In early October, the Washington Nationals wasted no time in making roster moves. They had until December 2 to make non-tender decisions for arbitration-eligible players, but the team announced that Michael A. Taylor was designated for assignment (DFA), cleared waivers, and chose free agency. Taylor came up big in several postseason games for the Nats, but his regular seasons sans 2017 were mostly disappointing and he only batted .196 this year. If the Nats tendered Taylor a contract, he probably would have pocketed over $3.75 million and that would be a massive overpay. In addition, the same fate went the way of five pitchers as Javy Guerra, Roenis Elias, Paolo Espino, Aaron Barrett and Sam Freeman all were DFA’d and elected free agency.
Additionally, the team DFA’d and outrighted RHP James Bourque, C Raudy Read, IF Adrian Sanchez and RHP Austen Williams, all to Triple-A.
With the 40-man roster now at 33 players, the team will have to add back their three 60-day IL players to the 40-man roster after the World Series. Those players are Stephen Strasburg, Starlin Castro, and Seth Romero. Also, the team will add back Joe Ross who opted-out for the season and should be tendered a contract. That would bring the roster to 37.
In addition, there are decisions to be made on players who have options.
“If my option is not picked up, I don’t know what I will do,” Adam Eaton said with an honest answer as to his future.
The team has decisions for several veteran players like Eaton, but also Anibal Sanchez, Howie Kendrick and Eric Thames who all have options. We would expect all of them to have their options declined, but it is possible that the team could bring some of them back on “market rate” deals like they did last year with Ryan Zimmerman and Yan Gomes.
There are also several players who are set to be free agents like Sean Doolittle, Josh Harrison, Brock Holt, Kurt Suzuki and Asdrubal Cabrera. Add up all of those names, and you have nine players who could be off the roster in the next few weeks.
If you do the math for all of those presumptive moves, the 40-man roster could be down to 28 players. The larger question would be, which of those nine veteran players would you want back?
Back in 2009 is when Michael A. Taylor joined the Washington Nationals after he was drafted a few rounds after Strasburg. That was a different time for this organization, and Taylor was a part of the greatest teams in Nationals history. His postseason record will shine proudly. Don’t read too much into the move on Taylor as a lock for Andrew Stevenson because he looked like a lock regardless of what the team did with MAT. The outfield looks like it will be Juan Soto on one of the corners and Victor Robles in centerfield with Yadiel Hernandez as the only depth in the minors.
Change is a part of sports, and the one thing that looks evident is that the Nats will probably get younger even though they will have a pair of 36 year olds in Max Scherzer and Will Harris along with Daniel Hudson who will turn 34 in Spring Training.
One thing to consider about all of the possible departing players is that the group overall had a net cumulative negative WAR, and the only three players with a positive WAR , were negligibly above 0.00 with Sanchez at +0.2, and Espino and Guerra at +0.1. On the other end of the spectrum, Thames finished at a -0.7, Eaton -0.5, Taylor -0.3, Kendrick -0.3, Bourque -0.2, and Doolittle at -0.2. It does not mean that all of these players will be negative contributors going forward, but as always, it is a matter of what have you done for me lately?
Along with a few new coaches, there will be several new players to get to know on the Nats roster.
We have updated the salary/payroll projections chart, and MLB Trade Rumors just finished their list of salary estimates for arbitration eligible players. That picture is clouded because of the 60-game season could skew the numbers.