There are only 50-games remaining in the 2021 season to evaluate players. That is longer than Spring Training which will give the front office staff a good idea as to the players who will fit into their future.
There are going to be players in the Minor Leagues who would never get a chance in normal years to showcase for the evaluators, and this is their time. Because of 40-man availability, general manager Mike Rizzo must be stingy with spots.
The only player you would consider is 2020’s first round draft pick, Cade Cavalli, as a call-up. But do you want to start his service time?
If Matt Cronin was healthy, this would be a no-brainer to get this left-handed former college closer into the Nats bullpen. Other than Cronin, the team already promoted Gabe Klobosits and there are few other viable prospects to promote.
The most obvious player to be called up is the Nats top prospect, Keibert Ruiz, who was acquired 10 days ago in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers. Ruiz is already on the 40-man roster. Once again, do the Nats want to restart his service time clock?
Do the Nats call-up Yasel Antuna from High-A? Probably not, even though he is on the 40-man roster. There might not be a prospect close enough to give a spot to. Jake Alu in Double-A Harrisburg has made a case for himself, but he looks like a player who will get that opportunity in Spring Training.
When Rizzo finished his blockbuster deal with the Dodgers, he received a 25 year old outfielder, Donovan Casey, as part of the package. Casey was named the best outfield arm in the Dodgers system in 2020. He hits for average as well as power and has above average speed. Will this translate to the big leagues? Rizzo immediately shifted the right-handed Casey to centerfield when he arrived in Harrisburg. There do not appear to be any other candidates.
The team has to be careful handing out 40-man spots especially with all of the Rule-5 decisions that will have to be made this offseason.
The needs are many for 2022 starters on this team and at this point beyond Juan Soto, who could be the only lock for position players with Tres Barrera at the very least as the number 2 catcher. The team controls the 34 year old Yadiel Hernandez who could take leftfield, but given his age he won’t be the long-term answer.
With only three starting position locks, the team has internal decisions to make on the rest. Do they extend Alcides Escobar and roll the dice again on Carter Kieboom? Luis Garcia will compete for a spot you would think in Spring Training. But he is just 21 years old.
In starting pitching, it all begins and ends with Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. With nearly $60 million a year invested in this duo, the team has 2022 to really decide how they move forward with that duo.
Fifty games to go.