The roster has had two rounds of cuts; More to come.

While the dream is still alive for some, it is flickering for others — and over for now — for several players. To date, perhaps the most significant move in Washington Nationals’ camp was the DFA of former 2016 first round pick, Carter Kieboom, as he passed through waivers and was retained by the team on a minor league deal. Another former first rounder, Jackson Rutledge, from the 2019 draft was optioned to Triple-A yesterday. But most of the moves so far have been as expected. The really tough decisions will be happening in the next 10-days.

There are 15 NRIs still on the roster, and they are Jacob Barnes, Matt Barnes, Richard Bleier, Zach Davies, Joe La Sorsa, and Derek Law for the pitchers. Israel Pineda is the remaining NRI catcher. Three NRI infielders remain with Brady House, Trey Lipscomb, and Juan Yepez. Five outfielders remain with Dylan Crews, Robert Hassell III, and James Wood as the top prospects, and Hassell nursing an injured groin. The veteran outfielders are Eddie Rosario and Jesse Winker.

For the 40-man players, several have been optioned to the minor leagues already, and quite a few are injured. Dylan Floro was one of the injured 40-man players, and he pitched in a game for the first time yesterday. Stone Garrett has been strictly playing on the minor league side, and Jose Ferrer is now injured. Stephen Strasburg won’t pitch again, but he remains on the roster, although we know he will either retire or be placed on the 60-day IL. Cade Cavalli is returning from UCL/TJ surgery, and could also start the season on that 60-day IL. Mason Thompson recently had UCL/TJ surgery and will be placed on the 60-day IL.

Here are the remaining 40-man pitchers currently healthy in camp: Patrick Corbin, Kyle Finnegan, Floro, Robert Garcia, MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, Hunter Harvey, Jake Irvin, Tanner Rainey, Jordan Weems, and Trevor Williams. That is 11 pitchers, and all are expected to make the team if Floro is deemed ready. That will leave two spots open for NRIs. That is six NRIs competing for two spots. One of them could go to Davies as a starter which would push Williams to the bullpen.

There are 15 position players still active on the 40-man roster with Garrett most likely beginning the season on the 10-day IL. One catcher will not make the Opening Day roster, and most feel like that will be Drew Millas as the odd man out if Riley Adams is healthy and ready to go. Alex Call is leading camp on offense with his .407 batting average and solid defense. Most feel that he could hit .500 and won’t make the team. What Call has done is probably guaranteed that he won’t be DFA’d if general manager Mike Rizzo needs an extra 40-man spot.

Here are the 15 position players remaining: Adams, Millas, and Keibert Ruiz for the catchers. For the infielders, CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia Jr., Joey Meneses, Nasim Nunez, Nick Senzel, and Ildemaro Vargas remain. Nunez is a Rule-5 draftee who has to make the roster or else be offered back to the Marlins. The outfielders are Call, Joey Gallo, Garrett, Victor Robles, Lane Thomas, and Jacob Young.

With Rosario and Winker looking like locks to make the team, it is then a pick ’em of 11 position players from the 40-man roster. Few players are really locks. The further complication comes from who leaves when Garrett is healthy -or- does Garrett have to wait in Triple-A for his next opportunity?

The other interesting part is that team owner, Mark Lerner, kind of threw in his 2¢ when he published a letter to the fans:

“Two players I’ve especially enjoyed watching are Trey Lipscomb and Jacob Young. Trey had a great year last year and came into camp eager and willing to do anything Davey Martinez asked of him. We’ve seen him make plays all over the diamond while hitting .367 with just four strikeouts. We saw Jacob in the big leagues last year, and that experience looks to have paid off. He’s played all three outfield positions and has hit safely in eight of his 13 games.”

— Lerner wrote in his Curly W Live blog

Does Lerner’s comments have consequences? Can Young make the roster over Robles, and can Lipscomb make the roster over Garcia or Nunez? Is this a green light that Rizzo could cut Robles and eat most of his $2.6 million salary? Same with Garcia’s $1.95 million salary. Maybe the bigger question goes back to whether Robles should have been re-signed given all of the center field depth on the team with Young, Call, Wood, and Crews.

Opening Day is just 10 days away. All of the answers and creativity will be seen in the final roster construction. There are 39-men on the 40-man roster currently. Maybe Robles is headed to the IL, who knows. Expect the unexpected because there is always a surprise or two when making these rosters. Floro seemed like a lock to start the season on the IL. Now, it looks like he will make the roster after he pitched in a game for the first time yesterday. Health is a key, of course, when creating the final roster.

“I won’t say anyone doesn’t have a chance [to make the Opening Day roster], but they have to kick the door down — and force us to put them on the team.”

“It’s not the best guys long-term, it’s the best guys right now, and it has to make sense for their development. We’re here with few positions set in stone … ”

— Rizzo said on the Grant & Danny Radio Show on 106.7 last week

The best stats won’t guarantee a player an Opening Day spot. Call leads all players with that .407 BA and 1.195 OPS. Yepez is at .357 and .971 as another standout in camp. You know the ole saying about relying on Spring Training stats — the great ones and the bad ones. Nunez has been extremely unlucky with his .167 BABIP which is why his batting average is only .125. While he is on the bubble, Nunez might make it based on his contract status of that Rule-5. Yes, contract status matters.

And besides Lipscomb, is there any chance, that arguably the best player we have seen in camp, Wood, can he make the team? They are part of “Hope Row” in Nats’ big league camp. The future of the team. They say, “the best-26 go north!” so what about Wood? What about him. He is batting .333 with a 1.099 OPS and has been incredible running the bases and playing defense sans one play.

“I like watching them play, I’m not going to lie to you, and I want to keep them here, and keep the conversations going as long as I possibly can.”

“They’re doing well, and they’re playing the game the right way. We’ll keep them here as long as Rizzo allows me to keep them, and then we’ll do something else.”

— Martinez said about the “Hope Row” prospects still in camp

There are not enough spots with a finite 26 active players at any one time. Is there a chance that Rosario starts in Triple-A since he’s been so-so out there with a late start to his Spring Training. Again, expect surprises. Rosario signed a minor league deal with an opt-out. Rizzo and Martinez have tough decisions to make. While Rizzo said there were “few positions set in stone”, they have only acknowledged by name that Young and Robles are in the only competition. Did Lerner’s words add Lipscomb and Garcia to the list in competition? What about Davies and Williams for the fifth rotation spot?

“That’s really like a competition there. Jacob did well for us last year, and Vic maybe has a little bit of the upper hand, but right now they’re both in the mix.”

Martinez said last week on 106.7 radio

Here is a stats guide to help you out for the position players. Here is one for the pitchers too. A word of caution on the stats is that they are still small sample sizes, and we have seen many questionable umpire and official scorer calls that greatly affect these small sample sizes.

Officially, there’s 45-players in big league camp as we named above of which five seem certain to land on the IL from the 40-man roster. Of those five, three should go to the 60-day IL (Strasburg, Thompson, and Cavalli) which will open up three more spots on the 40-man roster and take that current number down to 36-players. Of course as mentioned, Strasburg could retire which is the other way he would come off of the 40-man roster. All of this will allow Rizzo to name up to four NRIs if he wanted to. If Floro and Robles are deemed healthy, that leaves 39-players competing for the Opening Day roster. With IL moves, that means 13 more cuts coming. What does your 26-man roster look like going north?

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