Individual player recaps for your 2023 Nationals!

Welcome to the first installment of individual player recaps for your 2023 Nationals! Over the next several days, we will be looking at a synopsis of the season that was for every player who is still on the 40-man roster *or* who is a prospect of any note in the system (for those, I generally stuck with the MLB Pipeline top-30 list, but there are a few other names scattered in there as well). For each player, you will see some relevant stats from this past season (if there are two rows, the minor league numbers – which are aggregated rather than separated by level – are above the MLB numbers), my take on their odds of remaining on/being added to the 40-man roster, likely scenario(s) for their 2024 season, and whether or not I think they can or will play any kind of MLB role on a potential contending Nationals team in 2025. Does that all make sense? Awesome. We’re going to lead off the series with pitchers whom the organization views as starters and who have appeared in the majors. The rest of the schedule is as follows: starting pitchers (minors), relievers (all), catchers (all), infielders (MLB), infielders (minors), outfielders (MLB), outfielders (minors). Let’s get started!

Starting Pitchers – MLB

LHP Patrick Corbin, 33

How Acquired: Signed as a free agent (6/$140) on 12/7/2018

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB, tone of voice whenever he’s in front of a microphone after a start*

The Numbers [NSFW]: 0.9 fWAR/0.5 rWAR


What We Learned: Hey everybody, Patrick Corbin is no longer the worst starting pitcher in baseball! Good thing he has 10-5 rights now and $35.4 million coming his way in 2024. Whew!

40-Man Odds: 100% unless the team is sold this winter and the new owner accepts the most sunken of costs.

2024 Outlook: Just avert your eyes every fifth day until (Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise) Cade Cavalli finally, mercifully pushes him to the trade market or the bullpen around Memorial Day.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: No. Thanks for the 2019 title, but don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

*That’s a joke for Sao

RHP Trevor Williams, 31

How Acquired: Signed as a free agent (2/$13), 12/10/2022

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB, Nats Park Outfield Reserved

The Numbers [NSFW]: -0.1 fWAR/-0.1 rWAR


What We Learned: That he’s over-extended as a full-time starter and hopefully not that he wrenched a trap muscle watching all those home runs.

40-Man Odds: 100%. Even if he’s not writing personal checks to keep the club afloat (spoiler, he’s not, owning a professional sports team is incredibly lucrative), Mark Lerner is not so spendthrift as to pay a healthy pitcher $7 million to wear someone else’s uniform (wait a minute, my producers are telling me something in my ear…).

2024 Outlook: Oof. Hopefully the first veteran moved to the bullpen when a young arm is deemed ready or when the Nats sign a better free agent arm this winter. Maybe even in spring training?

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: As the long man and spot starter, he can (I mean, he was just that on a 100-win team twelve months ago), but I don’t think he will be on this team.

RHP Josiah Gray, 25

How Acquired: Traded by the Dodgers for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, 7/30/2021

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB

The Numbers: 1.6 fWAR/3.2 rWAR


What We Learned: While Josiah made one important improvement (drastically curtailing his league-worst gopherball rate), he still walks far too many people and doesn’t have any confidence in any type of fastball that he can command in the zone. His All-Star first half masked some troubling peripherals, and the wheels came off the bus in August, when he allowed almost a run an inning and was frequently in danger of having his turn in the rotation skipped. He did make some tweaks to his delivery late in the season that helped him salvage the last few starts and get some positive momentum going into the winter

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: If things go well, he’s the third-best starter on the team behind Gore and Future Free Agent X, reliably able to keep his team at a minimum in the game for 5-7 innings 85-90% of the time. If things don’t go well, he’s a more durable Joe Ross, a fifth starter who frustratingly looks like he can do more but ultimately never does.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Yes, primarily because this organization’s history is so atrocious with developing pitchers of their own that it would be the height of folly to wager actual “dollars, American” that the Nats can promote AND sign enough guys to push him not only out of the rotation but off of the roster in his first year of arbitration.

LHP MacKenzie Gore, 24

How Acquired: Traded by the Padres for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, 8/2/2022

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB

The Numbers: 1.3 fWAR/2.0 rWAR


What We Learned: When he’s on, he has the best stuff on the staff and looks like he has ace potential (not to motion an aesthetically gorgeous high leg kick). When he’s spraying the ball around and getting into the stretch often, however, he can get barreled all over the yard (usually after walking two guys and losing focus). If the Nats can fix a guy’s sketchy command for the first time in franchise history, he can be an elite #2 or borderline ace. They also will need to closely monitor his health – he dealt with multiple blister/finger issues in the second half, and was shelved by the Padres in 2022 with elbow inflammation.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: If the WHIP is in the 1.2 range instead of 1.4, and he tones down some of the splits with men on base (the homer rate jumps and the K-BB rate falls when he’s in the stretch), we’re talking about an All-Star and probably a 4-5 WAR season, perhaps even better. If he doesn’t make those improvements? We’re back on the same merry-go-round of tantalizing potential and head-scratching blowups as in 2023, and wondering if he will make the leap in 2025 instead (for reference, Max Scherzer made his first big leap – in terms of his command and ability to avoid walks – in his fourth season).

