After adding just one player to the 40-man at the Rule 5 deadline in 2018 and 2019, the Nats went hog-wild in 2020 and added two – RHP Joan Adon and IF Yasel Antuna.
In all seriousness, the Bizzaro World 2020 season reduced this number significantly, with nine players added to the 40-man from July to September, including LHP Seth Romero, IF Luis Garcia, and RHP Wil Crowe. A tenth—RHP Steven Fuentes—was added just ahead of the minor-league free agent deadline.
The biggest surprise might be that Israel Pineda was left exposed, and I’m sure someone will cite or make a comparison to Adrian Nieto and claim that Pineda’s presence in the 60-man pool is functionally equivalent to playing at High-A, but the counterarguments are pretty strong:
- Pineda is much younger (20 vs. 24)
- His production in his last season was his worst of his career
- He has not been scouted since that year (2019)
- Any team taking him must keep him on the 26-man roster all season long
Yeah, I know the last bullet is facetious, but it doesn’t make it any less true. The penultimate bullet is, for me, the real reason why the Nats are willing to gamble. Remember, the Nats were one of ten teams that opted out of sharing video at the Alternative Training Sites.
I’m not as worried about the likes of Raudy “El Tamiz” Read or Sterling Sharp being selected because both players have already been outrighted once. If they’re DFA’d, they can become a free agent (i.e. the selecting team can’t make a deal).
Mr. Boss has the definitive list of eligible players (and he should because he maintains The Big Board and the Draft Tracker, natch), but some of the most likely guys to get taken next month (and returned next year):
- C Israel Pineda
- C Jakson Reetz
- RHP Jacob Condra-Bogan
- RHP Jhonathan German
Naturally, there are others but catchers and hard-throwing relievers the easiest to stash on the 26-man roster of an also-ran.
Now we can proceed to some semblance of normality and proceed with the next step in the longest offseason ever: the 2021 Watchlist.
This will be an interesting exercise because I’m sure to irritate many people with whatever decisions I make, even if I’m caught between the Scylla and Charybdis with only a handful of draft picks and the International Signing Period pushed from this past July to this coming January.