Following Monday’s split-squad games, the Nats made the following roster moves:
Optioned: RHPs Jimmy Cordero, Kyle McGowin, Tanner Rainey, Austin Voth
Reassigned to Minor-League Camp: RHP JJ Hoover, OF Hunter Jones
The moves effectively narrow the Opening Day roster down to the last two bullpen slots and the last man on the bench. While watchlister (and 40-man roster guy) Austen Williams would appear to have an advantage over the handful of veteran NRI relievers still in camp—presuming both Erick Fedde and Joe Ross are both sent down to start in the minors—the out-of-options Pedro Severino gives GM Mike Rizzo the option of simply waiving the longtime backup and using that spot for one of the NRIs, a free agent, a waiver pickup, etc.
That also applies to the bench, though as some have pointed out, carrying a third catcher (i.e. Spencer Kieboom) gives the Nats the option of using either Yan Gomes or Kurt Suzuki off the bench while also providing a backup to Matt Adams, who’s already backing up 1B Ryan Zimmerman and perhaps Wilmer Difo as the 5th OF. UT Adrian Sanchez also provides a lot of flexibility as the backup to Difo (and would seem the more logical choice).
In other words, there are more paths of least resistance for the Nats to use players with more MLB experience, but who can also be readily passed through waivers (or used as bait to pick up someone from another organization) than for any watchlist player not named Victor Robles to make the Opening Day roster.