When the 2021 season began, the Washington Nationals believed they had one of the better starting orations in all of baseball. On paper they did. Then injuries sidelined Stephen Strasburg and Jon Lester. Erick Fedde and Patrick Corbin were beaten up in a couple of starts and even Joe Ross surrendered ten earned runs one outing.
Former National Anibal Sanchez was going to throw a showcase for teams and his most recent team was going to be there to watch. Then Sanchez developed a blister on his finger and pushed his audition. During that time, Corbin began pitching better, Fedde began pitching better, and Lester returned from the Injured List. The Nationals didn’t send anyone to watch the makeup throwing session.
Joining Sanchez in the unemployment line is another former National. Tanner Roark has fallen on hard times since leaving Washington in a trade which returned Tanner Rainey. Roark has pitched for three teams the past three years and now finds himself looking for his next gig.
Two former Nationals’ pitchers find themselves out of work, with the current Nats no longer looking for pitching help.
Sanchez was a big part of the 2019 Nationals run through the World Series. His near no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals will go down as one of the best pitching performances in playoff history. He struggled mightily in 2020 and the Nationals declined his option for the 2021 season. At 37 years of age, coming off a season where he averaged less than five innings a start, he may be unemployed for some time.
Roark began the year with the Toronto Blue Jays though he didn’t last long. He made just one start and appeared in just three games total before the Jays kicked him to the curb, eating most of his $12M salary for this season.
At 34 years of age, Roark is no longer the pitcher he was in 2016 when he won 16 games with a 2.83 ERA for the Nationals. His 14 games, over two years with the Jays produced an ERA close to 7.
UPDATE: Roark has agreed to a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves.
There was a small window earlier in the season where the Nationals would have entertained bringing in one of these guys. That window has closed. With Roark now off the market, we wait and see if Sanchez is next.