With six games to go in Spring Training, it’s rather obvious that the Washington Nationals have some roster decisions to make, many of which will come down to what’s often called “the numbers game.” In this particular case, it’s options — whether and/or how many a player has left.
The No. 5 starter has been considered a battle between Tom Gorzelanny, Yunesky Maya, Ross Detwiler, and sometimes Chad Gaudin. Maya has two option years left, Detwiler has one, Gorzelanny has none. Gaudin was signed to a minor-league contract, however, he would have to clear waivers to be assigned to Syracuse, giving him a leg up.
This brings us to the battle for the long/middle relief spots. Gaudin is also a candidate there, competing against Craig Stammen and Brian Broderick. Stammen has two options left, while as a Rule 5 pick, Broderick has to be kept or offered back to St. Louis. On its face, it seems obvious: send down Stammen and keep Gaudin and Broderick, but much depends on how Rizzo, et al views these pitchers long term. Ironically, Broderick’s value as a starter could result in him going back to the minors via trade or being returned.
While the announcement yesterday that Henry Rodriguez was being shut down to work on his control problems took some of the drama out of the race for the rest of the bullpen, the no-options-left status of Todd Coffey, Sean Burnett, and Tyler Clippard has them in the driver’s seat, leaving the battle between Drew Storen, Doug Slaten, and Collin Balester for the remaining two spots. Storen has two options left while Slaten and Balester have one.
The conventional wisdom is that Balester is the most likely to lose this race, despite outpitching Storen thus far this spring.
It’s become obvious that the Nats do plan to send down Jesus Flores to AAA to catch every day, an unfortunate turn because had Flores hit the way he had been in Winter Leagues, it could have opened up trade possibilities. Flores does have two options left.
Alberto Gonzalez has been the subject of trade rumors, but if that does not come to fruition, his lack of options gives him a slight edge over his competition of Alex Cora and Jerry Hairston Jr.
It also appears that Matt Stairs will be kept for his power potential off the bench and the ability to spell Adam LaRoche at first base from time to time, which brings us to the outfield. Michael Morse has separated himself from the pack of OFs with a spate of HRs and has put a lock on LF. With Jayson Werth the free-agent RF, the battle for CF is all that’s left.
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in center, as it appears DC don’t need no stinkin’ OBP with the likes of Nyjer Morgan (.319 in ’10), Rick Ankiel (.324) and Roger Bernadina (.307) as the contenders. Ankiel has no options left while Morgan and Bernadina each have one. Two of these three are likely to stick, with the loser getting optioned or cut, as one would think that Hairston’s versatility may buy him a spot on the bench to offset Stairs limitations and add some right-handedness to the bench.
Should any transactions occur today, I’ll put ’em here in this space along any appropriate comments.
Well, I thought a move or two like this might happen yesterday but it turned out to be today…
…Craig Stammen and Jesus Flores were both optioned to AAA Syracuse this afternoon. The former appears to paving the way for Brian Broderick to make the team as the long reliever while Flores will get the chance to play everyday and regain more arm strength as he attempts to recover his 2009 pre-injury form.