3 Nationals On Thin Ice After Victor Robles Was DFA'd

The Nationals made a strong statement yesterday when they designated longtime team member Victor Robles for assignment in order to make room for Lane Thomas' return. Now that Robles is gone, what other Nationals' jobs are in jeopardy?
Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds / Ben Jackson/GettyImages

Yesterday saw not only the return of Lane Thomas to the Nationals en route to a 8 to 4 victory over the Braves, but also the departure of longtime National Victor Robles. We knew the return of Thomas would spell the end for someone on the roster, and Robles was ultimately the one to get the boot. However, that does not mean Robles will be the only current roster member to see his time in DC end this season.

Injuries impact every team and certainly have impacted the Nationals, but with injuries come opportunities. With the Nationals being a team in transition, slowly working towards becoming a contending team again, opportunities are a good thing. Opportunities lead to discovering that players like Mitchell Parker and Jacob Young are ready to contribute now.

So what other players might be ready to contribute now? The obvious answer is James Wood, who arguably should have been called up already if not making the team straight out of Spring Training. Although Wood is now dealing with a hamstring strain that will likely keep him sidelined for a couple of weeks.

It is not just the top prospects that are close to being ready. If you look at the cases of Parker and Young, they were ranked 20th and 30th respectively in the Nationals' system. They made the most of their opportunities due to injuries to the current roster and now they are playing their way into a permanent roster spot, just as Jake Irvin did last season.

Point being, the Nationals have had three unexpected contributors rise up through their system, and who knows who else might be able to do the same. So why wait for (or root for) injuries to the major league roster? If players are not performing, such as Victor Robles, then maybe it is time to give opportunities to other players.

Here are three players who should be on thin ice following the DFA of Victor Robles.

1. Joey Meneses

Joey Meneses
Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Meneses had a legitimate argument to getting the boot instead of Robles. Meneses is serving as the Nationals' primary DH, leaving his offense as his only source of value to the team. And for the Nationals, they are not getting much value from Meneses as he is currently sporting a .581 OPS through 177 ABs. He only has two home runs on the season. If you are going to be a DH only player, you kind of need to hit home runs. Otherwise the offense will struggle, as the Nationals' often do.

Meneses has not come close to his 2022 production all of last season or the first two months of this season. The magic has long since worn off and his roster spot should be in clear jeopardy. Luckily for Meneses, he still has options available so if the Nationals really still believed in him, they could assign him to AAA to get right. This would allow Jesse Winker everyday ABs at DH and open up Left Field for someone - perhaps a top prospect who has shown every bit of being ready for the Major Leagues.

2. Tanner Rainey

Tanner Rainey
Washington Nationals v Texas Rangers / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

This one sucks but it is just a part of the game. Tanner Rainey had high octane stuff when he first joined the Nationals and seemed to be a key piece of the bullpen for years to come. Unfortunately like many hard throwing pitchers, Rainey injured his UCL and ultimately required Tommy John Surgery which kept him out all of the 2023 season.

Now pitching again, the Nationals undoubtedly want to be patient with Rainey to see if he can recapture any of his previous form. They could perhaps buy more time for Rainey with an IL stint here and there, but as it stands currently, Rainey is a sore thumb it what has been an otherwise pretty good bullpen. The Nationals bullpen struggles the most when they have to pitch two or three days in a row, as one would expect, and Rainey being unreliable is not helping matters.

I hope Rainey figures it out soon, but he would certainly not be the first reliever that was unable to replicate previous success following major surgery.

3. Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo
Seattle Mariners v Washington Nationals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Most everyone knows what Joey Gallo is at this point. He can hit a ball as far as anyone in the league, but it might only come after 20-30 strikeouts. Gallo has basically always been a three outcome player, homering, striking out or walking, and that much as been true this season as well, though the homering has been much less frequent than the other two.

Gallo has never hit for average, but even so, a .138 average is tough to stomach for a team whose offense has been very lackluster. He offers good defensive value in the outfield and at first base, but if he cannot hit home runs, then there is little to no value for him on the roster and certainly no value when it comes to a potential trade market.

The Nationals took a chance on Gallo, and it was a worthwhile flyer, but as soon as someone else shows they might be ready, it is time to move on from Gallo.

Honorable Mentions: Eddie Rosario, Patrick Corbin, Nick Senzel