Predicting the impending roster changes for the Nationals

The Washington Nationals have been bit hard by the injury bug so far in 2024, and with numerous players nearing returns to the big-league club, what changes will be made to the MLB roster?
Victor Robles' return from the IL should happen shortly.
Victor Robles' return from the IL should happen shortly. / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

So far in the 2024 season, the Nationals have seen guys who made the Opening Day roster including Lane Thomas, Joey Gallo, Nick Senzel, Victor Robles, Keibert Ruiz, Robert Garcia, and Josiah Gray all spend time on the Injured List. In addition, Cade Cavalli continues to rehab from Tommy John Surgery, and Stone Garrett began the season on the IL as he continues to get his feel back after his season-ending fractured tibia suffered late last year.

As a result of all of these injuries, guys like Jacob Young, Trey Lipscomb, and Mitchell Parker have been given extended opportunities and have shown flashes for the future. However, it appears as if a roster crunch could happen very soon, and in this article I will try to predict how the Nats roster will look with the impending roster changes likely coming at some point this month.

Current 26-Man Roster:

Jacob Young
Jacob Young, who has impressed a lot in his time in the majors. / Brennan Asplen/GettyImages

SP (5): Patrick Corbin, MacKenzie Gore, Jake Irvin, Mitchell Parker, Trevor Williams

RP (8): Jacob Barnes, Matt Barnes, Kyle Finnegan, Dylan Floro, Hunter Harvey, Derek Law, Tanner Rainey, Jordan Weems

Catchers (2): Riley Adams, Keibert Ruiz

Infielders (7): CJ Abrams, Luis Garcia Jr., Trey Lipscomb, Joey Meneses, Nasim Nuñez, Nick Senzel, Ildemaro Vargas

Outfielders (4): Alex Call, Eddie Rosario, Jesse Winker, Jacob Young

On the Injured List (IL):

SP (R) Cade Cavalli, RP (L) Robert Garcia, SP (R) Josiah Gray, 1B/OF Joey Gallo, OF Stone Garrett, OF Victor Robles, OF Lane Thomas

On the Hot Seat:

Eddie Rosario, Joey Meneses
The two players under the most pressure to perform well right now: Eddie Rosario and Joey Meneses. / Ben Jackson/GettyImages

I identified this category as players who are under the most pressure right now to perform well, as the reinforcements coming from the Injured List will likely be able to take their spots. Since the term "Hot Seat" has more of a negative connotation, these players are likely being looked at as the first ones out once the injured players return to the active roster.

Eddie Rosario, Joey Meneses, Patrick Corbin, Tanner Rainey

Eddie Rosario will likely be the first player gone from the team once an outfielder becomes healthy, as his incredibly slow start at the plate and poor defense in the outfield has made his removal from the active roster almost a certainty at this point.

Joey Meneses could be next, although he seems to have a big fan in Davey Martinez, who continues to bat him either third or fourth in the lineup almost every game. However, for a DH and 1B that hits for almost no power (0 HRs this season) and isn't performing as well with RISP, patience has to be wearing thin with Meneses at this point, as he is killing this team right now.

Patrick Corbin, while almost certainly never capturing his All-Star form ever again, will likely finish the season in a Nats uniform out of respect for the 2019 World Series Champion and due to his contract, which expires at the end of this year. However, whether he finishes the season as a starter remains to be seen, as the emergence of Mitchell Parker has made this case a more difficult situation than expected once Josiah Gray and Cade Cavalli return to the rotation from their injuries. A Parker demotion seems likely at some point, but he is making this decision a very interesting one for the Nationals.

Finally, Tanner Rainey seems as if his days in DC are numbered right now. The righty is still trying to find his footing since returning from 2022 Tommy John Surgery, but it is clear Davey Martinez does not trust him in any situation of significance. His velocity dip and inability to consistently miss bats has made his demotion likely once Robert Garcia returns.

