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Washington Nationals news & notes: Nats add four to 40-Man roster, protecting them from Rule 5 Draft...

Notes and quotes from what passes for a news-filled day in the non-Winter Meetings offseason...

On Tuesday, Washington’s Nationals added four pitchers to their 40-Man roster, protecting them from selection in the 2023 Rule 5 Draft (December 6th).

Right-handed pitchers Zach Brzykcy and Cole Henry, and lefties DJ Herz and Mitchell Parker were added ahead of the 6:00 PM ET deadline to do so or leave eligible players available for selection.

As noted on, “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.”

To make room on the 40-Man roster, the club made a series of moves as well, partings ways with three players who spent time in the majors last season:

• Designated right-handed pitcher Cory Abbott and first baseman Dominic Smith for assignment.

• Requested Unconditional Release Waivers for right-handed pitcher Andrés Machado to pursue an opportunity in Japan.

Abbott, 28, made 22 appearances out of the bullpen for the Nationals, putting up a 6.64 ERA, a 5.95 FIP, 19 walks, 40 Ks, and a .306/.388/.516 line against in 39 13 IP in a second season with the club after Washington claimed him off waivers from San Francisco in ‘22.

Smith, 28, signed a 1-year/$2M deal with the Nats last winter, and put up a .254/.326/.366 line, 21 doubles, and 12 home runs on the year, in 153 games and 586 plate appearances, over which he was worth 0.1 fWAR, finding some power late (6 HRs in September), after he struggled to find his swing to that point. He was projected to earn $4.3M in arbitration for 2024.

Machado, 30, finished up with a 5.22 ERA, 5.90 FIP, 13 walks, 43 Ks, and a .282/.328/.521 line against in 44 games and 50 IP this season.

As for the players added to the 40-Man?

“Brzykcy (BRICK-see), 24, took part in his first Major League Spring Training in 2023 after a breakout campaign the previous year in which he went 8–2 with 14 saves and a 1.76 ERA in 51 games across three levels of Washington’s system,” the Nats noted in a press release on the roster moves. He missed the 2023 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring.

“Henry, 24, has pitched to a 3.29 ERA, a .189 opponents’ batting average, 1.02 walks/hits per inning pitched and 11.30 strikeouts per 9.0 innings in 34 games across three professional seasons. ...

[ed. note - “Henry underwent Thoracic Outlet surgery in 2022.”]

“Herz, 22, went 3–3 with a 3.43 ERA in 22 starts between Double-A Tennessee and Double-A Harrisburg in 2023. He ranked third in all of Double-A and 13th in all of Minor League Baseball (min. 90.0 IP) with a .196 opponents’ batting average. ...

“Parker, 24, led Washington’s Minor League system with 150 strikeouts, tied for the lead with nine wins, and ranked third in the organization with a .244 opponents’ batting average in 2023.”

You can read the full write-ups the team provided for each pitcher HERE.

Brzykcy signed with the club, “... as a non-drafted free agent out of Virginia Tech following the 2020 First-Year Player Draft.” Henry was a 2nd Round pick in 2020 out of LSU. Herz is a 2019 8th Round pick by Chicago’s Cubs who came to Washington’s organization as part of the return for Jeimer Candelario at this past season’s trade deadline. Parker was a 2020 5th Round pick by the Nationals out of San Jacinto College in Texas.

In addition to those moves, the Nationals announced last night they’d agreed to one-year deals, avoiding arbitration, with both outfielder Victor Robles and reliever Tanner Rainey.

No details on the deals were available after the announcement.

The club recently declined the $3.3M 2024 club option included in the 1 year/$2.325M deal which the 26-year-old Robles signed for 2023 last winter. He was projected to get $2.7M by MLB Trade Rumors ( in arbitration this time around.

Rainey, 30, spent the majority of the 2023 campaign rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, after he and the club avoided arbitration and agreed on a 1-year/$1.5M contract last winter, but returned to the mound late and figures to be healthy going into Spring Training 2024.

[ed. note - “If you’re wondering which players eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft were left unprotected, MASN’s Mark Zuckerman put together a fairly exhaustive list of the club’s prospects before yesterday’s deadline.”]