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: I’ll put it this way; the way the Nats operate and value starting pitching as a commodity, a 2025 contender doesn’t exist if Gore is not playing a major role as a set-in-stone member of the rotation.

RHP Jake Irvin, 26

How Acquired: 2018 Amateur Draft, 4th round (131st overall)

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA/MLB

The Numbers: 0.8 fWAR/1.2 rWAR


What We Learned: More than perhaps any other player in this series. Irvin was *unranked* in the very mid 2022 Nationals Pipeline Top 30, but he got the call to replace Chad Kuhl when the latter, well, it was a very timely toe injury. Irvin was largely Kuhl-esque before getting skipped on June 11, after which he cut his walk rate, and with it, his ERA by more than two full runs. Rather remarkably for a pitcher with both the pandemic non-season and TJ surgery in his recent past, he finished 2023 as arguably the most reliable member of the rotation. None of us had that on our bingo cards.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: If healthy, he is definitely starting the season in the rotation, and right now it looks like it will be difficult to dislodge him.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: The Irvin of the second half can absolutely be the fifth starter on a good team, particularly with a more potent offense behind him. He can also be pushed into the bullpen. Plus, he seems like the kind of teammate that others enjoy playing behind. I would love to keep him around.

RHP Jackson Rutledge, 24

How Acquired: 2019 Amateur draft, 1st round (17th overall)

Prospect Rank: WAS #13 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: AA/AAA/MLB

The Numbers: 0.0 fWAR/-0.2 rWAR


What We Learned: Rutledge made a sizable step towards reclaiming his prospect status. After finishing 2022 fairly strong at Fredericksburg (where he was too old for the level), the big righty skipped Wilmington entirely and made a dozen good starts for Harrisburg to get back on an age-appropriate pace before being promoted to Rochester. He struggled much more in AAA, particularly with the automated strike zone, and his WHIP rose by half a runner per inning. Then he got a few spot starts with the big club when Gore was shut down with a blister issue, bombing in his debut against the Pirates before settling down against the White Sox and (shockingly) Braves. Still, he’s going to have every opportunity in March to shove his way into the rotation and make Corbin or Williams expendable.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: If he can limit the walks, there’s enough there to be the first call-up of the season or even make the Opening Day roster if he really shows out in the spring. Otherwise it will be back to proving he can master AAA hitters and smaller strike zones in lovely upstate New York, but the odds that he is in the majors (mostly) for good next year have to be close to 100% barring a major injury or catastrophic meltdown.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Yes/maybe, if he throws more strikes (only 57% at AAA). If Rutledge IS playing a serious role on a 2025 contender, particularly as a starter (in which case you would figure he would have lapped one of Gray or Irvin), it would be possibly the surest sign yet that the rebuild is successful. But given that the Nats have generated a grand total of three wins above replacement from fully homegrown pitchers since Strasburg, don’t bet the mortgage on it.

RHP Joan Adon, 24

How Acquired: Signed as an international free agent, 7/2/2016

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA/MLB

The Numbers: 0.4 fWAR/-0.3 rWAR


What We Learned: Adon definitely worked on some things as compared to last year. He’s actually using a changeup these days, and in a few of his late-season major league starts he was effective, even startlingly so in two of them. But it’s clearer than ever that if he’s going to consistently stick on a major league roster, it’s out of the bullpen. He cannot sustain any effectiveness more than a couple of innings, whether it’s command, cramps, or whatever else.

40-Man Odds: 20% – he’s a guy that Rizzo has given a lot of rope to.

2024 Outlook: Adon is out of options, so if he does make it through the winter on the 40-man, he will have to make the Opening Day roster to avoid going through waivers. You could squint and see his velocity playing up in the bullpen, making him a potentially valuable mid-inning reliever. Or he might bomb in spring training and wind up as someone else’s problem, even Rochester’s. Probably the widest range of potential outcomes of anyone on this list.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Eh, maybe. If he is, it’s likely as no more than the fifth or sixth guy in your bullpen and an emergency spot starter if someone else gets a blister or something and has to skip a turn.

RHP Thaddeus Ward, 26

How Acquired: 2022 Rule 5 Draft, 1st overall (from the Red Sox)

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB/minor league rehab

The Numbers: -0.4 fWAR/-0.3 rWAR


What We Learned: There’s a reason teams generally don’t use the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft on pitchers who struggle to get AA hitters out. Ward appeared 22 times in his mandated 90 days on the active roster, occasionally showing strikeout stuff but more often unable to hit the side of a barn (as that ghastly walk rate shows). He was put on the IL and sent to Florida to work on things, especially his command.

