Though both veteran right-handers impressed as they battled for roster spots this Spring, Joe Nathan and Matt Albers were granted their unconditional releases this morning.
Nathan, 42, was attempting to return to action after having undergone Tommy John surgery twice since 2010, with the second procedure in 2015.
In 12 appearances and 11 2⁄3 innings pitched this Spring, the veteran closer gave up 15 hits and five earned runs, striking out three and walking nine, with opposing hitters putting up a .326 AVG against him.
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters, including MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, on Sunday that the veteran reliever impressed and proved that he can still compete at the major league level:
“Yes, definitely, 91-92 (mph) is plenty,” Baker said. “The slider. Then he’s shown he had a changeup, but he never threw it before. Now he’s throwing some pretty good changeups, too. I mean, Joe has enough to pitch in the big leagues, depending on where you use him.”
Albers, 34, threw 11 2⁄3 scoreless this Spring, working around 10 hits and three walks while striking out six and holding hitters to a .233 AVG.
The veteran of 11 seasons in the majors struggled last season in Chicago, posting a 6.31 ERA, 5.80 FIP, 19 walks (3.33 BB/9) and 30 Ks (5.26 K/9) in 58 games and 51 1⁄3 innings for the White Sox, after posting a 1.21 ERA, 3.48 FIP, 2.17 BB/9 and 6.75 K/9 in 37 1⁄3 innings for the Sox in 2015.
The Nationals’ bullpen mix is crowded, however, and Washington’s brass apparently determined that neither were going to break camp with the big league club.
Both now have an opportunity to catch on somewhere else before Opening Day.
Nathan had an opt-out clause in the one-year deal he signed with the Nationals this winter, allowing him to make a decision to move on if he wasn’t going to make the bullpen.
Joe Nathan has been told he didn't make the team. Said it was purely about numbers, not performance. Hopes to sign with another team soon.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) March 27, 2017
Joe Nathan will opt out of his deal with Nats today, he said. Said numbers didn't work out here. Was grateful for chance Nats gave him.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) March 27, 2017