Nationals Arm Race

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

2023 MLFAs Announced


Tetreault declared a MLFA along with several other notable former prospects. Photo via

As was posted yesterday (early this morning?) by Luke over at, BA released its list of known 2023 Minor League Free Agents by team this week. The Nats had no fewer than 30 (!) players listed on BA’s list, to go along with a couple of guys who elected FA a bit earlier this off season plus one guy in Sean Doolittle who was technically declared a MLFA but who announced his retirement in September.

Nats Big Board is now updated; go to the “2024 Releases” tab to see the 30-some odd names just declared FAs.

This massive number of names to me is indicative of one main fact w/r/t our player development lately: we have been signing an inordinate number of MLFAs to one year deals to cover the upper levels of the system. By my count, 19 of these names were signed as MLFAs ahead of the 2023 season. Some of them got MLB playing time as experienced vets (Derek Hill, Anthony Banda) and some of them are still on the 40-man (Meneses, Vargas, and Weems were all MLFAs). But we’ve depended on so many of these guys lately, especially to fill the AAA rosters.

Eight of these newly declared MLFAs were home-grown, which means they’ve been in our system for a long, long time. Many were once well-regarded prospects and we’ve discussed them in this space for years. For all these players, the Draft Tracker and IFA trackers are now updated to indicate their departure. These releases officially cut ties with most of the 2016 IFA class and 2017 Draft class.

  • Jake Noll: 16D 7th rounder. Earned a 40-man spot, couldn’t hold on to it.
  • Wilmer Perez: 16IFA Catcher who has bounced around levels for years as a backup catcher.
  • Yasel Antuna: 16IFA with a massive bonus who never paid off and clogged our 40-man roster for years. A perfect example of teams ignoring simple Economic theory w/r/t Sunk Costs and continuing to treat signing bonuses as “investments” instead of the transactional cash payments they really are.
  • Jose Sanchez: another 16IFA backup SS who filled in at High-A and AA this year.
  • Alex Troop, 17D 9th rounder who became the classic lefty Long Reliever/Spot Starter rubber-armed guy who soaked up innings for both AAA and AA for this team for years. I could see him re-upping if given the opportunity; he ended up being in the AA rotation for a big chunk of 2023.
  • Pedro Gonzalez, 17IFA middle RHP multi-inning reliever who just kind of soaked up innings for Low-A this year.
  • Jackson Tetreault: 17D 7th rounder who always seemed to fly under the radar, but got a bunch of starts in AAA in 2022 and looked like he could be a find, getting promoted to the big club. But, he got hurt, missed most of 2023, and now he’s in career limbo. Like Troop, I wonder if he’ll re-up with the team.
  • Malvin Pena, a 14IFA (wow) who’s been pitching in this organization for nearly a decade. Had decent numbers as a AA middle reliever.

Other notable names declared MLFAs:

  • Gerardo Carillo: the 3rd guy out of 4 prospects in the LA Dodgers Turner/Scherzer deal. Just never seemed like he could find the plate.
  • Donovan Casey, the 4th guy out of 4 prospects in the LA Dodgers Turner/Scherzer deal. Was on the 40-man, couldn’t make it.
  • Alameo Hernandez: I liked this guy this year, solving AA as a starter at age 24 and moving up to AAA. I really hope they re-sign him.
  • Matt Adams, who stuck with AAA for the entire season despite being 37 and having made millions as a major leaguer. I wonder if he was auditioning for a coaching role.

There’s still some guys who were 16IFA classes or older who remain on the roster despite them seemingly being at the end of their 6-7 years of minor league service. The oldest such name is a 13IFA Luis Reyes, who still is listed as active. Jordy Barley was a 16IFA and remains, as does guys Niomar Gomez and Gerardi Diaz. Either they’ve been declared MLFAs and’s site isn’t updated (which happens all.the.time.) or they’ve signed multi-year deals to remain.

Fun fact: The oldest remaining originally drafted player for the team remains Stephen Strasburg, 2009 draftee. After that, the next oldest is Carter Kieboom, 1st rounder in 2016. Zero players now remain with the system for the entire 2017 draft with the MLFA declaration of guys like Troop and Tetreault (this was the Seth Romero draft).

Written by Todd Boss

November 9th, 2023 at 10:06 am

Posted in Prospects

5 Responses to '2023 MLFAs Announced'

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  1. Keep your virtual Magic Marker handy, as more releases are coming. The 40-man is currently full, and guys have to be added ahead of Rule 5 by 11/14. The non-tender deadline is 11/17, as we stare at Robles for yet another year.

    The biggest failure in the list at hand was Antuna, made even more painful by their embarrassing addition of him to the 40-man. Troop and Tetreault had moments when they looked really good, but injuries plus the missed COVID season put them behind the 8-ball. Noll had his “False Spring” in 2019, perhaps the most epic one in Nat history. There was nothing in his previous stats that indicated that he could back it up, and he didn’t.

    I didn’t expect much from Casey at the time of the trade, although he had a brief spurt right after arriving. Carillo and Barley were thought to be more promising, but they never came close to panning out. Carillo was one of those “touches 100” guys. I have no idea why they’re hanging onto Barley at this point.

    And yes, these guy are very much from the era of Draft Wasteland.


    9 Nov 23 at 1:04 pm

  2. I think that it’s quite possible that Matt Adams played in AAA at age 37 simply because he likes playing baseball. Getting paid a salary that might be hard to find in the “real world” is just a bonus.

    John C.

    9 Nov 23 at 1:41 pm

  3. not to push back on the analysis but 30 was not the highest number with Atlanta and San Diego having more and the Dodgers sitting at 29. no doubt this past year was particularly busy scanning the waiver wire. hopefully the influx of draftees and trade bounty will create a more prospect laden roster in the upper levels.


    10 Nov 23 at 8:11 am

  4. I see that Barley has re-signed as a minor-league free agent.

    I hope that Todd finds time to do his annual Rule 5 protection preview, as there are some interesting choices this year. The only slam dunk would seem to be DJ Herz. Sort of a tossup on Mitchell Parker, who is similarly talented but also not at huge risk to be picked.

    The real debate likely would be on Cole Henry, who supposedly has a high ceiling but has really struggled with injuries. That said, injured arms are easier to stash for a season. Bullpen power arm Zach Brzykcy missed all of last season and is unlikely to be picked. Holden Powell has struggled with injuries his whole pro career and also is unlikely to be taken.

    If there’s a surprise, it might be Andry Lara. He’s at a similar point in his career arc as Adon was when they added him. Very unlikely to be picked, though.

    One guy who was eligible last year who might be worth a look at protecting now is Lucas Knowles. But if picking among Herz, Parker, and Knowles, then Knowles would probably be third on that lefty list.

    There isn’t much among newly eligible position players. Kevin Made hasn’t done much since his trade from the Cubs. Roismar Quintana hasn’t lived up to his prospect billing, certainly not enough to be a risk of being picked. Brady Lindsly is pretty much an org catcher, although he hit a semi-respectable .243 at Rochester.


    11 Nov 23 at 10:25 am

  5. Michael Cuevas would also be another one who is newly eligible, although probably down the pecking order.


    11 Nov 23 at 9:08 pm

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