Other Potential Roster Crunch Victims:

Trey Lipscomb
Trey Lipscomb's positional versatility could prove to be key to him remaining with the big league club. / Brennan Asplen/GettyImages

This section is for guys who are likely to be in the next wave to be removed from the active roster. While not performing poorly, these players have options remaining and will possibly fall victim to the roster crunch.

Alex Call, Trey Lipscomb, Jacob Barnes

Alex Call, while looking solid in his first few appearances of 2024, is simply a victim of the Nats having too many mouths to feed in the outfield right now. He will almost certainly be sent back down to AAA once Robles, Thomas, or Garrett return to the big league club.

Trey Lipscomb is another one who is likely to be sent back down the AAA once guys get healthy due to the Nats wanting him to get at-bats every day. With Nick Senzel showing signs of life recently and CJ Abrams and Luis Garcia Jr. mired in breakout campaigns, the only potential spot in the infield to get consistent ABs is at first base, where he is starting to get more work. There is a possibility that he remains with the Nats if Joey Meneses is demoted, however, at this point in time I would consider it unlikely.

Jacob Barnes is likely competing for the final bullpen spot with Tanner Rainey right now for the right to remain with the Nats once Robert Garcia returns from injury. Right now, it is clear he has earned the nod over Rainey and deserves a chance to stick at the Major League level.

My Roster Prediction:

Josiah Gray
Josiah Gray's return is among the many moves likely coming to the Nats in May. / Ben Jackson/GettyImages

These predictions are not necessarily how I would construct the roster, but an exercise where I tried to put myself in the shoes of Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez, and how I think the team will maneuver the slew of roster changes that are soon to be upcoming.

Bolded = Returning from IL, new addition to current roster.

SP (5): MacKenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, Jake Irvin, Trevor Williams, Patrick Corbin

RP (8): Jacob Barnes, Matt Barnes, Kyle Finnegan, Dylan Floro, Robert Garcia, Hunter Harvey, Derek Law, Jordan Weems

Catchers (2): Riley Adams, Keibert Ruiz

Infielders (6): CJ Abrams, Joey Gallo, Luis Garcia Jr., Nasim Nuñez, Nick Senzel, Ildemaro Vargas

Outfielders (5): Stone Garrett, Victor Robles, Lane Thomas, Jesse Winker, Jacob Young

The Final Transaction List:

Mitchell Parker
Although he has pitched well, Mitchell Parker's first big league stint is likely coming to an end soon. / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

In: Gray, Garcia, Gallo, Garrett, Robles, Thomas

Out: Parker, Rainey, Meneses, Lipscomb, Call, Rosario

Still on IL: Cavalli (returning later this summer)

I will say, while I don't agree with all of these moves, most notably demoting Mitchell Parker, I do think that common sense will prevail from Rizzo and Martinez in some of these cases (Rainey, Rosario, and Meneses), and some of the right decisions will be made.

Personally, I would like to see Parker remain with the Nats and Patrick Corbin either DFA'd or moved to the bullpen, but it is highly unlikely. Trey Lipscomb could possibly have an argument to remain on the roster and play 1B over Joey Gallo, but I also view that as being highly unlikely. In this prediction, it would possibly mean more playing time for Nasim Nuñez in the infield, as at some point you'd have to think the Nats would like to see what they've got in their Rule-5 Draft selection from this offseason.

How the Nats manage the outfield will be very interesting, as you have to think Jacob Young has played too well to be sent back down, and although in a funk of sorts right now, Jesse Winker will at least be serviceable enough in a platoon with Stone Garrett in left field to be dealt at the deadline. Victor Robles is going to need some playing time too, in order to build up his trade value during his likely final campaign with the Nats, so perhaps a split of Robles and Young? Who knows.

While I don't have have all of the answers, I am very curious to see how the Nats will resolve their impending roster crunch, and I'm also interested to hear your thoughts on how the team will shake out here real soon, so please let me know on X @DCBerk.