40-Man Odds: 99%. There’s a chance that the Nats find/sign enough options this winter to DFA him, but that would be silly since he has all his options remaining and can continue to refine his craft in Rochester next summer.

2024 Outlook: If he can continue to keep his walk numbers down at the same level as his post-IL rehab appearances this year, you have to figure that he will be the first or second call should another starter falter or get injured. If the free passes spike again, he’ll have to start transitioning to a bullpen role or just be organizational filler in the Red Wings’ rotation.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: If he is, it’s probably as an up-and-down guy filling in for injured starters as needed (he’ll have options) or as a front-end bullpen arm who probably never sees the light of day in games that seriously matter. In either case he would likely play no more than a fringe role for such a team.

RHP Cade Cavalli, 25

How Acquired: 2020 Amateur Draft, 1st round (22nd overall)

Prospect Rank: WAS #4 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: 60-Day IL, Offices of Dr. Keith Meister

The Numbers: One game of catch that we know of at Nats Park in September

What We Learned: That we’ll have to wait another winter (and spring) to see what he can do as a member of an MLB rotation. 

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: I expect that the Nats will be conservative with his return and hope for him to make (assuming full health) somewhere between 15-20 starts, which means we probably won’t see him in DC until after Memorial Day. At that point he should bump (hopefully) Corbin out of the rotation and ideally finish the year there, throwing 80-100 innings.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: His recovery and growth are probably more important to a putative 2025 contending Nats team than any other pitcher save Gore. In a perfect world he’s the third starter behind Gore and Future Free Agent X on that team. In a less-than-perfect world he’s the fifth starter occasionally having twelve-strikeout starts but more frequently giving up six runs in four innings because the command is off.

RHP Stephen Strasburg, 34

How Acquired: 2009 Amateur Draft, 1st round (1st overall)

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: Standing or sitting when not laying down

The Numbers: This hurts my soul

What We Learned: The inevitable end of the most important career in Nats history

40-Man Odds: They’re going to work something out for the roster spot, we think?

2024 Outlook: Why are we doing this, make it stop.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: He will be getting paid by the organization, so technically yes, but the more important question is, why are you still reading this? Just scroll to the comments already and let the pain wash away.

Starting Pitchers – Down on the Farm

LHP Andrew Alvarez, 24

How Acquired: 2021 Amateur Draft, 12th round (353rd overall)

Prospect Rank: unranked

2023 Level: A+/AA

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: An unranked prospect who was the 2023 Organizational Pitcher of the Year, Alvarez took advantage of the 21 appearances he put in for the Blue Rocks, then got hit a little harder after a late-season promotion to AA. Alvarez doesn’t rack up tons of Ks, but he also maintained a sub-1.2 WHIP all season at both levels. He could turn into a serviceable bullpen southpaw.

40-Man Odds: 0% (Rule 5-eligible next year)

2024 Outlook: Alvarez will likely be a Senator again to start next spring and would seem likely to spend much or all of the season there. Best-case scenario, he does well enough to get half a dozen starts at Rochester.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Doubtful, even though the Nats will have a 40-man decision on him next winter. He’s far enough down the organizational depth chart (despite his award this year) that either he will have to really show out and hit another level or that there are a rash of injuries in order to make it to DC in 2025.

LHP Jake Bennett, 22

How Acquired: 2022 Amateur Draft, 2nd round (45th overall)

Prospect Rank: WAS #10 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: A/A+, Federal Witness Protection

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: Other than that we still can’t trust the Nats to be truthful about a prospect’s medical issues, not nearly enough. A year after pitching 117 innings for a big-time college program, Bennett was sent to Fredericksburg to start 2023 and predictably toyed with hitters there, walking almost no one, allowing no hard contact, and striking out a bunch of guys before finally being promoted to Wilmington at the end of May. Once there, he continued to shove, allowing two runs in fourteen innings across three starts before vanishing without a trace for eight weeks. Then he returned for three bad outings in late August, failing to complete three innings in any of them. Not until late September did we learn that he needed to get zippered.

40-Man Odds: 0% – he’s not Rule 5-eligible for two more years.

2024 Outlook: Rehab

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: No, but he could potentially make it to AAA by the end of that season in a best-case scenario.

