The Nationals Light Some Roster Fireworks on 4th of July

After a good win on Independence Day to split the series with the Mets, the Nationals shuffled their roster once again, getting rid of an underperforming bat in their lineup for the second time this week.
Washington Nationals v Detroit Tigers
Washington Nationals v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

The Nationals made some of their own fireworks yesterday for Independence Day.

No, not the kind that fire off into the sky and explode into an array of colors. Rather, the kind that fire off into your roster and shuffle the deck.

For those that have been following us for a while, we (among many others) have been clamoring for this move. Joey Meneses had a fine "linsanity" run back in 2022 following the Juan Soto trade, but has been largely mediocre to downright bad in the year and a half since then. Meneses was gifted the Opening Day lineup spot essentially because the Nationals did not have anyone else worthwhile of taking that roster spot - at least none that were ready at the time. So Meneses got another extended look to stick on the roster and delivered a slashline of .231/.291/.306 for a .597 OPS, with only three homeruns in 281 At-Bats. Not exactly the production you want from your everyday First Baseman/Designated Hitter.

The one thing that had kept Meneses afloat on the roster was his proclivity for hitting with Runners In Scoring Position, which he did at a strong .319 clip. But the numbers were so dreadful in non-high leverage situations that with the Nationals anemic offense, Meneses stood out like a sore thumb. Meneses also got an extended life due to Eddie Rosario being even worse than he was, as well as the only other First Baseman on the roster, Joey Gallo, having been injured for nearly half the season now.

With Rosario gone in favor of James Wood (one cannot strongly enough stress how big of an upgrade this was), Meneses was the next on the chopping block. It is fairly notable because it is now the second time this week the Nationals have made a big roster move in an effort to improve their offense. This is something they waited until after the Trade Deadline last season to do, but with only being a couple games under .500 and still a month away from this year's Trade Deadline, the Nationals are working to see what they have and what they can do. To that end, the team also swapped catchers yet again before yesterday's game, sending Drew Millas back to AAA Rochester and recalling the hot-hitting Riley Adams, who may see some time at First Base if he keeps hitting the way he has been. But he won't be the only one vying for playing time at First Base.

Enter: Juan Yepez.

Yepez was a popular flyer the Nationals took in the offseason as it was certainly a position of need and Yepez had flashed potential in previous seasons. Back in 2022, Yepez had 12 home runs in 76 games while hitting .253 with a .742 OPS for the Cardinals. Of course, going back to 2022 stats is what everyone did with Joey Meneses, and we know how that has turned out.

Nevertheless, Yepez at least provides the hope that the Nationals can get more out of their first base position. Yepez has spent the entire season in AAA Rochester and had a .263 average with a .795 OPS in 319 plate appearances. It may not be a significant upgrade over Meneses, but if it is even a slight upgrade then it was a worthwhile move.

The corresponding move has not yet been announced, but unfortunately it could see Josiah Gray land on the 60 Day injured list after another setback in his rehab assignment. This is very concerning news as Gray has dealt with arm injuries all season long and may be a candidate for surgery at this point.

We will react more when the corresponding move is announced, but for the time being the Nationals lineup got a much needed boost. They could still use more help, much more help, but the lineup is better than it was a week ago, and that is something.

1. CJ Abrams - SS
2. Lane Thomas - RF
3. James Wood - LF
4. Jesse Winker - DH
5. Harold Ramirez/Juan Yepez - 1B
6. Luis Garcia - 2B
7. Keibert Ruiz/Riley Adams - C
8. Nick Senzel - 3B
9. Jacob Young - CF