The best 25 go North. Those words have resonated repeatedly from the organization’s upper management all Spring. With Opening Day set for Thursday afternoon in Chicago, it was one busy afternoon for the Washington Nationals as they made a flurry of roster moves and set their 25-man roster. Most of these details are courtesy of Dave Nichols of District Sports Page.
Six players were placed on the disabled list. Outfielders Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel both hit the 15-day DL, though Morse was expected. Right-handers Chien-Ming Wang and Drew Storen joined them. Right-hander Cole Kimball and first baseman Chris Marrero were placed on the 60-day DL, as expected. Both could return by July if all goes as planned with their rehab.
First baseman Chad Tracy and outfielders Xavier Nady and Brett Carroll had their contracts purchased. All three were signed to minor league deals. Tracy may be the first one out once either Morse or Ankiel returns.
Right-handers Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus both made the bullpen. Stammen will serve as the second long reliever alongside Tom Gorzelanny. Mattheus took advantage of the opportunity created by Storen’s injury. He was in competition with Chad Durbin for the last spot in the bullpen. Durbin opted out of his minor league contract with the team earlier this morning and subsequently signed with the Braves by early afternoon.
The team also optioned left-hander John Lannan to Triple-A, a surprising move in itself. Lannan had been expected to be the team’s 5th starter since Wang first hurt himself earlier this Spring. Davey Johnson even said as much just over a week ago. Lannan did have an option remaining, however considering his tenure with the team at the Major League level it was widely expected that such a move was not going to happen. He’s also slated to make $5 Million this season, making him one of the highest paid players ever to be optioned to the minor leagues at the end of Spring Training, according to The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.
Lannan posted a 10-13 record last season, with a 3.70 ERA in 184.2 innings over 33 starts.
In his place will be left-hander Ross Detwiler. Detwiler had been expected for most of the winter to end up in the bullpen. He’s out of options and couldn’t be sent to the minor leagues without the team risking another organization claiming him on waivers. But considering the team’s offseason acquisitions, there didn’t appear to be a place for him in the starting rotation.
Last season Detwiler was 4-5 with a 3.00 ERA over 66.0 innings. He made 15 appearances, including 10 starts.
The organization has always thought highly of Detwiler, but he’s never proven himself over a long stretch of time to date in his career. He’ll likely be given every opportunity to succeed until Wang returns from injury, at which point the team will make a decision likely based on performance.