LHP Alemao Hernández, 23

How Acquired: Signed as minor league free agent, 3/10/2023

Prospect Rank: unranked

2023 Level: A+/AA/AAA

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: Who? His name, for one thing. Hernández, who spent three years as a teenager in the Dodgers’ organization from 2017-19, was signed by the Nats earlier this year after a successful stint for his hometown Charros de Jalisco in the Mexican Pacific League over the winter (11 starts with a 2.79 ERA). After four relief appearances for Wilmington, he went to Harrisburg and joined the rotation there, and pitched well enough to earn a mid-August promotion to the Red Wings. He doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, but until moving to AAA he didn’t walk many either. Given his age and his lefthanded-ness, he’s worth monitoring as a future bullpen option

40-Man Odds: 20%? I believe he’s eligible, and southpaw pitchers are always at risk of getting poached. The numbers don’t wow you, but in 19 of his 24 appearances this year he allowed no more than three earned runs (including 10 of his last 11, the exception being his first start for the Red Wings), and in twelve of those he allowed one or none. 

2024 Outlook: Assuming he stays in the organization, he’ll be ticketed for Rochester, and I wonder if he gets pushed to the bullpen right away. The Nats are probably more invested in Parker and Bennett, and maybe Saenz as well, but Hernández is essentially found money at this point and has an outside shot of pitching in the majors in 2024.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Doubtful but not impossible. If he can continue to get hitters out with his meager strikeout rate, a world exists in which he’s an optionable bullpen lefty on a decent team.

LHP DJ Herz, 22

How Acquired: Traded by the Cubs for Jeimer Candelario, 8/1/2023

Prospect Rank: WAS #16 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: AA

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: That Rizzo might have gotten a heist for a rental bat, despite most of us being pessimistic at the time of the deal. Herz moved from the Southern League to the more pitcher-friendly Eastern League and, after an initial rough outing at Erie, found Harrisburg much to his liking, allowing just two runs over his subsequent five starts while striking out 35 of the 90 batters he faced in that stretch and allowing a single extra-base hit. As a lefty with a 70-grade changeup, he has good odds of remaining a starter for the time being despite the somewhat concerning walk rate.

40-Man Odds: 100% in his first year of Rule 5 eligibility.

2024 Outlook: He should open the season in Rochester, and if he continues to pile up whiffs in the International League, I would bet on him getting called up at some point next summer. He likely won’t pitch much in the majors, though, as he has yet to eclipse 100 innings in a professional season and will probably be on a limit of 125 or so next year.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: He most certainly can. Lefties with elite changeups are a pretty rare breed, and that could be a carrying skill that gets him to at least a multi-inning relief role if not a potential future home in the rotation.

RHP Andry Lara, 20

How Acquired: Signed as an international free agent, 7/2/2019

Prospect Rank: WAS #23 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: A+

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: Lara was essentially treading water in 2023, making no big steps forward nor falling back. The 35% drop in his strikeout rate was certainly alarming, but he also walked fewer batters and cut his ERA by almost a run from A-ball (hooray for Wilmington!). That his home run rate actually went up a tiny bit despite pitching half his games in the most pitcher-friendly park in affiliated baseball is a bit concerning. The most positive thing to say about him is that he has thrown roughly 100 innings each of the past two seasons, far more than other Nats pitchers of similar ages, so hopefully his durability is good and he can jump right into pitching a full season’s worth of innings should he ever graduate to the majors.

40-Man Odds: 0%, but he’s on the clock for next winter, I believe (unless the pandemic non-season pushes him back a year?).

2024 Outlook: He was the second-youngest pitcher in the Sally League this past season (and will likely still be one of the ten youngest in 2024), so there’s a non-zero chance that he starts the year there again with a mandate to conquer the level quickly and earn a promotion to Harrisburg. It would be nice if the strikeout rate went back up to a batter per inning.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Highly unlikely, unless he moves to Harrisburg quickly in 2024 and shows more capability for dominance than he has yet in his three pro seasons (again, he’s always been way young for his level). There’s a slim chance that something clicks this coming year and he gets himself on the map for 2025, though.

LHP Mitchell Parker, 23

How Acquired: 2020 Amateur Draft, 5th round (153rd overall)

Prospect Rank: WAS #25 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: AA/AAA

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: There might be an MLB future for Parker yet, and possibly as soon as next year. He cut his walk rate by more than 25% (it’s still too high, but progress!) and continued to punch out batters as frequently as he did in Wilmington. Not only that, but he finished the season strong, with only two bad starts after May 16th for the Senators. His brief call-up to AAA was ugly, but as Wadlez has pointed out many times basically no pitcher in this organization has a smooth landing at any higher level. Parker’s probably still a reliever at the end of the day in the bigs, but it’s undeniable that he pitched himself into a bigger role in the Nats’ long-term plans this season.

40-Man Odds: 100% in his first year of Rule 5 eligibility.

2024 Outlook: I imagine that he will start the season in Rochester, continuing his steady climb up the organizational ladder, but I don’t see him getting to the majors next year unless it’s in a relief role or there is an early rash of pitching injuries, because as a starter he is sitting behind Rutledge, Herz, and eventually Cavalli on the depth chart.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: He can as a reliever, particularly if the strikeout stuff plays up in more limited innings. Mamas, teach your babies to throw left-handed.

