Where we sit right now, Jake Noll is the only first baseman on the Washington Nationals 40-man roster. What does this mean for his playing time in 2021?
What should we expect from Jake Noll this upcoming season? Well, if the season started tomorrow, Noll would be the starting first baseman. For the guy who some say is a Ryan Zimmerman look-alike, his spot on the roster could ultimately depend on if the Nationals bring Zimmerman back to the team.
Noll broke onto the scene in 2019 when he made the roster out of spring training. While he hit .314 with a couple of long balls to earn the promotion, the fact a couple of veteran reserves began the season on the injured list aided the decision.
Starting games at both third base and first base, Noll appeared in just eight contests for the eventual World Series Champions. He made a return appearance late in the 2020 season, when the games didn’t really matter for the Nationals anymore. He faired well, hitting .353 in his limited playing time.
Should the season start today, this may be the only way Noll finds his way on the roster. Mike Rizzo states he has been given authority to build a championship caliber team. If this is the case, there is not a spot on the opening day-26, for a guy with 29 major league at-bats.
The Nationals have six open spots on the 40-man roster. While Zimmerman says he wants to play this year, the Nats are not obligated to bring him back. However, he is Mr. National, and prior to his opting out of last season, the franchise hadn’t played one year without him in uniform. He’ll be back.
Who will he share time with? Mitch Moreland, Jake Lamb, and C.J. Cron, have all been names mentioned as being able to fill the first base slot. Manager Dave Martinez has also said he’d love to have Howie Kendrick back, if the situation was right. With any of these four on the team, as well as Zimmerman, Noll would feel the roster crunch.
All this to say, the roster is about to get crowded and Jake Noll may not have a spot. As much as I like the guy, he’s destined for a role similar to Adrian Sanchez. Full-time reserve, who shuttles between the minors and big club, until his options are up and he’s removed from the 40-man roster.
A lot of dominoes need to fall between now and opening day. If they fall the way we think they will, we shouldn’t expect a lot from Jake Noll, as he simply won’t have the opportunity to see the field.