With the start of 2020 MLB campaign postponed by the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, there was no announcement of the Washington Nationals’ 26-Man roster for Opening Day yesterday, but the defending World Series champs did make a number of roster moves on Thursday afternoon.
The Nationals announced on Twitter that they’d optioned two of the players to Triple-A Fresno: RHP Erick Fedde and catcher Tres Barrera; and sent four players to Double-A Harrisburg: RHPs James Bourque and Kyle Finnegan; outfielder Andrew Stevenson; and infielder Adrián Sanchez.
So, with Fedde, whose one remaining option made him the likely candidate to get sent out among the starters competing for the fifth spot in the big league rotation, and if we read at all into today’s moves, it looks like either Joe Ross or Austin Voth will start the season in the rotation behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Aníbal Sánchez, with the other going to the bullpen.
NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas noted on Twitter yesterday that some thought there was a chance Andrew Stevenson, “might be able to stick around as a left-handed bat” on the Nats’ bench, but apparently the club is apparently going a different direction with their Opening Day bench mix.
With James Bourque, a 2014 14th Round pick, and Kyle Finnegan, signed to a major league deal this winter, headed to the Nationals’ top affiliate, that leaves a number of relievers for the bullpen’s final spot(s) alongside closer Sean Doolittle, Daniel Hudson, Will Harris, Wander Suero, Roenis Elías, Tanner Rainey, and Voth, with Ryne Harper and Austen Williams, and a group of non-roster invitees: Javy Guerra, Sam Freeman, Fernando Abad, and Kevin Quackenbush, still in the mix.
Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes are back to handle the catching duties after starting 160 of 162 games in 2019. Juan Soto, Victor Robles, and Adam Eaton are back in the outfield. Michael A. Taylor is back on the bench as the likely fourth outfielder. Ryan Zimmerman, Eric Thames, and Howie Kendrick are going to share time at first, with Kendrick an option at second base with Starlin Castro, Trea Turner at shortstop, and either Carter Kieboom or Asdrúbal Cabrera at third, Wilmer Difo on the bench (unless Emilio Bonifacio is added to the Nationals’ 40-Man roster), now that Adrián Sanchez has been optioned out.
We might have to wait a long time to find out how the 26-Man roster actually breaks down when they figure out a date for the delayed Opening Day, whenever that is...