LHP Dustin Saenz, 24

How Acquired: 2021 Amateur Draft, Round 4 (112th overall)

Prospect Rank: unranked

2023 Level: A+/AA

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: That the historically decrepit Nats pitching development pipeline might at least be able to churn out some depth arms. Saenz is a command/control southpaw (his walk rate has never touched 3 per 9 at any level) who got knocked around in ten starts at Wilmington to end 2022 and thus was sent back there to start 2023. He allowed a mere eleven earned runs in fifty innings (with a sub-1.00 WHIP!) before the Nats moved him up to Harrisburg. As a Senator he was more pedestrian, and his home run rate almost tripled once he was away from the Christiana River. He is likely someone who will move slowly through the system as he continually learns how to get hitters at each level out without making them miss all that much.

40-Man Odds: 0% – he’s not Rule 5-eligible until next winter.

2024 Outlook: Saenz will probably start the year in Harrisburg one more time, but if the pattern of the previous two years holds true, he very well could be in Rochester by midseason, where he will likely be allowed to figure things out for the rest of the year.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Unlikely, but by 2025 if things go well he would be on the 40-man and probably viewed as either a depth starter or long reliever who could get a spot start or two in the majors.

RHP Jarlin Susana, 19

How Acquired: Traded by the Padres for Juan Soto and Josh Bell, 8/2/2022

Prospect Rank: WAS #12 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: A

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: Susana took a fairly significant step back this year after looking dominant in almost forty innings between Florida and Fredericksburg after arriving from the Padres in the Soto trade. As is typical with Rizzo fanfic power pitchers, his command was the biggest issue – he walked 40 in 63 innings and hit 6 more guys, all while his strikeout rate plummeted by over 20%. Sure, he was still two and a half years younger than the average Carolina League player, but the overall performance did nothing to alleviate concerns about the Nats’ inability to turn throwers into pitchers.

40-Man Odds: 0%

2024 Outlook: An ERA north of 5.00 at Fredericksburg as a teenager was not enough to stop the Nats from promoting Lara to A+ for 2023, and here’s betting that the same holds true for Susana. He will need to learn how to harness that triple-digit heat and throw it for strikes, however. One wonders if the Nats will allow him to pitch for the Águilas Cibaeñas this winter in order to help accomplish that – he didn’t throw many innings this year.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: As a Francisco Rodríguez-esque reliever who shows up late in the season and is unhittable his first time through the league? Yeah, sure. Am I going to bet on that happening? No way, especially with the Nats’ track record with this type of pitcher.

RHP Travis Sykora, 19

How Acquired: 2023 Amateur Draft, 3rd round (71st overall)

Prospect Rank: WAS #11 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: N/A

The Numbers: Do we really need to know what Sykora was doing to Texas high schoolers?

What We Learned: Given that he was drafted out of high school and didn’t even make a token start in the FCL this summer, not much. He’s a Rizzo wet dream, a 6’6”, 232-pound hard-throwing Texan who was given an overslot bonus ($2.6M) to skip college.

40-Man Odds: 0%

2024 Outlook: It’s unclear whether Sykora will head to Florida or Fredericksburg to start his professional career. On the one hand, he’s a high school pitcher and thus would probably benefit from starting in the complex. On the other hand, he turns 20 in April and will already be old for the level, and his profile suggests that most rookie league hitters will be overmatched against him (assuming that he can find the plate, which is a massive assumption with this organization).

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Not unless he turns out to be preternaturally gifted and rockets through the system. The last pitcher to start a World Series game in his age-21 season or younger was Michael Wacha in 2013, and the only other person to do it this century was Madison Bumgarner in 2010.

Relief Pitchers

RHP Kyle Finnegan, 31

How Acquired: Signed as a free agent, 12/8/2019

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB

The Numbers: 0.3 fWAR/1.0 rWAR


What We Learned: Whether he’s coming in as the closer, fireman, or setup man, you (especially those of you of a certain age) should reach for the Maalox whenever Finnegan trots in from the bullpen. In his three full seasons in Washington his high-wire act has been remarkably consistent – you know pretty immediately whether he’s got enough stuff to (hopefully) survive the inning/situation or whether he’s going to be serving up batting practice. He’s sort of become the closer by default since the 2021 trade deadline, but hopefully those days will come to an end within the next year or so.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: Barring a splashy bullpen signing in free agency, Finnegan will be back as one of the two best arms in the Nats’ relief corps. Ideally he gets pushed backward by both a healthy Hunter Harvey and the emergence/signing of someone better, but there are worse options out there to be closing games if you’re stuck with him closing.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: I’d feel okay about a bullpen that had Finnegan as its third-best arm, and pretty good about one that had him as its fourth-best arm. 2025 will be his last year before free agency, so there’s also the possibility that he gets dealt before then (most likely at the 2024 deadline if so).

