the behavior of protecting them and their past huge bonuses to the detriment of your current operations is clear “sunk cost fallacy” action.

    Now, maybe you argue that there’s no “cost” to the organization to keeping Antuna on the roster. But that’s clearly false; instead of cutting loose Antuna, they’ve cut loose other players in the past couple of years who were immediately claimed and have been usefuil players for other teams. Austin voth, Klobotis, Joan Romero as examples. And if we DFA another player to keep Antuna, then that’s another player lost.

    Todd Boss

    16 Nov 22 at 12:23 pm

  6. The other thing is that even if Antuna does (miraculously) turn into something, he’s going to be terribly screwed by having all of his options already burned (last option will be burned in 2023, before he has even seen the majors). The too-early-added Adon will be on his last option in 2023 as well. He’s much closer to making it, but he may soon be in the no-option dance that became such an issue with guys like Cole, Voth, and Fedde.

    I fear that they’re setting up Rutledge and de la Rosa in the same option vice. They’ll both be starting 2023 at A+, which is generally still two or three years from the majors.


    16 Nov 22 at 1:41 pm

  7. Agree on all counts. They must have had some reason to put these low-A guys on the roster. Fear of getting them plucked b/c they’re famous or getting prospect buzz?

    Todd Boss

    17 Nov 22 at 11:21 am

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