VIERA, Fla. - Major league teams will scour the free agent market and waiver wire over this next week, checking to see if players cut by other teams are worthy of adding to their own roster.
The Nationals will obviously be among the teams monitoring the transaction wire leading up to opening day, but according to general manager Mike Rizzo, they don’t plan on bringing in anyone from the outside to fill out their 25-man roster.
“Barring something out of the ordinary, I think you’re looking at the 25 men somewhere in this camp,” Rizzo said.
The Nats are closing in on finalizing their opening day roster, but have yet to officially declare who will grab the final couple available spots.
Steve Lombardozzi is expected to earn the Nats’ utility infielder role, but the Nats won’t make that announcement just yet.
“We feel that Lombo brings great versatility for Davey,” Rizzo said, “and it’s all about can Davey get him enough at-bats to make it worth his while to be in the big leagues instead of playing every day in the minor leagues.”
The situation with outfielder Xavier Nady is the same - he appears to be close to securing a spot as a reserve corner outfield/first baseman, but the Nats have not make a final decision on Nady’s status.
“He’s one of the guys we’re looking at, and it’s getting late in camp, so I think that he’s in the competition,” Rizzo said. “He’s played extremely well in a very difficult short spring training that he’s had. But we knew when he came in here he was in terrific shape, he was in some sort of baseball condition and we knew he would have to hit the ground running and he’s done so.
“He’s been through this before. He’s a big leaguer and he’s had some great seasons in the big leagues. He brings versatility to the position and he’s one of the candidates that’s that big right-handed bat off the bench that Davey covets so much.”
Rizzo said that infielder Andres Blanco, who was reassigned to minor league camp yesterday, will likely opt out of his contract, which would make him a free agent.
Outfielder Jason Michaels, who was released yesterday, will look around for a major league job, but Rizzo didn’t rule out the possibility of Michaels returning and starting the season at Triple-A Syracuse.
“I’d love to have him in the organization,” said Rizzo, who raved about Michaels’ leadership. “I think he’ll help us or somebody in the big leagues very soon.”
Asked what’s been the biggest surprise of camp, Rizzo pointed to the Nats’ stable of young players who spent time in major league camp, including outfielder Eury Perez, third baseman Antony Rendon and left-handed pitcher Matt Purke.
“Not only the way the hit and throw and run on the field, but their professionalism in the clubhouse, in the dugout,” Rizzo said. “The way they’ve really become major league players even though they haven’t made a major league club yet.”