RHP Hunter Harvey, 28

How Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Giants, 3/22/2022

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: MLB

The Numbers: 1.3 fWAR/1.9 rWAR


What We Learned: The stuff is elite and befitting of a former first-round pick and son of an MLB closer, but health has always been and will continue to be an issue. On pure stuff, Harvey is certainly the best bullpen weapon on the Nats, but his ever-uncertain availability kept him from locking down the closer role, because as soon as he had it, he went on the shelf for a month just after the All-Star break.  

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: If his arm stays attached to his shoulder, he could very well grab the ninth inning job back from Finnegan in the spring and keep it this time. If not, he will continue to be a valuable weapon whenever he’s available and strain the always-thin bullpen resources when he’s not.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: 2025 will be his last year before free agency, and there’s no reason other than his health that he can’t be the closer or primary setup man for a winning team. There is a chance that he gets moved at the 2024 deadline depending on how the season shakes out both for him and the Nats, but I would think it more likely that he sticks around.

RHP Jordan Weems, 30

How Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent, 3/8/2022

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA, MLB

The Numbers: 0.0 fWAR/0.7 rWAR


What We Learned: That the former catcher might be the third-best reliever on this team and the most capable of handling high-leverage situations after Harvey and Finnegan. After 32 appearances with the Nats in 2022, Weems started the season in Rochester, only appearing on the MLB roster as the extra man for a late-April doubleheader (in which he pitched both ends) before getting called up in June. He thereafter was something of a revelation, posting a career-best WHIP (despite a spike in walks) and holding hitters to a .178 average. 

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: Weems should be a setup man to start the year barring any significant upgrades to the bullpen in free agency. There’s a pretty significant gap now between him and Thompson, the next righty arm.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: If he maintains something like this level of performance? Absolutely. Weems will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2025, so the Nats could conceivably count on him as a regular bullpen piece then and beyond, even though he will be in his mid-thirties during the “beyond” portion.

RHP Tanner Rainey, 30

How Acquired: Traded by the Reds for Tanner Roark, 12/12/2018

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: Minor league rehab/MLB

The Numbers: 0.0 fWAR/0.1 rWAR


What We Learned: That Rainey, who is on the same arbitration/free agency schedule as both Harvey and Finnegan, should be ready to roll next season and hopefully provide some additional stability to the bullpen. After undergoing TJ surgery late last summer, he spent most of this season rehabbing, making a lone appearance in game #161 to prove that he is back. 

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: If he’s fully healthy and not struggling with command the way that so many post-TJ pitchers do (and his wasn’t necessarily great to begin with), he could challenge Harvey and Finnegan for the closer’s role. If he does need to work out some kinks, he will still be a late-inning option in somewhat lower-leverage situations.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: He certainly can, and if the 2025 Nats do contend it is likely that Rainey would be the lone remaining National from 2019 (when he did make nine appearances in the playoffs).

LHP Robert Garcia, 27

How Acquired: Claimed of waivers from the Marlins, 8/1/2023

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA, MLB

The Numbers: 0.6 fWAR/0.4 rWAR


What We Learned: That Kim Ng might have done the Nats a solid. Garcia was squeezed off of the Marlins’ 40-man after their trade deadline acquisitions, and the Nats, desperate for reliable southpaw options, pounced. Garcia pitched basically every other day for the Nats from August 6th on, frequently covering multiple innings, and put up very respectable numbers.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: He should be the primary lefty option out of the bullpen, especially since he can be trusted against right-handed hitters as well (they hit .242/.309/.355 against him, an 84 OPS+).

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Certainly. Garcia has options remaining and fills a valuable role as a lefty reliever without significant platoon splits who can be asked to pitch two full innings.

RHP Mason Thompson, 25

How Acquired: Traded by the Padres for Daniel Hudson, 7/30/2021

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AA, MLB

The Numbers: 0.5 fWAR/-0.4 rWAR


What We Learned: That there’s no more frustrating guy in the Nats’ bullpen. The big ginger has great stuff and movement, but too often loses his mechanics and hence any command, a condition that reared its head the first time at the end of April when Davey called on him two days after a three-inning shutdown appearance against the Mets. If he’s off, there’s no figuring it out, and he’ll get shelled or walk the yard for however long it takes until another reliever has warmed up. If he’s good? Then it usually results in 11-pitch innings and the like. He also is bad at the secondary stuff like fielding his position.

40-Man Odds: 100% – despite the frustrations, there’s too much talent there to not at least keep him through the spring.

