All major league clubs were required to reinstate all players who ended the season on the injured list to their 40-man rosters Thursday, a deadline that prompted the Nationals to cut ties with two healthy players.
The Nats announced that catcher Tres Barrera and reliever Francisco Pérez both cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Rochester. Barrera and Pérez must now decide whether to accept the assignment and remain with the organization or become free agents.
Those moves were necessary when the Nationals were required to activate six players who had been on the 60-day IL (Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Rainey, Carter Kieboom, Yadiel Hernandez, Jackson Tetreault and Evan Lee), bringing their 40-man roster total to 41.
The club could’ve removed only one player to get back down to the maximum of 40, but instead opted to remove both Barrera and Pérez, leaving one open slot for now as the offseason commences, with more decisions likely in the next week.
Tuesday is MLB’s deadline to add minor leaguers to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from being lost in the Rule 5 draft. Among this winter’s Rule 5-eligible prospects are outfielder Jeremy De La Rosa, third baseman Jake Alu, shortstop Jackson Cluff, catcher Drew Millas and right-handers Jake Irvin and Jackson Rutledge.
If the Nationals want to protect more than one player from that group, they’ll need to clear even more 40-man roster spots by Tuesday.
The two players who were removed from the roster Thursday saw some big-league time this season but appeared to have fallen well down the organization depth chart by October.
Barrera, a sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft, played in 51 games from 2019-22 and showed promise during a brief period in 2021 when he was starting on a semi-regular basis. But the 28-year-old struggled to a .180/.212/.200 slash line across 53 plate appearances this season, and though he was on the major league roster in September he rarely played, even after starting catcher Keibert Ruiz went on the IL, with Riley Adams and 22-year-old Israel Pineda instead getting the nod behind the plate.
Pérez, acquired off waivers from the Guardians last November, appeared in 10 games for the Nationals across three stints in the majors. The 25-year-old lefty gave up seven runs on 13 hits and nine walks in only 8 2/3 innings, was optioned back to Triple-A in late-June and did not return to D.C.
* Silver Slugger Awards were handed out Thursday night, and though no current members of the Nationals were victorious, four recent members of the team certainly were.
Trea Turner (shortstop), Kyle Schwarber (left field), Juan Soto (right field) and Josh Bell (designated hitter) each won, selected by National League managers and coaches as the best all-around offensive players at their respective positions.
All four of those players, of course, were teammates on the Nationals from April-July 2021. Then Turner and Schwarber were dealt away at the 2021 trade deadline. Then Soto and Bell were dealt away at the 2022 trade deadline, leaving them all with new homes by the time they could be honored for their offensive production.
Turner and Bell are now free agents. Schwarber has three years to go on the four-year, $79 million contract he signed with the Phillies prior to this season. Soto has two years to go with the Padres before he’s eligible for free agency for the first time in his career.