Washington Nationals: Roster Moves, Catcher Chatter - Jesus Flores vs Wilson Ramos vs Pudge.

The Washington Nationals announced several roster moves this afternoon in an official team press release which reported that they'd optioned RHP's, "Adam Carr and Garrett Mock to Syracuse of the Triple-A International League and re-assigned right-handed pitchers Luis Atilano, J.D. Martin and Josh Wilkie, catchers Carlos Maldonado and Jhonatan Solano, infielders Michael Aubrey and Kevin Barker, and outfielders Jeff Frazier and Jonathan Van Every to minor-league camp."

"Additionally," the press release continued, "the Nationals released right-handed pitcher Cla Meredith." Meredith, who had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in the offseason, ended his first bullpen session of the spring abruptly when he felt "discomfort" in his elbow, and an MRI and then an MRI arthrogram later, it was reported that the 27-year-old right-hander the Nats signed to a minor league deal this winter would have to undergo Tommy John surgery. 

The names of the three players who were optioned Triple-A Syracuse shouldn't surprise. Just last week in an article entitled, "Chiefs ready to open camp", by Tom Leo, of the The Post-Standard, which was published  at syracuse.com, Randy Knorr, the Skipper of the Nats' Triple-A affiliate was quoted stating that, "Pitchers like Garrett Mock, J.D. Martin and Luis Atilano all had surgeries back in September and October. If they’re OK, then that gives us some pretty good arms.'" 

Today's moves trimmed the Nats' roster down to 46 players. In a Washington Post article this afternoon entitled, "Nationals cuts include Cla Meredith, Garrett Mock, Josh Wilkie", the Post's Adam Kilgore noted the presence of eight non-roster invitees who'd survived the second round of cuts this Spring:

"Eight players not on the 40-man roster were spared from at least this round of cuts: Chad Gaudin, Alex Cora, Matt Stairs, Tim Wood, Ryan Mattheus, Derek Norris, Laynce Nix and Brian Bixler."

Pure Speculation But Not Exactly Out On A Limb: Of the eight, Gaudin, Cora and Stairs and Nix are probably the only players considered legitimate threats to make the opening day roster.

• Catcher/Trade Chatter: MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote yesterday in an article entitled, "Astros said to be cooling on Nationals' Flores", that though the desperate-for-catching-'Stros were concerned about the Nats' catcher's right shoulder, they were expressing interest in Laynce Nix, who Nationals' skipper Jim Riggleman said had, "an uphill battle to make the team." Also, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday on Twitter (@Ken_Rosenthal) that the Kansas City Royals were, "looking for young catcher," while noting that the, "#Nationals, #Rangers deep at position. Past interest in Rangers' Teagarden."

The MLBTraderumors.com writeup on the rumors mentions that the Nats would, as always, want young pitching in return should they consider any deal. Maybe the Royals will make Aaron Crow available? Would the Royals consider Pudge?

In all the Zack Greinke trade talk this winter, Nats' catching prospect Derek Norris' name was bandied about as one of those reportedly included on a list of about ten prospects from which the Royals were reportedly going to select three or four if the former Cy-Young-award-winning right-hander hadn't nixed the possibility of trade to the nation's capital's Nats. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore at one point quoted an anonymous source who said the Nats would consider including Wilson Ramos in a deal, though Mr. Kilgore wrote today that the former Twins' prospect is pulling ahead in the competition with Jesus Flores for a spot as Pudge's apprentice. MLB.com's Bill Ladson has mentioned the possibility of either Pudge Rodriguez or possibly Flores getting traded several times this Winter.  

In the January 10th edition of MLB.com's Bill Ladson's, "Inbox: How's Opening Day lineup shaping up?", Mr. Ladson responded to a question about the Nats' backstop battle by saying that he, "...would not be surprised if [Pudge] Rodriguez was traded before Opening Day in order to make room for Ramos and Jesus Flores."

"Ramos and Flores belong in the big leagues in 2011, with Ramos as the starter," Mr. Ladson reasoned. In another edition of MLB.com's Mr. Ladson's "Inbox: Will offseason moves help Nats in '11?", a few weeks later, the MLB.com Nats writer said that he'd been told that, " Flores' right shoulder is 100 percent", so the catcher would be ready for Spring Training and battling for a spot, "but it would not come as a surprise," Mr. Ladson continued, "...if the Nationals use Flores as a trade chip during Spring Training."

Through seven games Ramos is 6 for 16, .375/.412/.438 with a double, walk and RBI. Flores, who'll be the DH in tonight's game against the Astros, is 0 for 9 with two K's. Pudge Rodriguez is 4 for 16 with a double and two RBI's. Derek Norris? 2 for 11 with a HR, two walks and a K. Why the Nats would consider trading any of their catchers other than Pudge Rodriguez I'm not sure, but even then only after Jesus Flores has proven his shoulder can take the grind of a return to everyday play. If Flores is healthy and hitting and Ramos continues to progress it would make sense to deal Pudge late this year if there are any suitors. Unless they plan to bring the veteran catcher back for a third season in D.C.? Would a backup role suit Flores? If so, Flores and Ramos til Norris is ready sounds like it makes sense. 

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