The Washington Nationals added two players to the 40-man roster on Tuesday night before Wednesday’s midnight deadline for players to be eligible for the Rule V Draft on December 6.
The team added two pitchers to the roster, protecting them from the thievery that is the Rule V draft. Erik Davis and Nathan Karns were the pitchers added and really are desirable for different reasons in the draft and you can see why the Nationals would want to protect them.
Davis is a low-upside guy in the high minors (he spent last year split between Double A and Triple A) and is having a really good winter ball season. That combination is ripe for the Rule V draft because he can easily step into a team’s bullpen who needs bullpen depth and spend the year on the Major League roster. Relievers are usually the players most often selected in the Rule V, and even Johan Santana – one of the more high profile draftees – started off in Minnesota as a reliever before becoming an ace starter. They, along with backup catchers, are the easiest to hide for an entire season if they are young and project to improving. The Nationals picked up Jesus Flores in the Rule V draft and did exactly that with him although the results haven’t been as consistent.
Karns is the other side of the spectrum. He was a top-20 prospect in the organization before last season, and although he wasn’t above A-Ball last year, has enough upside that a team could stash him in the bullpen for a year and send him back to the minors afterwards to let him develop and reap the benefits later on.
Now, don’t get me wrong. A lot of this is not earth shattering. Everyone either added to the 40-man roster, removed from it, or not added to it is flawed in some way. Sometimes a change of scenery is necessary for them to improve. It is not always a case of one team out smarting another. In this draft, a lot of players are returned but also a lot of players can benefit from the acceleration to the Major League level and from a new coaching staff.
The biggest news is that the Nationals still have two spots on their 40-man roster. Ironic, that because they still have to “replace” Adam LaRoche and Sean Burnett who declined their options and are currently not counting towards the Nationals roster. This allows them some wiggle room to sign somebody without immediately removing someone off the roster. It also allows them to be available to teams looking to trade someone to open up a spot on their 40-man roster which is a good way of adding depth pieces at a low cost.