Most Washington Nationals fans didn’t know that Carlos Rivero existed and some may still be ignoring him. After all, Rivero was a waiver claim from Philadelphia and he is now out of options, which means there is a strong possibility another team will return the favor. However, there is more to Rivero’s story.
He is a utility player, seeing most of his time at outfield so far this Spring, but came up as a shortstop and is listed as an infielder. Rivero’s position flexibility makes him a pretty good option for a bench. Add in the fact that he had his best season of his career in AAA last year (.303/.347/.435) and is only 25 years old means that he has some value. He was once a top-10 prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization when he was 18 years old.
Rivero has been struggling this Spring, hitting only .158/.190/.263 but has six RBI and has come through with big hits in key spots including an RBI double against the New York Mets and a bases clearing hit against the St. Louis Cardinals.
I don’t think that Rivero is necessarily trying to make the Nationals in this camp but the chance of that exists. I think he is playing for a spot on one of the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball knowing he will hit waivers should he not make a World Series contender in Washington. Spring Training is full of guys like Rivero who are trying to break into the Major Leagues. Rivero’s path has been winding and long, but if he can keep up the contact-oriented approach he had in Syracuse last year, he may very well reach the top of the road but it may not be as a member of the Nationals who already have that sort of super sub in Steve Lombardozzi.
I have watched Rivero closely as he, aside maybe Henry Rodriguez, is the player who is out of options with the Nationals least likely to make the club. It will be interesting to see how his path changes. He is scheduled to be starting today’s game against his former organization in the Philadelphia Phillies. We will see if he can help his cause.