This is the time of year when front offices keep their collective eyes glued to the waiver wire and transactions list, to see if maybe they can some other team’s castoff into their contributor. The moves can be dizzying. You may have see today the Astros cut Livan Hernandez at noon, and within two hours the Braves had signed him to become their fifth starter.
The Nationals, though, are unlikely to execute any last-minute alterations to their major league roster. General Manager Mike Rizzo said today he expects their opening day roster to come from the players already in house.
“I would say barring something out of the ordinary, you’re looking at the 25-man somewhere in this camp,” Rizzo said. “I still think those last couple spots are up for grabs. We’re going to keep an open competition for the last couple spots.”
Even with Rizzo calling the competition ongoing, the Nationals’ roster sure seems set. The Nationals reassigned infielder Andres Blanco yesterday, and Rizzo said Blanco would exercise his opt-out clause and become a free agent.
Blanco’s departure made Steve Lombardozzi the only middle infielder remaining behind Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. Since Rizzo has no intention of bringing in another player, it seems Lombardozzi has made the team. (Which is no surprise.) But Rizzo would not venture to make it official.
“We feel that Lombo brings great versatility for Davey,” Rizzo said. “It’s all about, can Davey get him enough at-bats to make his worth his while to be in the big leagues instead of playing every day in the minor leagues?”
The Nationals released outfielder Jason Michaels yesterday, which made Michaels free to seek a job with another team. Rizzo, though, held out hope Michaels could return to the Nationals and start the year at Class AAA Syracuse.
“It doesn’t mean he’s definitely going to another team,” Rizzo said. “I have a great affection for Jason. He played outstanding in spring training. He’s an excellent teammate. There was no coincidence he was lockered next to [Bryce] Harper. He just wasn’t a fit for this team at this time of the year. He could help us or somebody in the big leagues very soon.”
The Nationals effectively chose Xavier Nady, who signed a minor league deal 12 days ago, over Michaels when Manager Davey Johnson summoned Nady to major league camp. Nady will start his third straight game tonight and, suddenly, appears like a lock to make the team.
“I think he’s one of the guys we’re looking at,” Rizzo said. “It’s getting late in camp. He’s in the competition. He’s played extremely well. It’s been a very difficult, short spring training he’s had. We knew when he came in here he was in terrific shape. He was in baseball condition. He’s a big leaguer. He’s had some great seasons in the big leagues. He’s one of the candidates to be that big, right-handed bat off the bench that Davey covets so much.”
Nady may be a candidate to start opening day in Michael Morse’s place, but Mark DeRosa seems the likeliest choice. Johnson coyly said DeRosa “could possibly” start in Chicago on April 5.
One last roster note: The Cardinals have decided to keep Erik Komatsu on their roster, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals picked Komatsu, whom the Nationals acquired from the Brewers in a trade for Jerry Hairston, off the Nationals’ roster in the Rule 5 draft.