Yesterday, the Washington Nationals received some brutal news. Cade Cavalli, one of their young prospects who was poised to see major time in the big leagues this season, suffered a Grade 3 sprain of his MCL, and will require season-ending surgery.
Nationals fans have long awaited Cavalli's arrival to the majors. Sure, he's been there, but he only has one career appearance under his belt. I can confidently say that the Nationals and their fans alike were looking forward to seeing a full season of their long-awaited right handed prospect, poised to be a key piece of the starting rotation alongside Josiah Gray and Mackenzie Gore, among others.
This is a tough break for a team that desperately needed to see their young talent reach the top; Cavalli's story was something that many fans, including yours truly, were excited to follow. Unfortunately, that'll have to wait a year.
However, life moves on and the other 29 teams surely aren't going to let this injury stop them from carrying on their business. So, unfortunately, the Nationals will have to look to do the same.
Here are some potential options that the Nationals will look at to replace Cade Cavalli in the starting rotation this season.
1) Call to the Bullpen
Cade Cavalli had plans to continue pitching through Spring Training, and because of his injury, the Nationals have already had to find replacements for him for games coming in the near future.
""Nats won’t know anything about Cade Cavalli’s MRI until later today or tomorrow, but Davey Martinez said they’re already making plans for Chad Kuhl to take that spot in the rotation.""- MASN''s Mark Zuckerman via Twitter
Chad Kuhl will be taking Cavalli's spring training games, but can that continue to the regular season? Seeing as he was a non-roster invitee to camp, that might be a stretch, but we'll have to wait and see how he performs with the opportunity he's given.
It's very hard to tell which pitcher Mike Rizzo will choose to move to his starting rotation in Cavalli's absence. My best guess is that it'll be an RHP, seeing as Cavalli was right handed. So, for now, you could certainly pencil in guys like Hunter Harvey or Paolo Espino to take Cavalli's spot. This certainly isn't permanent, but could act as a placeholder until a more permanent fix can be found. The Nationals are also reportedly stretching out Mason Thompson with the idea he could be an opener in some games.
2) From One Prospect to Another
Cavalli ranks as the #4 prospect in the Nationals system, the highest pitcher in the ranks. However, don't be surprised if Mike Rizzo decides to look to another prospect to fill Cavalli's spot while he rehabs.
Thad Ward and Jose A. Ferrer are two prospects in the Nationals system (#12 and #26 respectively) who have reached the MLB level. I feel that Ward is the more likely of the two, however only time will tell if Rizzo decides to look this way.
Before we continue to our final avenue to replace Cade Cavalli this season, it is important to remember that the Nationals aren't in the market for big name win now players. However I would argue they would benefit by taking a look at some guys who could take advantage of their opportunity and potentially throw their hat in the ring to become more than a temporary member of this team.
3) Pick up the Phone
Mike Rizzo's third option is to pick up the phone and reach out to other teams about making a deal or calling agents to see if they can acquire the services of a player.
Realistically, the Nationals could trade for anybody. They aren't in a place right now where disgruntled players are being leaked to them, like we see with some of the top names in baseball. However, I believe the Nationals are looking for two things: a veteran that can come in and help the young guys, or a young player with upside who got off to a rocky start.
Think of guys like Jeter Downs or Thad Ward, guys that were drafted by other teams but got off to a slower start. These are guys that I think the Nationals could be interested in.
There are also still free agent pitchers available that could come in right away and fill Cavalli's spot in the rotation. While not the flashiest of names, someone like Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer or Mike Minor would at least have the ability to fill some innings. And they all are more established than any in-house options and would not cost assets to acquire via trade. I think this is probably their best option.
What do you think Mike Rizzo will do to make the best out of the unfortunate Cade Cavalli circumstance?