Na­tion­als set their ini­tial player pool

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jesse Dougherty

It’s all sub­ject to change, for so many rea­sons, but the Washington Na­tion­als have an ini­tial list of play­ers who could par­tic­i­pate in a 2020 sea­son short­ened by the novel coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

The dead­line to sub­mit their club player pool was 4 p.m. Sun­day. The club player pool, its of­fi­cial name in Ma­jor League Base­ball’s op­er­a­tions man­ual for 2020, is an ex­ten­sion of the ac­tive and 40-man ros­ters a team uses in a nor­mal sea­son. Be­cause there al­most cer­tainly will 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.

On Mon­day, Na­tion­als vet­eran first base­man Ryan Zim­mer­man and start­ing pitcher Joe Ross were among the first ma­jor lea­guers to opt out of the 2020 sea­son be­cause of con­cerns about the coro­n­avirus. Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs pitcher Mike Leake was the first player to an­nounce he was sit­ting out the sea­son.

“Af­ter a great deal of thought and given my fam­ily cir­cum­stances — three young chil­dren, in­clud­ing a new­born, and a mother at high risk — I have de­cided not to par­tic­i­pate in the 2020 sea­son,” Zim­mer­man, 35, said in a state­ment Mon­day. “… I can­not speak for any­one else, but given the un­usual na­ture of the sea­son, this is the best decision for my fam­ily, and I truly ap­pre­ci­ate the [Na­tion­als’] un­der­stand­ing and sup­port.”

Here is the Na­tion­als’ ini­tial player pool, bro­ken down by po­si­tion and in al­pha­bet­i­cal order:

Pitch­ers (35): 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, Jack­son Rut­ledge, Aníbal Sánchez, Max Scherzer, Stephen Stras­burg, Wan­der Suero, Austin Voth, Nick Wells, Austen Williams

Catch­ers (6): Tres Bar­rera, Wel­ing­ton Castillo, Yan Gomes, Raudy Read, Jak­son Reetz, Kurt Suzuki

In­field­ers (10): As­drúbal Cabr­era, Star­lin Cas­tro, Wilmer Difo, Luis Gar­cía, Howie Ken­drick, Carter Kieboom, Jake Noll, Bran­don Sny­der, Eric Thames, Trea Turner

Out­field­ers (7): 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, as Zim­mer­man and oth­ers did Mon­day. They can do so for per­sonal med­i­cal rea­sons or to avoid putting their fam­i­lies at risk. MLB did not plan to play its sea­son in 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 a hand­ful of Na­tion­als play­ers — as Zim­mer­man re­cently ar­tic­u­lated in his run­ning diary 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 in­jured list and so on. Base­ball’s op­er­a­tions man­ual has spe­cific guide­lines for a player go­ing to what’s be­ing called the “covid-19re­lated in­jury list.” There’s a chance the virus tanks the sea­son be­fore it be­gins or makes it im­pos­si­ble to fin­ish. It could, by a not so sim­i­lar to­ken, also change a club’s ros­ter on any given day.

While the Na­tion­als have yet to pub­licly ex­plain the thought process be­hind their ini­tial player pool, there are dis­tinc­tions within the group. Gar­cía 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, pitch­ers se­lected in the early rounds of re­cent drafts.

Wil Crowe, Joan Adon, Jake Irvin, Nick Wells and Steven Fuentes are 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 in­vi­ta­tions to spring train­ing in Fe­bru­ary, and they bring vary­ing lev­els of ma­jor league ex­pe­ri­ence to an odd sit­u­a­tion. This list in­cludes pitch­ers Fer­nando Abad, Paolo Espino, Sam Free­man and Kevin Quack­en­bush, catcher Wel­ing­ton Castillo, in­fielder Bran­don Sny­der and util­ity man Emilio Bonifá­cio.

A hand­ful of 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 sea­son and the 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 team’s al­ter­nate train­ing site, which prob­a­bly will be in Fredericks­burg, Va. The play­ers will make $400 per week through the first week of Septem­ber, when the mi­nor league sea­son would have ended. They will stay ready and wait for a call.

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