2024 Outlook: He’s out of options now, so if he makes it to the Opening Day roster, he’s on the team until the next bout of suckitis forces Rizzo to cut bait. Good Mason can be a high-leverage reliever who, when he’s cooking, can turn over a lineup once and save a fiasco start. But he has eventually spit the bit every time that he’s made it into the top half of the bullpen equation.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Can he? Yes, as the fourth or fifth right-handed option out of the pen, capable of going multiple innings in a pinch. Will he? I’m going to hazard a guess and say that I don’t think he will play a prominent role in 2025, or likely any role at all.

RHP Andrés Machado, 25

How Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent, 02/26/2021

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA, MLB

The Numbers: -0.4 fWAR/0.0 rWAR


What We Learned: That Machado is still the same fungible reliever that he’s been for parts of three seasons now with the Nationals. He occasionally looks good, but he gave up an alarming number of bombs this year, over half of them to the first hitter he faced when called upon to get out of a jam. Machado might be the very epitome of a replacement-level player. 

40-Man Odds: 0% – the Nats already DFA’d him last winter and he made it back, so the same is likely true again.

2024 Outlook: Assuming that he stays with the organization, Machado will be bullpen depth in Rochester, available when the inevitable injuries or flameouts occur at the major league level.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Highly unlikely, but the next strong bullpen that Mike Rizzo builds will be the first, so you never know what might happen.

LHP José A. Ferrer, 23

How Acquired: Signed as an international free agent, 7/2/2017

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA, MLB

The Numbers: 0.1 fWAR/0.0 rWAR


What We Learned: That he’s the most successful Nats IFA pitcher signing since Wander Suero, not that that says much. The talent in the upper minors for the Nats last year was so bad that Ferrer was one of their picks for the Futures Game. Promoted from Rochester on July 1, he punched out two in his first inning of work at Citizens Bank on eleven pitches, one of the best debuts for a Nats reliever ever. Two weeks later he looked horrible and his ERA briefly ballooned over 6.00, but he eventually settled down to become a semi-reliable southpaw who cannot be counted on to do basic things like cover first base in a rundown situation. He doesn’t miss nearly enough bats, but he also doesn’t get tagged often, with a ground ball rate easily north of 50%. There’s something there.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: Given that he never got sent back to AAA, he seems to have a pretty firm hold on a situational lefty spot. He was rarely called upon to start a second inning, so he doesn’t provide the same versatility as Robert García, but if the Nats are going to carry two southpaws, he’s going to get the most opportunity to hold onto one of those roles.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Sure, if he can get some more whiffs and cut down on the walks (I know, I know, we can say this about basically every Nats pitcher ever). He will still have options in 2025, so it’s highly likely that he plays *some* role on what is hopefully the next good Nats team.

LHP Joe La Sorsa, 25

How Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Rays, 6/8/2023

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA, MLB

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: That stirrups and a hipster mustache are must-have accessories for frequent business travel between the nation’s capital and the Finger Lakes. La Sorsa made four different trips to Rochester in 2023, usually after an evening of saving the rest of the bullpen with multiple innings. 

40-Man Odds: 100% – the Nats are not so overloaded with lefties as the Florida teams that they can just casually throw them on the waiver wire.

2024 Outlook: A lefty? With options? La Sorsa should get acquainted with the American Airlines lounge at DCA, because he’ll probably be back on the shuttle again.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Doing more of this? Yeah, probably, although if he ever takes off his hoodie in the dugout/bullpen during October someone should probably restrain Davey.

RHP Cory Abbott, 27

How Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Giants, 5/4/2022

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA, MLB

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: That Abbott is still useful for soaking up innings in lopsided games. He walks too many guys to be a truly reliable long man, but he will occasionally do things like strike out the side that almost fool you into thinking he’s more than what he is.

40-Man Odds: 1% – he won’t be the first casualty, but it’s unlikely that he makes it to spring training on the roster.

2024 Outlook: A goal for the Nats should be to have the Cory Abbotts of the world pitch progressively fewer innings for them each year (he was down a full game from 2022).

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: As an emergency fill-in for a week or two at a time, he can, but that’s certainly not an ideal scenario.

RHP Amos Willingham, 24

How Acquired: 2017 Amateur Draft, 17th round (513th overall)

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AA, AAA, MLB

The Numbers: -0.5 fWAR/-0.2 rWAR


What We Learned: Although Amos is to date the only guy from his draft round to crack the majors, he has a lot of work to do in order to become more than a desperation call from Rochester for a 27th man. He has some velocity, but it’s straighter than the Autobahn, and he got taken deep eight times in just twenty-four major league innings. That won’t play.

40-Man Odds: 5% – he will easily clear waivers if they need the space.

2024 Outlook: More of the same in all likelihood, an up-and-down reliever who only pitches in blowouts, occasionally of his own making. He will need to find fewer barrels in order to have a chance of sticking beyond that.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: I mean, he’ll still have options, and crazier things have happened, but this version of Amos better not be appearing before the small-type credits of that season if the Nats are actually trying to contend.

