VIERA, Fla. - Though I’m sticking to my position that the Oliver Perez signing is largely not worth the fuss that’s been given to it so far, a few of you have raised a good point on Twitter and in the comments section here: The Nationals are going to have a logjam in the rotation at Triple-A Syracuse. That would have been the case with or without Perez - and there’s no guarantee he’s even pitching at the start of the year - but it’s worth discussing.
Essentially, the Nationals will have a problem this spring when an older group of prospects (Garrett Mock, Shairon Martis, Luis Atilano, J.D. Martin, Matt Chico, et al) ends up colliding with a younger group of pitchers making their way through the system (most notably Tom Milone and Ryan Tatusko).
The Nationals don’t have that many pitchers who would probably be ready to start the year at Syracuse. But they’ll have to make room for Ross Detwiler and Yunesky Maya, too. If either Milone or Tatusko starts the year at Syracuse, the Nationals will have some juggling to do. Essentially, they have at least nine pitchers who could conceivably start the year in Triple-A.
They can probably trim away at the problem by starting younger prospects at Double-A Harrisburg for a month or so; by that point, it’s likely an injury or poor performance somewhere between Washington and Harrisburg will have cleared out some of the stagnation. One or two of the pitchers could become relievers, and it also wouldn’t be surprising to see the Nationals part ways with Martin or Martis at some point.
Now, adding Perez back to the equation makes things even more complicated. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s put on the Syracuse or Harrisburg roster as a reliever and gets some time to work with Spin Williams. I don’t think he’ll be dropped into the Syracuse rotation right away.
Even without him, though, the Nationals will have some decisions to make. General manager Mike Rizzo drafted both Mock and Chico in Arizona, and Mock in particular has continued to get chances to harness his impressive stuff. The organization has held by the belief that pitching stockpiles can’t get too big, but in the case of this one, the Nationals will have to decide how many of the pitchers in it are worth keeping.