Washington Nationals: 4 Players Who Are in Serious Danger of Being Cut or Demoted
This offseason, the Washington Nationals turned a nice roster into a World Series favorite with a handful of key acquisitions, but that's not such good news for some borderline big leaguers, who will now have to fight tooth and nail in spring training just to avoid cuts or demotions.
From one through 24, Washington's Opening Day 25-man roster looks set in stone, save for a setback in Jayson Werth's recovery from shoulder surgery that would open up another spot.
Because of this lack of parity, the best chance anyone on this list has of earning an Opening Day spot is about 50/50. Those percentages go to Tyler Moore and Mike Carp as they duke it out for that last seat on the bench.
But the severity of the consequences of not earning a coveted big-league roster spot also vary among these four Nationals.
If Moore doesn't make the major league squad, he could end up on a different team. If Dan Uggla fails to crack the roster, he could end up looking for a different profession.
The beginning of spring training is somewhat of a social event for most players—relaxed, informal—but for these four players, camp will be a grind from start to finish while they look to stay relevant in the eyes of their coaches.
The restructuring of Washington's bullpen claimed Blake Treinen as a victim this offseason.
The departures of Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard left the door open for an expanded role for the 26-year-old. He earned his keep with solid numbers in 2014, his first taste of the bigs, playing in 15 games and earning a 2.49 ERA.
But when the Nationals signed Max Scherzer, all but punching Tanner Roark's ticket to the bullpen, and brought in Casey Janssen it left little room for extra young arms in relief roles.
In no particular order, Washington's pen will almost certainly feature these seven pitchers: Roark, Janssen, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen, Jerry Blevins, Aaron Barrett and Matt Thornton.
Treinen's exclusion from that list should keep him in the minors to start the season—most likely Triple-A Syracuse, where he played 16 games in 2014—and limit him to a role similar to the one he played last season.
Manager Matt Williams and general manager Mike Rizzo recently broke down Dan Uggla's outlook with the Nationals at spring training. And judging by the article from The Washington Post's Chelsea Janes that included their statements, calling his chances slim would be generous.
Williams said the second base situation 'isn't necessarily a competition, but we’ll look at everybody.' Rizzo, now the Nationals' general manager, said Uggla has 'to be the best second baseman in camp to win the job,' which would mean beating out Escobar and plus-defender Danny Espinosa.
We've known from the moment Uggla signed his minor league contract with Washington that he would need to put on a fireworks show in spring training to make the team. Williams' and Rizzo's statements confirm that, but it also reassures that Uggla will get a fair look from the coaches.
Tyler Moore has toiled for three seasons, jumping from the minors to the majors and back again.
In 2014, he logged 84 games with Triple-A Syracuse and 42 with the Nationals. He played in 63 and 75 major league games in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
But that limbo lifestyle is less of an option in 2015, because the 28-year-old is now out of minor league options. If he fails to make the Nationals' Opening Day roster, he'll have to go through waivers.
"If Moore doesn't make the team out of Spring Training, the Nationals could designate him for assignment," MLB.com's Bill Ladson said, "which means they would have 10 days to trade Moore, outright him to the Minor Leagues or release him."
So at the risk of belaboring the point, it's very important for Moore to make the Opening Day Roster. And the man standing in his way for the last spot on Washington's bench is free-agent signing Mike Carp.
In the eyes of the media, Mike Carp is gaining ground on Tyler Moore in the competition for an Opening Day roster spot on the merits of his left-handedness.
But the fact remains the 28-year-old suffered a statistical nosedive in the last two years. In 2013, with the eventual-champion Boston Red Sox, Carp hit .296 in 86 games. But last season he dropped down to .175 in 59 games with Boston and the Texas Rangers.
Carp has no other choice but to shake off a 2014 that he called "a bummer of a year" in spring training, per Chris Johnson of MASNsports.com. If he can't convince Washington he's back in 2013 form, his opposition, Moore, will have a much straighter path to the 25-man roster.