The Washington Nationals have a list of 60 players who could participate in a season shortened by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The deadline to submit their club player pool was 4 p.m. Eastern time Sunday. The club player pool, its official name in the league’s Operations Manual for 2020, is an extension of the typical active and 40-man rosters a team uses in a normal season. Because there will almost certainly be no minor league games this summer, MLB asked teams to choose who could be added to the 40-man roster throughout a tentative 60-game schedule.
The Nationals’ current 40-man roster is at 38 players, since the club announced Sunday that infielder Adrián Sanchez has been placed on the 60-day injured list with a torn right Achilles. That means they chose 22 non-40-man-roster players for the pool, a list highlighted by infielder Luis Garcia and right-handed pitcher Jackson Rutledge, a pair of top prospects. Washington probably will fill the final two 40-man-roster spots before the regular season, which is set to begin either July 23 or 24.
Here is the Nationals’ entire 60-player pool, broken down by position and in alphabetical order.
Pitchers: Fernando Abad, Joan Adon, Dakota Bacus, Aaron Barrett, James Bourque, Ben Braymer, Tim Cate, Patrick Corbin, Matt Cronin, Wil Crowe, Sean Doolittle, Roenis Elías, Tyler Eppler, Paolo Espino, Erick Fedde, Kyle Finnegan, Sam Freeman, Steven Fuentes, Javy Guerra, Ryne Harper, Will Harris, Daniel Hudson, Jake Irvin, Kyle McGowin, Kevin Quackenbush, Tanner Rainey, Seth Romero, Joe Ross, Jackson Rutledge, Aníbal Sánchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Wander Suero, Austin Voth, Nick Wells, Austen Williams
Catchers: Tres Barrera, Wellington Castillo, Yan Gomes, Raudy Read, Jacksno Reetz, Kurt Suzuki
Infielders: Asdrúbal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Wilmer Difo, Howie Kendrick, Carter Kieboom, Jake Noll, Brandon Snyder, Eric Thames, Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman
Outfielders: Emilio Bonifácio, Adam Eaton, Yadiel Hernandez, Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Andrew Stevenson, Michael A. Taylor
One way this pool could change is if any players decide to opt out. They can do so for personal medical reasons or to avoid putting their families at risk. Baseball did not plan to play its season inside a bubble, like the NBA, and is trusting that players and their families will exercise caution away from team facilities and police one another’s behavior. It has made many apprehensive — including several Nationals players — as veteran Ryan Zimmerman recently articulated for The Associated Press.
The other way it could change is through the usual transactions: trades, cuts, an injury requiring a trip to the long-term disabled list, and so on. Baseball’s Operations Manual has specific guidelines for a player going to what’s being called the “COVID-19 Related Injured List.” There’s a chance the virus tanks the season before it begins, or makes it impossible to finish. It could also change a club’s roster on any given day.
While the Nationals have yet to publicly explain the thought process behind their 60-player pool, there are distinctions within the group. Garcia and Rutledge headline a young group Washington can keep developing at its alternative training site, and otherwise promote in unforeseen circumstances. Joining them are Tim Cate, Matt Cronin and Seth Romero, three pitchers chosen in the early rounds of recent drafts. Joan Adon, Jake Irvin, Nick Wells and Steven Fuentes are some other young arms in the system who are not on the 40-man roster but could land on it in the future.
On the other end of the spectrum are the veterans used to fill out the pool. All of them received nonroster invites to spring training back in February, and bring varying levels of major league experience to an odd situation. This includes pitchers Fernando Abad, Paolo Espino, Sam Freeman and Kevin Quackenbush, catcher Welington Castillo, infielder Brandon Snyder and utility man Emilio Bonifacio.
Several non-40-man-roster players will be invited to training camp. In theory, they would have the best chance to join the 40-man roster or make a push to be one of 30 players activated for Opening Day. Active rosters will start at 30 before decreasing to 28 on the 15th day of the regular season, then 26 on the 29th day. Clubs will then carry 26 players for the rest of the year and playoffs, should they happen.
While traveling, clubs will be able to carry a “taxi squad” of up to three players, one of which would have to be a catcher. Other than that, the nonactive player pool will be at the alternate training site, which, for the Nationals, will likely be in Fredericksburg, Va. The players will make $400 a week through the first week of September, when the minor league season would have ended. They will stay ready and wait for a call.