LHP Matt Cronin, 25

How Acquired: 2019 Amateur Draft, 4th round (123rd overall)

Prospect Rank: unranked

2023 Level: AAA

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: That Cronin is no longer the first southpaw option to be the next man up, having been lapped by Ferrer, nor even the third after the waiver acquisitions of Garcia and La Sorsa. Even considering the high-octane conditions of the International League, Cronin was not very good in 2023, walking almost a batter per inning before getting shelved in mid-May for what turned out to be a herniated disc that required surgery in August.

40-Man Odds: I’m going to say 75% because he’s a lefty and we don’t know the timetable for his return – the Nats could keep him through the winter and put him on the 60-day at the start of next season, for example.

2024 Outlook: Who knows? My dad had two different herniated disc surgeries, and though he was much older the first time (~40 or so, I think), they wound up messing pretty significantly with his balance. My younger friends who have had less invasive, more technologically advanced back surgeries are capable of doing whatever they want to do now, but they aren’t professional athletes.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: If he recovers well and cuts his WHIP by 50% or so, sure, he can be an up-and-down lefty in 2025.

RHP Zach Brzykcy, 23

How Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent, 2020

Prospect Rank: WAS #28 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: TJ Rehab

The Numbers: N/A

What We Learned: That after the Nats finally appeared to have plucked a productive reliever out of obscurity, he needed to get zippered in April and miss the entire season. Scrabble 2.0 was barely hittable in his sixty-plus innings in 2022 spent mostly at A+ and AA (with a couple of token appearances in Rochester as well), allowing fewer than five hits per nine and striking out 95 batters. He unfortunately also walked 29, so hopefully his stuff will continue to be difficult to square up after surgery.

40-Man Odds: 100%

2024 Outlook: He will likely begin the season in AAA (or potentially on the MLB 60-day IL to preserve options), and I imagine when healthy and proven effective in Rochester he will be an early call should another reliever falter, get injured, or wind up traded.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: With a full recovery, absolutely. Brzykcy has always had excellent strikeout stuff, and in a best-case scenario he becomes the first homegrown closer option since Drew Storen, lo these many years gone by.

RHP Cole Henry, 23

How Acquired: 2020 Amateur Draft, 2nd round (55th overall)

Prospect Rank: WAS #18 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: A, A+, AA

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: That thoracic outlet syndrome surgery is really hard to recover from no matter when you have it. Henry, plagued by injury problems throughout his college and minor league career, struggled in his comeback from TOS, was shut down for a few weeks, and eventually brought back in shorter stints. 

40-Man Odds: He’s a true 50-50. I would be shocked if anyone drafted him in the Rule 5 based on how his 2023 comeback campaign went, but Rizzo might not take the chance anyway.

2024 Outlook: If he can hold up throwing an inning or two every other day, he should at least get back to AAA and possibly get called up at some point. Will his command come back and make him anywhere near as unhittable as he was in his march through the minors in 2022? We shall see.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: I certainly wouldn’t bet on it (too many variables with his particular medical history), but it also wouldn’t be the most shocking thing if he became a top setup man on a good team. There’s a reason the Nats went over slot to draft him in the second round.

RHP Roddery Muñoz, 23

How Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Braves, 7/17/2023

Prospect Rank: Nationals #30 (Pipeline)

2023 Level: FCL, AA, AAA

The Numbers: 


What We Learned: That the Nats’ development team is no better with scattershot live arms from other organizations than they are with their own. The Braves let Muñoz go from Gwinnett in July after moving him to the bullpen did nothing to help him cut down on his walks, and the Nats found that putting him back in the rotation solved zilch. He misses bats but can’t always find the plate – the saving graces are that he’s 23 and that the robot strike zone in AAA might have been a tough assignment for him.

40-Man Odds: 1% – Rizzo doesn’t like to give away pitchers who throw hard, but unless the new development hires come from outside the organization it’s not bloody likely that the Nats will be the ones fixing Muñoz.

2024 Outlook: Hopefully converted back to relief if he’s still in Rochester next spring.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Not unless the next minor league pitching coordinator is coming from the Rays, Mariners or Brewers.

RHP Hobie Harris, 30

How Acquired: Signed as a minor league free agent, 11/22/2022

Prospect Rank: N/A

2023 Level: AAA, MLB

The Numbers: -0.1 fWAR/-0.1 rWAR


What We Learned: That it was nice for Harris to debut in the majors eight long years after being drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh. He didn’t do much at either level this season, but hey, he became the 22,686th person to play a major league game!

40-Man Odds: 0% – he’s the easiest of DFAs this winter.

2024 Outlook: If he’s still in the organization, it will be as AAA depth on a minor league deal.

Can/Will He Be On a 2025 Contender?: Not unless a lot of other options fall apart at the seams.

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