Spring Training Game #28 Finale and close to a final roster

The roster is taking shape and almost complete with no decision on Trey Lipscomb who still needs to be added to the 40-man roster if he makes the team. Decisions were revealed a few minutes ago that RHP Matt Barnes, OF Eddie Rosario, and OF Jesse Winker have all made the MLB team.

The fourth round of cuts sent OF Alex Call, OF Jacob Young, and Jacob Barnes back to minor league camp as they were all top performers, and C Drew Millas who had his struggles in camp was also part of four players cut.

While the dream is still alive for some, there is one more cut to make in camp as there are 27 healthy players remaining in camp. This morning, the roster, except for the infield, appear to be set. We have to say as of “this morning” and “appear to be set” because you never know if the team makes a waiver claim, trade, or free agent signing or brings someone back from camp.

On Friday, Rosario was assigned to Triple-A, and after we tweeted (see below) that out — the team messaged that it was just procedural. Winker and Barnes had the same procedural status as they were all NRIs with minor league deals. In the new CBA in article XX(B) a veteran free agent signed to MiLB deals had a universal opt-out on March 22 at 2PM EST if they met certain conditions; the team then had until noon EST today to add the players to the 40-man or release them or renegotiate with the player.  

Those conditions for an Article XX(B) free agent is one with at least six years of service time who finished the previous season on an MLB roster or injured list. Any such player who signed a minor league deal more than ten days prior to Opening Day can opt-out of that deal at three points if they haven’t been added to the 40-man roster: five days before Opening Day, May 1 and June 1. This is why Derek Law is still an NRI as he did not meet that criteria, and the Nats made the decision after all with Rosario, and clearly with Barnes and Winker too. As we have written previously, Rosario was going to make the team, but getting to camp in mid-March has seen him struggle — and while he could have used time staying behind in extended Spring Training, a source told us that he was not going to accept that and would have used his opt-out.

There are two NRIs still on the roster, and they are Law for the pitchers, and top prospect Trey Lipscomb for the position players.

Here are the 12 healthy pitchers on the 40-man roster: Barnes, Patrick Corbin, Kyle Finnegan, Dylan Floro, Robert Garcia, MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, Hunter Harvey, Jake Irvin, Tanner Rainey, Jordan Weems, and Trevor Williams. Add Law — and the 13 pitchers are set.

Here are the 13 healthy position players from the 40-man roster remaining with Rosario and Winker added: Riley Adams 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 Joey Gallo, Victor Robles, and Lane Thomas. Lipscomb makes the 14th position player, and there is one cut to be made from this group. Senzel should make the team, but keep in mind that he can be sent to minor league camp as he has options remaining per Roster’s Resource.

Speculate all you want from who could get cut if Lipscomb makes the Nats’ Opening Day roster. The team could offer Rule-5 draft pick Nunez back to the Marlins and receive $50,000 back, cut second baseman Garcia who is out of options and pay him severance from his $1.95 million contract, option Senzel to Triple-A and pay him $2 million, or DFA Vargas and pay him his $1.4 million. The other more creative way to be to try to trade one of the players.

“He’s making it hard, as you know, I love the kid, and he’s done everything right. We still haven’t made that final decision, but he’s done really well. My biggest thing is that he’s got to play every day, as we all know. I’m going to sit and talk to [Rizzo] today, and the next couple days, and figure out what we’re going to do.”

— manager Dave Martinez said of Lipscomb

Lipscomb, Vargas, and Senzel have all played in the outfield as has Gallo and Meneses. There is suitable backups for the outfield. It would be easy to say just cut Lipscomb, but his defense is above average, and he currently has the eighth highest OPS at .995 of any player in all of MLB in Spring Training. Of course James Wood has the highest at 1.214 and he didn’t survive getting cut.

The rotation looks set with Gray, Corbin, Irvin, Gore, and Williams. Unfortunately, Williams has struggled in most of his chances — and now has no competition to go up against him with Zach Davies gone and Jackson Rutledge included in a previous round of cuts which begs the question, why? Well, the competition could be Cade Cavalli who is expected to be ready to pitch in June.

The best stats won’t guarantee a player an Opening Day spot. Call was a top performer flirting with a .400 batting average, and as mentioned, Wood leads all Major Leaguers with a 1.214 OPS — and both were cut. Dylan Crews, Robert Hassell III, and Brady House are all with Wood now that keeps the top-4 position prospects as minor leaguers at the current time.

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.

With today’s roster move the AAV salaries before bonuses, fringe benefits, and 40-man costs are just under $115 million. Opening Day is just four days away. All of the answers and creativity will be seen in the final roster construction.

Today is the Grapefruit League finale against the Mets and televised on SNY and available on the MLB app. Patrick Corbin is on the mound for the Nats. The team will fly back to Washington, D.C. after this game.

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