The wait is over and the product will improve on July 1 with the call-up of James Wood

One way to improve the product is by replacing the weakest parts with better parts, and you usually do that incrementally. News broke today that the Nats’ top prospect, and a Top-5 consensus prospect in all of baseball, James Wood, will be called up for the Nationals on Monday. Expect Wood to play tonight and tomorrow in Rochester Triple-A as his final tune-up, and then meet-up with the team for his Monday debut against the NY Mets.

A source tells TalkNats that the Nationals have not made any decisions on who would come off of the roster because so much can happen with health or a player having a great weekend that any decision like that will not be made until after Sunday’s game. The Nats would need to clear a 40-man spot on the roster for Wood also which usually at this time of year would be a DFA, but you never know if general manager Mike Rizzo could pull off a July 1 trade. You would think that Eddie Rosario would be on the hot seat, and the most likely route if a DFA is made as he is batting a poor .181 with a .556 OPS.

Most people had June 14 pegged as the date that Wood was most likely to be called up, and then Wood’s hamstring tightened up on him on May 23. He spent a few days letting it rest before they placed him on the IL where he sat for nearly three weeks. Wood was taken off of the IL on June 18. Not only is Wood hitting .346 with a 1.036 OPS, he was the top offensive player in all of baseball in Spring Training ahead of Mookie Betts.

In Spring Training, Rizzo said that top prospects had a chance to make the Nats’ Opening Day roster if they “knocked the door down.” Figuratively speaking, Wood didn’t knock down the door, he blew it up — and still did not make the team. After seeing so many prospects struggle early in the season, and especially the No. 1 prospect, Jackson Holliday, who had to be optioned back to his Triple-A, maybe Rizzo was the smart one.

You can expect Wood to play left field for the Nats, but maybe they move him to right field, and shift Lane Thomas to left field with the hopes that he can improve his defense. Jesse Winker would shift to the primary DH and possibly get time at first base where he played 13-games last year in the minor leagues, and expect Harold Ramirez to be the righty off the bench and to play against LHPs. Ramirez has played the corner outfield and first base himself. His best defensive position per FanGraphs is right field. By the looks of it, the Mets will be starting a few left-handers in the 4-game series that begins on July 1.

The team will hopefully get quite a boost from a Wood call-up as Rosario is now a -1.2 WAR player in less than 80-games played. Of course that assumes Rosario is the one that leaves the roster. Again, the Nats need incremental improvement as they make roster moves. Rizzo said he will be calling up top prospects, and you can expect after Wood that the next one could be Cade Cavalli, and then possibly Dylan Crews. This will be an exciting summer, and July will begin with Wood in D.C.

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