A reporter asked Dusty Baker last week when the first decisions or cuts of the Spring would be made even though it was only three games in to Grapefruit League action at that point.
Baker, in his first season back at the helm of a major league franchise since 2013, explained that the first moves would be made once it became clear that some players were not benefiting from being in big league camp.
"They begin when you see guys that you've got to get ready aren't getting enough work, Baker explained. "That's when it begins, but I like to play -- if you see, I play everybody, everybody plays on my team, I make a conscious effort every day -- I spend a lot of time on lineups, we keep track of how many innings and how many at bats guys have and I try to get -- guys that aren't necessarily front line guys have been getting at bats early so they can't say when they left this camp they didn't get an opportunity to play. And then there's certain rules that you can't cut certain guys before a certain date on the 40-Man roster, and there's other rules that if you keep them after this date and they get injured then they can be on the DL all year [and get] the major league salary. There are all kinds of rules and [Assistant GM] Bob Miller really helps keep us abreast of the rules."
Eight games in, the Nationals announced their first cuts of the Spring when they optioned infielder Wilmer Difo, left-hander Matt Grace and right-hander Taylor Jordan to Triple-A Syracuse.
In addition to those moves, the Nats announced that they reassigned right-handers Taylor Hill and Paolo Espino and catchers Brian Jeroloman and Raudy Read to minor league camp.
The Nationals made both announcements on their official official Twitter feed:
The #Nats have optioned INF Wilmer Difo, LHP Matt Grace, & RHP Taylor Jordan to Triple-A Syracuse.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 10, 2016
Additionally, the #Nats have reassigned RHPs Paolo Espino & Taylor Hill and Cs Raudy Read & Brian Jeroloman to Minor League camp.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 10, 2016
Here's what Baker said today via Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post:
Dusty said some players were surprised, because cuts came early. But said he needs to get guys work, has been trying to play everyone.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 10, 2016
Baker said he wants to see Difo do more work at second base. Also wants him not to be enamored with the power stroke. But likes his game.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 10, 2016