The Washington Nationals made their first round of cuts Sunday morning, reassigning several prospects back to minor league camp.
It is somewhat surprising that Skole was named in the first round of cuts given how successful he has been with the bat. In nine games this spring, Skole was 5-14 with three doubles, five RBIs, one home run and two runs scored. Despite his success, today’s move made sense for Matt Williams and the Nationals. Skole needs regular at bats, and the closer the Nationals get to Opening Day, the harder it’ll be to give him the playing time he needs.
“I know Matty from the [Arizona] Fall League,” Williams told MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. “He has the ability to play both corners of the infield. He certainly has power. With what happened to him last year, he needed consistent at-bats. That’s why we made the move today — get him multiple at-bats in a game and let him get his timing back. He is going to play third and first. He will be on his way.”
The other players were reassigned for the same reason.
When the Nationals invited Howell to major league camp, many expected him to be in the competition for the backup catcher role. But when the team acquired Jose Lobaton from the Rays last month, the position was taken — eliminating Howell from the Opening Day roster conversation and thus drastically reducing the amount of at bats he would get this spring.
Alfaro and Robertson also struggled to find playing time this spring. The Nationals already have several relievers competing for just two bullpen spots, and Alfaro and Robertson are not on that list, which no doubt places them pretty low on Williams’ priority list. It should also be noted that as the team gets closer to Opening Day, Nationals’ starters are going to be playing deeper into games, making it even harder for relievers to find playing time.
Today’s moves were the first of several cuts the Nationals will have to make over the next few weeks. March 31 is less than three weeks away and the closer the Nationals get to that date, the decisions Williams has to make will only get tougher. While cuts aren’t necessarily the best news for some players, they are great news for Nationals fans. Because when the roster is getting smaller and the days are getting longer, it means Opening Day is right around the corner.