Back on November 3rd, the Washington Nationals added 26-year-old reliever Wander Suero to the 40-Man roster, leaving them with 35 players on the roster at that point.
This afternoon, the Nats announced they added two more players, 23-year-old third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez and 24-year-old right-hander Jefry Rodriguez to the 40-Man roster, protecting both from selection in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
Gutierrez put up a .288/.347/.414 line with 10 doubles, six triples and two homers for the High-A Potomac Nationals this season, then went to the Arizona Fall League.
In 13 games in the AFL, the corner infielder went 14 for 40 (.350/.438/.475), with a triple and a home run.
As the Nationals noted in their press release on today’s moves, Gutierrez is entering his sixth season in the organization, and he was “cited by Baseball America as having the ‘Best Infield Arm’ in Washington’s system in 2018, the second year in a row in which the publication has made that distinction,” after he was named the, “‘Best Defensive Third Baseman’ in the South Atlantic League,” following the 2016 campaign.
Rodriguez, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic on January 17, 2012, put up a 3.32 ERA, a 3.22 FIP, 19 walks (3.00 BB/9) and 51 Ks (8.05 K/9) in 12 games, 10 starts, and 57 IP at High-A Potomac in 2017, but was suspended for 80 games when he tested positive, “... for a metabolite of Clomiphene, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” as MASN’s Byron Kerr noted in early May.
He returned to action in August and, as the Nationals noted in the press release today, Rodriguez “... finished the 2017 season on a strong note, posting a 2.81 ERA (5 ER/16.0 IP) with a .196 opponent batting average (10-for-51) in his final five games/three starts.”
As noted, placing the two players on the 40-Man Roster protects them from selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
According to the MLB Rule Book:
“Players who were signed when they were 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for four years are eligible, as are players who were signed at 18 and have played for five years.
All players on a Major League Baseball team's 40-man roster, regardless of other eligibility factors, are ‘protected’ and ineligible for the Rule 5 Draft.”
The Nationals’ 40-Man roster now stands at 37 players after today’s moves.