Washington’s Nationals announced last week catcher Tres Barrera and reliever Francisco Pérez cleared outright waivers and were assigned outright to Triple-A Rochester, the club’s top minor league affiliate.
“Additionally,” the team added, “all 60-day Injured List players have been reinstated to the 40-man roster, which now stands at 39.”
The Nats’ 40-man roster was reduced to 38 with the announcement on Monday afternoon the team requested unconditional release waivers on Seth Romero, the 2017 1st Round pick whose college and pro careers have been marred by off-field issues including two DWI arrests this year (as Washington Post beat writer Jesse Dougherty reported this week).
Now the Nationals needed to decide which of their Rule 5-eligible players to protect from selection in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, which takes place in San Diego, CA at the 2022-23 MLB Winter Meetings, which begin on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys that we’re going to have to protect from the Rule 5 Draft,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this past September, “so there are going to be guys added to the roster.”
As noted on MLB.com, “Players signed at age 18 or younger need to be added to their club’s 40-Man roster within five seasons or they become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
“Players who signed at age 19 or older need to be protected within four seasons.”
“Not every club will make a selection, but those that do pick a player must pay $100,000 to the club from which said player was selected. Rule 5 Draft picks are assigned directly to the drafting club’s 26-man roster and must be placed on outright waivers in order to be removed from the 26-man roster in the subsequent season. Should the player clear waivers, he must be offered back to his previous team for $50,000 and can be outrighted to the Minors only if his original club does not wish to reacquire him. A Rule 5 Draft pick can be placed on the Major League injured list, but he must be active for a minimum of 90 days to avoid being subject to the aforementioned roster restrictions in the next campaign.”
MASN’s Mark Zuckerman noted in a post on Tuesday morning the rebooting ballclub had a long list of players to make decisions on this time around:
Who’s Rule 5-eligible this winter? There’s a fairly long list of names: catcher Drew Millas, first baseman Drew Mendoza, third baseman Jake Alu, shortstops Jackson Cluff and Jordy Barley, outfielder Jeremy De La Rosa, right-handers Jake Irvin, Jackson Rutledge, and Mason Denaburg and left-handers Matt Cronin, Tim Cate, and Jose Ferrer.
The club made their decisions public last night, announcing they added six players to the 40-man roster, with a number of moves to make room for the roster additions:
“The Washington Nationals selected the contracts of infielder Jake Alu, left-handed pitcher Matt Cronin, outfielder Jeremy De La Rosa, left-handed pitcher Jose Ferrer, right-handed pitcher Jake Irvin and right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge on Tuesday.
“Additionally, the Nationals designated right-handed pitcher Tommy Romero for assignment while outfielder Yadiel Hernandez, left-handed pitcher Evan Lee and right-handed pitcher Jackson Tetreault cleared outright waivers and were assigned to Triple-A Rochester.”
Quick hits from the Nats’ press release on the roster additions:
• “Alu, 25, led Washington’s Minor League system in average (.299), slugging percentage (.506), OPS (.871), doubles (40), extra-base hits (62) and total bases (254) and tied for first in RBI (81) in 2022.”
• “Cronin, 25, went 4-1 with a 2.42 ERA in 48 games between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Rochester in 2022. He struck out 56 batters, surrendered just three home runs and held opposing batters to a .191 average in 52.0 innings.”
• “De La Rosa, 20, was Washington’s Co-Hitter of the Year in 2022 after batting .280 with a .358 on-base percentage and a .436 slugging percentage with 23 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 67 RBI, 48 walks, 66 runs scored and 39 stolen bases in 101 games between Single-A Fredericksburg and High-A Wilmington.”
• “Ferrer, 22, enjoyed a breakout season in 2022, going 3-2 with a 2.48 ERA in 48 relief appearances between Single-A Fredericksburg, High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg.”
• “Irvin, 25, went 0-4 with a 3.83 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 24 starts between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Harrisburg. His 24 starts were tied for the most of any Nationals Minor Leaguer, while his 107 strikeouts ranked sixth in the system.”
Jake Irvin (@HbgSenators) completed 5 solid innings on Sunday, allowing 2 runs while striking out 6 batters and walking just 1.— Nationals Player Development (@Nats_PlayerDev) August 29, 2022
His fastball sat in the mid-90s, touching 97, and was responsible for 4 of his punchouts. @Jirvy18 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/H3x1YQURcC
• “Rutledge, 23, went 8-6 with a 4.90 ERA in 20 starts for Single-A Fredericksburg in 2022. His eight wins were tied for the most in Washington’s Minor League system. He struck out 99 batters in 97.1 innings pitched.”
In addition to the 40-man additions, the Nationals announced last night they’d agreed to terms with infielder Ildemaro Vargas, avoiding arbitration with the 31-year-old who played 53 games for the club in 2022, posting a .280/.308/.398 line with 13 doubles, three home runs, five walks, and 21 Ks in 196 plate appearances after he signed with the club last May.
Surprised by any of the 40-man additions? Surprised Yadiel Hernández is off the 40-man?
Expect anyone to take a flier on any of the Nats’ eligible players in this year’s Rule 5 Draft?