What are your near-term roster changes?

The roster will have a decision to make shortly when Lane Thomas is activated off of the 10-day IL with a knee sprain. He is currently playing rehab games at Double-A Harrisburg. But there are other moves to make as someone has to leave the roster to make room for Thomas.

Don: The obvious move is Thomas up and someone off the roster. I could think of several moves.

Steve: I am making lots of moves over the next five days. I make more in three weeks from Friday when I bring up James Wood on June 14.

Here are my moves in the next few days:

  1. A move of Patrick Corbin to the bullpen for a 9-man bullpen
  2. On Monday, I bring up DJ Herz to start. DFA of Tanner Rainey. That brings the 40-man roster to 38. Corbin clearly would be the backup if Herz doesn’t get it done. If Herz is great he stays, if not, I swap him out with Jackson Rutledge for the start a week from Saturday. If Rutledge doesn’t step up, we are at Thursday June 6th and you might put Corbin back in for a spot start unless Cade Cavalli is ready. I’d rather have Cavalli for the Miami series on June 14.
  3. When Lane Thomas is ready, I’m doing a DFA of Victor Robles. I’m kind of shocked anyone would suggest at this point an option of Jacob Young back to Triple-A.
  4. My rope is short on Joey Gallo. Is there any lefty 1st baseman in the system or the Mexican League (I see you Matt Adams) or anywhere. I’m certainly looking at alternatives and Joey Meneses to 1B and Gallo to the bench, and Jesse Winker to DH.
  5. My outfield when Thomas returns is Eddie Rosario to LF. Thomas to RF. Young in CF.

Those are my near-term moves and assumes Thomas finds his mid-season form.

Don: I don’t think they happen today — but they should have within the next few weeks. My comments on each of your suggestions:

  1. Corbin to the BP is a no brainer.
  2. I could go with Herz or Rutledge in any order.
  3. I don’t send Young down. But I also don’t DFA Victor quite yet. Once/if the Giants replace the CFer they lost for the year, I think about it.
  4. Likewise, I hold onto Gallo a bit longer. Maybe a month. Hopefully he is not this year’s Nelson Cruz who never hit and was around most/all of the year. Hoping for a hot streak and a trade.
  5. My outfield when Thomas returns is Eddie Rosario to LF. Thomas to RF. Young in CF just like you have.

So I guess I need to decide how to create the roster spot for Thomas. And my candidate is Nick Senzel. I just don’t see where he adds value. Vargas is better against both lefties and righties and plays a great 3B. And don’t get me started on him as the backup at 1B if Joey Meneses is sent down. Senzel has NEVER played 1B in his MLB career.

I want to give Winker and Rosario lots of PAs because they (along with Vargas) are the position players most likely add value. So I start Victor against lefties and use him as a late inning replacement for defense.

What are your longer term moves (aside from the obvious – bring Wood up)?

Steve: Wood on June 14th. Cavalli that weekend too. I don’t know when Josiah Gray will be ready and we will see if he is ready for MLB again. He has 3 option years remaining. This is such a crucial time to see which three or four pitchers from the controllable players as to who is a 2025 player. MacKenzie Gore and Jake Irvin seem to me to be locks. Optimistic on Mitchell Parker and with Cavalli, Gray, Herz, and Rutledge, that is 5 pitchers for two spots as I would think GM Mike Rizzo will look into free agency for his ace.

At the trade deadline, I think we will see Trey Lipscomb back and maybe Alex Call. I think expect, rather hope, on August 20 that Brady House and Dylan Crews are up. Maybe Rizzo waits for rosters to expand on September 1.

Everything to me is to see a big chunk of what the 2025 roster will look like by September 1st to the end of the 2024 season.

Don: Again, Wood is obvious. In addition, I want to see House playing 3B at Nats Park sooner rather than later. Seeing if he is even OK would allow me trade Vargas without worrying about 3B.

And I hope Thomas comes back hot and can be traded for something at the deadline. He’s fine, but he simply is not a long term piece in the OF.

Steve: With the DH, you could certainly find a spot for Thomas in just rotating Crews, Wood and Thomas every game so they get a breather. I would hope that Trevor Williams, Eddie Rosario and Jesse Winker have trade value. I think on September 1 the roster will have a 6-man rotation and again, dependent on whether or not Williams is traded. Here you go:

  1. CJ Abrams SS
  2. Lane Thomas DH
  3. James Wood RF
  4. Joey Meneses 1B
  5. Luis Garcia 2B
  6. Dylan Crews LF
  7. Keibert Ruiz C
  8. Brady House 3B
  9. Jacob Young CF

6-man rotation on Sept 1:

  1. MacKenzie Gore
  2. Jake Irvin
  3. Mitchell Parker
  4. Trevor Williams (if not traded)
  5. Cade Cavalli
  6. Josiah Gray

Don: That looks like something that would work. Williams will be gone after he heads to free agency or hopefully he is a huge trade chip. What I see is a big hole there in the cleanup spot with Meneses. That looks like a spot for Rizzo to shop in free agency assuming Yohandy Morales is at least a year away.

Steve: I saw Steinbrenner say that they are cutting payroll after the season. That sounds like a sharp statement that Juan Soto won’t be kept by the Yankees unless they can get rid of Giancarlo Stanton. Who knows. But if Soto could play first base, how great would he fit with the Nats? I think the Nats have few needs for next year although we have champagne taste and might have a beer budget.

So this is wild, I did a payroll next year with Stephen Strasburg‘s retirement dollars and all of the arbitration raises, and the payroll is at $89 million. If they don’t retain Thomas or Senzel, then you are looking at $76 million. But the Nats active payroll minus Strasburg would be just $41 million. I have $9 million in for Thomas. Point is, if you really wanted Soto you can afford him if you go with the youngsters and trade Thomas. Say $40 million for Soto and $35 million for an ace. That’s adding $75 million to really have an amazing roster. You will probably spend another $12 million on extra fill-ins and maybe $10 million more for an Abrams extension ( wink). So yes, I just spent $100 million to go with $76 million. $176 million for a roster that can certainly compete. $141 million without Strasburg.

Don: I would love to see Soto back as a Nat. He will be worth every penny. He can DH. Or maybe he can learn to play 1B.

And in closing, I love how you and I are able to take Twitter DMs and turn them into articles. This started with my question about which player the TN folks are going to agree on as the fail-guy (purposeful mis-spelling) whenever something goes wrong. The tradition of Danny Espinosa must continue after Corbin, Robles and Gallo are gone.

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